Judging by all the YouTube videos and natural hair bloggers out there you’d think the number of years you’ve been natural determines how long your hair will be. Almost everyone is obsessed with length as their goal. I am just as guilty, hoping my own hair will grow to longer lengths. The reality is there are so many factors to consider if you’re trying to grow your hair.
With so many natural hair events and conventions it’s so easy to stock up on the latest products to care for your hair. It’s like an adrenaline rush when you see something new, read the label and get excited when the company rep tells you all the good things it can do for your own hair. But you have to take a moment and think about what you have at home and what you’ve been doing, or not doing. Have you really given your own products a try? It’s important to establish consistency in a routine of how you manage your curls. Switching products too frequently doesn’t give your hair a chance to even see results from a new line you just started using. I know it’s easy to get excited when you discover something new, but remember that if you haven’t given what you have at home a real try, save your money. The last thing you want is to become a product junkie.
Keep in mind that just like our bodies, genetics can also play a role in how long, fast or thick your hair will grow. Despite the fact I’ve been natural for over 20 years, my hair still doesn’t have the length I have hoped for. I was so focused on length that I forgot to think about keeping it healthy. My hair has suffered over the last few years and the result has been breakage and loss of thickness. My hair was very thick and I had more length than I do today.
When I first went natural, it wasn’t the trend it is today. There were no tutorials and little information on taking care of hair that was not chemically relaxed. Now we have so much information including categories of hair based on curl pattern to help you in how you manage your locks. I have 4C hair, which is the tightest curl pattern often referred to as being ‘kinky’. I wanted to share some tips on how to care for your hair, but of course it’s based on my personal experience, so keep that in mind.
These are 7 tips on taking care of 4C natural hair.
1. Don’t Comb Your Hair When it’s Completely Dry
If you’ve ever done this to yourself, I’m certain you experienced pain and agony. Not only does it hurt to do this, it also tends to result in a lot of breakage to your hair. It’s best to apply a cream or dampen the hair with a moisturizing spray that will make it easier to comb without ripping our your hair. You can also just spray some water on your hair, especially if you still have residue of product in it, the water helps to reactivate it. The added moisture makes combing easier and lessens your chance of breakage.
2. Avoid Using a Fine tooth Comb
I swear I cringe when I go to a salon that pulls out that small comb, also known at a tail comb, and starts to rip my hair trying to comb it. I have ended up in confrontations with hairstylists who clearly have no understanding of 4C natural hair. They think it’s okay to use, but they are doing more harm than good. I have gotten out of the chair at the salon when I see that comb approaching my head.
Do not ever use this fine tooth comb to try and manage your hair.
3. Don’t Use a Brush
I got so excited after attending a natural hair event about three years ago when I purchased a Felicia Leatherwood detangler brush. It promised to be my saving grace when it came to tangled hair when washing. The design was meant to easily unravel knots and twists. These types of brushes work great for some people, but unfortunately it ended up causing so much thinning in my hair. When I used it, I noticed a lot of hair in the brush. Over time, and I didn’t use it for very long, my hair was a disaster. So thin compared to before. I even used the technique I was taught by Felicia herself at the natural hair event I attended in Toronto.
For me, it didn’t work well, but I do know some women who loved it and swear by it. Of course their hair texture is different from mine. If you are serious about wanting one, I would recommend testing when it comes to using detangling brushes. Not all hair textures will agree with it.
It’s been said that using a wide tooth comb is best because it won’t disrupt the natural hair pattern. I prefer using them and recommend it to anyone with 4C hair. Because this hair type is the most fragile, you have to take great care since it’s more suscepible to breakage.
4. Minimize How Much Heat You Use on Your Hair
There’s nothing like that exhilirating feeling when you go to the salon and get your hair blow dried and pressed out. You really see how much length your hair has. The tight curls have the tendency to just curl and wrap around itself, leaving your hair looking like there is no real growth happening.
But once you blow it out….WOW.
This is something you shouldn’t do all the time because using too much heat on your hair can cause real damage. I regret how much I used to blow dry and press it out with a hot flat-iron. I did it so frequently. In the long term I ended up with breakage and my hair also started thinning. Once I stopped and did it on rare occasions, I saw the improvement in my hair thickness.
If you can, avoid using heat too often on your hair.
5. Use Products That Will Add Moisture
When I first went natural I was doing so much experimenting with the few products that were available for my hair texture. I started off using old school StaSaFro spray that I was familiar with becauase my parents always had it around the house when I was growing up. I soon realized it wasn’t giving me everything I needed. It didn’t absorb into my hair shaft so it felt like oil just sitting on the surface.
After spending most of my life at the time relaxing my hair, I wasn’t quite sure what would work. I soon switched to Kemy Oyl and Mizani products for quite some time and had good results. Over the years I have used many products including Pantene Relaxed and Natural, Kemi Oyl, Dark & Lovely, Cantu, Shea Moisture, Sheena’s Hair Care Nourish (an amazing moisturizer), As I Am, Keracare and more.
I used Pantene’s Relaxed & Natural line (which was initially called ‘For Women of Color’), for about 10 years before I started experimenting with other products. I mainly became more concerned and interested in using some of the products with more natural ingredients. Also I noticed my hair was no longer responding to Pantene products. This can happen, which is why it’s often recommended to switch products.
Shea Moisture became a go-to product last year, but being in Ghana it’s not easy to find and it very expensive because of the cost of importing.
This year I discovered a product that did wonders on my hair and I plan on using it continuously to see long term results. We Naturals. A product line made in Ghana. Made using a mixture of shea butter, baobab oil, cocoa butter, extra virgin olive oil and a variety of essential oils.
I’ve been using this for over a month now and I find it’s provided the best moisture for my hair and the dryness I was experiencing has gone. My hair is no longer brittle and it’s much easier to comb and style.
It’s very important that you have a product that gives you the moisture you need to keep you hair soft and encourage healthy growth.
6. Always Comb Hair from the Ends to Roots
This is so important because super curly hair can have knots and tangles. If you start coming your hair from the root, it will get stuck and you will experience pain from pulling. When you start combing at the ends, you slowly work your way down to the root and you’ll find less snags and less damage to your hair.
7. Don’t Skip Deep Conditioning Treatments.
This is so important. Visiting the salon to do a deep conditioning treatment will work wonders on your hair. If you prefer to do it yourself at home, you can easily do it with a shower cap over your head while the deep conditioner sits in for at least 20 minutes. If you have a hooded dryer that’s a bonus. You can sit under it with your cap and treatment in to get maximum results.
I hope all these tips will help you in your natural hair regimen. If you’re new to this natural hair life and thought being natural was going to be easier than having relaxed hair, you’re in for a surprise. It’s hard work and requires discipline and patience. Having 4C hair requires so much attention if you want it to be healthy, strong and have some growth. It’s important that you follow all these steps if you want to see the results you’re hoping for. Good results will come at your own pace. Don’t compare your journey to someone else’s because even when we have the same hair type, everyone still has a different experience.
I hope these tips help you out on your journey. I’d love to hear from you and what you’re doing to help your hair.