There can be several reasons why your wash and go is unsuccessful. Here are some of the more common reasons your wash and go didn’t work and how you can avoid making those mistakes in the future.
A clean scalp is the foundation for styling success. In addition to creating an environment that promotes growth and healthy hair, routinely cleansing your scalp also removes the product build up that can be detrimental to the success of your wash and go. Co-washing won’t get you there and neither will a gentle rinse or spritzing your hair with water. In order to make sure you are getting the best results; you have to start with a clean canvas. A lot of the products we love, tend to be rich creams loaded with oils and butters that leave a film on the hair strands. This film, when not properly removed from the hair will build up and prevent your hair from properly reacting to the stylers that you use to create your wash and go.
How to fix it:
- Wash your hair with shampoo. Depending on the level of buildup on your strands you may need to use a stronger shampoo initially to effectively remove the buildup from your hair. More gentle shampoos can be used routinely once the initial buildup is successfully removed. For more information on the different types of shampoo and which one may be right for you check out “Wash day Essentials”
- Read the ingredients in your products. In addition to heavy creams, oils, and butter, products containing glycerin and silicone can also contribute to excessive product build up. While you don’t have to stop using these products, you should be more diligent on wash day to make sure you are thoroughly removing them before styling.
- Consider more plant-based water-soluble products. This won’t completely eliminate the risk of product buildup; however, these products are easier to remove during washing and will reduce the risk of excessive buildup.
You aren’t using the correct styler
Styler i.e. the products you are using to create your desired hair style. The most common stylers are foam, gel, or cream based and range from light to strong hold. Different hair styles require specific stylers to create the look and longevity that you desire. Leave-in conditioners are not stylers, moisturizers are not stylers, and oils and raw butters are not stylers. While these items may allow you to see some curl definition, they don’t provide the hold needed to retain length (i.e. reduce shrinkage) or ensure longevity of your wash and go.
How to fix it
- Add a gel to you styling routine. Using a gel as a styler does not mean you hair will be hard, crunchy, or lack movement, even gels with stronger hold can create beautiful curls that are full of life. Quality gels are designed to provide flexible hold and will give the definition and longevity you desire from a wash and go. If you are not feeling the day one curl look, break the gel cast and fluff you curls for a more voluminous look.
- Be intentional about your purchases. Selecting a product because it looks or smells good, but doesn’t meet the need of helping you create your desired style, is a waste of money. Twisting butters are not for wash and gos, neither are braiding gels or moisturizing creams. Consider this the next time you’re on the hunt for products, and select a product that is designed to help you successfully achieve your wash and go.
You are applying the styler incorrectly
The devil is in the details. Proper application of the correct products makes a big difference when it comes to how your wash and go will look and how long it will last. Too much product and your hair may experience white residue and flaking. Too little product and you may lack definition and longevity of your style. Finding the correct product water mix will ensure you create the look you want without the excessive flaking.
How to fix it
- Use more water. Styling on dry or damp hair ain’t gonna cut it. When creating your wash and go, water is going to be your best friend. Most quality stylers will require your hair to be soaking wet to achieve the best results. Having thoroughly wet hair makes it easier to evenly distribute the product throughout your hair, allows you to use less product, and reduces excessive flaking.
- Listen for the “squish”. If you’re trying to figure out if you have the right water to product balance, listen for the squish. For products applied to dripping wet hair, once you have added the desired amount of product, gently squeeze the section and listen for that squishy sound, no squish, add a little more water.
- Thoroughly work the product into the strands. In addition to the sound, when applying product, your hair should feel smooth. It is not enough to simply coat the hair with product. Many times, especially for lower porosity hair types, you need to thoroughly work the product into the strands. Smoothing from root to tip to make sure that the product is evenly and adequately distributed throughout the hair. While sometimes the solution to styling may be to add more water, hair that does not feel slick with product may require you to add more.
The products you are using don’t mix
Combining products can either work for you or against you when it comes to creating the bomb wash and go. There is some debate on whether or not the layering of products is required for success. The choice is yours; I have been successful in creating my desired style both with and without combining products. I have also learned that certain products perform better, styles last longer, and the end results look better when products are combined or layered. Though the process is not complicated, using products that pair well together can determine success. Products that are incompatible will result in poorly defined styles that lack longevity, excessive buildup (clumping of product on the strands that won’t dissolve even when worked into the hair), and excessive flaking.
How to fix it:
- Test the compatibility before application. A simple palm test can be the difference between a fail and success. Simply mix a small amount of the products you want to layer in the palm of your hand to see if they will mix. Products that mix well will blend into each other without clumping or beading up. Products that are incompatible will not mix smoothly into each other and will often form beads or clumps. What it does in your hand will be what happens in your hair, if there are clumps then that is not a good combination for your hair.
- Skip the heavy oils and butters. A lot of plant-based gels don’t mix well with heavier products like oils and butters. When mixed, they can cause clumping of the products or the hair to appear undefined and dehydrated. If you have to use a leave-in or cream, consider one that is plant based and/or from the same brand that creates the styler you are using to create your wash and go.
The humidity is working against you
Humidity can turn the best executed wash and go into a shrunken, frizzy halo of curls in a matter of minutes. Don’t get me wrong, I am fine with rocking a little frizz, but I would prefer to see it on day four or five, not on day one after I spent my precious time creating a masterpiece. In humid conditions, dry hair will attempt to receive moisture from the atmosphere. As the hair strand swells and the cuticle lifts, the result is an overall frizzy appearance to the hair.
How to fix it:
- Routinely cleanse your hair. Hydration comes from water; routine cleansing of the scalp and conditioning of the strands creates an environment that promotes healthy hydrated hair. During the shampoo process, removal of buildup, dirt and oils from the hair allows the strands to readily receive moisture and become hydrated.
- Layer your gels. For weatherproof curls, consider layering of gels to improve longevity of your style and reduce frizz. Adding a gel that has anti-humectant properties will prevent moisture from escaping the strands and reduce the potential for frizz. For more information on humidity and frizz, check out “Holy Humidity.”
Bonus Tip: Get up close and personal with your hair! Knowing the key characteristics of your hair will help you better understand your hair care needs, what products will work best, what styles will work best, and how to set realistic expectations for your hair and the styles you are creating.