Q: Elle, I thought I couldn’t do a wash and go. I don’t like gel and my hair shrinks a lot. I was mostly doing twists and twist outs. I want to give wash and gos another try. I don’t like gel in my hair. that said, can you give some tips for those who thought a wash and go wouldn’t work for them? What I tried today was a leave in conditioner and a pomade product mostly on the ends (for weight). It looked okay when it was still wet but as it dried it shrunk a lot. maybe that’s just the way it is until my hair gets longer. It’s soft but greasy (because of the pomade). do you think wash and gos can work for anybody? Do you think your hair evolves and gets better with time if you keep up a wash and go regimen? Any tips would be appreciated!!
A: This is a perfect example of where autonomy needs to come into play, and why I don’t necessarily believe in natural hair gurus. Your reasons for not being able to where a wash n go aren’t really reasons, those are reasons why you do not “like” how your hair looks in a wash n go. People often come here asking me how to get their hair to not shrink – and honestly, I don’t really know – I let my hair shrink, I love my shrinkage because it allows me to wear my hair out without having to worry about it rubbing on my clothes.
I think people can wear their hair any way they want to – but they may need to do it differently than someone else, and they need to figure out the best way for themselves. When I was having issues with my hair tangling as it got longer, I feared that I was going to have to give up wash and gos. While I was researching information on the Internet, I tweeted that I was doing so and a stylist responded, “Well not everyone can wear a wash and go.” I won’t lie, I gave this woman a major and extreme side eye because she had never even seen my hair in person, and here she was telling me that the style I had been wearing for the past year wasn’t “for” me. Rather than listen to her as a natural hair stylist, I kept on doing my own research and testing out different methods on my hair, and eureka, I found that washing my hair and applying product in sections is a KEY STEP for my thick hair. When I found that out, I shared it with my readers and friends in hopes that it would also help someone else having the same issue.
Now, if you don’t want to use gel and are trying to diminish shrinkage, I can’t really help beyond the information and tips I have shared – I am not a natural hair guru, I have only styled my own head of hair (okay I do know that a lot of people using a blow dryer with a concentrator nozzle once their hair is dry to stretch it – but usually they have used gel in order to keep the hold). Furthermore, one of the main reasons people use gel is to help freeze their wet hair into place and minimize tangles. So if you don’t want shrinkage or gel – you’re really going to have to work at it. Do I think that hair evolves as you keep up a wash and go regimen? Not really – the only thing that I think comes into play with this is curl pattern (for once, lol). If you are constantly manipulating your natural pattern (by combing, brushing, doing twist outs, etc), it is going to take a little bit of time for your hair to settle back in and find itself.
I encourage you to keep perfecting your method, but at the same time – be realistic with your hair and how it looks. If your hair shrinks no matter what, you need to accept that, or stretch your hair.