Girls With Curls: 5 Wash-Day Mistakes That Are Ruining Your Hair

Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
By Amanda

It can take months and years to build the perfect regimen. But until then, it's important to make an intentional effort to pay attention to your hair’s needs over time, especially on wash day, which is usually pretty dreaded, especially if you live an active lifestyle. The focus of wash day should be cleansing and replenishing the hair and scalp. But did you know both steps can be thwarted if done improperly? Want to know why your hair is dry only hours after washing it? Here’s why.

1. Rubbing your hair.
Shampoo commercials and sensual movie scenes make disheveling your hair with shampoo and piling it atop your crown appealing, but it's actually pretty detrimental to your strands. Tousling your hair not only induces tangles, but it also further lifts the hair’s cuticle. Shampoo expands the cuticle in order for it to effectively cleanse, so you want to stroke the hair downward to encourage the cuticle to lay flat. When scrubbing your scalp, hold the ends of your hair taut with one hand and massage the scalp with the other hand. Remember to be gentle, as hair is elastic and prone to break when wet.

2. Co-washing after clarifying.
Clarifying is necessary and co-washing is optional. Clarifying is meant to thoroughly remove all product buildup, excess sebum, and debris from outdoor elements. Co-washing is meant to refresh the hair with moisture while gently removing some buildup. Both are cleansing methods and should not be done subsequently. If you choose to clarify, then deep conditioning afterwards is important. If you want to co-wash, you don't have to follow up with a deep condition, but you certainly can.

Related: You Need To Clarify — Signs That Co-washing Is Not Enough

Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
3. Deep conditioning before cleansing.
Deep conditioners are to be used after cleansing — not before. Shampoos usually have a pH balance of 8, which is slightly alkaline, enabling the hair shaft to swell and raise the cuticle layers for thorough cleansing. Deep conditioners have a pH balance between 3.5-6 to close the cuticle and seal in moisture. Both have surfactants that function differently. Cleansers attract dirt and oil, while conditioners leave a film containing moisturizing properties on the strands. If your cleanser is so harsh that your deep conditioner cannot restore the moisture, then change your cleanser, deep conditioner, or both.

4. Not applying a leave-in conditioner or moisturizer.
It's essential to apply a leave-in conditioner or moisturizer after washing your hair. Though conditioners leave a film on the cuticle, it's not enough to maintain moisture. You want to make sure to apply a moisturizer or leave-in conditioner while your hair is damp or wet to trap moisture in the strands. Going directly from rinsing off a deep conditioner to applying a styler will certainly leave your hair dry, especially if the styler is not formulated as a two-in-one product.

5. Not sealing.
This may not be applicable to everyone, but there have been many testimonies and scientific findings that support sealing your hair with an oil or butter after applying a moisturizer. This technique is commonly known as the LOC method, and it creates an extra barrier that will also help reduce moisture depletion after wash day.

Next: My Moisturizer Has Oil in It — Is Sealing Necessary?

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