How To Wash Textured Hair

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Much like doing laundry, washing textured hair is an activity that is dreaded by most, but must be done. (Usually on the weekend.) And the comparisons don't stop there. Oh no: Just like you can outsource your laundry, you too can “outsource” your wash day by visiting a hair salon and having someone labor for you. It'll cost ya, but it gets the job done. But there's always something satisfying about doing it yourself—and knowing that you got it right. So when the time comes, and you've got a few free hours to spare, make sure you know the method. These tips should help you get it over and done with—and done well, at that.

Wash textured hair less

Chances are that you wash your favorite pair of jeans way less frequently than say, your underwear, because you want to keep that beautiful fabric wash intact. The same could be said for textured hair. The easiest way to explain it is that straighter textures get greasier faster because the scalp’s natural sebum can pass down the hair strands more easily. Textured hair has a bunch of twists and turns throughout the shaft, making it hard for the oil to make its way down. Wash it less for two reasons: It doesn't get greasy quite so fast, and you don't want to strip it of any moisture and natural oils it needs to be healthy. A good rule of thumb to start is to “wash" once every 1-1.5 weeks.

Use gentle products

Because “washing” no longer just involves your traditional shampoo. Meet your new favorite thing: conditioner washing, or “co-washing” for short. It's exactly what it sounds like—washing your hair with conditioner in the same way you would with shampoo. Working your conditioner around your hair and scalp like you would with a shampoo helps to remove buildup while simultaneously conditioning the hair. A one-two punch! A basic, inexpensive conditioner like Aussie Mega Moist will do, or you can try out something formulated specifically for co-washing like As I Am’s Coconut CoWash or KeraCare’s Honey Shea Co-Wash.

However, just like anything else, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. It is possible to over-condition your hair, causing buildup on your scalp and strands that makes it hard for other products to do their job. And no matter how great it is, conditioner will never completely clean your scalp the way a shampoo would, so it’s still important to shampoo from time to time. If you’re still worried about stripping your hair, just use a sulfate-free shampoo like Shea Moisture’s Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Shampoo. The perfect cadence will of course be different for everyone, but to start, try out shampooing somewhere between every other wash or once a month depending on how your hair feels.

Focus on the scalp

The scalp is the key to healthy hair, so focus on cleansing the scalp rather than the length of your strands (when you rinse out your cleansing agent, it’ll run down and cleanse your strands anyways). With textured hair, it’s harder to get to your scalp, so try washing in 2-4 smaller sections and work them each one at a time. Be careful to only use your fingertips, scrubbing in circular motions, and not your nails to avoid scratching your scalp. If you really want to get fancy, grab a scalp massager like Vanity Planet’s to really help you get in there. Also, just because you’re wearing a protective style like box braids with extensions, or mini twists with your own hair, it doesn’t mean you should neglect your scalp. You should aim to wash as often as you normally would when not wearing a protective style. If you don’t want to put your whole head under water, just grab a microfiber towel like DevaCurl’s, add two squirts of your favorite shampoo, co-wash, or even Shea Moisture’s Jojoba Oil & Ucuuba Butter No-Rinse Foam Cleanser (formulated for this exact purpose), and rub your scalp with the towel in circular motions. If you’ve used something that should be rinsed out, take small handfuls of water and splash at your scalp over the sink to remove. Easy.

See? That wasn't so bad.

—Priscilla Quaye

Photos via the author.

Read more of Priscilla's hair tips here.