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How To Wash Black Hair

Looking for tips on how to wash black hair? There is a myth going around that black and African American women shouldn't wash their hair often because it will dry it out.


This is absolutely not true.

Don't be afraid to wash your hair. It won't fall out or break off. In fact your hair is screaming for moisture, and the more you give it the better it gets.

Did you know that the only thing that can really moisturize your hair is water?

All the serums, oils and conditioners in the world can't take its place. These products help seal in moisture that water puts into your hair.

Keep reading to find out how to shampoo, condition and what to do afterwards, as well as some of the dos and don'ts of washing black hair.

Getting Ready To Wash Your Hair

Here's what you'll need.

Right here is a good place to tell you the number one black hair washing rule. Be very gentle!

How to Shampoo Black Hair

The first step in how to wash black hair is shampooing. Your hair is delicate so get the gentlest shampoo you can find that meets your hair's needs. Use it sparingly because for black hair 'squeaky clean' usually leads to dryness.

  1. Gently detangle your hair with a wide tooth comb. Starting from the ends, working up to the roots.

  2. Saturate your hair with water with before applying the shampoo.

  3. Take a dime or quarter-sized amount of shampoo and work it into lather. Concentrate on scrubbing your scalp. Remember, shampoo is for the scalp and conditioner is for the hair.

  4. Massage your scalp deeply to stimulate the follicles and loosen any flakes that may be there.

  5. Rinse your hair until all traces of shampoo are gone. This should take about 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Part your hair and check to make sure it's all out. If not, rinse again.

  6. Gently squeeze the water out of your hair.

How to Condition Black Hair

The next step in how to wash black hair is using a quality conditioner. Shampoo gets your hair clean but conditioner is what makes it look healthy.

Never skip conditioner after shampooing your hair. Moisture needs to be put back after the natural oils are stripped out with shampoo.


  1. Apply a generous amount of conditioner from roots to ends. Concentrate on the last ¼ of the length since this is the oldest part of your hair. Try not to get conditioner on your scalp, especially if you have issues with dandruff and dry scalp.

  2. Let conditioner sit according to the instructions or use a plastic cap and heat for a deep penetrating treatment.

  3. Rinse the product, but don't over rinse. You want to leave a slight coating of conditioner in your hair for moisture retention.

  4. Gently squeeze and blot the water from your hair. Never rub with a towel because that causes breakage and damage.

Did you know that using steam is the best way to get more out of your hot oil treatments and deep conditioners?

Steaming opens up the cuticles of your hair allowing the product to penetrate deep into the shaft. The result is soft, shiny and manageable hair with more elasticity and less breakage.

Click here to find out more about the Huetiful Hair Steamer For Black Hair.

What to Do After Washing Black Hair

The next steps in how to wash black hair are adding leave in conditioner to seal the moisture in and drying your hair.

Leave-in Conditioner for Black and African American Hair

After you've hydrated your hair by washing and conditioning properly you should use a leave-in product of some kind to coat it completely. Leave-in conditioners and oils benefit your hair in several ways.

For an extra moisture sealing treat, you can coat your ends with hair butter or natural hair oils like jojoba, olive or coconut.

If you have very fine hair that gets weighed down easily, skip the leave-in completely or use a product that foams for the lightest feel.

How to Dry Black Hair

After applying your leave in conditioner it's time to dry your hair. There are 3 main ways to it. Here's an overview of each listed in order from least to most harsh on the hair.

  1. Air Drying

    • If you have the time air drying is usually the healthiest method of drying your hair.

    • Natural hair tends to do best with this method since it doesn't need to be straightened afterwards.

  2. Indirect Heat

    • Better known as bonnet drying, indirect heat can be thought of as the neutral way to dry hair.

    • This method has the benefit of being much faster than air drying but less damaging than using direct heat.
    • black-woman-shouting-at-blow-dryer

    • If you have relaxed hair you might prefer this method. Air drying has a tendency to leave hair with less sheen and shape than roller setting or wrapping and going under the bonnet.

  3. Direct Heat

    • This method is done with a blow dryer (with our without comb attachment).

    • It's the harshest method of drying and can cause damage and lead to breakage if you use it too much.

    • It should be used rarely if healthy hair is your priority.

Black Hair Washing Tips

Do and Don'ts on How to Wash Black Hair

Washing Natural vs. Relaxed Hair

One important part of how to wash black hair is knowing the difference between how you wash relaxed and natural hair.


Natural hair

Relaxed hair

How to Wash Black Hair FAQ

Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions on how to wash black hair.

  1. How often should you wash black hair?

    • Most hair care experts agree that washing black hair every 3-4 days is best for its health. I usually wash or rinse my hair every other day but I have friends who only wash 2 or 3 times a month. You have to do what works for you. Only you know what's best for your hair.

    • A good rule of thumb is to wash and deep condition whenever you notice dryness.

  2. Can African American hair be washed every day?

    • Yes. If you use the right products and condition every time, daily washing is fine. Many black and African American women wash or rinse their hair daily as a part of their regimen. Type 3 hair benefits the most from daily rinses.

  3. What is conditioner washing?

    • Conditioning washing or co-washing is when you only use conditioner to wash your hair, skipping shampoo completely. It's become popular in recent years for good reason.

    • Helps keep moisture in your hair by not using shampoo that can sometimes dry hair out.

    • Detangles and smooths hair.

    • Controls frizzy hair.

    • Enhances curl definition.

    • Works for natural and relaxed hair.

  4. How do you conditioner wash African American Hair?

    • Follow the steps above for 'How to shampoo black hair' but replace the shampoo with your favorite moisturizing conditioner. The technique works well with any inexpensive conditioner.

    • You can do conditioner washes daily, bi-weekly or any time in place of a regular wash. Prevent build up and clarify your scalp by washing with a shampoo every so often.

Now What Do I Do?

Now that you know how to wash black hair, want suggestions on shampoos and conditioners for your hair washing routine? Come to the Black Women Beauty Central Online Community and join the conversation.

Related Pages:

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