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7 Tips for Retaining Length in 4B/4C Natural Hair

Avatar • Nov 14, 2013

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Style Icon Jacqueline

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? 

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About Chinwe

Healthy hair care tips and more! http://www.healthyhairbody.com

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tmc (toronto meet up nov16)

very valid points. but loose stretched hair can still tangle with each other, unless the ends are pinned to prevent this. Twist outs also tend to knot more.
themanecaptain.blogspot.ca

Knotty Natural
7 years ago

I think the trick to avoiding SSKs (single strand knots) is to keep the ends thoroughly moisturized when wearing any style where the curls are free (twist/braid outs, afros, wash and gos (I avoid wash and gos altogether)), otherwise, hiding the ends, via protective styles is a sure fire way to avoid them. Also, using my fingers during my pre-poo process to detangle assists in creating them as well!

Thanks BGLH; I put these tips into practice when caring for my tresses and I’ve retained length for the last 2 years.

Tabatha
Tabatha
7 years ago
Reply to  Knotty Natural

Yeah I don’t do wash and go either. I tried to do it and my hair just matted and basically turned into one big knot.

mangomadness
mangomadness
7 years ago

Tangles are inevitable but can be minimized. Braid-outs minimize tangles better than twist-outs for my kinky hair.

luminous
luminous
7 years ago
Reply to  mangomadness

My hair is totally the opposite.…

Kelly
Kelly
7 years ago

I agree about loose stretched hair and tangling for 4B/4C hair. I also think at this point, most of us know how to retain length because many of us have longer hair than we ever had when we were relaxed or before long natural hair became our goal. I think the hardest part is wrapping one’s mind around the fact that it just takes a long time to retain length — years! There’s no way to speed up the clock. Patience is indeed a virtue.

Knotty Natural
7 years ago

I like all the tips, as a 4 combination type head!

As to #7, here’s how I use the L.O.C Method to moisturize and seal my ends.

Zenith
Zenith
7 years ago
Reply to  Knotty Natural

Knotty Natural: This is a very nice video. Your hair is beautiful and healthy. Thanks so much for sharing your process with us!

JENNID
JENNID
7 years ago
Reply to  Zenith

I agree nice video. Your hair looks good! Is your hair greasy at all after this or does it all soak in pretty good?

Knotty Natural
7 years ago
Reply to  JENNID

Thank you! Greasy hair is my nemesis! For this reason, I only use light ‑medium oils (my own herbal infusion mix of coconut and olive oil) for the oil part 🙂
Use the porosity of your hair to determine the most suitable oil (or products and techniques in general) for your hair
http://www.lillian-mae.com/natural-hair-essentials/porosity-density-elasticity-tests/

mangomadness
mangomadness
7 years ago
Reply to  Knotty Natural

Lovely video! I just started using the LOC method and I love it. It keeps my hair moisturized for longer than my previous LC method and not greasy like the LO method.

D.P.
D.P.
7 years ago
Reply to  Knotty Natural

LOVED your video!

shanners
shanners
7 years ago
Reply to  Knotty Natural

absolutely beautiful! Jus wondering, what sort of cream did you use on the C part?

Knotty Natural
7 years ago
Reply to  shanners

In this particular video, I used Cantu Shea Butter Cream, though the trick is to use a water based cream 🙂

Nicole
Nicole
7 years ago
Reply to  Knotty Natural

That was a great video! Do you make your own cream and can you share the recipe? As a Caucasian mother of a biracial child, I’m STILL trying to figure out the best methods for her hair! I’m definitely trying the LOC method. 🙂

Knotty Natural
7 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

Thanks Nicole! In this video, I used Cantu Shea Butter Cream, but I have made my own using a base of shea butter and blending it with oils until it’s fluffy! It’s recommended to use a water based cream though. I’m working on a homemade water based recipe (that doesn’t mold, of course)…when I have a solid recipe I will be sure to share it! Thanks for your video feedback!

Tabatha
Tabatha
7 years ago
Reply to  Knotty Natural

Well you could always refrigerate the cream it will at least help it keep a little longer and you can just make it in small batches, so you don’t waste any product.

Knotty Natural
7 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

I take that back Nicole! In this video, I am using my homemade shea butter cream, which has NO water 🙂 I am currently using a water based cream!

