This Is the Wash Day Routine That Keeps My Scalp and Hair Moisturized and Shiny When I Have Knotless Braids

Photo: W+G Creative/Author
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I love my curls! But there are days when I really don’t feel like styling my hair. When I have a series of important engagements to attend, I prep my hair for braids, and head to the salon. When I want to wake up with my hair done I know I can rock the protective style for up to six weeks.

Just because I leave the braids in my hair for that long doesn’t mean I let everything fester without a single wash, though. I’m the type of person who frequents barre, Pilates, and yoga classes, so my sweaty scalp could use a good clean every once in a while. Ahead, check out advice on how to clean and remove your braids from a professional hairstylist, along with my personal Black-owned and/or Black-founded hair care routine to remove the gunk, and funk, from my scalp.

Experts In This Article

How often should someone with knotless braids wash their hair?

I prefer to wash my hair after two to three weeks, but hair stylist (and founder of hair care brand HEALTHY MUHF#@KIN HAIRAshley Nesbit claims you can stretch that out longer, saying you should wash your hair by week four. “Our hair does best when our natural oils can surface,” Nesbit tells Well+Good. “But, that doesn’t mean scalp health isn't important. Shampooing your hair on week four or five will work wonders,” she states. As for what type of shampoo to reach for, Nesbit says that a product that removes product buildup, dirt, and excess oil is key.

What's the best way for someone with knotless braids to protect their hair between washes?

“The best way to protect your hair in between washes is to treat the braids with the same respect as you treat your own hair… synthetic hair can dry our hair out,” Nesbit exclaims. Along with keeping your hair moisturized with a hair serum, sleeping in a bonnet or scarf will also help your hair stay fresh, per Nesbit’s advice. When it comes to taking care of your hair, Nesbit wants you to “remember [that] your hair is still intertwined with the braids.”

knotless braids

Tips for removing knotless braids

When the sad time comes to remove the braids it’s just as important that we treat our hair with care—isn’t that why we call it hair care in the first place? As you’re removing your braid’s heed Nesbit’s words of wisdom:

Take your time

Nesbit says to avoid rushing when you’re removing your braids. I tend to cut my braid a bit after the end of my natural hair beneath the braid, then use a rat tail comb starting at the cut-off ends. Tip: Playing a series of podcasts helps to pass the time.

Don’t hit the shower the moment your braids are out

“After all braids are out DO NOT RINSE your hair,” Nesbit states. The founder says that immediately rinsing your hair could cause a lot of tangles so instead, read the last bullet point for what to do.

Implement a pre-shampoo combing session

Before you hop in the shower, Nesbit advises that you take a wide tooth comb and “gently comb through your hair from ends to root” before you shampoo your natural hair.

My knotless braid wash day routine

To be transparent, the products I use regularly are mixed in terms of ownership so this list is a comprehensive list of every Black-owned product I have used, and currently use, on my head full of knotless braids.


melanin shampoo
Melanin Haircare, African Black Soap Reviving Shampoo — $20.00

After wetting my hair and scalp, my first step is to shampoo with the African Black Soap Reviving Shampoo by Melanin Haircare. Made with tea tree, peppermint, black cumin seed, and shea butter, this product gets the buildup out! The nozzle makes it easy to evenly dispense the shampoo on my scalp and to squeeze ribbons around where my natural hair is within my braids. One lather is usually good enough for me.

Melanin Haircare is owned by Taffeta White and co-founded with influencer Whitney White.


briogeo conditioner
Briogeo, Be Gentle, Be Kind Aloe + Oat Milk Ultra Soothing Fragrance-free Hypoallergenic Conditioner — $28.00

Since my hair is still somewhere under the braids, I like to go in with a light conditioner after shampooing my hair. And, Briogeo’s Be Gentle, Be Kind Aloe + Oat Milk Ultra Soothing Fragrance-free Hypoallergenic Conditioner does exactly what I need it to do: gently condition without leaving my braids feeling weighed down.

Briogeo is owned by Nancy Twine.

