by Shelli of Hairscapades
Prior to discovering TnCs and buns and banana clips in 2010, I was a wash and go girl for the majority of my 11 year natural hair career! I don’t wear WnGs as frequently as I did in the past and their appearance has changed due to the curl loosening caused by henna. However, I picked up a very simple “trick” years ago that I thought might be helpful to those for whom the WnG is a staple style.
I used to dread wash day as I tended to wait two weeks between sessions. I’d do a WnG and would “refresh” as needed with water from a spray bottle and additional product (typically a “curl” gel mixed with Carol’s Daughter Healthy Hair Butter). Well, on wash day, it was a guaranteed two hour wash session in penance for not combing/detangling for two weeks. The worst of it would always be in the rear mid-section of my hair that is the curliest, coarsest and most porous. I remember one time having to get out of the shower, after an hour detangling, because there was one knot that would not budge, eventually tearing up out of frustration and finally pulling out the scissors to cut out the knot.
Well, in 2008 or so, I went for my first Ouidad cut at a salon in NJ trained in the technique. I mentioned my wash day struggles to the stylist (who was an Italian male). He asked me what my normal routine was and, when I told him, he told me two things which changed my natural hair detangling life. He told me to apply a leave-in conditioner after my regular conditioner, to comb through my hair one more time and then style. He then told me to use a spray leave-in conditioner to refresh my curls rather than water. I picked up some Infusium 23 and wash day was never the same again!!! Detangling my hair became a breeze and I am forever grateful for that tip!
I know that the use of water is constantly stressed on the natural hair sites and videos, but as with anything, what works for some does not work for others. I’m in the camp that follows the premise that if the first ingredient is water … it’s moisture. I also think that the reason the Infusium 23 (or the Sally’s GVP equivalent) worked well for me is that it contains amodimethicone, which helped smooth the cuticle of my hair, while water did not. So, if you go the CG route, I would suggest trying a cone free but pH balanced leave-in to prevent build up. I have used DevaCare No Poo for years, so I never had a problem with that. Finally, you can also make your own leave-in spray by diluting a regular conditioner with distilled or filtered water. However, if you do that, remember to refrigerate and use within a week to prevent spoilage. A chilled spritz will also help close the cuticle of porous hair.
I don’t wear WnGs like I used to and tend to put them up into a protective style after one day. But the style still works great when I’m pinched for time and I continue to use this tip to make my subsequent wash sessions a lot easier than they used to be! And, you know, a smoother detangling sessions means less mechanical damage to hair, which results in improved length retention!
(p.s. I thought of one other WnG maintenance tip that might be helpful to some with really thick and/or long hair. Pineappling never worked for me because my nape hair is straighter than the rest and it caused it to straighten even more. Bonnets were too small and smooshed my hair and a satin pillowcase alone resulted in wild and matted hair in the morning. So, I would use a knee length skirt slip to protect my hair at night! Just put the waist band first around your neck, pull it back until it’s around the hairline and smooth the length of the slip over your hair. Finally, secure the open end with a hair elastic! Voilà, makeshift bonnet for big/long hair!)