Perfecting the art of the wash-and-go is essential when it comes to fine-tuning your natural hair routine, and the first step is curating an arsenal of superstar products best suited for you and your texture. When I finally sprouted hair at the tender age of 2.5, it seemed like it came all at once. I’m convinced my scalp was making up for those first few years of peach fuzz, blessing me (though it sometimes feels like a curse) with a head full of extra-thick, gloriously unruly 3C curls. Throughout my childhood and teen years, I spent endless hours detangling, primping, and attempting to “tame” them, so I’ve gotten to know their quirks, perks, and downfalls like the back of my… head. When I landed in the digital media world, I was afforded the opportunity to test a ton of products, learning to better tackle the woes that come along with curly living.
It took some time to get on good terms with my curls. My poor, brittle strands were flattened and manipulated with heat tools throughout a highly questionable MySpace-induced “scene” phase, ninth grade meltdowns, and four separate prom nights. I resisted nature for a long time until finally attempting to appreciate my natural texture and nourishing my tresses to their full potential. The more love and time I poured into my curls just as they were, the more my acceptance grew.
Say this five times fast: “The power of poppin’ curls is palpable.” Rocking your ringlets unapologetically can definitely turn some heads, and it empowers you with a sense of confidence that’s contagious. But you know what they say: With great power comes great responsibility, including the dreaded yet necessary process that is wash day. Once you inch your mane beneath the faucet, the trials and tribulations that follow can be strenuous, but the rejuvenation that takes place inside and out makes it worthwhile.
Despite its speedy-sounding name, a quality wash-and-go has several steps, so give yourself ample time for optimal results. If I can, I aim to carve out a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday, put on a podcast, and relax and stay a while. Making it a commitment to take your sweet time helps it feel more like a self-care ritual, which everyone should prioritize on the regular.
With places to go and patriarchy to dismantle, wasting precious hours on sub-par products isn’t the move for 2019 and beyond. You want to reap the fruits of your labor for as long as possible, and there’s nothing worse than committing to a full wash only to find a frizzy, tangled mess the very next day. When armed with potions that get the job done, you can go up to a week (sometimes more) without a wash, which makes the somewhat lengthy ritual pay off. In the spirit of reclaiming your time, check out six tried-and-true miracle products I always turn to for a top-notch wash-and-go.
Tangles, Be Gone!
IMO, the single most annoying part of wash day is detangling. This is one step that’s extremely important to approach with care. As frustrating as knots can be, hastily tugging at stubborn tangles is the worst thing you can do. To avoid unwanted breakage, I turn to a life-changing product from Devacurl that makes detangling so much more manageable. The slippery, sugar-based formula is unlike anything I’ve felt before. Ahead of your co-wash, coat your most difficult strands with this ultra-slick pre-cleanse and finger-detangle seamlessly.
No ’Poo? No Problem
A few years ago, I essentially left shampoo by the wayside. Despite being taught it’s a necessity early on, the sulfates and parabens found in most shampoos are extremely drying for hair types that lack natural oils. Unless I for some reason feel remarkably dirty (e.g., I went camping, stumbled into a trash can, or rolled around in the sand—which, like, don’t put it past me), I skip it altogether.
Obviously, product buildup and environmental pollutants are real, but there are plenty of co-washes on the market now, so getting your hands on a great alternative is easier than ever. I love New Wash (Rich) from Hairstory, an offbeat, New York–based hair brand you need on your radar. This blend of essential oils and detergent-free cleansers is clean and green, and the naturally derived fragrance is so energizing.
The O.G. Essential
As you well know, conditioner is basically the lifeblood of any curly hair routine. I always have a great laugh when brands suggest a “dime-sized dollop” of product because, realistically, I need about five times that amount. Nailing down your favorite formula is key, and this intensely hydrating sulfate-free option from Ouidad is ideal for my tight curl pattern. Jam-packed with botanicals and vitamins for definition and shine, it leaves curls buoyant without heaviness weighing them down.
Go the Extra Mile
Masking obviously isn’t always in the cards, but I aim to do it twice a month if possible. Making time to go above and beyond for hydration feels so luxurious, and you can throw on a face mask too while you’re at it. I’ve tried a long list of deep conditioning treatments, and this award-winning Briogeo formula is at the top of my list. Free of sulfates, parabens, and silicones, it’s luscious and creamy without feeling dense, and it’s packed with B-vitamins and rosehip and argan oils to replenish tired, lackluster strands.
Work it through your entire head with your fingers, focusing on the ends, which tend to be particularly parched. For optimal results, throw on a plastic cap and apply heat with a blow dryer. Rinse after 30 minutes.
Amp Up the Definition
Once you step out of the shower, you’ve only conquered half the battle. In order to cash in on all the TLC you just poured into your locks, reach for quality styling products that will fight frizz, seal in moisture, and define your curl pattern in all its glory.
Coconut oil, pineapple extract, and hyaluronic acid comprise this defining cream from Pacifica, and aside from taming frizz and adding shine, it’ll leave you smelling like a tropical vacation even if you’re really on a crowded Monday morning subway ride.
Lock In the Moisture
A major misconception in the beauty world is that oil has the power to moisturize. Contrary to popular belief, oil works best when used to lock in hydration from water-based products. It’s more like a safeguard for all of the moisturizing formulas used earlier in the process, so a great multi-use oil will help you get the most out of your leave-in conditioners, styling milks, and so on. Once your hair has air-dried, finish it off with a few spritzes of this jojoba seed oil to seal in moisture and amp up the shine, making for a gorgeous, lustrous texture that won’t go unnoticed.
Some Parting Thoughts
At the end of the day, defining your perfect product lineup is an ongoing journey of trial and error, and this list can be tweaked with alternate formulas based on your own pattern and specific needs and concerns. The road toward embracing your natural texture is often winding, but it’s all about having fun and discovering your own special hacks along the way.
This article was originally published at an earlier date and has been updated.