There seems to be polar attitudes about the wash and go. One half considers it extremely low maintenance while the other considers it extremely high maintenance. Well, there are three reasons wash and go’s can be challenging: products, length, and application, all of which are equally important. Here I am going to discuss the importance of products, especially as it relates to afro-textured, Type 4 hair.
When people inquire about wash and go’s for coily hair, there is always a question about why coily hair looks so different while wet as opposed to dry. The first reason is because the hair retracts when it is transitioning from wet to dry, and your hair in its dry state is a reflection of your true curl pattern. The other reason has to do with products. The key to setting and maintaining a weeklong wash and go for coily hair is crunch, also known as polyquaternium.
It creates definition and elongation
That crunch or gel cast is created by polymers formulated in heavy styling products to help clump/enhance curl definition and condition the hair. When the hair is clumped and elongated, it prevents tangles and matting, which is the main reason many with Type 4 hair struggle to set and maintain wash and go’s. If you want a product that really enhances your curl definition, styling with a gel or cream gel is the way to go. The heaviness of the products will add weight to help elongate the curl and prevent the roots from tangling. First, you want to apply a moisturizer, leave-in conditioner, and/oil to help nourish the hair. Then, apply your styler in small sections, and this will vary depending on your density. Since I have low to medium density, I only apply styling products in four sections. Since a lot of stylers do not have sufficient slip to prevent snags and rips during the application, you want to use a moisturizer with lot of slips before you apply your styler.
Now your hair has dried and it's flat and crispy. I know, I hate it too, but here’s a big tip: sleep on it! Even if you do not like the way it looks for first day hair, you have five to six more days to go with defined, soft, voluminous hair. I choose to not scrunch or pick my roots because this shortens the longevity of my wash and go. When you pineapple your hair for bedtime, your roots will naturally gain height as you sleep. I think the modified pineapple works best for Type 4 hair, especially if it is medium length like mine. Also, your hair will become less defined as the days go on and you unconsciously play in it, so there is no need to pick and fluff if you want a weeklong wash and go. Anytime that I have a special event to attend or a photos to take I simply wash my hair a day or two before so I will not have flat, first day hair. In the photos above you will see the results from my first day wash and go, which is flat at the roots and a little crisp throughout. In the second image my part is non existent with a lot more volume. The third image is a results of eight or more days of procrastination and neglect, which I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.
First day results are not the best way to judge a styler. Give yourself 24 hrs. after going about your day and sleeping before making a decision. I have learned that the styling products with soft holds on the first day leave me with a matted afro in the morning that looks like naked hair. When I use a cream gel like my favorite styler Eden BodyWorks Coconut Shea Curl Defining Crème, my hair might have a little cast on the first day, but it is extremely soft, shiny, and defined for the remaining 5-6 days.
What are your favorite products for your Type 4 wash and go?