Picture-perfect facades rule the world around us. Photographs of flawless curly-dos are in your favorites, and your mind. The likes and shares have created a new perception, a new reality for how we view ourselves, and how we view our hair. Oatmeal, olive oil, and coconut are no longer meals, but deep conditioners. It’s easy to get caught up in the status quo and judge yourself according to another person’s video. But when your wash and go starts changing, be patient with your hair, and judge your hair only against your hair. Love today has gone digital, but self-love hasn’t.

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When your wash and go doesn’t come out the way you pictured it the first time, there are four rules summarized from sci-fi writer Octavia E. Butler’s essay “Furor Scribendi” that can apply to most things in life, but in this case, we’re going to apply them to your routine, and your curls.

1. Habit is dependable

Make a habit of moisturizing daily. Once you get into the swing of things, you will be able to tell when your hair needs some moisture. Double check the products you use to make sure you’re not mixing water-based and oil-based products, that way, your moisture is maximized. Your hair isn’t the only thing that needs hydration — your body does too. Make sure you drink enough water, especially when the weather changes.

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2. Don’t be afraid of change

Your hair routine requires learning what your hair likes. This is really important if your hair has multiple textures, color, or heat damage. Learning doesn’t require splurging on salon-quality products. Mix and match your favorite hair butters, conditioners, and oils. Try less expensive and familiar products like Aussie Mega Moist Conditioner or Argan Oil of Morocco Shampoo. You never know what you might learn, or how your hair will react.

3. Persistence

If at first you don’t succeed, try a good clarifying shampoo, and condition again. ‘Nuf said.

4. Have fun

If your hair doesn’t turn out the way you want, make sure to keep some clips, brushes, and scrunchies on hand for a midday hair change. A lot of popular hair gels and conditioners come in a travel size. Buy a couple favorites and keep them in your car, office, or wherever you frequent the most. In the moment, learning will stretch your creativity with your hair.

So you’ve watched the videos and tutorials, picked out an outfit, and you can’t wait to take on the day. But your hair doesn’t quite do what you want, and no amount of fluffing or crunching in passing reflections helps. That doesn’t mean it’s all over; this is actually the beginning of a new level of relationship with your hair. Learn from others, but give yourself room to create your own picture-perfect hair. Be patient with yourself, taking each perceived error as a new opportunity for a trial. You never know what you’ll like. You can learn along the way, and make progress toward what is best for you.

Are you ever let down by your wash and go? Tell us how you respond to a less-than-perfect hair day in the comments section below. And check out this article for short hair wash and go tips.