This post is the first of a series of 3: "Building a hair regimen: Washing, moisturizing and prepping your hair for bedtime". Hope this helps!
Soooooo ladies, let's get down to business! A lot of us out there dread wash day... and for good reasons. First of all, it takes TIME! By not knowing what to do, some of us end up with a dry, shrinked and tangled mess and others with too much broken strands in the sink! So, it's obvious that the first step to any good hair regimen is figuring out how to wash your hair properly.
Curly and tightly coiled hair is usually fragile and dry by nature, more so for naturals with fine hair. In addition, hair is even more prone to breakage when it's wet. So remember to always be extra gentle when you're handling your tresses!
Now, you can break down your wash regimen in 3 steps: pre-pooing, washing and conditioning.
This step is very useful but some considered it optional. Pre-pooing is basically applying moisture to your hair before washing it. The main purpose of this is to help protect your hair from getting completely stripped out of its oils during the cleansing process. By doing this, you're also helping your hair cope with the huge amount of manipulation taking place during wash day with the detangling, combing and styling. The most popular pre-poo treatments are penetrating oils (coconut, avocado and olive oil) warmed or not, deep conditioners (bought or homemade) or even regular conditioners.
For me, pre-pooing has been a major discovery. I thought that adding a step in my wash routine would make the whole process longer, but besides the obvious conditioning benefits, it actually allowed me to reduce the time I spent on detangling my hair. By pre-(finger) detangling with my pre-poo treatment on, I avoid much of the stress, breakage and shedding that occurs during washing. Truth be told, I don't do it every time I wash my hair (because I feel lazy sometimes), but I can definitely see the difference when I do. I highly recommend you to try pre-pooing, especially if you're hair is damaged, colored and for those of you using heat regularly.
How do I pre-poo?
Apply your moisturizing agent on dry or damp hair and massage it gently into your hair and scalp. Then, just put a plastic cap on and let it sit for 15-30 minutes, or even for a whole night if you're about that life.
2) Cleansing your scalp and hair
Washing is the trickiest part because it's all about cleansing your scalp without drying out your hair in the process. So first off, try not to shampoo your hair more than once every 7-10 days. I'm sure you've already read/heard how "evil" shampoos can be for curly/kinky hair... The reason for this bad rep: the sulfates they contain. Sulfates are surfactants used as cleansing agents in a lot of skincare and haircare products. The most commonly used are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES). SLS and SLES are indeed drying and can also irritate the skin/scalp. Some people may even be allergic to them. There were also claims that those sulfates can cause cancer, with no conclusive study to back up these claims. I, personnally, have never experienced any type of allergy to sulfates in cosmetics, and I've tried many shampoos without sulfates that ended up being more drying than shampoos with them. So at the end of the day, I can only encourage you to do your own research, make up your mind and find what works best for you.
That being said, there are many alternatives to commercial shampoos to cleanse your hair and scalp. African black soap, natural shampoo bars, bentonite and rhassoul clays... and the list goes on. So don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try them out! You might be pleasantly surprised.
You can also co-wash. It basically means washing your hair using conditioner only. Some naturals swear by it, while others think it doesn't cleanse the hair effectively enough, which is kinda true if you use a lot of heavy styling products. For my part, I think co-washing is a good alternative to shampoo (or soap, or clay, etc.) if you need to wash your hair more than once a week. But I don't believe it should be your only "cleansing" method.
So how do I wash my hair?
Take 2 minutes to soak your hair with water. Lather once with your cleansing product, focusing on the scalp by gently massaging it with your fingertips (don't scratch it with your nails). Rinse well with lukewarm water and your hair should be clean.
The purpose of conditioning your hair is to restore the moisture lost during the washing process. You can do this by coating your hair with a conditioner and/or a deep conditioner that you let sit for at least 30 minutes under a source of heat (cap, teamer, hot towel, etc.). This is also the best time to detangle your hair so it's ready for styling.
Here is a video by Meechy Monroe showing you how she washes and detangles her hair.
This is basically how I do it, but I twist my hair instead of braiding it. Makes it easier for me to unravel. Then, I let it air dry and proceed to styling.
If you feel like your hair is too short to braid or twist it... well, don't. Put the conditioner on, let it sit, rinse it out and enjoy your TWA! If your hair is longer I would suggest sectioning your hair before washing, in order to work through the whole process section by section.
There you have it ladies. Now I want to know: how do YOU wash your hair? What kind of products do you use?