Updated: May 2, 2021
*FULL DISCLOSURE* This isn’t always my wash day routine. Sometimes I’m lazy and don’t feel like doing all these steps… other times I don’t have the time or patience. This is my routine on a day when I'm feelinnnn good and have time and energy. Feel free to skip steps on some days and do what works best for you. The “how-to” section underneath each step is the way I prefer to do my hair.
Step 1: GET YA MIND RIGHT
This lowkey might be the most important step of them all. Before you even touch your hair… you HAVE to prepare that mind. It seems dramatic, but it makes the
process go much smoother. You can’t be annoyed, impatient, or angry because you will take it out on your hair when it doesn’t cooperate. Eat, take a nap, and do whatever you need to before you start your hair. You will be happy and more importantly, YOUR HAIR will be happy that you prepared yourself.
Step 2: Pre-Poo (20 - 45 mins)
Prepoo is the process of putting extra oils and moisture into your hair so that when you shampoo, (which will strip your hair of its natural oils) there will already be additional moisture in your hair. The best comparison I use to understand this process is with washing dishes. After keeping oily food in a container, I will try to wash a dish and I will use soap, scrub it, rinse it off… but the dish will still be oily and I will need to keep using more soap to clean it. I feel like this is what happens with our hair. When we put the oils in before we shampoo, even after shampooing some of the oil and moisture will still be left behind. I am a strong advocate for water and how much it helps our hair but this is a step that I will emphasize using minimal water. The focus in this step is the OILS not water. When selecting pre-poo oils it is important you choose ones that penetrate the hair shaft. Penetrating the hair shaft means absorbing into your hair rather than sitting on top of your hair. Oils that penetrate the hair shaft include:
I use a combination of coconut and olive oil for my pre-poo step; some people use conditioners for theirs. I have heard that conditioner isn’t really effective as a prepoo because it's mostly water. I will include youtube videos down below as to why conditioners aren’t effective as a prepoo. Some companies sell pre-poo products but since I already own oil I have never felt the need to try one.
Section your DRY hair.
Put a LARGE amount of oil into your hands.
Slide oil on your hair and focus on rubbing into your hair rather than scalp.
Finger detangle the section. (If your hair is too tangled to do this step on dry hair, still put the oils in and let them sit, then detangle later in the shower.)
Let oil sit in hair using plastic cap or bag.
*Use A LOT of oil in this step, don’t be afraid to really cover your hair in oil. I let it sit for at least an hour in my hair, but the longer the better. Sometimes I do this process the night before Wash Day and put a plastic bag on my head then wake up and start my wash routine.*
Step 3: Detangle & Section (20 - 30 mins)
This step is usually combined with the prepoo process, but I figured it was best to put it as a separate step because I don’t always prepoo. I typically have the best wash days when I detangle my hair before shampooing and twist my hair in about 6-10 chunky twists. They don't need to be neat or organized twists, I do this so that I have easy access to my scalp. My hair is extremely thick so when I try to shampoo without sections sometimes I feel like the shampoo isn’t getting to every part of my scalp. The twists also help my hair to not get too detangled during the shampoo process.
Use your FINGERS. (I rarely use combs/brushes because they can't feel the knots in my head, they just pull them out. You can feel knots and detangle gently.)
Take your time and do small sections.
Twist when section is complete.
*if I skip the pre-poo step, I use water during this process*
Step 4: Shampoo (20-40 mins)
This step is important for cleansing your hair. Although most shampoos remove all your natural oils and moisture, it also cleans your scalp which is the birthplace of all your hair. It’s a necessary step! Some people use sulfate-free shampoos, (sulfate is the ingredient in shampoos that strips all the moisture and oils) which can still clean your hair but it may take more product and more massaging of the scalp for it to be as effective as shampoos with sulfates. I go back and forth between using shampoos with sulfate and sulfate-free shampoos. It depends how dirty my hair is and how I am feeling, but just make sure you are deep conditioning and moisturizing your hair well if you use a shampoo with sulfates. You don’t always have to follow the hype so do what works for your hair!
I wash my hair…. Brace yourself… about ONCE every 6 weeks. People are always surprised when I say this. This is best for me because my scalp doesn’t get very dirty and I have never struggled with dandruff. Plus, when I wash my hair it starts a whole process of a lot of manipulation, touching, and styling my hair. My hair has always been healthiest and grown the longest when I just leave it alone. Some people wash their hair every 2 weeks...or every month, but I can only speak on what’s worked for me! In between shampoo washes I co-wash or just rinse old products out of my hair and re-style. I don’t like stripping my hair of its natural moisture so often.
Drench hair in warm water and try to rinse out all the products used to style or moisturize.
Focus on applying the shampoo to your SCALP, rather than your hair.
Massage your hair in similar directions when shampooing - you can cause more knots and tangles when you just scrub your scalp in random directions.
Rinse with warm water. (warm water is great for cleansing)
Repeat (I repeat these steps again if I know my hair is extra dirty.)
Step 5: Deep Condition (15 - 60 mins)
This is my favorite part of wash day because I can sit around and recover from all my hard work lol. Deep conditioning is the step that puts all the moisture you just removed back into your hair. Just remember there is a such thing as over conditioning and there's no need to keep it in overnight.
Focus on applying the deep conditioner to your HAIR, not scalp.
Untwist and apply generously in sections especially to your ends which are the oldest part of your hair.
Detangle with deep conditioner in your hair if needed.
Cover with microwavable heat cap (what I use) or plastic bag/cap (It has been proven that heat helps with absorption of deep conditioner)
Let sit for 20 - 60 mins. (I always do an hour)
Rinse with COOL water (cool water will lock the moisture in, rather than rinsing it all out)
Dry with a T-SHIRT (I prefer this because I like my hair still damp for styling. Some people claim using a t-shirt helps with shine and frizz but I have never noticed that so I can’t speak on those benefits.)
Step 6: Condition (5 - 30 mins) *Optional*
If you don’t have time to do a deep conditioning treatment, you can just use a normal conditioner and follow the same steps as the deep conditioning step. Step is instead "Let sit for 5-10 minutes while you shower." It's always a good time to detangle while conditioner is in your hair because it provides extra slip. Make sure you still are rinsing the conditioner out with COOL (not ice cold) water. Every once in a while I condition even after deep conditioning, but it isn’t necessary.
Step 7: Moisturize & Style (15 mins - eternity)
This is when you prepare your Netflix series to binge watch, turn on a podcast, music or something! Whether you're doing a wash n 'go', twists, braids, bantu knots... it's probably not about to take five minutes. Blog coming soon on my longest step of Wash Day!
GRAND TOTAL: (2 HOURS - ETERNITY)
I hope this was a clear and helpful blog on my wash day steps! I included videos down below of quality Wash Day Routines and the difference between pre-pooing with conditioners versus oils. Comment below any questions you may have or steps that differ from your wash day routine.