The Products & Tips Pros Swear By For The Perfect Wash-&-Go

Photographed by Megan Madden.
One aspect of the natural hair movement that people fail to mention is the work that goes into maintaining those glorious spirals. Twist-outs take time and protective styles cost cash, which is why the wash-and-go is so appealing. Plus, with summer approaching, who wants to use any additional heat? As Sweet Brown once said, ain’t nobody got time for that.
With that in mind, we asked our favorite hair pros for their tried-and-true techniques for styling waves, coils, and curls fast. According to them, playing up your texture is really just about choosing the right product and knowing exactly how to apply it. Check out their picks, ahead.
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While some might equate mousse with the large-and-in-charge ’dos of the '80s, it's still a pro pick for its ability to give fine hair a fighting chance. "I swear by this mousse," Christina B., a stylist at the Rita Hazan Salon in New York City, says. "It adds definition without the heaviness." To pump up the volume, squeeze a liberal amount into your palms, rub them together and rake your hands through your hair while it's damp. Then, use a paper towel to scrunch it in — this really makes your waves ripple.
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For soft, touchable texture, NYC salon owner Eliut Rivera likes this foamy formula. “The key is to apply product to 100% of the hair so that it dries evenly,” he says. “Be sure to start at the bottom of wet hair and work your way up, focusing product on the ends and not on the roots.”

Milbon Wave Enhancing Mousse, available at select salons.
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If you're trying to cut down on your morning routine, then prep your hair at night. Celebrity hairstylist Eugene Smith swears by this time-saving routine: Shampoo, condition, towel dry, and do a braid or two (the more braids, the tighter the waves). Once you take your braids out, pump this silicone and silk protein-infused serum to your palms, then run them through your hair. “It’s the best for anti-humidity protection," he says. "It controls frizz, and gives the hair a nice finish.”
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Crunchy is never cute. For moisture and softness, Felicia Leatherwood uses this creamy leave-in. “It hydrates and holds the texture without being heavy,” she says. Her trick: Divide hair into four to eight sections so you can evenly distribute the product. You need to get all up in there so you’re not left with any stray dry spots.
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Cream is a curl’s best friend, and Leatherwood uses this formula for all hair types. Shingling is the best technique to apply it, she instructs. Taking half-inch sections, scoop up some cream with your index and middle fingers, gliding down each section from roots to ends.
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For fine curls, celeb hairstylist Felix Fischer turns to this lightweight spray. “Comb shampooed and conditioned hair through, shake it up with your hands and then mist it all over," he says. "Finger comb hair lightly; don't squeeze the product in. Then air dry, in order to not disturb your curls.”
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Rivera likes to apply a generous amount of this cream – which hydrates and shields your hair from humidity and frizz — to towel-dried hair divided into four parts. "Don't be afraid to saturate your hair with it," he says. "Start from the ends and work your way up, then comb it all through. Use your hands to scrunch, and let your strands dry in peace."
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Leatherwood loves this multi-tasker, and even uses it on Issa Rae. "It has the hold of a gel, yet imparts moisture as a cream would," she says. To avoid shrinkage and create a defined curl pattern, coils typically need more coaxing than shingling allows. Two-strand twists (twisting and intertwining two small sections of hair) are your best bet, she notes. You can make your twists bigger than you would with a typical twist-out — just make sure you're covering your sections liberally.
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Leatherwood says it’s essential to apply product when your hair is sopping wet... like, fresh-out-the-shower wet. The water-product combo will promote hydration and definition. “I like to apply Kinky Curly Custard in small sections, and wrap each one around my finger,” says Fischer. “Sometimes coils only come if you actually coil them.”
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To truly wash and go, you can work Smith’s favorite shine-and-shape enhancer generously throughout wet hair. “From there, rub it in using a circular motion to help define the curl pattern, and then allow hair to dry naturally,” she says. You might want to have a spray bottle with water handy in case hair starts to dry up as you’re applying product.

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