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9 Tips for Handling Natural Hair with Two or More Textures

Avatar • Jun 8, 2014

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Typically, when I talk about managing multiple textures, I’m referring to transitioning and the delicate dance between old, damaged hair and new growth. This time around, I’m talking about all natural hair– although some transitioners could surely stand to benefit. One of the limitations to the texture typing system (2a — 4c) is that it fails to take into account naturals that are challenged with managing multiple textures. It’s really difficult to take a one size fits all approach to haircare, when on the same head you can have hair that ranges from 2c to 4b — and none of it is damaged!

Although texture typing can be useful in some instances, I’m hesitant to label myself because my textures are personally all over the place. The right side of my hair tends to curl,whereas the left side is more inclined to wave. The back half of my hair has a looser texture and less shrinkage (around 30%), while the front half shrinks at least 50 — 60%. In addition, the front/center has a tighter wave, and the crown is kinky and frizzy. If I had to label it, I’d say my hair is a mix of 3a,3b,3c, and 4a. I say all this to say, having several different textures on one head of hair is completely normal (although the picture-perfect selfies on Instagram would lead you to believe otherwise).

So how do you manage multiple textures on one head? It can get a little frustrating, but with some trial and error, and a little ingenuity, you will be able to work with what you’ve got and make the most of every style.

1. On Wash Day
When it comes to managing multiple textures on wash day, the same general information holds true. Handle with care. Cleanse gently, and deep condition often. For hair that is more coily and kinky than loosely curled, extra, extra gentle care is required. Each bend, whether it be zig-zag or spiral, is a structural weak point within the hair. So when detangling and working cleansers and conditioners through, take a little more time and use a little less force on those more tightly wound sections. Also, put your deep conditioner on those areas first, so they can remain on the hair the longest. The extra few minutes of deep conditioning will help soften, hydrate, and keep the hair pliable — which sets you up for great styling.

2. Styling

Hair pinned back to dry…

When it comes to managing multiple textures, finding styles that work all the way around can be a challenge. Texture blending styles like satin strip braidouts,and bantu knot outs can definitely be useful. but you shouldn’t feel pressured to rely on those styles if you like to wear wash and go’s. If you opt for a texture-blending style like those mentioned above, make sure your hair is 100% dry before take-down. To get more stretch from twist-outs, use Naptural85’s method and stretch them across your head to dry. If you’re like me and really just don’t have it in you to set up styles, the wash and go works perfectly fine with multi-textured hair. If I just wash, add product and go, my hair will shrink into a mushrooom-esque shape while it dries, because of my previously mentioned multi-textured struggles.So typically, for the first day or half day of my wash and go, I will wear the front/center sections pinned back to help stretch the roots and make that mushroom shape go away.

Other helpful styles and tools for multiple textures:

  • 3. banding
  • 4. large loose twists or braids
  • 5. Curlformers
  • 6. straw set
  • 7. blowout

  •  
    To help get a handle on uneven shrinkage, diffusing is also really helpful. Just be mindful of scrunching the diffuser full of hair up toward the scalp, which facilitates increased shrinkage. Instead, lay the diffuser flat against sections of hair, moving it around until the hair is dry to your preferred amount.

    8. Nighttime Preservation

    Banding + Pineappling

    Nighttime routines are where things get a little tricky for managing multiple textures. Pineappling can result in uneven stretching, bonnets equal uneven smooshing, and sometimes satin pillowcase only is not an option. This is where creativity and really knowing your hair comes in handy. I know that if I scarf pineapple only, the back half of my hair will stretch more (thanks to where the knot is tied) while the front draws up into itself. This is problematic for me, because my mornings will inevitably result in even more uneven hair. To help combat this, some nights I sleep with the front/center of my hair banded, and the rest scarf pineappled. This method works great to help more shrinkage-prone areas of the hair “catch up” with the looser hair. For more on this approach, see my Nighttime Routine video. Preserve multiple texture blending styles by following the regular scarf pineapple, or tying the scarf over the head old-fashion styled.

    9. Lastly, one of the biggest lessons I learned about managing multiple textures is to do as much as you can in the way of refreshing and moisturizing during your nighttime routine. Because the hair is going straight into preservation mode (via scarf, banding, etc.), there is less of a chance or opportunity for uneven shrinkage to occur. And in the morning, when you shake and fluff, you will have to add little to no product to your hair to get it right.

