Fall and winter are usually the time when a lot of black women do protective styles. But I’m the opposite. I spent the summer in protective styles because I had *a lot* going on, moving to a new apartment and opening up my new storefront. Now that life has settled down I’m ready to let me fro out again and I’m pretty.… scared. I’m scared.
Look, a tightly curled fro can be scary. And I’m allowed to say that because I have one. I love my 4B/4C hair. I’ve never had texture envy. But good God when I took down that last box braid and a headful of super tight, scalp-clinging curls were revealed I was like, ‘What the fuck am I going to do?’ Then I remembered how well I did last fall/winter rocking my fro like a champ, and the tips that kept my hair looking fresh.
I was doing the damn thing, was I not??
Here are my tips for this 2017/2018 fall/winter tight-fro-rocking season.
1. Water is your best friend.
Not oil, not butter, not curl defining products: Water. And all of those other things are very important too, but not as much as water. Regular cleansing is going to keep your scalp in tip top shape and your curls pliable and soft. I would recommend getting a co-wash in every 7 to 10 days. And yes, I know it gets cold, so if necessary buy a hooded dryer that you can sit under to speed up the drying process.
2. The stuff you put in your hair *after* the water is your second best friend.
Which is why I am lucky to own a business selling whipped butter and oil. After co-washing or deep conditioning I seal with one of my whipped shea butters or my whipped shea-mango butter combos. They’re chock full of nourishing sealants that also have some absorbency and keep my hair moisturized for days.
3. Deep condition A LOT. Deep conditioners with slip are a plus.
So you know how I recommend co-washing every 7 to 10 days? It’s a good idea to use a deep conditioner for that. If you feel that is overkill/too expensive, then only use the deep conditioner every other session. But still use it alot. I love Design Essentials Rosemary & Mint Super Moisturizing Conditioner (It’s hard to go wrong with Design Essentials. Their shampoos and conditioners are amazing!) And Argan Oil Thairapy Ultra Hydrating Mask. I love both of these because not only do they keep my hair moisturized and defined for days, they also have slip. I’m coating my hair a lot in the colder months, so products with good slip help to make application easier. Basically I don’t want to fight my whipped butters onto my hair after a wash, I want them to glide on.
4. A refreshing spritz goes a long way — but also let your sebum do its thing.
My whipped butters can provide moisture to my strands for days at a time. And I might use a refreshing spritz like Oyin Juices and Berries to add to the moisture and softness as the days go on. But don’t underestimate the oil (sebum) your own scalp produces. This is why I personally am not a proponent of washing multiple times a week (although this works for some naturals and you have to figure out what co-wash schedule works for you), because I don’t want to keep washing away the natural moisture sealant my body is producing. I’ve come anticipate my scalp’s oil production and work it into my styling schedule.
5. Rejuvenate your edges.
As much as I love protective styling, it’s hard to do without some damage to your edges — even if you’re careful. You might not have full on bald edges after months of protective styling, but they might be weaker or significantly shorter than the rest of your hair. Rocking a tight fro is a perfect opportunity to let your edges just breathe and re-boot. The constant co-washing and deep conditioning helps *a lot* with that.
6. Don’t worry about curl definition, focus more on softness and strength.
When it comes to curl definition I’m like ‘meh’. I get a little bit of it when my hair is super moisturized, but I generally love my tight/undefined pattern. (If you need some tight fro inspo check out this post Chinwe did just a few weeks ago.) Plus it’s more important for me to monitor how soft and moisturized my strands feel when I pull them through my fingers. And how strong they are. Which leads me to my next point.
7. You shouldn’t have a lot of flyaways and breakage
A common misconception with tightly curled hair is that having a ton of c-shaped broken ends is normal. It’s not. You should mainly be experiencing shedding — a natural process by which a strand detaches from the root. And even that shouldn’t be excessive. If you’re experiencing a ton of c-shaped breakage then something isn’t right. In my experience it means I need to be conditioning more and sealing in moisture better.
8. Just let it be.
It’s 2017. And yes we should be further along culturally than having a president who co-signs Nazis marching in the street. But still, in a decent amount of America you can go to work and social events with a tightly curled fro without any repercussion. Don’t excessively pull it back with a head band (you’ll weaken your hair line), or fuss with it too much generally. Shape it, rock a bold lip or just a kissably soft natural lip, and keep it moving. Get used to what your tight fro looks like on you. It just wants to live. Let it.
Do you plan on rocking a tight fro this fall or winter? What tips do you have?