How to Style Your Wash-and-Go So Your Curls Don't Fall Flat

Three celebrity hairstylists share their expert tips.           

Why Your Wash and Go Is Falling Flat, According to Natural Hair Gurus
Photo: Getty Images

All curly, kinky, and coily queens know that wash days can be 12-hour affairs. (Cue upper arm muscle burn and prayers that your hair will turn out the way it did the last time).

So on days when you don't have the time, or if you simply like how your hair looks naturally without styling tools, a wash-and-go is probably one of your go-to's.

But, with the abundance of wash-and-go tutorials and products for natural hair, how do you know what to do and what to use if your wash-and-go falls flat?

What Is a Wash-and-Go?

A wash-and-go is a method of styling your hair, without manipulation or heat, although many stylists allow for a hooded dryer or diffusing. If you're doing it correctly, it's a quick and easy style that moisturizes and gives your tresses a break from the damage of heat styling tools. You simply just need to wash, add styling products that work for your curl pattern, then hit the road.

What's the Best Way To Do a Wash-and-Go?

Step 1: Cleansing and Conditioning

According to Nai'vasha, a celebrity curl expert and founder of Curl Queen, there's are "rules and order to achieve perfection." For starters, she says to begin by sectioning hair into quadrants and then detangle your hair thoroughly.

Starting with a clean slate is one of the most important steps to a flawless wash-and-go, so shampoo your hair twice to get rid of debris and product buildup accumulated since your last wash. Cleansing also prepares your curls for moisture and styling. For the best results, use a product that's both cleansing and moisturizing. Nai'vasha recommends the Curl Queen Moisture Therapy Shampoo and Kérastase Bain Fluidealiste Shampoo.

Since natural hair tends to be drier and more fragile than other hair types, conditioning is an imperative stage in the process. It replaces moisture loss from cleansing, smooths the hair cuticles, and combats breakage by making detangling easier. Nai'vasha says to towel-dry your hair before adding conditioner, then start from the ends and work your way to the roots. Detangle while the conditioner is in your hair to emulsify and make the process a little easier. Then, leave in for 10 minutes and rinse with cool water.

Takisha Sturdivant-Drew, a New York-based celebrity hairstylist, recommends taking it a step further by adding a conditioning mask. "Matrix's A Curl Can Dream Rich Mask is deeply hydrating, softens the hair right away, and detangles instantly — it's so amazing for curls and coils," she says.

To make your hair extra soft, Sturdivant-Drew suggests putting on a plastic cap and going under a heating cap or dryer for 20 minutes before rinsing it out. Just make sure you thoroughly rinse out all the conditioner, so residue doesn't sit on your hair, weigh it down, and prevent your hair from absorbing styling products.

VIDEO: Expert-Approved Tips for Taking Care of Curly Hair

Step 2: Styling

Michelle O'Connor, the Global Artistic Director at Matrix, saysthat once you make sure your hair has been properly detangled, apply a leave-in, then follow-up with the styling products appropriate for your curl pattern. She says to make sure you aren't taking very large sections when applying your products — you have to take subsections and coat all the curls. The thicker the hair, or the smaller the curl pattern, the smaller the sections should be.

If you're looking for a stronger hold, O'Connor recommends using the brand's A Curl Can Dream Moisturizing Cream, and if your curl pattern and texture call for a lighter hold, the A Curl Can Dream Light Hold Gel.

"Lastly, I like to add an oil for the shine and lubricity of the strands. Oil also helps to preserve the moisture in the hair post-wash day routine," she says. "This can be applied to the hair while it's wet or once your wash-and-go has dried to soften or break up a gel cast."

Any Tips for Drying?

O'Connor says you can minimize drying time by using a hooded dryer, or a diffuser, which will add a bit more volume. If you're air-drying, refrain from touching your hair while it's drying and keep the weather in consideration: hair in colder and drier weather will take longer to dry than in hotter climates. This is where diffusing or sitting under a hooded dryer would be the most efficient option.

Just note that Nai'vasha says that one of the biggest mistakes people make is over-drying their hair. Your natural curls can rest more authentically when less manipulated.

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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