Natural hair care can be daunting for newbies. Although there's lots of information online on how to nurture our hair, it can be conflicting or confusing. As a blogger, I get asked a lot of questions on how to best care for type 4 hair. Our texture has the tightest curl of them all and so it may require extra care in order to prevent tangling and matting. Here are some responses to some of the questions I get asked the most:
What is the difference between shedding and breakage?
Shedding is a natural part of our hair's growth process. Shedding refers to the process by which hair that has reached the end of its growing cycle naturally falls from the scalp along with the root bulb attached. Breakage, contrastingly, is when our hair breaks along the hair shaft. It can be caused by dryness, weathering from exposure to the weather elements, and over manipulation during styling and maintenance. Factors that increase your shedding rate include styling methods that place stress on your hair follicles, hormone changes, illnesses, and genetics. If you're in doubt, always consult your doctor.
How can I prevent breakage during protective styling, particularly after wearing braids?
Firstly, ensure that your protective style is well installed. Braids that are too tight will cause breakage. Secondly, remember to maintain your regimen by keeping your roots moisturized regularly. Lastly, wear your protective styles for a reasonable amount of time. Leaving a protective style installed for more than 6-8 weeks, especially without a touch-up, can cause breakage, which is counterproductive.
Can re-twisting your hair every night lead to breakage?
This is a tricky one. Re-twisting your hair every night does help reduce tangling and keeps your hair stretched. At the very same time, it might mean that you are constantly manipulating your hair, which might weaken your strands and lead to breakage. I'd suggest wearing long-term protective styles such as two-strand twists that do not require too much daily styling. Keep up with your moisturizing regimen in order to strengthen your strands and prevent damage.
Do you trim your own hair? If so, how often? And do you do so on wet or dry hair?
I have my hair professionally trimmed once a year when I have my hair anniversary. This is done on flat-ironed hair. Throughout the year I trim dead ends as they arise, and I do this on dry hair.
Do you use black tea/coffee rinses? What about baking soda rinses?
I have used black tea/coffee rinses with much success. They are speculated to help prevent shedding after wash day. I've used baking soda once - it made my hair rock hard, so that was also the last time I used it. For deep cleansing, I'd just rather use a cleansing shampoo once every six or so weeks.
How do you deal with "hard hair"? Is there a way to soften "hard hair"?
Well natural hair definitely feels "hard" when compared to relaxed hair. What you are adjusting to is a texture change. There is no product, technique, or style that can alter this "hardness". Our curl pattern is naturally prone to tangles. Learning how to handle our hair's texture is all part of the fun. I've found that keeping my hair stretched by wearing it in two-strand twists, braids, or plaits is really helpful. Over time I have gained experience with styling. The same will be true for you!
Do you wrap your hair up at night?
I wear a satin scarf every single night without fail. If my hair is in two-strand twists, which it normally is, I'll simply pin the ends away and then throw on my satin scarf.