Jay Cee: How to Wash your Hair to Retain Maximum Length
I want to dispel the myth that you need the whole day for this. You really don’t. It can be as short as an hour. Also note that if you are a lazy natural, you don’t have to DIY anything including the wash process. You can carry your products with you to the salon (if they don’t have quality natural hair products).
The general order of wash day is prepoo, cleanse, rinse, deep condition, rinse, moisturize and style.
- Prepooing. This is your pre-shampoo treatment. It prevents your hair from being stripped or completely dried out by your shampoo. It also prevents hygral fatigue by slowing the rapid absorption of water. Your hair, when it comes into contact with water swells and when it dries it contracts. This is normal but you want to control how much it’s swelling and contracting. Think of your hair as a rubber band being pulled. Too much pulling will make it overstretch and lose elasticity leading to breakage eventually. This is a slow process so you may not see it happening. The only indication will be your hair growth seemingly stagnant. It is best done with a penetrating oil. Coconut oil is good because it helps bind protein to your hair. Every time you wash or even style your hair you loose a little bit of protein. Protein makes your hair strong. If you are allergic to coconut oil you can use olive oil, ghee or avocado oil.
To prepoo simply apply your oil generously to your hair and let it sit for at least 30 minutes under a shower cap. Overnight is even better. That way it has time to penetrate. Then add conditioner and detangle if you prefer to detangle before washing.
- Cleansing your hair. You can use a shampoo, African black soap or a co-wash conditioner to wash your hair instead of shampoo. For shampoos choose sulfate free shampoos. Conditioners have mild cleansing powers which means they don’t clean everything which means at some point you will have to shampoo. I find it best to alternate shampoo and co-washing. Also co-washing doesn’t work for everyone but feel free to try it and see how it feels for you. You can use regular silicone free conditioner or one labelled “Co-Wash”.
- Deep condition your hair with a moisturising deep conditioner. This helps you retain moisture for longer, prevents static, helps detangle, and makes hair so much easier to work with. A moisturising deep conditioner is anything that doesn’t have hydrolysed protein in it. You can also make your own moisturising deep conditioner from kitchen ingredients like bananas, avocado’s, honey etc. Do a moisturising deep conditioning treatment every time you wash your hair especially if your hair is prone to dryness. Deep conditioners will typically be labelled as such or as a masque.
- Protein treatments. These are done periodically. Not every wash day. The purpose is to strengthen your hair by using hydrolysed protein to fill in any tiny cracks within the hair shaft. When your hair is still “young” you may not see the effect of using or not using protein treatments but you will definitely start to see it from about 4-5 years. If you are diligent about hair care and have managed to minimise breakage then this is about the time you hair would begin to reach about waist length. Older hair tends to need protein more so for those in this category try to do your protein treatments. You also need them if you heat straighten your hair, have coloured your hair, get it braided or weaved or manipulate your hair alot. The general rule is to do them once every 6 to 8 weeks. Remember to always do them on hair that has been cleaned with shampoo (not co-washed). And always follow with a moisturising deep conditioner. Otherwise your hair will be dry and brittle. Remember to always look for hydrolysed protein in the first 10 ingredients. If it’s further down the list that means there isn’t enough of that ingredient in the product. Hydrolysed protein means protein that has been broken down into a form that is small enough to penetrate the hair shaft. Food protein cannot do that so it’s less effective as a protein treatment.
- Drying your hair. Remember when drying your hair to leave it a little damp. Avoid rubbing it with a towel. Little hairs get caught in the fibers and break off. Instead try a t-shirt or Leso. Just tie your head with it and let it catch the excess water.
All in all wash day should be a pleasant experience. It is time to pamper yourself so schedule it in a way that you are comfortable, and not in a hurry. Also don’t include too many steps on one day that make it seem like a chore.
Your wash day can be weekly, once every two weeks or once a month. I don’t recommend that you go over 4 weeks without washing your hair and scalp. . Wash days also rehydrate our hair much better than spritzing or re-applying moisturisers. It gives your hair that fresh slate so it can absorb products better. For those who have braided or weaved here is how to care for your hair in braids.