Jenna Marie Christian
Jenna Marie Christian
7 years ago

thanks

ChiChi
7 years ago

great tips. I’ve been trying to use the ‘no brush’ method to see if that saves my hair.

krokan
krokan
7 years ago

I tried the washing my hair in twists method but it just wasn’t for me. No matter how well I thought I rinsed my hair when I went to unravel the twists there was always conditioner still stuck in the twists. So far loose washing has been working for me.
http://www.kinksandall.com

Knotty Natural
7 years ago
Reply to  krokan

When I wash in sections, I just untwist to wash and rinse and then re-twist! The trick to avoid retangling your hair is to smooth the product in a downward manner! Hope that helps someone!

mangomadness
mangomadness
7 years ago
Reply to  krokan

I have dense 4b/c hair and wash/condition in twists. I unravel and re-twist while rinsing product from my hair in sections. Everything rinses clean.

Tabatha
Tabatha
7 years ago
Reply to  krokan

I put my hair in clips. my hair is still to short to twist up. Also I’m paranoid that somehow I’m going to twist my hair in a not.

Tabatha
Tabatha
7 years ago
Reply to  Tabatha

sorry knot.

cacey
cacey
7 years ago

the style icon’s hair is gorgeous!

WhyMe?
WhyMe?
7 years ago
Reply to  cacey

+1

ac
ac
7 years ago

i think these are all helpful tips. i’ve tried the finger detangling only thing and my hair doesn’t appreciate it. it certainly helps to do some separating to pull out shed hair but my denman has not failed me and I’ve retained so much growth by just not manipulating styles too much. I’d say that it’s been the best thing i’ve ever bought for my hair. only thing i have issues with is getting my entire scalp clean before all the hot water runs out. urgh to thickness! i love it but on wash days i hate it.

caleisha
7 years ago
Reply to  ac

ARG! I understand that hot water running out struggle!!! That made me smile 🙂

Tabatha
Tabatha
7 years ago
Reply to  ac

Wash you hair with 2 parts apple vinegar cider and 1 part water (yeah I believe that’s the mixture check out Natural85’s DIY video) its a great natural clarifier. when you put it in your hair just massage it through, it sort of cuts your time. then wash your hair how you normally do. Another thought is to put a different shower head on your shower where you can press a button and it stops the flow of water. It saves water and it saves the water heater. but warning when you release the water again the first burst maybe… Read more »

mangomadness
mangomadness
7 years ago

All of these tips have helped me retain length in my 4b/c hair. 1. I wash in 10 chunky twists ’cause they prevent excessive tangles and working in sections makes hair care/styling easier.  2. Braid-outs are my fav stretched style. Twist-outs lead to more tangles on my kinky hair so I do them rarely and usually on stretched hair. 3. My fav ‘bound’ style is a bun or updo done on a braid-out. They’re simple, cute and keep my hair out of the way. 4. I’ve finger-detangled exclusively since 2010. It’s greatly reduced detangling-related breakage and eliminated ‘snap, crackle & pop’ sounds. … Read more »

Tabatha
Tabatha
7 years ago
Reply to  mangomadness

My hair isn’t long enough for buns. =(
I really want to put my hair in a bun.

Kesaine
7 years ago

Great tips!
sheiskesaine.blogspot.com

Cardenie
7 years ago

I used to wash in sections, but it’s too time consuming for me and I never felt like I cleansed my scalp well. I’ve been washing my hair loose and after adding my leave-in condish, gently sectioning again and securing with duckbill clips. After drying a bit, but still damp, I style with whatever product I’m using.

nappy headed black girl

I had to learn less manipulation the hard way. Even the wide tooth comb didn’t work for me. I eventually just started using fingers only and learned to just leave my hair be. 

Twists did wonders for me. Super easy to maintain and I could get lots of wear out of them.

Esione ASAKOME
7 years ago

Check out this new blog for 4C chicks its pretty cool!

http://beautifullynappy.wordpress.com/
[img]https://bglh-marketplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/WP_001314.jpg[/img]

chellie
chellie
7 years ago

i love wearing WnG’s cause they are the easiest BUT the downside is ssk and later detangling the dry mess. my hair has gotten thin in the back probably because i didn’t take good care of it, and overmanipulated it. I will definitely try to wear my hair stretched out more often, just hope i don’t loose anymore of it in the process

