A 'wash and go' is a wet set hairstyle much like the ones stylists create with cold wave rods. Only this time, the curls are naturally occurring. Just add water!
Dive in to discover how to make your curls pop in your next 'wash and go'.
First, a Conversation About Hair Type
The purpose of the 'wash and go' is to achieve an effortless style that is attractive and shows off your hair's naturally curly beauty. Depending on your hair type, this style is highly individualized.
Hair typing is an agreed-upon categorization of curl-type that helps women find styles and products that work best for them. Hair is typically separated into categories by curl, consistency, and volume. There are 4 types each with 3 sub-categories. You can have any combination or not fit neatly into any one type. It's just for reference.
Here are the 4 hair types:
Type 1: Bone-straight, shiny, resistant to curls
- A: Fine, oily, reflective of light, most resistant to curling
- B: Oily, increased volume, starts to hold a curl
- C: Thick, oily, best at holding a curl, slight S-curl appearing at the nape and temples
Type 2: Wavy, increased volume, flat at the roots
- A: Loose, elongated S-curls
- B: S-curl pattern starts to resemble unraveled braided hair, starts to become frizzy
- C: Distinct elongated waves or s-curls, frizzy to very frizzy, may have spiral curls at the ends as hair gets longer
Type 3: Curly spirals
- A: Loose spiral curls, frizzy to very frizzy, curls begin to clump together
- B: Bouncy spirals about the width of a finger, curls clump together
- C: Tight distinct spirals resembling a telephone cord, pronounced clumped curls, and more shrinkage
Type 4: Very curly, coily, kinky
- A: Curly spirals, shiny, defined s-shape with more frizz, less clumping
- B: Smaller spirals the size of a straw, more pronounced frizzing, less clumping, increased dryness
- C: May have coils the width of a yarn needle/inner spring of a pen or no identifiable curl, may also have curls that resemble a Z-shape with defined angles, very dry and frizzy, most susceptible to damage from hair tools and techniques, no evident clumping of curls, shrinks up to 75% of the length
How to Master the 'Wash and Go'
To master the 'wash and go', you need a good idea of how your hair responds to certain products and styling techniques. The secret of effortless hair is that it's not effortless. For some, achieving a 'wash and go' is as simple as de-tangling wet hair and slapping on a liberal amount of holding product. For others, it can feel like a marathon.
Here are the steps to achieve the best 'wash and go' for you:
1. Shampoo and Detangle
For all hair types, you'll want to start with freshly washed hair. A clarifying shampoo will remove strong product buildup. Use a moisturizing shampoo for less of a drying effect. Shampoos consist of 10-30 ingredients, some of which are known allergens. Read the ingredient list for your products to choose the best option for your scalp health.
Follow up with a moisturizing conditioner while in the shower to aid in the detangling process. Use a wide-tooth comb or a flexible brush made specifically for curly hair. Comb the hair from ends to roots.
To minimize damage to type 4 curls, try finger detangling. If your hair has been recently straightened, this is the perfect time to try a wash and go style. Wash your hair in sections to avoid introducing tangles. You may also choose to dry your hair and de-tangle first. You can add water in the next step to encourage your curls to re-emerge.
2. Layer Your Product on Soaking Wet Hair
The key to getting a good set is to coax your curls into clumping. This is easier to achieve on soaking wet hair. Many moisturizing hair products contain ingredients that stay in the hair when the initial product is washed out leaving the hair feeling smoother. Some of these products are better for curly hair while others weigh them down.
For hair types 1, 2, and 3a, a holding mousse should be strong enough to give you that tousled look. If you have hair types 3 or 4, a combination of products can assist with moisturizing and holding your curls in place. Use a leave-in conditioner followed by a strong gel that blends well together. The heavier the products, the more weighed down your hair will be.
Layer the products one section at a time using either your fingers, a curly-hair brush, or a 3-row comb to clump your curls. Running down the section once or twice will be enough to show a curl. The more defined you want your curls to be, the smaller you should make your sections.
You can start here from blow-dried hair also, as the water in the products will cause your hair to curl. Use a spritz bottle to add more moisture if you like.
3. Diffuse, Dry, or Band
For many, a wash and go is an effortless style that requires a brief hit of the diffuser. For others, looking at you type 4, you may want to prep this style the night before to ensure that your hair dries completely and you get the maximum stretch from your style.
Use your diffuser attachment on your blow drier and, using it in a scooping motion, hold your hair close to your head as it dries. For hair types 1 through 4a, this will help your hair to curl in a way that is voluminous instead of weighed down.
For thick, coarse curls, try sitting under a hooded drier. Alternatively, you can use the banding method to stretch your curls overnight. To minimize frizz, sleep with a satin bonnet or satin pillowcase.
Once your style is dry, manipulate your hair as little as possible while separating the curls. This will keep your curls clumped together, reducing the overall frizz.
4. Maintaining Your Wash and Go
If you wash your hair daily, use a soft, microfiber towel to move through your routine faster. To get a few more days out of your style, try using pin curls or the pineapple method while you sleep.
To pin curl, loosely roll your hair under with your fingers in large sections and pin it down. This helps you maintain the shape of your hair and avoids the straight sections that occur using the pineapple method.
Perform the pineapple method by using a satin scarf to loosely tie your hair up on top of your head like a pineapple. In the morning, take your hair down and fluff.
Sometimes hair has a mind of its own. When that happens, creativity is your friend. If your hair is too shrunken, use a hand drier to stretch the hair. If it just looks way too frizzy, consider separating the curls further to achieve a more voluminous look. Alternatively, throw your hair into a nice messy top bun or cute hair puffs. Incorporating braids in the front is another way to fix a hair-mergency.
If you always have trouble with the look of your 'wash and go', consider getting a shaping haircut. A flattering haircut will frame your face in a more appealing way. The state of your ends also affects how frizzy your style is.
Live the Carefree, Curly Life
The wash and go has been around for ages going by names like 'beach waves' and 'air-dried'. In the last half of the previous decade, it's seen a rise to prominence within the community of extremely-curly girls. Some laud it as a go-to style, while others use it as a base for more voluminous hairstyles. Whatever your personal style, remember stylish hair is healthy hair.
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