I feel like my wash day routine has changed throughout my natural hair journey. It’s OK if your routine changes as your hair needs change. Some people change their routines based on seasons, but because I live in Los Angeles, and the weather is mostly the same year-round, my routine is pretty solid. If anything changes, it’s the products I use.
A few months back, I invested in a hard-water filter for my shower head. SoCal is known for having “hard” water. If you’re lucky enough to live in a city with decent water and have no idea what hard water is, it basically means that the water has a lot of minerals in it like calcium, magnesium, and even sulfates.
Some of us naturals have cut out products with sulfates, from our routine…but what’s the point if your water has sulfates? So, take note that due to this hard water issue, every step of my routine that involves water, requires me to be in the shower so that I can use filtered water. Seriously, I’m in and out of the shower a lot on wash day!
I start my wash day with an Olaplex treatment.
Olaplex is a brand that offers a series of bond builders. Without getting too technical, bonds make up your hair. There are three types of bonds, Hydrogen bonds, Disulfide Bonds, and Salt Bonds. When you get heat damage, or even as you simply get older, these bonds weaken.
When the bonds are weak, you may experience fragility in your hair or less elasticity – which is that “bounceback” everyone is looking for! I added Olaplex to my routine as a suggestion from my hairstylist and I love it!
Olaplex products are categorized by numbers that indicate the order of use. They range from Olaplex 0-7. Numbers 1 & 2, are exclusively for hair care professionals, i.e. hair stylists, but the one you NEED to have at home, is Olaplex number 3.
Quick note: Olaplex is used on DIRTY hair, BEFORE you wash and is not a deep conditioner.
Let’s get into my current wash day routine!
Step 1 – Pre-poo
This may not be a standard pre-poo, but since I do it before I wash my hair, I consider it pre-pooing.
I know some people dread wash day, but it really doesn’t have to be that bad. We love our hair and it’s important that we give it the moisture and hydration that it needs!
I hop in the shower and wet my hair for about 45 seconds to 1 minute. This is also the first time during my washday that I detangle. Next, I section my hair into four parts. I do this with my fingers – no need to make the parts equal!
Once I have my parts, I section each off with a clip. I find that butterfly clips (the black and white ones, not the cute little colorful ones), work really well and don’t break as often.
Once I have my sections, I take the Olaplex and run it through my hair. I also use a wide tooth comb at this point, starting from end to roots, making sure that I properly detangle my hair. This is the only point in my routine that I use a comb and after this, my hair is detangled enough to just use my fingers. If your hair is prone to tangling easily, finger detangling may not be the best option for you. You know your hair best!
Once all sections are detangled, I twist each section up in one chunky twist and throw on my plastic cap just so that my water doesn’t drip. I hop out of the shower, and leave the Olaplex in for at least 10 minutes. Honestly, I’ve left it in for as much as an hour before, with no problems!
Step 2 – Wash, Condition, & Deep Condition
Getting back in the shower, I rinse all of the Olaplex out and wash, condition, and deep condition my hair using Innersense Hydrating Cream Hairbath, conditioner, and the Hydrating Hair Masque, respectively.
To shampoo: I take a tiny amount of the shampoo and run it across my edges, and then do the same for the back of my head, as well as the middle of my head (on the scalp). You really don’t need that much of this shampoo, the lather is incredible! I add a little water by holding my head under the showerhead, and then I massage and cleanse my scalp. I focus on the scalp here and not necessarily my hair but the shampoo will make its way down to the hair as well. Then of course, I rinse all of the shampoo out!
If it is a wash day where I am also clarifying, I will use a clarifying shampoo before using the Innersense.
To condition: I section my hair into four again then take some of the conditioner and rub it into my hands (as if I’m washing my hands). I then rake it through my detangled hair, from ends to roots. This time I focus on my strands and not my scalp and then I twist each section just as I did when I used the Olaplex. Next, I rinse my hair while keeping all four twists still in. This is because I’ll need those same sections when I deep condition.
To deep condition: I squeeze a little of the Innersense hair masque into my hands, rub my hands together and rake it through my hair, twisting it back up when I’m done. Once all four sections have the masque and are twisted, I put my plastic cap on, get out of the shower, and grab my Hot Head. A hot head is a bonnet-like heat cap. I always deep condition with heat and I love the hot head because you can throw it in the microwave, put it on your hair and then continue to do other things while you deep condition. I deep condition for 30 minutes and then it’s time to style!
Step 3 – Styling
My styling routine is actually fairly simple, only two products. Currently, I am only using water-based styling products. I’m using Uncle Funky’s Daughter Curly Stimulator as my styling gel, and then Innersense I Create Hold on top of that, to….well, create hold lol!
And yes, I’m headed back to the shower to style!
I rinse the deep conditioner out, while my hair is still twisted up, so that I can keep the sections. I style my hair in small sections to get maximum definition. I break my four sections into smaller sections.
First, I wet the section of my hair that I will be working on, then I squeeze about 1-2 pumps of the Curly Stimulator into my hands and then rub it together really well. I run it through my hair from ends to roots, softly.
Sis! There is no need to rip through your hair! Take your time and be kind to your strands, lightly detangling if you need to. I then take about 1 pump of the “I create Hold”. I like a little less of the holding gel, so that my hair is softer and doesn’t have such a cast.
After I have styled my entire head, I actually shower to make sure that I get all of the product off of me and then it’s time to dry!
Step 4 – Drying
I used to be a strict air dryer, but honestly, it takes too long and I end up having products all over as it dries and that’s a no-go for me.
I grab my diffuser and get the front of my hair first. I have bangs and I don’t like having wet hair hanging in my face. Side note: I also cleanse my face after my hair dries, you don’t want dried up products sitting on your face all day, that’s how you get breakouts!
I diffuse my hair about 90% and then air dry the rest. I also make sure to give my curls a shake during the drying process. This is so that my hair maintains movement and doesn’t dry all stuck together! Once dry, my wash and go will last about a week. Losing definition and gaining volume as the week progresses. Personally, day 3 is my favorite. The cast is usually completely gone and my hair is big and fluffy.
Wash day doesn’t have to be complicated. Find a routine that works for you and your hair, and stick to it, changing seasonally if needed. Most importantly, always remember that YOU know your hair best. If you tried something suggested by someone (even a stylist) and it isn’t working for you, it’s OK to stop doing it. Focus on keeping your routine doable for you and your hair will thank you!
La Shané is a natural hair, lifestyle, and mental health awareness blogger. As a native Angelino she loves allowing her 4B curls to thrive in the Cali Sun! She’s currently experimenting with water-based hair products and loves sharing her reviews! For more natural hair tips and product reviews, you can follow her @naturalnae_la