By Chinwe of Hair and Health
While some naturals dislike the hair typing system, it does have its benefits for others. One of those benefits, I think, is determining certain hair care practices that are most beneficial to our tight coils and kinks, and thus retaining length. Here are just a few of those practices:
1. Wash in sections
Because our hair type has a tendency to shrink and tangle easily, washing in sections is ideal for retaining length. Whether you section your hair in big braids, big twists, or via hair clips/holders, keeping the hair stretched and bound will help to prevent detangling nightmares and breakage.
2. Stretched hairstyles are your friend
This tip may sound obvious to some but still warrants mentioning. Stretched styles – twist-outs, braid-outs, bantu knot outs, etc. – are good go-to styles when you want to wear your loose and free. Why? Because when our coils and kinks are stretched, they are less likely to interact with each other to form knots and tangles, which in turn can lead to premature trims and breakage.
3. Bounded styles are also your friend
Buns, twists, braids, and many other styles in this category restrict our super coily strands from interacting with each other as well. Some bounded styles may be more effective than others depending on your hair density and texture within the type 4B/4C category.
4. Avoid harsh tools (or tools altogether) when detangling
Wide tooth seamless combs and/or our fingers are amongst the most gentle tools for our hair. The widely spread apart teeth on the comb minimizes snagging and snapping during a detangling session. Our fingers can do the same but more effectively (when done properly) for many of us. As for brushes? While not all brushes are created equal, I rarely (if ever) see a type 4B/4C natural achieve long hair using any sort of brush during detangling sessions.
5. Try to style with your fingers (instead of brushes and combs)
Too much combing and brushing (in addition to over-stretching the hair) can contribute to mid-shaft splits. Our kinky tresses are more prone to these kind of splits, and so we need to be more careful of using such tools excessively. If you must use a comb or brush to style your hair, keep it to a minimum. (Check out this post by Jc on the Natural Haven for more details on mid-shaft splits.)
6. Manipulate your hair as little as possible
The more you manipulate your hair, the more likely you are to, not only get breakage, but tangles and knots due to the nature of our tight coils. This tip corresponds with that of number 3 – wearing bounded styles, styles that restrict our strands from interacting with one another. Additionally, wearing such styles for a good amount of time can prevent you from over-manipulating your hair.
7. Moisturize and seal thoroughly
Every natural can probably benefit from this tip, but it is especially important for type 4B/4C hair. Why? Because our tight coils and kinks do not allow for as much sebum or moisture distribution as, say loose curls or straight hair. That being said, applying some moisture and sealant to the top, sides, and bottom of your hair is not sufficient. For some of us, separating our hair into two or three sections is not enough either. While you obviously do not have to work strand by strand, be sure to really get “in there” AND all the way down to the ends when moisturizing and sealing.
Ladies, how do you achieve length retention of your type 4B/4C hair?