If you’ve got dry, coarse or type 4 coily or afro hair the simple tips in this step by step washday routine for afro hair will help you achieve washday success, touchable softness, moisturized and defined coily and afro hair. With application tips and techniques designed to reduce dryness and frizz, improve manageability, maintain healthy hair and enhance definition.
Discover my “Drench + Quench” Method. Find out how to boost hydration with your shampoo. Increase moisture with your conditioner and maximize that moisture with heat. As well as the best brands for type 4 coily + afro hair with an exclusive 20% discount code.
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Step by Step Washday Routine for Afro Hair
Building a good washday routine for afro hair will make the biggest difference in your healthy hair journey and achieving a gorgeous hydrated and defined afro. Although many of my tips + advice are suitable and applicable to all hair types. There are certain tried and tested methods and techniques that work best for tighter curl types and textures.
These focus on reducing dryness, knots and tangles. Increasing hydrating and moisture levels in the hair to maximize shine and enhance definition. And then locking and sealing that hydration and moisture in, to prevent frizz and dryness. Making sure washday results look better and last longer. Make sure you read Everything You Need to Know About Pre-Pooing which is the essential first step in a successful washday routine for afro hair.
Best Brands for Afro Hair
I’ve linked specific products throughout this article as stand-outs for each step in this washday routine for afro hair. But here are some of the best brands to use if you you want to try some new products that have been designed and formulated for your hair type. All available at LOOKFANTASTIC with an exclusive 20% off using code CURLMAVEN. You might also like my A-Z Guide of Black Owned Businesses in the Curl Community.
- As I Am – budget friendly + widely available, their co-wash is amazing!
- Aveda – their Be Curly range is great, but I personally find it a bit oil rich + heavy
- Bouclème – you can’t go wrong with their styling products
- Curlsmith – a huge range of products which focus on hydration + moisture
- Flora + Curl – use if you want lightweight hydration + moisture. Read my Review here.
- Imbue – budget friendly + the only products at this price point that contain protein. Read my Review here.
- Klorane – the Cupuaçu range in particular is phenomenal for dry, coarse or type 4 coily + afro hair
- Pattern Beauty – the best overall brand for type 4 curly, coily + afro hair, with the widest range of products. Read my Review here.
Drench + Quench
Afro hair tends to be drier than looser curl types, due to the tighter curl pattern and texture of the hair. This means you need to take a “Drench + Quench” approach in your washday routine for afro hair. Drenching the hair with water in the shampoo step. And quenching thirsty hair with moisture in the conditioning step. The Drench + Quench method can be used on all hair types, but is particularly beneficial for dry, damaged or brittle hair.
Boost Hydration with Shampoo
The first step in your washday routine for afro hair is to make sure your hair is soaking wet before applying a shampoo or co-wash to cleanse the hair and scalp. Let the water run over the hair until it’s so saturated, you can feel the weight of it in your hair. Both the water pressure and temperature should be low. Using water that’s warm enough to open up the hair cuticle. If the pressure is too high or the temperature is too hot, it can cause damage, frizz and dryness.
It may take a while for coily or afro hair to become fully saturated. This is because this curl type is often low porosity, meaning it rejects and repels water. But also because of the higher concentration of butters, oils and rich emollients that are typically used in conditioning and styling products for type 4 hair, also reject and repel water. This causes the hair to become more and more dry, because the water (hydration) is unable to penetrate the oils and butters (moisture).
This is why it’s so important to clarify afro hair every 4-6 weeks using a chelating shampoo (that contains sulfates) to maintain healthy hair and scalp. So your hair can get fully saturated and better absorb products. The best chelating, clarifying shampoos for type 4 coily and afro hair that are the least drying are Sally’s Ion Hard Water Shampoo (USA + Canada only) or Malibu C Hard Water Wellness Shampoo (UK + EU alternative). Always deep condition for 30-60 mins after clarifying, using a Thermal Heat Cap to replenish moisture and boost the benefits of your conditioner.
Shampoo vs Co-Wash
Use or alternate between a low-lathering, sulfate-free shampoo and/or a co-wash once or twice/week (max). You may find with protective styles that you only need to wash your hair every 2 weeks. If you’re going to co-wash, I recommend using a cleansing co-wash instead of a regular conditioner in place your shampoo, which is the traditional method of co-washing.