    What are some tips and tricks you’ve picked up along the way to help manage your multiple textures of hair?

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    About Christina Patrice

    Born, raised, and living in Los Angeles, Christina is BGLH's resident transitioning expert and product junkie. In addition to loving all things hair, she is a fitness novice and advocate of wearing sandals year-round. For more information on transitioning, natural hair, and her own hair journey, visit maneobjective.com. Or, if you like pictures follow Christina on Instagram @maneobjective.

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    TCole
    Guest
    TCole

    My hair texture is 3‑everything. It 3a, low porosity, with very little shrinkage at the crown. But going towards the nape, it progresses toward 3c, higher porosity, with much more shrinkage. Wash and go is my go to hair style. I have to apply much to gel to the back of my head to even out texture. I also do a braid out on just the back to battle the shrinkage, and leave the top out while drying to give volume. It’s still a work in progress.

    NickyC
    Guest
    NickyC

    I have all of the 3’s, 4a and a little 4b on my head. It is very noticeable and because I mainly wash and go it can look a bit crazy from time to time when I don’t have the time to scrunch and pick my hair out a little. The front is almost straight, the middle is wavy, the sides have tight curls and the back has loose curls. Even though wash and go’s are easier, I think I will try some of the blending hairstyles mentioned above just so that my hair can look a bit more “uniformed”… Read more »

    Ellipsis
    Guest

    I have 4a at both sides with 3c at the down the center…wierd i know. Im LOW LOOOOW porosity and my strands are medium thickness but my hair is dense. because the looser texture is down the middle it blends well but braid out and twist out stretch too much and look frizzy so i do wash and go type styles (a twist out done VERY loosely so my natural pattern shows without wash and go shrinkage)

    mary
    Guest
    mary

    I have several textures as well but I’d like to know how to treat the different porosity I have going on when it comes to washing, conditioning and retaining moisture. My 4c areas are high porosity while the rest is low.

    Jacky
    Guest
    Jacky

    I have multiple hair textures with 4a as a recurring factor in most sections. The majority of my natural hair is 4a/b while the rest is 3c/4a with a little 4c just beside my ears and very loose curls at my nape which are almost straight when wet and form big pencil size corkscrew curls when dry. I’ve learnt how to take care of my different textures so i don’t really have a problem with them now( the loosest curls at my nape used to be the most problematic section for me because i had to be extra careful with… Read more »

    trackback

    […] 9 Tips for Handling Natural Hair with Two or More Textures … http://bglh-marketplace.com/It’s really difficult to take a one size fits all approach to haircare, when on the same head you can have hair that ranges from 2c to 4b — and none of it is damaged! Although texture typing can be useful in some instances, I’m … […]

    Abby
    Guest

    Love how you covered the different aspects of caring for hair with multiple texture. Very useful article! 🙂

    D
    Guest
    D

    4a,b,c transitioner here. My nape hair (4a) has retained length so much better than the rest of my hair, even when it was all relaxed. I know I need to be more gentle, but it’s a struggle. There’s always these long bits at the back of my braidouts, and twistouts leave the hair there practically straight.

    Bridget J.
    Guest
    Bridget J.

    I have a combination of 3c/4a hair. Like the author if I allow my wash-and-go to dry with my hair loose, I end up with a horrible mushroom. So, on the first day of my wash-and-go, I pull my hair into a low pony puff and let it dry for at least 2 hours. This helps to stretch the front and give me more of an angled bob look. For my nightime routine, I pull my hair back into a very loose pony puff and tie a satin scarf on top. In the morning, release, refresh and go.

    Tabatha
    Guest
    Tabatha

    This was good. I have mostly 4a, but I have sporadic spots of 3c and 4b as well. So I have to be super careful on wash days. Actually this past one some decided to interlock and I heard the dreaded SNAP! Awwwww, I closed my eyes and was like, “NOOOOO”. Thank god I didn’t do too much damage, but I mourned for about 20 min. I transitioned when I first started my hair journey, so I wish that I found this earlier. Cause I kept making mistakes after mistakes, but you know it was a learning curve. I finally… Read more »

    Dee*
    Guest
    Dee*

    My textures are such that, if my hair is left to shrink to or near its fullest capacity, it forms a lovely mullet 🙂 (sarcasm) It used to bother me but what helps is my hair gaining length, and I learned to stretch my tighter curls around my head in twists and leave the looser textured twists alone (if I want to wear a twist-out); I found some balance so it looks more layered instead of like the natural woman version of Billy Ray Cyrus. What also helps is I don’t expect my hair to be perfect. It would tell… Read more »

