These Are the Best Wash Day Products to Use When You Have a Protective Style

It's all about nourishing your scalp — and that new growth.

Wash Day Products for Protective Styles
Photo: Fresh Splash/Getty Images

Ahh, protective styling. A.k.a. that eight-week break you get to take from weekly detangling, twisting, and wash-and-gos. But it's all fun and games until wash day comes around — the one step you can't skip.

I mean, yes, I do admit that wash day with braids is a hell of a lot easier than washing my thick head of curls. But to master cleansing your scalp while still trying to keep the rest of your style looking fresh takes practice, and most importantly patience.

However, the feeling of a clean, refreshed scalp is reward enough for all that effort.

Here, I chatted with Brendnetta Ashley, artist-educator at The Salon by InStyle Inside JCPenney to get some tips on how to best wash your hair when it's in a protective style, along with the most effective products to use to get the job done. I also threw in a couple of my favorites as well.

Read on to discover our tips and picks.

What's the Best Method For Washing My Hair While It's In a Protective Style?

The focus should always be on the scalp and your new growth during this time. However, the rest of the hair shaft (including any extensions you used) will need some TLC as well.

Start off by sectioning your style into four parts, then tie a scrunchie around the ends, so you still have access to your roots. Next, wet hair if needed and apply a cleanser to your scalp section by section.

"Gently use your finger tips to massage the shampoo on your scalp," Ashley suggests.

Once you're done, take out the scrunchie and rinse. "While rinsing, the shampoo will run down your braids," the stylist explains.

Why Is Scalp Care So Important?

Simple, you can't expect anything good to grow from bad soil, right?

"Your scalp has to be healthy and free of build-up for your hair to grow," says Ashley. "Washing your hair while in a protective style will keep your scalp free of build-up."

Aside from that, if you're using edge control or a scalp cream in-between washes, you'll not only feel the residue, but you'll start to notice a white film on top of the hair. And once it's time to take your style out, those big chunks of sticky build-up become difficult to remove, and can lead to breakage.

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The Best Wash Day Products for Protective Styles

Carol's Daughter Wash Day Delight

wash day delight

Let me be completely honest here: this product totally lives up to the name, because it is a true delight to use on wash day. The spout applicator makes it super easy to apply directly to the scalp and it rinses out easily — there will be no residue or build-up to be found once you're done. Oh, and it smells like heaven.

To shop: $13;

Mizani True Textures Cream Cleansing Conditioner

cleansing conditioner

"[This] is a great cleanser for the scalp while still being moisturizing," explains Ashley. "Rinse with lukewarm water, apply product to your fingertips and lightly massage on your scalp. Then rinse until the water is clear."

To shop: $18;

dpHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse

apple cider rinse

This apple cider vinegar rinse is the holy grail when it comes to washing away residue, impurities, and build-up. And it does all this without leaving your hair feeling like straw. Simply wet your scalp, apply, massage in, then rinse.

To shop: $57;

Carol's Daughter Goddess Strength 7 Oil Blend Hair & Scalp Oil

carols daughter oil

This oil is what I always reach for after I've dried off my ends. While my roots are still wet, I apply it all over and gently rub it in. Once I'm done, all I'm left with is soft, nourished new growth and a soothed scalp — not oil dripping all over my face. Thank God.

To shop: $14;

Mizani 25 Miracle Milk Leave-In Conditioner

mizani miracle milk

Ashley is a fan of this light, ultra-moisturizing mist that you can spray directly onto the scalp and throughout the hair shaft.

To shop: $17;

This is All Natural. From the kinkiest coils to loose waves, we're celebrating natural hair in its many forms by sharing expert tips for styling, maintenance, and haircare.

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