If you struggle with dry natural hair, the wash and go (i.e., wash n go) is a great style to try for many reasons. The wash and go styling process promotes hair health and leaves you with moisturized, defined curls.
In addition, not only is the style simple to achieve, but it can be done on various hair lengths, hair types, and textures. In this article, we’ll give you step-by-step instructions on how to do a wash and go hairstyle.
Table of Contents
- What Is a Wash and Go?
- How To Do a Wash and Go (Wash n Go) Hairstyle
- Prepare Your Hair
- Complete Your Hairstyle
- Pros and Cons
- Dos and Don’ts
What Is a Wash and Go?
A wash and go hairstyle, also called a wash n go, is when you wear your hair in its natural curl pattern highlighting your hair texture. This style is done without using any heat styling tools or extensions.
It’s a common style for women with a busy lifestyle. Regardless of your curl pattern, or where you fit on the popular hair typing charts (e.g., type 4 hair type), a wash and go hairstyle should be an option within your hair care routine.
Note: If you’re interested in learning more about hair texture and hair types, read this article covering type 1, type 2, type 3, and type 4 classifications.
How To Do a Wash and Go (Wash n Go) Hairstyle
Even for hairstyles that don’t require extensions, it is always essential to make sure you have all the necessary supplies on hand before you begin.
Also, this style generally requires a lot of products, so make sure that you aren’t running low on any of your favorite styling products.
Hair Prep Supplies:
- Clarifying shampoo and moisturizing shampoo (unless you’ll be co-washing)
- Moisturizing conditioner
- Deep conditioner (optional)
- Wide-tooth comb for sectioning your hair and detangling
- Denman brush for detangling
- Alligator clips for sectioning (optional)
- Denman brush
- Spray bottle filled with water
- Oil of your choice
- Styling lotion or cream of your choice (Moroccanoil Curl Defining Cream is one of our favorite curl creams)
- Styling gel of your choice
- Alligator clips
- Hair dryer with diffuser attachment (optional)
- Hair bonnet or silk scarf
Prepare Your Hair
If you want to achieve the best wash and go results possible, it is crucial to prepare your hair before styling. You’ll want to start this style with clean and moisturized hair. The following sections will tell you how to prep your hair.
Shampoo Your Hair
Before you begin this style, it is recommended that you thoroughly wash your hair to remove product buildup. Doing this will allow your wash and go to last for several days, and even up to a week!
Follow these steps to shampoo your hair:
- Begin by wetting your hair with warm water. Make sure the water is not too hot, as this can cause extra dryness.
- If you’d like, you can divide your hair into sections while shampooing to make the process more manageable. This step is beneficial if you have very thick hair.
- Apply your clarifying shampoo. Be sure to focus the product at the roots. You shouldn’t apply shampoo directly to your ends, especially clarifying shampoo. This product can be drying, causing tangles and damage to your ends, which already tend to be the driest part of your hair.
- Apply the clarifying shampoo to your scalp, massaging thoroughly to remove any product buildup.
- Rinse your hair to remove all of the clarifying shampoo.
- Next, repeat steps 2 through 4 with a moisturizing shampoo. This will remove any remaining product buildup and restore some of the moisture in your hair that may have been stripped away by the clarifying shampoo.
- Thoroughly rinse your hair, leaving no traces of either shampoo.
Note on Co-washing: You can also do a wash and go on co-washed hair if you are in-between wash days, but it most likely will not last as long, and you’ll need to wash and style your hair again sooner than if you start with freshly washed hair.
Condition Your Hair
After you finish shampooing your hair, it’s time to restore moisture to your hair using conditioner, as curly hair is the driest of all hair types.
Follow these steps to condition your hair:
- Start off by applying a moisturizing conditioner to your hair, focusing on the ends. Be sure to apply a generous amount and coat every strand! You can section your hair during this process, too, to ensure that all of your hair is conditioned.
- Tip: It’s always a good thing to experiment with different products. Some conditioners are thicker and heavier than others, so experiment until you find a conditioner that gives you enough moisture and doesn’t make your hair feel weighed down or limp.
- Clip your hair up in alligator clips and put on a shower cap to allow the conditioner to sit in your hair for a few minutes.
- Rinse out the conditioner with cool water to seal your hair’s cuticles and lock in the moisture from the conditioner.
If your hair feels dry and needs extra moisture, you can also apply a deep conditioning treatment. Here’s how to deep condition your curls:
- In sections, apply a generous amount of deep conditioner to your hair. Gently comb your hair with your fingers or a wide-tooth comb to distribute the product evenly and make sure all your curls are coated. As with other conditioning products, you should focus on your ends.
- Gently detangle your hair as you apply the deep conditioner.
- Pin your hair up with alligator clips and put on a shower cap. Allow your hair to soak in the deep conditioner for 15 – 20 minutes. If you want to maximize the amount of moisture your hair receives, you can generate heat by wearing a heat bonnet or wrapping a towel around your shower cap.
- Thoroughly rinse your hair with cold water.
