How To Wash Natural Hair

Washing Hair

For some of us the daunting task of trudging through the endless knots and terrible tangles are a nightmare we just aren’t prepared to face. Washing your natural hair needn’t be a mammoth task though. It’s not about fighting with your hair, it’s about understanding it and changing your techniques to reflect this.

One thing i’ve learned so far is that washing your hair often really helps to promote healthy hair growth. Cleaning the scalp from product build-up and dead skin cells ensures your hair ducts remain unclogged and allows the hair to grow freely. Washing often keeps the hair strands clean and free from build-up allowing proper penetration of water and oils resulting in well moisturised and healthier hair.

So if we are going to be washing our hair more often then it’s wise to know how to go about it. Here i’m going to give you a few tips to help make wash day much less traumatic.


Start by doing a pre-shampoo treatment. This step is mostly necessary if you are going to shampoo your hair but is not always needed if co-washing. It helps to minimise the drying effects of the shampoo so as not to leave your hair totally stripped. Pre-shampooing your hair also helps to add much needed moisture to dry, thirsty hair. A pre-poo can be anything from oil, to aloe gel, to conditioner or a mix of these, it’s really up to you. Start by sectioning your hair into four or six sections and apply your pre-poo of choice to each section, really saturating your strands and making sure they are well coated. Twist or loosely braid each section and cover with a plastic cap and headscarf. Now you can leave your treatment on from 20 minutes to overnight. Whichever you prefer and whichever suits your overall needs.

Wash Hair In Sections

Now that you’ve pre-treated your hair you are ready to wash. Keep your hair in these sections. This is the most effective way of washing natural hair. naturally curly hair curls around itself, that’s just what curly hair does. When wet it shrinks up on itself and causes tangles. Washing hair in braided sections stops the hair from doing this which eliminates the need to spend endless hours detangling shrunken hair.

Soak your hair with water and let it completely saturate your strands. Now you have a choice. You can choose to shampoo/cleanse your whole head at once keeping the sections in and working on the scalp only with the balls of your fingers. If you do this then it’s best to dilute your shampoo/conditioner so it penetrates all the strands easier. When finished rinse off the remaining cleanser. Or you can choose to work one section at a time. Take one section of your hair and undo the twist or braid. Apply a small amount of shampoo or conditioner to the section and work it in slowly. DO NOT vigorously rub your hair. This will seriously matt it and then you’ll be in trouble. Smooth your hands down your hair to get a lather or to distribute the conditioner and with one hand hold the section securely and with the other rub your scalp to lift off the dirt and product build-up. This stops the hair from shrinking on itself whilst loose.

When done rinse it off and re-braid or twist the section (tip – if shampooing, apply a small amount of conditioner onto your hair before rinsing off the shampoo to stop that squeaky, stripped feeling). This is so important. At no one time should you leave your hair ‘out’. Always re-twist the sections right to the ends to keep the hair tangle free.  The benefits of pre-pooing your hair before hand is that it helps to reduce the formation of knots and tangles during the washing process.


This is an important step in washing your hair as i personally recommend not dry combing. As a result your hair may go a few days to a whole week without being combed right through so detangling well on wash day is a must. There are many ways of detangling. Some choose to use their fingers only, some prefer to comb and others like to brush their tangles out. It’s up to you what you choose to do. I personally like to do all three. The fingers separate the strands, the comb removes knots and tangles whilst the brush removes shed hair. It’s better to start with your fingers then move to a comb and then a brush, in that order to avoid breakage.

Saturate your hair with water, and using your fingers separate the strands by pulling them apart gently and running your fingers through your hair. Apply your conditioner of choice and using your wide tooth comb, start at the ends and work your way up. Detangling in small sections allows you to get through your strands easier without becoming overly frustrated with your hair and loosing patients with the comb. GENTLY is the key. Do not force the comb through your hair. If it comes to a halt then remove the comb and start at the ends again. Slowly working your way up like this until you can comb from root to tip in one smooth motion. Always make sure you can do this. If you run away from detangling your hair properly, soon you will end up with matted roots and a horrible appointment with scissors.

If you choose to brush your hair after then follow the same principles. I use a Denman brush which i’ve modified to reduce breakage. Start at the ends and work your way up, ever so gently. If the brush comes to a stop then remove it and go back to your ends and work up again until you can brush your hair from your roots to your tips in one smooth motion. Never force the brush through your hair. It will rip your strands and you’ll end up with uneven, broken and split ends. Once you’ve finished detangling re-braid or twist the section with the conditioner still in to keep your hair nicely detangled. After you’ve completed all the sections then rinse your hair thoroughly under running water to remove the conditioner, squeezing the braids to get the water all the way through the hair.

Deep Condition

Apply the DC to your hair in the same sections, making sure to re-braid or twist your hair afterwards. Put on a plastic cap and sit under a hooded dryer if you prefer. Rinse out the conditioner with the braids still in, squeezing them gently to remove all traces of conditioner. Rinsing your hair like this ensures your hair stays tangle free. After all, you’ve worked hard to detangle it.

Dry your hair gently, either with a towel or a cotton t-shirt. DO NOT rub your hair. It’s the worst thing you can do. Dab your hair gently, squeezing the ends to remove excess water.


Air-drying is much healthier for your hair then using heat. If you must use heat then make sure you apply a heat protectant of some sort to protect your precious hair. Otherwise air-drying is much more gentle on the hair and really minimises breakage, allowing your hair to be healthier and grow longer.

Go one section at a time. Apply a good leave-in conditioner and then seal your hair with an oil or butter mix or a ready made product of your choice. Oil your scalp if necessary and twist or braid your hair. Repeat for all your sections. Once dry take out your braids and style. Drying your hair this way stretches out your strands so your hair is elongated without the need of a blow dryer. If you prefer to ‘wash n go’ then apply your products and go. Simple.

I know this all seems like a lot of work but honestly it makes life so much easier. I promise you that you wont regret trying this out. I’d rather swap a few more extra minutes for a much smoother washing experience. Spend a bit more time in the shower and a little less time outside of it, rather than rush through the shower and spend hours afterwards raking through masses of matted hair. After a while you’ll be a pro at this and it won’t be anything to you. Starting something new is always slow and cumbersome but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be whizzing through wash day with ease.

5 thoughts on “How To Wash Natural Hair

  1. Thanks for this post. I’m currently trying some new things in my routine for length retention and I tried similar steps yesterday. I think I’ll be trying the pre-pooing step and keep the tips in mind while co-washing too. You explained it so well, I hope you won’t mind me sharing these tips with my readers (

  2. Pingback: Hair Guide

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