By Tenisha Mercer
Washing natural hair is part of a basic regimen that, done right, will yield a clean scalp and detangled curls. Done the wrong way, it lead to a tangled, matted mess. Though it's a basic part of any natural hair routine, washing your natural hair incorrectly (it's a skill and it's nothing like washing permed hair) can lead to hair setbacks.
Here's how to do it the right way:
1. Determine how often you want to wash your hair. Some naturals prefer every few days, while others prefer every few weeks or so. Let your hair determine how often you will wash it. If you exercise or sweat heavily, wash it more frequently. Many naturals start off washing their hair every few days, but let your hair determine the rhythm.
2. Detangle. Nothing worse than tangles kinks and curls. Detangle BEFORE you wash. It's best if you wet the hair with a spray bottle with some oil or use a conditioner with good slip (Herbal Essence or Aussie) are great choices. Detangle hair in sections, using your fingers first or a wide toothed comb. Comb from the bottom up. Make sure your hair is completely dentangled before washing. Washing tangled hair quickly leads to more knots and matting.
3. Pre-poo. After you detangle your hair, add oils like olive oil or coconut oil to your hair. This process helps your hair during the washing process -- especially if you use shampoo. It also helps to cut down on tangles. It's best to pre-poo the night before or at least a few hours prior to washing. If detangling the night before, make sure your headwrap is secured and isn't left loose (twist or braid the hair).
4. Use Conditioner only. It's best to use a conditioner (Herbal Essence conditioners or VO5 are great cheap conditioners) because it doesn't contain sulfates, which dry natural hair. Use the conditioner just like you would a shampoo (also known as co-wash) because it contains enough cleansing agents to cleanse the hair. Use shampoos sparingly, if at all, and only when you want to completely strip the hair of product.
5. Wash in sections. Many naturals find that washing the hair can lead to tangles, so it's best to divide the hair in sections (braids or twists) and wash it in the braids and twists. This cuts down tremendously on tangles. Make sure you use your fingertips to thoroughly cleanse your scalp (the conditioner and the water will clean the length of your hair).
Bonus tip #1: Wash hair in the shower. The downward motion of the shower wateris usually enough to detangle mild knots and tangles. And washing your hair in a standing position, using the force of the water, works with your hair, not against it. And, you can also use your shower comb or your fingers to detangle. Be gentle! Wet hair is more prone to breakage.
Bonus tip #2: Be patient. Wash when you aren't in a hurry and have time to detangle. After you're done washing your h air, gently squeeze out excess water, use a T-shirt to blog dry or let drip dry (a cotton towel is drying) and don't forget to deep condition and/or apply an oil or leave-in conditioner to lock-in moisture.
Do you have any hair washing tips for natural hair?