*You don’t need to deep condition your hair often. Over-conditioning your hair is possible, which can make your curls feel limp and heavy. So, you shouldn’t deep condition your hair more often than every one to two weeks.
Complete Your Hairstyle
Once you’ve washed and conditioned your hair, you are ready to begin styling! Follow the steps below to complete your wash and go.
- Part your hair into 4 sections using your wide-tooth comb. You’ll need to divide the front of your hair into two sections and the back of your hair into two sections. Use alligator clips to secure the sections that you aren’t styling.
- Begin styling the back of your hair first. You may need to break the four sections into even smaller sections as you go, depending on how thick your hair is – this will ensure that the product is applied to all of your hair evenly.
- Spray the section with your spray bottle of water to dampen your hair.
- Apply an oil of your choice to the section. Distribute it evenly by raking it through your strands.
- Apply your preferred styling lotion or cream to the section. Again, rake it through for even distribution.
- Brush your hair with a Denman brush to remove any remaining tangles.
- Next, apply styling gel to the section. First, focus the product at the roots, and then rake it through the section with your fingers. You can also use the praying hands method to apply the gel, which will help create more defined curls.
- Allow your hair to dry overnight, or diffuse your curls with a hairdryer.
- If your curls are crunchy and hard once your hair is dry, you can scrunch your curls and apply some oil to “break the cast” created by the gel.
Watch the video demonstration above to help you with the styling process.
Stretch Your Hair (Optional):
If you experience a lot of shrinkage or your hair does not have the shape that you’d like once your wash and go is dry, you can stretch your hair after you’re done styling.
The best way to stretch your wash and go is by using the banding method:
- Divide your hair into four sections again, like before.
- Wrap bands or scrunchies down the length of each section. The bands shouldn’t be too tight, as you don’t want to put creases in your hair.
- Put your hair up in a silk scarf or bonnet and wear the bands overnight.
- In the morning, gently remove the bands.
- Shake and fluff your hair at the roots until you’ve achieved your desired shape and volume.
Refresh Your Hairstyle
Throughout the week, your curls may lose some definition and start to feel dry again. Here are a few tips to refresh your curls throughout the week and stretch out the time between your wash days.
- If your curls still feel moisturized but need more definition, you can simply dampen your hair in sections using a spray bottle and allow it to air dry. This will redefine your curls.
- If your curls begin to feel dry, you can section your hair, dampen it with your spray bottle and add in a small amount of leave-in conditioner, oil, or your preferred moisturizing product, focusing the product at the ends of your hair. Then allow your hair to air dry.
Make Your Style Last Longer
To make your wash and go last for days, as mentioned earlier, complete the style on freshly washed hair. Also, be sure to sleep in a silk bonnet or on a silk or satin pillowcase at night.
Doing this will reduce friction between your hair and your pillowcase and sheets, which will prevent frizz and protect your beautiful, defined curls!
Pros and Cons
In case you’re not convinced that the wash and go style is right for your hair, we’ve compiled a helpful list of pros and cons. This information will help you decide whether you want to try out this style.
- Moisturized hair is healthy hair, and this style is perfect for keeping your hair moisturized. In most of the wash and go prep and styling steps, you’ll be adding moisture to your hair. So, the style is great for those suffering from dry hair.
- The wash and go doesn’t take a long time to complete, and it’s easy to do. It’s an excellent style for beginners who are learning how to properly care for their curly hair!
- If you have thick or long hair, you may find that you’re going through a lot of hair products for your wash and go. If you do the style a lot, you’ll notice an increase in your monthly hair expenses. This is a big con for some.
- Though a wash n go is a protective style, it will not last as long as other protective styles. Some struggle to get it to last more than a few days. Then, you’ll have to rewash and restyle your hair.
For many who try a wash and go, the pros outweigh the cons.
Dos and Don’ts
Below is a list of “dos and don’ts” for the wash and go. It’s important to review these dos and don’ts before you begin styling, so you don’t miss any important details to help you achieve flawless, defined curls.
- Take your time when styling. Be sure to distribute your hair products evenly, don’t miss any sections of hair when styling, and thoroughly detangle your hair as you go. Getting everything done right may take a little time, so be patient!
- Experiment with products. Every head of hair is different, and it might take some trial and error to find the right products for your hair. There are many different styling products out there, so feel free to try out different options to see what makes your hair look and feel its best!
- Don’t use your styling products sparingly. Feel free to use as much product as your hair needs, and that may be a lot! Using the necessary amount of product will prevent dry and frizzy curls and give you defined, shiny, and moisturized curls instead!
- Don’t do this style on dirty hair. You should at least co-wash your hair before doing a wash and go. Applying product on top of product buildup can clog your hair follicles, preventing hair growth.
- Don’t be discouraged if the style doesn’t turn out right the first time. It may take several tries to perfect the styling process.
Give the Wash and Go a Try!
Hopefully, these step-by-step instructions are helpful to you, enabling you to create shiny, voluminous, and defined curls! If you’re new to caring for your natural hair, learn to love your natural curls – they’re beautiful, just like you!