Healthy hair is beautiful hair. And for Black women, wash day is often a sacred act of self-care. In our new series Wash Day Diaries, we’re asking influential women to break down exactly what goes into their routines, so you can learn their tips, tricks, and products that work for your texture and style.
Mena Adubea doesn’t take her hair too seriously. “I’m not attached to my hair. Maybe it’s because I know it will grow,” says the Rhode Island–based content creator. “Instead I like to think of it as an accessory.” It’s a refreshing take in a time when many Black women are feeling the weight of their hair—whether it be political, social, and otherwise. But for Mena and her 90,000 followers, her hair journey is one of unadulterated joy and self-expression. “I love to change my hair,” she says. “I love the whole creative aspect of it. This is what I do.”
Mena’s approach to hair care is one centered on experimentation, finding a good vibe and seeing it through. “I don’t like to be restricted in any kind of box,” she says. “I just want to feel pretty.” What pretty to her means, though, changes from day to day. “If pretty means a gelled down bun in the back that’s what it means,” she says. “If it means braiding my hair down and putting on a wig, that’s what it means. I like to match my hair to my looks. I love to be able to put my hair back and throw on a blonde wig with highlights, or throw on a bob or maybe do something long, and then tomorrow I can do a faux loc crochet look.”
Part of her adventurousness may stem from the fact that Mena hasn’t stepped foot in a salon for five years, opting instead to be the captain and crew of her natural hair journey. “Even when I was relaxed, I would dye my own hair at home,” she says. “I got highlights. I was always experimenting and, of course, it was a hot mess, but I just like to keep doing different things.” And believe her, she’s done it all. From locs to a TWA cut to relaxed, natural, and back ahead, Mena goes with what inspires her, always with an eye to creating a look.
And again, she isn’t here for anyone else’s preconceived notions about how hair—hers or anyone else’s—should look. “I know there are some naturals who are like, ‘Oh, no. We don’t straighten,’ but I don’t have the time for that,” she says. “I don’t subscribe to any rules.”
To keep her hair healthy and moisturized in between switching things up, she does weekly co-washes, sticks to a once-a-month wash day, and doesn’t get caught up in complicated wash routines. “I learned very early that having curly hair is really a job,” she says. “Trying to keep it moisturized, trying to get it to grow, trying to get it to do what you want it to do. It’s taught me that, for me, less is more.”
Here’s how that shakes out in her wash day routine.
With being natural, there are two types of wash days for me: I do co-washes—in-between washes—and then there’s the actual wash day that includes the shampoo. I co-wash my hair a few times a week, depending on the styles I’ve had and product build-up, to clean my hair while still maintaining moisture.
Lately I’ve been using SheaMoisture Manuka Honey and Yogurt Hydrate and Repair Conditioner or Renpure Originals Argan Oil Luxurious Conditioner. I use either one of those to co-wash, mainly focusing on my edges, a little bit on the roots, and the ends. Because I do the co-wash so often, my hair really isn’t dirty. I’ll detangle my hair every other co-wash—or maybe every other other co-wash—with conditioner, slowly from the end to the root.
I use a wide tooth comb—literally that big orange-y brown comb you can find from any beauty supply store. The whole process takes maybe 20 minutes.
SheaMoisture Manuka Honey and Yogurt Hydrate and Repair Conditioner
Renpure Originals Argan Oil Luxurious Conditioner
Tortoise Large Handle Comb
My wash days are the first of each month. And when I actually shampoo, I’ve been loving SheaMoisture Manuka Honey and Yogurt Hydrate and Repair Shampoo. I’m blown away by how my hair doesn’t feel stripped bare naked after I wash it. It’s shocking. A little goes a long way too, which is nice. So I use that, wash my hair, put in the conditioner and then honestly, because I do the co-washing so often, I don’t really have to do a treatment. When I finish, I’ll put in a leave-in conditioner from the same line (SheaMoisture Manuka Honey and Yogurt Hydrate and Repair Multi-Action Leave-In Conditioner).
SheaMoisture Manuka Honey & Yogurt Hydrate + Repair Shampoo
SheaMoisture Manuka Honey and Yogurt Hydrate and Repair Multi-Action Leave-In Conditioner
Every now and again—not as religiously as the first of the month wash day—I’ll do a deep conditioning treatment. I keep it really easy and kind of hack it. I’ll literally take whatever conditioner I have in the shower, put a lot of it in my hair, and I’ll leave it in for like a day or two. Then when I’m ready to do a new style I’ll just rinse it out.