    Dananana
    Guest
    Dananana

    I also have the dreaded full shrinkage frullet (fro+mullet). As a previous (and awesome) hair icon said, old Michael Jackson in the front, new Michael Jackson in the back 🙂

    Dee*
    Guest
    Dee*

    Frullet! LOL

    LoisLane
    Guest
    LoisLane

    I thought it was just me with the 4c in the front 3rd and the 3c/4a across the back 3rd. The middle 3rd of my hair, which I have affectionately typed as 4X , is what causes me grief. My hair fell out and that area was as clean as the back of my hand. Once I stopped relaxing and big chopped, My hair started growing back. Thing is… It’s a little thinner in the area and bone straight and refuses to curl no matter what product I use. Once I set it with undiluted Lottabody with tiny perm rods… Read more »

    CBark
    Guest
    CBark

    Hey, I have the same texture pattern (more or less)! I also had the same problem with unstyleable, wiry hairs for a long time. Now I’ve largely overcome it, I think I know the cause: (certain health issues and) a diet too low in nutrients (including healthy fats) can affect the scalp and cause poorer quality hair to grow in (or none at all)!

    Lisa Johnson
    Guest
    Lisa Johnson

    My hair is do crazy…my right side has very tight curls sn it’s comes to my ear my left side the curls are longer and it hangs to my shoulder.…and I have a problem eit dryness…and that makes my hair very big which I can’t stand.…help me

    kb
    Guest
    kb

    I used to think i was the only one with a pineapple problem. Every natural hair blogger/ youtuber would pineapple at night; i tried it repeatedly and the looser texture at the back of my head would just stretch and the front would stay the same. On take down the style would be ruined, back stretched out to my shoulder, and front shrunk to my ears. I read this article and did the banding at the front and low ponytail with the back, and my second day wash and go was perfect! My whole head was preserved and equally stretched!… Read more »

    Queenie
    Guest
    Queenie

    The tip to low bun the first day wash and go is godsend

    wow
    Guest
    wow

    i have multiple textures as well, and i do think that prevents me from being able to just wear my hair as is like many other naturals.

    i think this is a wonderful opportunity, however. naturals see that we have an issue, and someone can create a solution that makes her a lot of money.

    i’ve considered heatlaxing some areas to match the others, but i’m too lazy.

    Christine
    Guest
    Christine

    My hair is crazy and i am crazy in love with it.
    The back of my hair i will call 4a, why? It looks like a mix of 3b/3c (loose waves and tight curls mixed) but up from there is 4c! Is that possible? Then the very middle is 4c and man it shrinks and coils!! The sides and front are a mix of 4a/b. I have low porosity, high density hair. Fairy knots (ssk) loves my hair in spite of my best efforts. I find that blowouts and banding are best to stretch my hair.

    Rhoda Tang
    Guest
    Rhoda Tang

    I hav type of hair i didn’t even think it was possible

    Aliyah
    Guest
    Aliyah

    I have multiple textures too . I have mostly tight curls and coils .I have two textures in my hair that’s a pain in the butt . I mostly do protective styling with cornrow braids and when I give my hair a break I take it down in a braid out.

    gift
    Guest
    gift

    I hate when I wash my hair because my hair has 3 different textures, so the only way I do it, is to braid my hair, and wash my hair in the braids without any box braids and moisture it.Do you think that’s a good thing,because to me it made it easier for me.

    trackback

    […] son modèle non plus – ce qui peut altérer le motif naturel. Et enfin, il est normal que ait de multiples motifs de courbure en même temps, alors prenez cela en considération dans vos soins capillaires. Lavez doucement, […]

    Denise
    Guest
    Denise

    Really thankful for this article. I really thought that I was the only one with different textures. I call my hair a land of contrasts but wouldn’t have it any other way. I would say that my hair is mainly 4b but curls differ in size and coilyness throughout the 4b range. The back third of my hair is a mixture of 4a/3c and is extremely fine. The middle is dense and more tightly curled and the front with the exception of the sides has a curl pattern of its own that clumps differently and is coarser. Thanks again for… Read more »

    tammy
    Guest
    tammy

    please i need help, my hair is three different textures,the front is semi wavy the crown is thick and coarse and always dry and the back is fine and thin.

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