LBell
LBell
7 years ago

While I agree with all of the basic points I have to add a caveat to #2 for those of us with a small but definable coil pattern (which, if I’m understanding correctly, is what differentiates 4b from 4c): I have been extolling the methods of YouTube vlogger cynthiarf ever since I overcame my EXTREME (!!) skepticism and began trying them a couple of years ago. With a few tweaks for my particular hair and lifestyle, I have been able to retain a surprising amount of length with a minimum of SSKs and tangles simply by encouraging the coils to coil… Read more »

cacey
cacey
7 years ago
Reply to  LBell

If i’m intruding, LBell, i don’t mean to. I respect your opinion on this forum, and wanted to offer my own experience in support of what you’ve noted about type 4b/c. I think what you’ve said about the difference between 4b and 4c is plausible because my son has a combination of the two, as does my husband (half of his head is almost entirely 4c with interspersing of 4b, the back half automatically becomes 4a, oddly enough lol). The majority of my son’s hair appears to be 4b in the sense that it coils into the tiniest spirals (half… Read more »

LBell
LBell
7 years ago
Reply to  cacey

cacey, your son’s hair sounds quite similar to mine, and what you’re doing is pretty much what I did when my hair was shorter. Prior to finding cynthiarf’s videos, I found that past about 4 inches in length I wasn’t getting the same results. I took that as a sign that I could no longer WNG and that would be when I’d switch to twists and twistouts. Now I know that what I needed to do was apply more water, more product (but not necessarily a LOT more; just more than I was using when it was shorter), and do… Read more »

beauty hair
7 years ago

5 Tips to Get Long, Healthy, Gorgeous Natural Hair! read more at http://beauttyhair.blogspot.com/2013/11/5‑tips-to-get-long-healthy-gorgeous.html

Charlene Dunbar
7 years ago

Great tips! Thank you for posting this. I can definitely relate to running out of hot water. Not cool. I started cleansing my scalp outside the shower. I pre-poo my hair with condish for about an hour. Then i section my hair into about 6 parts. I dilute come clean with 50:50 water in spray bottle. After lite finger detangling, I spray the dilute shampoo on my scalp for each section and rub my scalp vigorously with my fingertips. It gets drippy, so i keep a towel round my neck. I also spritz in acv for extra cleansing. Then i… Read more »

Tabatha
Tabatha
7 years ago

After watching natural85 I started washing in sections. it takes a little longer, but it saves my hair from tangles. I’m trying SO HARD to have a successful stretch style, but the tend to come out crazy looking. I use butters and oils for moisture and every so often I sprits water or a leave in conditioner in there. I normally wrap my hair at night to keep my hair stretched.

Mesha
Mesha
6 years ago

I can truly understand those that say that they don’t like washing their hair in sections because they feel like all the product won’t come out, but I’ve learned to loosely braid my hair (my hair is too thick to twist w/o it coming apart) so that way I have easy access to my scalp and can massage the product (which I use half and half shampoo and water; still get suds) on because even though I’m washing my hair, I’m mainly concentrating on my scalp because that’s where most of the build-up is. Then once I’m one massaging, I… Read more »

Cyndee D
Cyndee D
6 years ago

Thank God for hair salons I haven’t washed my own hair in 17 years. Have any of you ladies tried any oils like Rosemary, Castor oil or Jojobo oils for thinning edges or bald spots

LParker
LParker
6 years ago

I don’t have time for styles like twist/braid outs so I wear protective styling most of the time. Would that be considered too much manipulation since I get it done every 2–4 weeks and use a comb to make parts so it’s neat looking? I either wear cornrows or a head full of 2 strand twist with my own hair.

melissa destin
melissa destin
6 years ago

Is blow drying bad?

Dodi
Dodi
6 years ago
Reply to  melissa destin

Right, that’s my worry… for me, blow drying is how I get that ultimate stretch! 🙂 …But, it feels damaging. How I, myself, curb that is conditioning really well before hand, detangle after applying a moisturizer, separate hair into 4 sections, apply a good heat protectant and let the blow drying begin! I use a round head blow dryer with comb attachment and only do this about once every 3 to 4 weeks or so. I’ve been able to achieve and maintain a decent length with these methods.

Hope this helps! 🙂

Beth
Beth
6 years ago

My hair has always been naturally curly I don’t know what exact hair type I am but I think I’m a 3b or 3c but some reason my end of my hair are turning straight though I don’t use a flat iron much I just use it on special occasion and my hair is Turing very soft and I am not sure if it’s growing I did recently had it cut at the ends. Some if my hair is also turning way more curly and I don’t know if it’s my conditioner but I keep my hair in a braid… Read more »

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