Water-only Washing And Deep Conditioning For Defined Curls

@natashaleeds

@natashaleeds

Dear naturalistas, dry, frizzy hair is not the natural state of black hair. It is the result of weeks, months, or even years of lack of moisture. The good news is that, it is completely reversible, and it is possible to achieve beautiful, springy curls no matter your texture.

One of the stealthiest contributors to the dryness of our hair is shampoo. Yes, shampoo! The problem with shampooing your hair daily, or even weekly, is that the harsh sulfates added to shampoo, which are designed to create lather, strip our hair of vital moisture that gives our hair flexibility, strength and definition, resulting in extremely dry, stiff and frizzy hair.

The culprit behind this “natural” dryness is the ineffective distribution of sebum along our hair strands. This natural oil is produced by our hair follicles and is designed to naturally “seal in” water, keeping each hair strand moisturized.

On straight hair this sebum easily travels from root to tip, coating the hair shaft to effectively preserve moisture within the hair. Often, it does too good of a job, which is why straight hair has a tendency to feel greasy and dirty more easily.

However, in afro-textured hair sebum has a more difficult time traveling down the hair shaft due to the kinks in our tightly coiled hair texture, resulting in inadequately “sealed” hair that lacks moisture. In fact, use a cleansing, sulfate-free shampoo on your hair only when it needs it, which is generally about once a month.

Instead of shampooing, maintain clean hair through weekly co-washing or water-only washing. Co-washing is, simply put, washing your hair with conditioner instead of shampoo. Currently the most popular method for maintaining clean, afro-textured hair, it often only produces temporary results and hair returns to a frizzy state within a few days or even a few hours.

Although somewhat controversial, I highly recommend water-only washing because while finger-combing your wet hair during the process, you naturally aid the sebum to move along the length of the hair rather than washing away what your body naturally produces to retain moisture within the hair.


I am big on natural methods of hair care, because working along with the built-in functions of your body often gives you the best results due to the fact that, well, your body naturally has a pretty good idea of how to run things.

So, rather than shampooing away the sebum that your head naturally produces to keep your curls moisturized, I choose to work with my body’s own natural methods, ensuring a better and more long-lasting result. I haven’t used shampoo in over a year, and I have been water-only washing for the last 7 months!

To get rid of dirt and build-up from hair products, once a month I employ a Bentonite Clay Wash which helps my curls to clump nicely while also drawing toxins and dirt from deep inside the hair shaft, resulting in better defined and moisturized hair.

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About Linda Cabinda


Linda Cabinda was born in the West African nation of Cameroon. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a BA in English. Her journey of self-realization has taken her from Los Angeles, to Chicago, and even Miami. She is a writer and "resident creative" currently residing in New Jersey.

About Linda Cabinda


Linda Cabinda was born in the West African nation of Cameroon. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a BA in English. Her journey of self-realization has taken her from Los Angeles, to Chicago, and even Miami. She is a writer and "resident creative" currently residing in New Jersey.

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ladee neenah
ladee neenah

I never understood why water only washing got so much hate. The theory is sound, encourage the correct balance of sebum for adequate sealing, use less product, apply water frequently to keep the hair moisturized. When I wet my hair regularly (without co-washing, just water) my coarse, dense, high porosity 4c hair is so much more manageable and retains moisture much better. I use jojoba oil to offset my sebum until I reach full coverage. I still co-wash when I feel I need to and incorporate a gentle shampoo also when needed and my hair is thriving.