A Step by Step Wash Day Routine For Your Natural Hair

For some naturals, wash days are one of those days we dread. Often because giving your hair that TLC it needs requires long hours of detangling, washing in sections, and cleansing the scalp. No matter how much we don't look forward to our hair wash days, the truth is that having a dirty and unhealthy hair or scalp can only lead to stunned hair growth and length. The best way you can get healthy, well moisturized, shiny, and even longer hair is by having an effective wash day routine.

So, if you're curious about what makes for a great wash day routine, here are some steps you can try during your hair wash day.

Step 1: Prepoo and detangle your hair

Prepoo simply means to prepare your hair for shampooing. You may be wondering, "What is the essence of this? Why should I have to prepare my hair for shampoo?" The answer is simple: most shampoos contain harsh ingredients like sulfates and paraben that can strip your hair of its natural oil, leaving both your hair and scalp dry. If care is not taken, this can lead to itching and overall scalp irritation.

What does a prepoo do for your hair? A prepoo will help protect your hair from the harsh ingredients that are present in a shampoo. Keeping your hair and scalp hydrated, a prepoo will leave your hair strands feeling soft even after you have shampooed. Prepooing your hair also makes it easier to detangle. Now, as a natural, your hair should be properly detangled before you start to wash. This way, your hair doesn't snap and there is less hair breakage as you wash. A prepoo will leave your hair feeling softer, improving its elasticity, thus making it easier for you to take out any knots or tangles.

What you need to prepoo

  • A shower cap/plastic bag
  • (Leave-in) conditioner or any carrier oil of your choice

How to prepoo your hair

  1. First of all, part your hair into smaller sections and braid loosely. Doing this will help in getting an even distribution of your (leave-in) conditioner or oils into your hair.
  2. Next, apply your (leave-in) conditioner or oils in each section from roots to tips so that your hair is fully coated.
  3. Cover your hair with a shower cap and leave it in for between 5 - 10 minutes.
  4. Then, rinse out thoroughly with lukewarm water.

Step 2: Apply shampoo to your hair

After prepooing, the next step is to wash your hair with a shampoo. Now, for natural hair, it is recommended that you avoid shampoos that contain any type of sulfates. This is because sulfate shampoos are extremely harsh on the scalp and they strip your hair of its natural oil, causing dryness and itching, among others. Now, with your hair still in sections, apply a clarifying shampoo to your scalp, section by section. It is better to use your fingertips and not your fingernails to wash your hair. This is because a wet scalp is in a vulnerable state, so using your fingernails to scratch your scalp while washing can leave little open sores and marks on it.

Another important thing to note is that you should use warm water to wash your hair. Why is this necessary? Well, the warm water opens up the pores in your scalp, allowing the shampoo to thoroughly cleanse it of dirt and build-ups. Also, warm water helps to increase blood flow to your hair follicles, thus encouraging hair growth.

Step 3: Do A Tea Rinse

This is an important step in a wash day routine that some naturalistas tend to skip or many do not even know about. Luckily, you are reading this and so will find out just how this works. Now, our natural hair experiences shedding, shedding happens when hair falls out from the roots. You will then notice the tip of the hair has a small white particle. While shedding is normal, excessive shedding is a cause for concern. Contributing factors include stress, poor hair care regimen, post-partum problems, among others. However, by doing a tea rinse, you can help to reduce the rate at which your hair sheds. A tea rinse will also make your hair feel softer, more manageable, and also improve its shine.

To do a tea rinse, simply add 2 - 3 tea bags in hot water, cover and leave to cool. Then, after you have shampooed, apply the tea rinse on your hair. Note: you should only apply a tea rinse before you (deep) condition and not after for maximum effects.

Step 4: (Deep) Condition your hair

After applying the tea rinse, the next step is to apply your regular conditioner or deep conditioner. Unlike shamwashing when you focus on your scalp, in conditioning, the focus is on your hair. So, make sure you apply your (deep) conditioner from the roots to the ends of your hair for even distribution. If you're using a regular conditioner, leave it in for between 5 - 7 minutes before rinsing out. If it's a deep conditioner, leave for at least 15 minutes and cover with a shower cap before rinsing out. Better still, you should follow the timing directions on the label of your deep conditioner.

You can also do a second detangling with the conditioner in your hair. Simply use your fingers or detangling brush to gently undo any knots in your hair as you take out the braids of each section.

Now, remember that during washing of your hair, I told you to rinse out with warm water because it would open your pores for proper cleansing. Well, when rinsing out your conditioner, do so with cool water. Doing this will help close your pores as leaving the pores on your scalp open can lead to irritation and even scalp damage.

Step 4: Dry your hair

After rinsing out the conditioner, dry your hair. You can do this with a T-shirt or a microfiber towel. However, you must not rub either of these against your hair because this can cause frizz in your hair. Instead, wrap the T-shirt or microfiber towel around your hair so it can absorb the excess water. Next, leave your hair to air dry for at least 10 minutes before using a blow dryer. If you don't have a blow dryer, you can leave your hair to air dry until it's completely dry.

Step 5: Apply your leave-in conditioner

After drying your hair, apply your leave-in conditioner. The job of a leave-in conditioner is to help your hair stay moisturized, prevent hair damage, and keep the strands detangled. No, you don't have to rinse this conditioner out, that's why it's called a leave-in!

Step 6: Oil, moisturize, and seal

Finally, after you have applied your leave-in conditioner, you should oil, moisturize, and seal your hair. First, oil your scalp with any lightweight natural oil or your choice to prevent it from drying out. For this step, you don't have to use moisturizers on your scalp as this will clog the pores on your scalp and cause build-ups. Instead, after oiling, moisturize your hair strands with a hair moisturizer and then seal the moisture in with any lightweight natural oil of your choice. The oil will trap in the moisture, and keep your hair hydrated for a long period.

For more guidance on how to wash your natural hair, you can watch this short tutorial by TheChicNatural that shows her quick wash day routine.

There you have it, your wash day is a success. If you follow these steps just as I have outlined them, your hair will feel more moisturized, shiny, and healthier.