Why the Three-Step Wash-and-Go Hair Routine Isn’t For Everyone

Experts explain what curly-haired folks should and shouldn't be putting in their hair.

Talk to any curly hair care guru or natural hair enthusiast, and you may find that their beauty cabinets are stacked with a giant collection of hair products. Yet recently, more and more curly-haired creators across YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and the like are participating in significantly shorter haircare routines than in the past. Despite the plethora of products available that target curly hair, many natural-haired folk are choosing to scale back their product consumption, instead going with a three-step wash-and-go routine, instead.  

The school of thought behind the wash-and-go method is that oils and humectants act as blockades. Thus, water and humidity are prevented from entering the hair shaft. Celebrity hairstylist Annagjid “Kee” Taylor, who’s behind the looks of stars like Keke Palmer and Tiffany Haddish, says that one version of the three-step routine involves zero butters and oils. “Also called the ‘No Butters, No Oils’ method, it’s a routine that’s three steps: shampoo, conditioner and a water-based gel,” Taylor explains. “No leave-ins, no butters, no oils.”

However, the stylist adds that she doesn’t think that it’s the best hair care routine for kinkier and curlier hair types. “I haven’t tried this method myself, but from what I’ve seen on social media it’s not a great option for kinkier and curlier hair,” she notes. “Users have complained about increased curl shrinkage, less malleability when it comes to styling and dry, itchy scalps.”

For those kinky and coily-headed naturals, there’s no question that a shorter hair care routine is still ideal. Instagram account Black Girl Curls recommends doing a 30-day hair detox, which goes deeper than eliminating a few products from your stash. Started in 2015 by co-founders Aeleise Jana and Aisha Strickland, this method consists of a full month without shea butter, coconut oil, castor oil, and—the holy grail—eco styler. 

“It’s not what you should do, it’s what’s going on with your hair at that particular time,” Strickland explained in a recent Instagram live. “What at that particular moment is cause for [a clarifying] shampoo in the first place? What shampoo do you need for the job at hand?”

The same goes for the products you use in your skincare and haircare routines. If your hair isn’t that dirty that week, your routine shouldn’t call for an over-strengthening shampoo. Black Girl Curls’ ethos is that you have to understand the behaviors of hair in its natural state and then proceed to set and style. “Every ‘set,’ or how we want to wear our hair requires different stylers,” Strickland said. “What style is the goal?”

Taliah Waajid, CEO of her namesake haircare brand, agrees that you need to be aware of your hair’s behavior when it’s free of product. Additionally, she recommends looking for “hairspiration” from influencers with a similar hair texture to set yourself up for possibilities that work for your actual hair type. 

“Understand that no hair product will permanently change the texture of your hair unless it is a chemical-based product,” Waajid says. “Be realistic about your texture and what it can and can’t do. Focus on finding products that work for your hair type and texture based on what you know/learned about your hair.”

Obviously not everyone’s hair looks the same, but with such varying textures among curly hair, product selection requires a lot of research and review. The biggest tip Waajid offers for those setting out on this journey is to start small. In other words, don’t think about hoarding all those natural hair care products, sis. 

“If you are not sure, try using products from a particular collection, since most hair product collections are formulated to be used together,” she advises. “I am not totally against mixing product collections, but it should only be done once you understand your hair type and texture.”

Waajid still recommends the routine be reduced to three steps that also include a conditioning, moisturizing shampoo, and a conditioning styler. “Since you will be doing the three-step regimen which does not require an after-shampoo conditioner, you want to be sure that your shampoo has conditioners and moisturizers,” she explains. “A cleanser, styler and oil or leave-in conditioner is all that is needed for a great wash and go style.”

Three options to check out:


Green Apple and Aloe Nutrition Shampoo

Shop it Walmart

Green Apple And Aloe Nutrition Curl Elixir

Shop it Walmart

Green Apple & Aloe Nutrition Leave-In Conditioner

Shop it Walmart

Achieving your hair goals may take some time and research, but you’ll be thankful once you nail down a quick, easy routine on wash day and ‘dem curls are poppin’.