10 Tips For Washing Natural Hair

10 Tips For Washing Natural Hair

It seems like something very simple that we really wouldn’t need advice on. I mean, isn’t washing natural hair just like washing any kind of hair?


There are quite a few things we have to do as naturals just to do something simple like wash our hair. Let’s get into it, because it’s going to be pretty eye-opening for some of you, just as it was for me all those years ago.

1. Select Your Products Beforehand

Don’t try to figure out what you’re going to use right before using it, especially if you’re a product junkie and have so many products you could open a small store.

Even if you’re not sure how you want to style your hair prior to wash day, at least have your essentials ready, such as:

  • Pre-poo
  • Shampoo (or co-wash)
  • Rinse-out conditioner (if you use one at all)
  • Deep Conditioner (smack yourself if you’re not deep conditioning every wash day!)

2. Mix Your DIYs BEFORE You Need Them

One complaint a lot of naturals have is how long wash day takes, but if you’re not mixing your deep conditioner or pre-poo (these are the most common steps people like to DIY) until right when you need them, ya need ta stop *insert my Southern accent*.

If you’re mixing items that need to be refrigerated, mix them the night before and store it in a container with a top, or wrap the top with cling wrap. You want to make sure your products are right there so you can reach for them and don’t need to spend 5 or 10 minutes scrambling for them.

3. Put Everything In Your Wash Space

If you’re washing your natural hair in the sink, place everything you need by the sink. If you’re a shower washing natural, make sure you have everything in the shower or at least within arms reach from the shower, depending on your bathroom setup.

There are even shower baskets available so you can leave everything you need in the shower once you’re done as long as you don’t have anything that’ll spoil or “go bad”.

There’s nothing worse than having to jump out of the shower or pull your head from the sink and run around, dripping water everywhere, to look for something while you have water running in your eyes.

4. Rinse First, Then Wash

I’ve seen way too many naturals on YouTube in the past just wet their hair a little, then go right to washing. Some even film outside the shower and just put shampoo on their dry hair, then add water from a spray bottle.


This isn’t actually harmful for your hair, but you’re giving yourself more work to do. By rinsing your hair with lukewarm water and making sure your hair is completely saturated with water, you’re removing a lot of the products from your hair, which means your cleanser will give you a better clean.

Not only that, but you’ll also be using less product but getting a much better clean. You may be a product junkie, but it doesn’t mean you need to use more product on your hair than necessary.

5. Wash In Sections

washing hair in sections

The longer your hair, the more you’ll want to consider washing in sections. The tighter your curls, the more likely you are to experience single strand knots and tangles if you try washing natural hair loose.

This is also very helpful for high density hair because it can be harder to get the cleanser to every single part of your scalp when washing your hair loose.

Now, if you have type 4 curls AND high density hair? Curlfriend, you better believe it’ll be easier to wash your hair in sections and if you’re not? Yep… slap yourself again ????.

Not only will you be able to get your cleanser on your entire scalp, it’s also gonna be easier to make sure you rinse it all out properly.

sectioning tools

6. Let Your Cleanser Sit

This is a trick I learned by accident. One day I was washing my hair and the maintenance workers had to cut the water off in order to fix a leak.

Long story short, I ended up having to let my shampoo sit for over an hour before I was able to rinse (I would not recommend leaving your cleanser on that long, 4-6 minutes will do) but when I did, my hair felt MEGA clean, yet, since I used a sulfate-free shampoo, my hair didn’t feel stripped like it would have with a shampoo containing sulfates.

Plus, that’s less scrubbing you have to do, which means your arms won’t be as tired when it’s time to style.

***You may not need to leave your shampoo on for any amount of time, but if you co-wash, I would highly recommend letting the product sit prior to rinsing it since it’s not as strong as shampoo***

7. Deep Condition First, Then Detangle

I personally prefer to detangle prior to washing, when applying my pre-poo, but then I go in again and detangle after washing once my deep conditioner has had a chance to absorb into my strands.

If you’re a natural that washes without detangling, this one is mainly for you.

Allowing your deep conditioner to absorb into your hair prior to detangling is going to give the product time to loosen any extra stubborn tangles, making it less likely you’ll rip your hair out in frustration.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should make sure your strands are properly saturated first, but I like to apply my deep conditioner with my hands using the praying hands method, this way I’m not pulling my hair out, but the product is still able to coat my hair entirely.

