Your natural hair is beautiful, versatile and stylish, but it can take a bit of effort and lots of love to achieve your best curls. If I had to pick some of the most important tips for type 4 hair to help retain length, maintain styles beyond the first day and foster all-around healthy curls, these would be them. I have no doubt that you will adopt your own top tips along your natural hair journey too!
Natural Hair Regimen
This is one of the words you hear frequently discussed within the natural hair community. A good regimen is a vital part of maintaining your lovely coils. The beauty in developing a regimen is that it can be customized to fit every natural, no matter your hair texture or length. The primary components within a regimen are cleansing, conditioning, moisturizing/sealing and the fun part, styling! There are as many variations within each element as there are regimen options, so do what works best for you and your hair.
- Cleansing: Choose between clarifying, co-washing or sulfate-free shampooing.
- Conditioning: Try rinse-outs, leave-ins or deep conditioning treatments.
- Moisture: You can use natural oils, butters or creams to seal the moisture in.
Easier said than done, right? As a natural you may not find this the most exciting task, but it is definitely important. Proper detangling of your hair will not only aid in the styling process, but it will help you eliminate tangles and retain length in the process. Just like your regimen, there are many ways you can detangle your hair. The general consensus with the detangling process is that it’s best done starting from your ends up to your roots and while the hair is wet and full of conditioner.
- Using your fingers, a detangling comb or brush in conjunction with conditioner will help make tangles and knots easier to separate, thus making the detangling process easier. I’ve been using this method for quite a while, but sometimes you may need an extra bit of help. If this is the case, try detangling your dry hair using oil to tackle pesky snares. For me, this actually doubles as a pre-poo; I add a generous amount of oil to my hair, and detangle in small sections.
- Once detangled, I put my hair in about 4-6 plaits, cover with a plastic cap and then put on my Hair Therapy Thermal Wrap for about 30 minutes. By the time I get ready to wash my hair already has slip from the oils and washing is now a breeze.
Many girls with type 4 hair choose to pineapple their coils; that involves pulling your hair up into a high, loose ponytail and securing with a satin scrunchy or ponytail holder. This works to keep the hair in a stretched state overnight and also prevent your curls from being squished while sleeping. When you wake in the morning, just take the ponytail holder down, fluff, spritz with a leave in and you’re ready for the day. Pineappling works great when your curls are fairly fresh, but sometimes you may need to reset your style for the next day. You may want to twist your hair in several chunky twists to keep the shape, or tighter twists if you want added definition.
What you sleep on is just as important as how you prepare your hair for bed. Your best options are satin or silk fabrics because they allow your hair to glide over the material and won’t snag the cuticle. You can use a scarf, bonnet or even a satin pillowcase. These are extremely convenient especially if you’ve had a long night or don’t feel like tying your hair up at night. And they make great gifts to your natural friends, too!
Gentle handling and low manipulation are always important when you’re dealing with type 4 hair. Your hair is delicate and those coils need to be handled carefully. Each bend in your hair is an opportunity for breakage, so take your time when you wash, condition, detangle and style.
You’ll want to opt for styles that don’t place too much tension on the hairline, which is usually more fragile. Keep the base of your braids and twists a bit more relaxed around the edges, same with your poufs and ponytails. Also, when you’re detangling, comb gently through your ends first, and work your way towards your roots. The task is often easier to tackle when your work in smaller sections, too. This can be the difference in actually seeing your hair grow versus seeing pieces of your hair in the sink, on your clothes or in your comb.
There’s not enough space on this page for all of the tips, hints, and tricks you’ll learn as a natural! Throughout your journey, you’re bound to pick up new tricks from other naturals and I’m sure you’ll share a few of your own as well. If I could give you one final tip, it would be to learn to appreciate your own hair. After all, no one should know your hair better than you!