By: Tawanda Johnson (TJLuvsbeingnatural)
As with most things when it comes to natural hair, there are various ways that you can effectively wash your tresses. Preferences are typically dependent on hair length and texture. One of the first and most important things to understand when it comes to washing natural hair is why ordinary shampoo is not the ideal choice.
Most ordinary shampoos contain sulfate. This is the ingredient that causes the lather most of us grew up believing to be the sole cleansing agent for our hair. While sulfates do strip away dirt and excess oil from our hair, it also strips away the natural oils that our hair needs to stay healthy. As a result of being stripped of these natural oils, hair can become dry, itchy and frizzy. This is primarily why washing with a sulfate free shampoo or co-washing (washing the hair with conditioner) is the more ideal options for cleaning natural hair.
Contrary to popular belief among those who are not natural or newly natural, conditioner is very capable of cleansing the hair. Along with containing moisturizing ingredients, conditioners also include cleansing agents that most of us are unaware of until we enter the world of kinks and curls. This no-poo or co-wash method is my favorite technique and is widely used in the natural hair community in an effort to ward off dry, and frizzy curls while still obtaining clean hair.
Like many other natural hair maintenance techniques, co-washing isn’t for everyone. Some prefer the use of shampoo, as hair may not feel as clean with a co-wash as it would with shampoo. In these cases conditioner is often times applied to the hair prior to using a sulfate free shampoo. This technique is referred to as pre-pooing. A thorough pre-poo helps by adding moisture to the follicles of the hair to prepare it for heavy manipulation.
Sectioning & Combing
Once you have determined which washing technique works best for you, a method that can be extremely helpful in aiding the cleanse of your tresses if it’s reasonably long is to section the hair and thoroughly work the product(s) through each section. After growing my natural hair for almost 3 years I am a huge advocate of this method. Some like to use a wide tooth comb during this process, which can help to work the product in the hair and aid with detangling. I personally prefer to finger comb my hair. I find that it helps maintain my curl pattern when I do this.
After you’re done washing your hair be sure to either allow your hair to air dry or just use a plain t-shirt. Squeezing rather than rubbing the hair is important as it will help to prevent breakage.
Remember, finding a washing process that works for you is about trial and error. You will get to a point where you realize that one technique suits your curls better than the other. It all comes with the territory of getting to know your hair. Try not to be overly concerned with doing everything right, because you won’t. But, it’s ok! Once you figure it out, and you will figure it out, your healthy hair journey will be well on its way.