8. Use A Rinse-Out Conditioner AFTER Deep Conditioner (optional)

After doing a lot of reading (I mean ALOT), I realize that rinse-out conditioners are designed to seal the cuticle. As hi-po naturals, we already know our cuticles are always open, but we also know we have issues holding on to moisture, right?

If deep conditioners are meant to penetrate the hair and rinse-out conditioners are meant to close the cuticle, it would make more sense (to me) that I use my deep conditioner first and allow it to infuse moisture into my strands (or protein, depending on what I need at the time) and THEN close the cuticle with help from a rinse-out.

I’ve been doing this since I started my experiment and I have to say it works wonders! Especially those of us that are a fan of the wash n’go or are learning how to get wash n’ go hair.

I noticed way less frizz (which I’m sure has something to do with my product selection) and it allows me the chance to do some last minute detangling prior to styling if I feel it’s necessary.

9. Rinse With Lukewarm Water, Not Ice Cold!

I fell for the whole “rinsing your hair with cold water will close your cuticle even more”. I tried it once and I instantly knew I would never stick with it. I’m originally from the South (raised by an English teacher so it doesn’t sound that way) and I hate the cold.

The whole point of creating a routine is to be able to stick with it. Any natural with healthy hair will tell you the way they got their hair to where it is today is through consistency. If you live in the desert or somewhere it never gets below 80 degrees, sure, go for it. You may be able to stick with it.

For those of us that live in an area where it snows, however, are going to stick with it (maybe) until the fall and then boom… we’ll fall off the wagon. I don’t want you or myself to go into shock for the sake of sealing our cuticles. That’s what oils, petrolatum and natural butters are for (whichever you choose to use).

It’s not that serious, so please don’t go through all of that discomfort just for the sake of sealing your cuticles. Besides, it’s only a temporary fix, so why bother?

10. Use A Leave-In Conditioner Prior To Any Other Stylers

Unless you’re going for a single product style (hopefully it’s some sort of sealant!) I recommend you use a moisturizing leave-in conditioner, even if it contains some protein, before sealing the moisture in with your sealant of choice.

Remember, you have high porosity hair, so as quick as the moisture goes in, it’s going to come out. Don’t play yourself. Go ahead and put that extra layer on your hair before you shut your cuticle.

Ideally, you want the moisture to last at least 3-4 days before needing to re-wash or refresh your hair to replenish the moisture lost.

Style And Dry Your Hair The Way You Normally Do… Then You’re Done!

Washing natural hair doesn’t have to be a nightmare. The goal is to minimize the time it takes to complete your wash day and hopefully these tips help you stop dreading the wash day and allow you to look forward to it. Even if you don’t eventually love wash day, at least it won’t be hectic and something you avoid at all costs.

Just remember that a clean scalp is a healthy scalp, so don’t avoid washing natural hair too long!

To your healthy hair journey as a high porosity natural!

What are some ways you shorten your wash days without making your strands pay the price? Leave your tips below!

Aria Len

Sharing my natural hair journey with hopes to inspire you to find what makes your hair happy in order to reach your hair goals.

4 thoughts on “10 Tips For Washing Natural Hair

  1. I found your article about the 10 tips for washing natural hair. And I have learned so much. I have a frizzy/coarse hair myself and I’m always on the look out to tame them. From now on after washing my hair, I will deep condition, then will use the normal conditioner and then will use the leave in conditioner at the end. Which sulfate free shampoo and conditioners range would you recommend?

    Thank you

  2. Thanks for the in-depth analysis, Aria. I recently cut my hair short, but despite this , I continue to do all the steps you listed above. Too may people with kinky hair like ours do not realize that you have to do everything to keep the moisture in.

    Which is better – a wash within 3-4 days (as you recommended) or once a week, 2 weeks, or even monthly as others recommend? This can be confusing for people .



    1. Hi Ceci!

      I personally prefer to wash every 3-4 days because I have an extremely oily and sweaty scalp, plus my strands respond best to twice a week deep conditioning sessions (I deep condition every wash day) but it really comes down to doing what works best for you and the only way to find your answer is to try each method and see how your hair and scalp respond.

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