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Your Guide To Achieving The Perfect Wash And Go Hairstyle

woman with natural curly hair

Having natural hair is in some ways like having a part-time job. Trust me, I’d know. As someone who’s been natural for almost seven years, I still find myself learning something new about my curls with every wash day. The versatility of natural hair is undoubtedly something to behold. It comes in different textures, different curl patterns (even in one head of hair), and different densities.

That said, to successfully wash and go natural hair, there’s no one size fits all approach. It’s a complex process marked by lots of product (conditioner in particular), lots of water, and lots of patience. If you’re lacking in the patience department, dreading having to figure it out yourself, don’t worry.

Ahead, find out everything you need to know about how to achieve your best wash and go ever.

Good hair day by @lamajbackwards.

What is a wash and go on natural hair?

A wash and go is a wash day system meant to cleanse, hydrate, and define curls to its most optimal levels. This is done through a cocktail of products, beginning with a thorough clarifying of both the hair and scalp.

It’s important to note that the name can be a tad bit deceiving, as a successful wash and go requires more than just washing and going about your day. The steps for achieving the perfect wash and go include shampooing, conditioning, styling, and drying.

Good hair day by @naivashaintl.

Are wash and gos good for natural hair?

Absolutely. When you wash and go natural hair correctly and not too frequently, the method is wonderful for hair growth and scalp health. It requires minimal manipulation and tension, douses hair in the right amount of moisture, and keeps curl patterns in tip-top shape.

Good hair day by @slipsilkpillowcase.

How do you keep a wash and go overnight?

Maintaining a wash and go while sleeping isn’t as simple as just calling it a night and laying down on your pillow. Instead, try the pineapple method, which includes lightly tossing all the hair to the top of head, securing with a silk scrunchie, and wrapping the perimeter of the hair with a silk scarf. Sleep on a silk pillowcase to further ensure that no cotton tugs on the hair shaft. Simply let down the hair in the morning, give it a light shake or fluff, and allow it to take shape.

How To Achieve A Wash And Go On Natural Hair


First, I must emphasize that hair should detangle your hair completely before shampooing to prevent possible matting. The most effective way to do so is taking a water-based detangler like Biolage’s Hydrasource Detangling Solution, saturating the hair, and detangling with a wide-tooth comb beginning from the ends and working up to the roots. After that, use a hydrating shampoo that won’t completely strip the curls of its natural oils like Redken’s All Soft Shampoo. You’ll be able to ensure a thorough cleansing of the hair shaft and scalp without having to worry about going overboard with styling products to replenish moisture.


I would say gather a “dime-sized” amount of conditioner, but come on. Us naturals know that whatever the bottle instructs, we need to quadruple that amount. Luckily, conditioners like Pureology’s Hydrate Conditioner come in massive sizes (34 oz. to be exact), made especially for those who need a lot of product to coat the hair.

Gather an adequate (or heaping) amount of product and work it into your curls. Next comes the finger detangling. Using your fingers versus a brush or comb creates a better slip, which results in less obstruction of the curl pattern, and ultimately leads to better definition. Allow the conditioner to continue to permeate for five to ten minutes before rinsing with lukewarm to cool water.


This is where the true work begins and the “go” in wash and go may seem a bit fleeting. The first step is always a leave-in, which should be applied when the hair is still saturated in water. Mizani’s 25 Miracle Milk is a great one to try, especially when you wash and go 4b or 4c hair. It hydrates deep into the curl and is lightweight, which makes it a great base for the heavier products to follow. This product also works as your first line of defense against frizz. When styling a wash and go for short natural hair, particularly, the leave-in should be worked deep into the roots as to guarantee definition all the way through the ringlets.

Next, it’s time for a curl-activating formula like Mizani’s Curl Defining Pudding. It’s a heavier product that’s ideal for wash and go hair due to its ability to elongate and define curls. Additionally, it deeply hydrates even the most porous of textures. To apply, scrunch it into the curls pushing upward rather than raking downward through the hair to avoid hindering the coils’ shape and style.

Finally, you have to lock in definition and moisture, and that comes with a holding gel. However, curly girls, especially those who wash and go 4c hair, know that flaking can be a major concern when doing this step. Not all curling gels are created equally, luckily, and formulas like Mizani’s True Textures Twist & Coil Jelly are proof of that. Free of silicone, wax, and petrolatum, curls will be hydrated and more defined rather than crunchy and stiff.


After your hair has been concentrated with curl-loving products, it’s time to let it dry. The most effective way is with a hooded dryer. If you prefer air-drying, however, be sure to keep the wet hair off of surfaces. We don’t want that mid-day nap to ruin all of our hard work. Take a diffuser and finish the job when the hair is about 75 percent dry, flipping your hair upside down and lightly working the styling tool atop the roots. Curls will be more voluminous and take on a more defined shape. To finish it off, Lightly work in a high-shine hair oil like Shu Uemura’s Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Oil to finish off your look. This formula provides increased shine, an intoxicating aroma, and a smidge more hydration.

Follow these four steps you need to get your wash and go natural hair more defined, hydrated, and shiny as ever!

Interested in more expert styling tips? Use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon near you.

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