Just to preface, I only wash my crochet braids (and my real hair underneath) after I go swimming or I wash it once a week when I have been working out everyday at the gym. If you are not as active , I don't think you have to wash your hair that often (maybe once every two weeks or so).
How I Do it:
- Use a shampoo net (it looks like a hair net but stronger and thicker - find at your local beauty supply). This will help protect the crochet braids hair from getting further tangled while washing it. I usually use the Alaffia Black Soap Shea Butter shampoo but if I go swimming in chlorinated water I used a basic shampoo with phytic acid or EDTA ingredients. I find the shampoo suds and bubbles penetrate the crochet braids and my real hair underneath pretty well. If you want to be extra deep clean, fill an applicator bottle half with shampoo and the other half with cold water, shake and apply to scalp/cornrows. Rinse hair well with not too hot water (heat can affect the curl pattern of the crochet hair).
- Fill an applicator bottle up half way with conditioner. I have mostly been using Shea Moisture Restorative Conditioner because it comes in a pump bottle. Fill the other half of bottle with cold water (the water temperature lets you know where you are applying the conditioner, especially since your head/hair will be warm from washing your hair previously). Shake the bottle well, take off the shampoo net and apply to tracks. It is not that important to waste your products on 'conditioning' the synthetic hair because it will not absorb any of the beneficial ingredients. So keep it on your real hair underneath. Let it sit for 5 or so minutes (shave those legs or brush those teeth in the meantime).
- Wash out conditioner with luke warm water (or water cooler than the water you were washing your hair with). This helps seal in the moisture, etc. Don't touch the hair as you wash out the conditioner - just put your head under the shower head. Don't wash out conditioner for too long because having some remnants of conditioner is not a bad thing.
- Wrap hair with a t-shirt or microfiber towel. A regular terry cloth towel can leave lint behind in the synthetic hair and mess up the curl patterns.
- The synthetic crochet braids dry rather fast whereas your cornrows will not. If you are wearing Deep Twist, I highly recommend taking 5-10 minutes to use a blow dryer to dry out your tracks a little bit to help the process along, otherwise your hair might mildew! The other styles I find you have more air circulation therefore your real hair dries totally fine.
- After washing I usually take 5 minutes to apply some Wave Nouveau Finishing Lotion or something similar (small amounts!) and finger comb or paddle comb (Deep Twist Style only) the hair. Then I trim any scraggly ends or reshape the crochet braids in certain areas (always trim at a downwards angle) - I am not an expert trimmer but it is not hard when you are just trying to get rid of the wispy ends and whatnot.