Co-washes are more moisturizing, with milder cleansing ingredients so hair feels clean, soft and nourished. Preventing dryness, damage, breakage and tangling. Here are some of my favourite cleansing co-washes. Use code CURLMAVEN for up to 20% off + shop Maven Market to find these brands in your country.
- As I Am Coconut Co-Wash – this cult favourite co-wash is also the most affordable option
- Miribel Naturals Creamy Hair Cleanser – a great brand for dry, coily or afro hair
I only recommend regular co-washing if you’re just starting on your healthy hair journey. Or your hair is really dry or extremely damaged, as co-washing is a really effective way to boost the moisture levels in your hair. Low-lathering, sulfate-free shampoos use mild cleansing agents, but are less moisturizing than co-washes.
Perfect if your type 4 coily or afro hair texture is fine and easily weighed down. Or you’re trying to achieve more volume on your washdays. Here are some of my favourite low-lathering, sulfate-free shampoos. Use code CURLMAVEN for up to 20% off + shop Maven Market to find these brands in your country.
- BREAD Beauty Supply Hair Wash – a luxurious, gentle milky hair cleanser, very concentrated
- Pattern Beauty Cleansing Shampoo – a great affordable brand for dry, coily or afro hair
Section the hair into 4-6 sections when applying any type of product product throughout your washday routine for afro hair. When using a pre-poo oil, co-wash or shampoo, apply product in sections starting at the roots and scalp, gradually moving down to the ends of your hair. This ensures you’re cleansing all of your hair, from root to tip. Read this article for more application tips.
Increase Moisture with Conditioner
If you find that you’re using a lot of styling products, you may not be using enough conditioner or you’re rinsing out too much before applying your styling products. Silky, sea-weed hair is achieved by combining hydration (using water) and moisture (using conditioner). This combo will keep your afro hair soft, hydrated and defined. Once you get this right, you’ll get better results when styling, and use less product.
Apply your conditioner or deep conditioner generously to soaking wet hair in 4-6 sections. Starting at the ends of your hair and gradually moving up towards the root. Make sure you’re using enough conditioner to provide enough slip to detangle. So you don’t rip or tear the hair, causing damage to the hair when it’s most fragile + delicate when it’s wet. Use a Denman cushioned paddle brush to help evenly distribute product through the hair, gently detangle and define the curls and coils.
Then twist the hair and clip it up to prevent the hair shrinking back up. Leave in for as long as your hair needs before rinsing the roots with lukewarm water. Let the residual water run through the lengths of the hair until a milky colour comes out the ends.
The drier your hair, the less water you rinse with and the more white and opaque the water should be coming out the ends. Keeping your mid lengths and ends hydrated and moisturized until your next washday. Here are some of the best deep conditioners for coily or afro hair. Use code CURLMAVEN for up to 20% off + shop Maven Market to find these brands in your country.
- Imbue Restoring Intensive Mask – the most lightweight + affordable with great slip for detangling
- Pattern Beauty Treatment Mask – especially good for damaged, brittle hair that needs some protein
- BREAD Beauty Supply Hair Mask – extremely rich + creamy deep conditioner for coarse or dry hair
- Klorane Cupuaçu 3 in 1 Hair Mask – very concentrated with the best slip for detangling
Maximize Moisture with Heat
Incorporating deep conditioning into your washday routine for afro hair will vastly improve the overall manageability and appearance of type 4 coily + afro hair. To maximize the moisture and boost the benefits of your conditioner, use a Thermal Heat Cap for 30-60 mins once/week or every 2 weeks. This will reduce breakage, frizz and dryness and boost hydration, shine and moisture. By opening up the cuticles of the hair shaft to allow your conditioner to penetrate the hair, nourishing and deeply conditioning your hair from the inside out.
I hope you enjoyed this Step by Step Washday Routine for Afro Hair. Let me know in the comments if you’d like an article on a styling routine for afro hair.
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*Images by Leal Alexander.This article may contain some gifted items and affiliated links and discount codes. This doesn’t effect my opinion or the way in which I write about products featured on this site.