Photo source: The Global Girl
I am going to wade into the vipers’ nest and say that if you are totally fed up with hearing about how hair (all hair in general, 4c hair specifically) has limitations, then you are doing a disservice to yourself and possibly preventing your hair from growing longer. As a material scientist, hair to me is a simply a fibre, pretty much the same way you would regard wool or silk thread. If you chose to wash a delicate silk blouse in a washing machine at high heat when the instructions clearly stated cool hand wash, you would not be surprised to find it shredded or shrunken or both. Your hair is exactly the same except that you have to create that instruction label for yourself.
1. Moisturising Frequency Limitations
Dryness is not uncommon in natural hair. There are some naturals who can apply water or a water based product on a daily basis and it is a useful step for them. However, there are many for whom this regime would wreak havoc on their strands causing it to mesh with frequent water application, especially when styled in twists. Notable long haired naturals such as Chinwe and Cipriana apply water to hair on a less frequent basis e.g once a week/fortnight but being flexible to change when necessary. The idea that watering your hair daily is good does not hold true for all hair and furthermore, some hair will thrive and grow longer if this process is eliminated.
2. Styling Limitations
If you have very silky, non kinky type 3 hair, you may find that your hair simply cannot hold a twist style. Large pinned twists may remain a style option but mini twists will probably cause more harm than good. Similarly, if you have fine, kinky, shrinky, curly type 4c hair, you may find that although you may love how your hair looks free, in a bun, loose twists or a loose updo, all of these styles are totally inappropriate for regular gym visits or swimming. You must respect the limits of styling presented by your hair texture and the type of activity you are going to do, if your goal is to preserve the hair fibre and get it to grow longer.
3. Permanent Hair Colour Limitations
I do really recommend that if you want to colour your hair with a commercial dye, do go and see a professional colourist. This is very important if your hair is very dark in colour and requires bleaching. The colourist will take a few strands of your hair and process them in bleach to determine how long it takes to lift colour and then also do a snap test to see if your hair breaks easily after the bleach application and also to check the elasticity of the processed hair. Not all hair can be successfully bleached in one session and not all hair can be bleached multiple times. A good colourist will always do these simple tests and will refuse to process hair that does not lend itself to bleaching.
4. Direct Heat Limitations
Yes, I know you have probably heard it before, but this is an important one. I am a firm advocate for the idea that not all hair can be heat treated especially to a ‘bone straight’ state. Some people can and others cannot. If your individual hair strands are fine, you are in the greatest danger of damaging your hair with heat use. However, if your individual strands are thick, you can very easily get away with what would murder fine hair in a heartbeat. There are other options such as stretching with African threading followed by a roller set to get relatively straight, perhaps not bone straight hair.
Ladies, which one of these limitations affects you most directly? Share your experience.