Scalp Oil

mane choice
The Mane Choice, The Alpha Multi-Vitamin Scalp Nourishing Growth Oil — $11.00

Once my braids have been rung out and patted down with a towel, it’s time to begin the re-styling process. To start off, I replenish my scalp with The Alpha Multi-Vitamin Scalp Nourishing Growth Oil by Mane Choice. The non-greasy sweet-almond- and castor-rich oil leaves my scalp feeling soothed after using a deep-cleaning shampoo.

Mane Choice was created by Courtney Adeleye who is still active in the brand’s continued growth as founder.

Hair oil

bread beauty hair oil
Bread Beauty Supply, Hair Oil Everyday Gloss — $24.00

Yes, I’m extra, so I need a separate oil for the rest of my hair—I use an oil in lieu of a serum on non-wash days, too. In, or out of knotless braids, I adore the Hair Oil Everyday Gloss by Bread Beauty Supply. The product’s silicone-free blend (that includes kakadu plum, safflower, and argan oils) keeps both my actual hair and the braiding hair shiny—never greasy.

Bread Beauty Supply is owned by Maeva Heim.

Leave-in conditioner

the doux
The Doux, Fresh Leave-In Conditioner — $13.00

It is now time to spritz on The Doux’s Fresh Leave-In Conditioner. I like to section my braids in half, to then spritz one side at a time. I go from root to where I think my natural hair ends… and a smidge lower to cover the bases. One of my favorite things about this product is that it helps reduce any frizz that came from washing my braids.

The Doux is owned by Maya Smith.


the doux mousse
The Doux, Mousse Def Texture Foam — $15.00

I don’t know about you, but putting mousse on newly installed or freshly washed braids is the best part of the process. I pump a generous amount of The Doux’s Mousse Def Texture Foam into my hands and run it from root to tip—natural and faux hair COVERED. Infused with aloe, agave, and green tea, this lightweight non-greasy mousse truly does dry quickly to further reduce frizz and make my braids look good-as-new.

The Doux is owned by Maya Smith.


pattern gel
Pattern, Strong Hold Gel — $25.00

Please don’t hate me, but no, I don’t lay my edges. I’ll let you catch your breath. Okay, here’s how I use Pattern’s Strong Hold Gel. I take a small amount—about a few fingers worth—and run it over the ends of my braids. In my opinion, my ends stay put when I add some gel onto them and no, they don’t dry down crunchy. Plus, if I see any fly aways around the mids, I add a bit there, too, to smooth everything out.

Pattern is owned by Tracee Elis Ross.

And voila, wash-day, done!

Maintenance must-haves

Since I only wash my hair one or two times during the duration of wearing knotless braids, here are the products that help maintain my hair before, between, and after washes.

Hair refresh

sunday II sunday
Sunday II Sunday, Root Refresh Micellar Rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar — $31.00

As someone who works out almost everyday, when I come home, I spray the Root Refresh Micellar Rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar by Sunday II Sunday all over the top of my head. The apple cider vinegar and micellar water always takes my hair from funky to funk-free before I toss my braids in the next product.

Sunday II Sunday is owned by Keenan Beasley.

Satin wrap

melanin haircare satin head wrap
Melanin Haircare, Melanin Stretch Satin Head Wraps — $22.00

In an email response to Well+Good, Nesbit recommended that using a silk bonnet or scarf is best. Personally, my wallet prefers satin. So, as someone with a big head who is dedicated to getting waist-length braids, I reach for my Melanin Stretch Satin Head Wraps by Melanin Haircare, night after night. I know it just looks like a giant rectangle but I have an easy way of wrapping my hair up. I split my hair in two, with a group of braids over each shoulder. Then I drape the wrap on top. Next I cover each group of braids with the satin. Lastly, I take the satin-wrapped hair and cross it above the ears, over the forehead and tie both ends behind my head. Warning: It won’t look the prettiest, but it gets the job done and stays in place all night.

Melanin Haircare is owned by Taffeta White and co-founded with influencer Whitney White.

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