There’s no denying that having grace for your natural texture can be a challenge, but nailing down a wash-day ritual that works for you is a huge step in the right direction. Ahead, Mouzon Wofford breaks down the secret sauce for her biweekly ritual, from her affinity for cold showers to braiding as a meditation practice.
Cleansing + Masking
Whenever I notice my hair is quite dry, I know it’s time to get it back in shape. I use Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar to cleanse—it gets rid of any product build-up without stripping my hair, and it also makes my hair really smooth and shiny. I start out by pouring about an ounce of ACV into a big mason jar and diluting it 1:1 with water. I use it to wet my hair completely as a pre-rinse, and on days I want a deeper cleanse, I’ll turn it into a hair mask with bentonite clay. It’s messy as hell and such a process—but it’s really incredible for a deeper weekend treatment.
Conditioning + Detangling
After the ACV, I twist my hair into into four-to-six sections, depending how lazy I’m feeling. I take one section at a time and soak them with water. Then I use Briogeo Be Gentle, Be Kind Avocado + Quinoa Co-Wash (the directions say four-to-eight pumps for your whole head, but I do like 10 pumps per section). After I fully saturate my hair with that, I run my hair briefly under water again to make sure it’s fully saturated with the product and water to get a really good slip, and then I finger detangle before twisting each section. I don’t use a brush or a comb because they disrupt my curl pattern—my curls just don’t look right after. Finger detangling allows me to be more gentle, so I don’t feel like I’m ripping tangles out.
When finger detangling, I start at the ends, and work my way up to the root. It takes around 20 minutes, which is enough time to really let the product sink in and help my curls form. If I use a heavier deep conditioner that comes in a tub, it’s too thick and buttery, and I don’t get that good slip. But if I do anything that’s too lightweight or too curl-enhancing, it dries my hair right out, and my curls don’t really form. So this is like a Goldilocks product for me.
A Cold Rinse
Once that’s done, I rinse my hair with extremely cold water because it helps to lock in shine and cut down on frizz. It’s not my favorite thing to do in the winter time, but it’s really, really good. In the summer time, I take totally cold showers. It’s so good for your body to immerse yourself in that cold, and it tightens everything up, so I feel very energized and like I just did a crazy workout after. Even if I go out for a walk on a really cold day, my skin always looks great. When I rinse, a good amount of the product washes out, but not necessarily all of it. There’s definitely still product in my hair, but not, like, visible white conditioner.
Drying + Stretching
The next thing that I do is grab the softest cotton t-shirt I can find, and tightly wrap my hair up in it as if it were a towel, and tuck it in at the nape of my neck. It combats frizz while my hair dries, while stretching the curl pattern. I’ve found that the biggest difference in being able to manage my hair has been getting it relatively stretched, rather than a straight wash-and-go (otherwise it’ll get super frizzy). This is when my hair is in its most fragile state, so I leave it alone and let it dry about 80% in the shirt, and get dressed while I wait. Ten or 15 minutes later, I remove the t-shirt and my hair is mostly dry and somewhat stretched.
Locking in the Moisture
Next, I apply some kind of oil to lock in the moisture. Lately, I’ve actually been using this body butter by my friends company, Yes Folk. They mostly make kombucha, but they have this crazy awesome product that’s totally natural. No fragrance or anything. It’s just a really nice natural blend of butters and oils, and I realized it’s great for my hair. I just dab my finger in there and rub it between my hands to melt it, smooth it through my strands as much as possible, and get to my next step of stretching by letting my hair dry 100% in braids. I divide my hair into two sections down the middle, rub the product in, and make sure to get my baby hairs, my ends, and up near my roots, where I tend to get a halo of frizz. I’ve found that the more natural it is, the better it will work for my hair, but if I really want to slick things down, I’ll use a little bit of Jamaican Black Castor Oil before adding a scarf.
Braiding + Maintenance
I’ve really come to love the braiding portion, which used to be a point of frustration. I used to be so resentful at the fact that I couldn’t just do a wash-and-go, because I’m very low maintenance. But the braiding part is actually so cathartic. I aspire to have a meditation practice, but at this point, braiding my hair is my meditation. I tightly wrap my hair up in this satin scarf I’ve had as long as I can remember to help prevent any fizziness (my biggest culprit) on top as it dries. I leave it on for at least 20 minutes, and then I have my hair in the two braids, fully dry, and I usually just leave it for few days before I wear it out. Or I’ll re-braid it into small individual sections—almost like box braids, but minus the extensions.