In May, after reading a NaturallyCurly article talking about the hype surrounding “wash and go’s,” one thing the author said stuck with me: there is really no such thing as a “wash and go.” How many of us actually wash our hair and then just…go somewhere? Even on my laziest days, I at least put in some leave-in or alcohol-free gel before letting my hair air-dry.

I decided to explore what exactly an (almost”> product-free, style-free wash and go would look like on my fine, low-density 3c hair. This is how dedicated I am to curly hair education, y’all: I willingly took some goofy-looking pictures of myself and posted them on the Internet, in the name of curl science.

Immediately After Showering

Photo Courtesy of @EmilyNeie

I showered first thing when I got up to get ready for work like normal, but, instead of putting in product and blow-drying my hair, I just went about my morning. It was pretty awesome to get an extra 30 minutes back. I did some stretches! I drank more coffee! I read a book! Getting back precious morning time might make this worth it, regardless of results…

One Hour In

Photo Courtesy of @EmilyNeie

…or, maybe not. The top layer of my hair started drying much faster than the rest of my hair, since it is frizzier and finer and didn’t have gel locking in moisture. I had a couple of short curls that kept flopping onto my forehead or, worse yet, sticking straight up. My hair takes forever to dry, and I was fighting the urge to touch my hair all morning until it did.

Two Hours In

Photo Courtesy of @EmilyNeie

Things were getting worse and I was not a happy camper. I told my supervisor what I was doing after she saw me sulking in the bathroom trying to take sneaky selfies, mainly so she would know there was a method to my hair madness. Luckily I work in a pretty laid back office, and she thought it was an admirable experiment.

Four Hours In

Photo Courtesy of @EmilyNeie

The bottom layers are finally starting to dry, so my hair has a bit more volume and shape to it. At this point, the urge to touch my hair to rearrange it was overwhelming. I felt like a little kid with chicken pox who needs oven mitts strapped to her hands to avoid scratching.

Six Hours In

Photo Courtesy of @EmilyNeie

Did I mention my hair takes forever to dry? At this point, I was no longer self conscious about walking around the office, even with a curl sticking straight up. My hair was definitely frizzier than usual, especially in the back, but I didn’t look overly disheveled.

Seven Hours In

Photo Courtesy of @EmilyNeie

My hair was fully dry at this point, so I fluffed it out and rearranged it. My curls were definitely looser than usual, and the back was flatter than I like it to be. However, I enjoyed how soft my hair was, and the blond in my hair was more obvious without product in it. I tried to fluff my bangs over my forehead (I usually sweep them to the side at work”>, something I can do relatively easily when my hair is properly styled…big fail.

The Next Day

Photo Courtesy of @EmilyNeie

Now for the moment of truth: second-day hair. I slept with my hair tied up in a silk scarf like usual. I was surprised at how much my curls stretched overnight…the front section of my hair went from 3c to 3a/3b without being purposefully stretched out. I wasn’t especially happy with it but I didn’t hate it, so I didn’t wash again before going to work. After all, what’s the point in saving 30 minutes by skipping product and blow drying one day if I’m just going to wash it again the next day?

Overall, I think this experiment was a moderate success. It was definitely not my best hair day(s”>, but the time and simplicity it added to my morning routine was well worth it. It’s nice to know that I can skip the product and heat styling occasionally if I’m running late, or if I want to give my scalp a break from product build up.

Tips for Going Product-Free

  1. My hair was already healthy, and had been cut well. This day would have gone VERY differently if I had tried this with my crunchy, shapeless high school hair, or if it had been a long time since my last cut.

  2. I used a thick, creamy conditioner (my current favorite is Camille Rose Jansyn’s Moisture Max Conditioner“> and left a little bit of it in, scrunching my hair to distribute it evenly. The frizz factor would have been even worse without this “lazy leave-in.”

  3. My hair type does not need extra protective styling or products to keep it from breaking, tangling badly or drying out, so skipping the product didn’t do any harm. Folks with 4b/4c hair, this may not be for you (although you can always try”>!

Do you think you would experiment with going product-free in public? Or is that a major no-no for your wash and go routine?

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