What is Wash Day

Wash day today for attention-getting hair tomorrow

Ahhhhhh wash day. The day we black women set aside to treat, clean and groom our locks. For some, the wash day ritual is a trip to the salon, where you gather with friends, discuss life’s challenges, and wait for your turn in the chair.

For others, wash day is your pre-determined day of self-haircare. Your chance to apply the techniques that best suit your hair type. (If you haven’t determined your hair type yet, consult our articles on the Andre Walker hair typing systemLOIS  or FIA hair typing systems.

I don’t know about you, but my wash day tends to be just that—a day with my hands in my hair. From detangling, to washing, to conditioning, oiling, drying and sometimes setting, my hair is definitely of the high-maintenance variety.

Aside from providing an excuse to stay in, introducing wash day into your routine will be the first step to your healthiest hair ever. It will help you to minimize dryness, maximize moisture retention and keep breakage at bay.

Say, “No way,” to every day hair washing

Black hair has a unique set of challenges. Because it tends to be drier than hair of other races, it should not be washed daily. Traditional hair washing can strip your hair of the natural oils, or sebum, your follicles produce and lead to dryness.

If your hair type is naturally dry, like mine, frequent washing will increase this dryness and lead to damage. If your hair is gasping for moisture, it will be less pliable and more likely to break from manual manipulation. Not enough washing and your hair may experience increased matting and tangling.

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Hair Moisture: It’s a balancing act

Between retaining moisture and injecting moisture, striking a balance is key to optimal hair health and growth.

The sebum that is produced in the hair follicle is your built-in moisture center. Sebum not only conditions the hair and skin on the surface; it also, blocks moisture loss internally.

Unfortunately, the nature of curly hair prevents sebum from easily spreading down the shaft of your hair, leaving the majority of the hair shaft dry. I wish I had known this years ago!

Adding moisture to your hair externally is only effective if you apply a moisture-locking product to your newly washed hair. Understanding the porosity of your hair is part of the process. The more porous your hair is, the more externally applied moisture will simply run out of it.

Some advocate increased water consumption and change of diet to improve hair moisture and health.

Others suggest finding and applying products that are the most similar to the chemical makeup of sebum, since sebum is 50% water.

Coconut oil has an affinity for the keratin protein found in the hair shaft. Because of that, coconut oil will naturally penetrate the hair cuticle and lock in moisture.

Wash Day: Make it personal

How often you wash your hair is entirely dependent on your hair type, not to mention your genetics. The more that your hair is washed, the more your scalp gets dried out. This leads to more oil production than before, thus negating what you’re trying to do in the first place.

Wash day doesn’t have to be groundhog day

Every wash day does not have to be the same. On the one hand, it’s nice to incorporate a routine. You can effectively zone out and turn wash day into a zen experience.

On the other hand, your wash day can potentially be a cycling through of different scheduled repair treatments.

Depending on how frequently you wash plus the overall condition of your hair, you may want to add deep conditioning, protein treatments, or even hot oil applications to your rotation.

Make washday a treat not a chore

With wash day on the calendar, remember that this day is not meant to be a chore. Treat it as an invitation to pamper yourself and call it a spa day. Aside from trying different hairstyles from one wash day to the next, you have the opportunity to enhance your spa experience while you’re in the drying phase:

  • Include a manicure or pedicure,
  • Indulge in a good book,
  • Catch up on your favorite romantic comedy, or
  • Exfoliate from head to toe and soak in a scented bath.

Approach it head first

Different hairstyles may require different products for best results, and we don’t just mean finishing products. Because of this, first determine the finished style you are trying to achieve and make sure you have an adequate supply of product on hand.

When you look good, you feel good. Your hair is ultimately a statement of your style, personality and identity.

How has scheduling wash day changed your hair health? Do you feel like you have more control and less frustration? Share your haircare routines with us in the comments below.

Tackling Washday: 8 Essential Tips for Washing Black Hair

Source: “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways” -Elizabeth Barrett Browning

For all the curly-haired ladies out there, I’m sure some of you can relate to this quote on some level when it comes to the relationship you have with your hair. A good shampoo and conditioner seemed sufficient at one point: slap those onto wet hair, rinse out, and go to town, but the more time I spent caring for my hair I realized that wasn’t enough.

Often times we dedicate a whole day to the cleansing ritual of our hair. While your routine may be similar to another person’s wash routine your routine should not be identical to anyone else’s, because your hair is not identical to anyone else’s.

If you have a head full of natural hair like mine, washday can be intimidating. When reintroduced to water, tangles and knots can turn a day meant to be about pampering to one of frustration.

There are a few things to keep in mind when washing your hair:

  1. When we wash our hair we want it to be clean, but not dry. Shampooing your hair can strip it of moisture and leave you with dry hair. Avoid shampoos that contain salt, propylene glycol, and parabens.
  2. Prepare your hair for the wash. Section your hair off into four or more parts and apply your pre-poo. A “pre-poo” is an oil treatment added to hair before shampooing or conditioning. In most cases doing this before exposing your hair to potentially harsh shampoos can help provide your hair with a little extra moisture. Depending on how often you wash your hair this step may not always be necessary, but because I generally wash my hair once every two weeks I opt to do it every time.
    To do this I prefer to use extra virgin olive oil, or something I’ve mixed up; it’s generally pretty cheap and does the trick. Here are a few of the different treatments I’ve found online that can be used: pre-poo recipes.
  3. After applying the treatment to damp hair I cover it with a plastic grocery bag or cap and leave the treatment in my hair for at least thirty minutes.
  4. Once you’ve applied your oil treatment of choice, start detangling your hair in the sections that you’ve created. Doing this should make managing your hair at least a little bit easier after the wash.
  5. Depending on what I’ve used as a pre-poo treatment, I’ll wash it out of my hair first with water if it’s of a heavier consistency, but if it’s a oil, I shampoo normally.
  6. Shampoo your hair. Based on how long and thick your hair is you’ll need a different amount of shampoo to work through your hair. I generally use a very small amount of shampoo to get my hair clean. When shampooing your hair work it into the sections that you made by loosening the braid or twist one at a time; focusing on that particular section and re-twisting it back up before moving on to the next.
    As you do this make sure you work on massaging the shampoo on your scalp to ensure that it becomes free of product buildup. Work the shampoo through the hair and try to elongate the strands rather than rubbing them to the scalp. This prevents tangles.
  7. To condition your hair continue using the same method. Be generous with the amount of conditioner you use, elongate the hair, work in sections, and rinse.
  8. When drying your hair squeeze out as much of the water as you can before towel drying; as much as possible, avoid rubbing your hair with your towel (try hair plopping!) — especially if you’ve chosen not to braid or twist your hair in sections. This will help to prevent tangles.

I know a lot of naturals prefer to use sulfate-free shampoos, but to date I have not tried using any of these products. However, because I do use shampoos that contain sulfates I only wash my hair with shampoo once every two weeks. If I choose to wash my hair between my scheduled washdays I usually co-wash it, which is a method of cleansing the hair with conditioner.

What does your hair washing regime look like?