It’s April, winter is FINALLY coming to a close, and the quest for that perfect wash-and-go is on! Some of us prefer fluffy wash-and-gos while others prefer more defined curls; neither is better than the other, but for me and many natural ladies I know it’s a bit (read: a lot) more difficult to get that curl definition than it is to get the fluff. Products play a major role in how defined our curls are, and for that reason, I’m going to highlight some of the products and techniques people rave about when it comes to providing curls with some pop.
Your hair porosity and hair density will both play a part in determining which products give your hair the most curl definition, so it’s important that we’re familiar with these aspects of our hair before we even try a product or technique. Hair porosity measures how well your hair absorbs moisture. The easiest way to figure this out is to think about how long it takes for your hair to dry. If your hair takes more than a few hours to dry completely, like mine does, then you have low porosity hair, if it dries completely within two or three hours it’s normal porosity, and if it takes less one hour for hair to dry it is high porosity. There are other extremely accurate tests out there to help determine your hair’s porosity; the Float Test and the Slip ‘N’ Slide tests are some of the most popular.
Hair density is simply a measure of hair’s thickness, which depends upon the thickness of individual strands as well as the number of strands on your head. The easiest way to determine this is to look at your hair in its natural state—no product, no styling, no manipulation, preferably dry—and look at it from different angles. If you can easily see your scalp, your hair is low density. If you can see it at certain angles, but not at all angles, your hair density is medium. If you cannot see your scalp at any angle, your hair has high density. Now that you know your hair’s porosity and density, it should be a little easier to pick products that will give you a defined Wash and Go.
Gels are extremely popular Wash and Go products amongst naturals due to the overall hold that many of them give. Almost every natural at some point or another has at least tried an Eco Styler Gel. I personally haven’t tried all of them, but YouTube beauty vlogger MahoganyCurls has a review on her channel of all of them, and there seems to be something for everyone, whether you prefer a strong or a medium hold. Eco Styler Gel in general is rather thick and gelatinous, but there are some that are more fluid, such as Soultanicals Curl Blaze Hair Glaze, which gives my hair pretty strong hold. I prefer thicker products in general, but for people who have high porosity and low density hair, the lightness in texture of this product may be ideal. A con that comes with all gels that I’ve tried is the crunchiness. However, that can easily be resolved with very little oil and scrunching. Another common problem with some gels is the flaking that can occur once the gel cast—the thing that holds the hair—breaks. It can look like dandruff in the hair, which is not an appealing look.
Instead of dealing with the possible crunch and flaking that can come with gels, many naturals are opting for curl crèmes. One that I’ve tried, and love, is the Eden Bodyworks Coconut Shea Curl Defining Crème. The Curl Defining Creme says it provides medium hold, but for the first few days I’d definitely argue that it gives strong hold (then again, I’m pretty heavy-handed with product). As opposed to the Eden Bodyworks Coconut Shea Curl Pudding Soufflé, which gives hair a soft hold, the Curl Defining Crème makes my curls pop like nothing else I’ve tried thus far.
There are numerous products out there that don’t fit into this crème-gel dichotomy (i.e. custards, butters, buttercremes), but I chose to focus on these two because they are the main types used for Wash and Gos. In any case, before buying a product for curl definition, make sure that the texture and thickness of the product are in alignment with your hair’s needs. If you have less dense, high porosity hair you may not want to use a super-thick crème as it has the potential to weigh your curls down and make them look limp. On the other hand, if you have very thick, low porosity hair, you may not want to use light, fluid gels and may instead opt for a thick gel such as Eco Styler or a curl crème to keep your curls defined for a longer amount of time.
Just as important as the products you choose for your Wash and Go is the method you choose for your Wash and Go. A Wash and Go sounds very simple, but in reality it is an umbrella term for many different techniques, some of which require a lot more than actually washing and going. Below are two of the best techniques for providing your Wash and Go plenty of curl definition.
This is a technique that requires working in small sections. You focus product on a small section (maybe an eighth) of your hair, and then you take your styling product and saturate even smaller sections with that product. Because this requires so much saturation in extremely small sections, the curl definition achieved with this technique is usually top notch. However, it can take a lot of time, especially your first few times doing it, so if patience isn’t your virtue this may not be the best technique for you. If you’re a visual person and need to see a demonstration of this technique, there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube that are very helpful.
Also called the prayer hands method, this is my go-to method for a defined Wash and Go. After cleansing, conditioning, and applying a leave-in conditioner, you should section your hair into at least four sections (I personally do eight sections to move through my entire head faster and to get product over as many individual strands as possible). You then take your styling product and rub it between your palms, grab a section of hair between your palms, and move down the length of your hair, making sure to go slowly and keep your palms together for increased saturation of the product. It still takes quite a bit of time, especially if you are accustomed to washing your hair, scrunching some product in, and going. However, the definition that this method gives me is worth it in my opinion. If you need a visual demonstration, there are plenty of tutorials for the smoothing method at YouTube University.
There are, of course, many other techniques and products that you could try for a defined Wash and Go. I’ve only touched on some of the most common for beginners or people who are completely confused as to how to get a defined Wash and Go. Know your hair, but don’t be afraid to explore with different techniques. That’s the only way to figure out what works for you and your hair. I wish you all the best of luck in your quest for that defined Wash and Go!