by Susan Walker of Earthtones Naturals

For new and experienced curlies it can often be difficult to develop a
hair care regimen that is beneficial to the needs of your hair. There
are so many resources available to gather information from and making
sense of everything can be a huge task. Women with type 4 hair can
often find it challenging to manage and care for their hair effectively,
as well as find the best ways to bring out their kinks, curls and
coils. I have type 4 hair and, while no two hair types are exactly the
same, there are enough similarities among women with type 4 hair that
general hair care and styling guidelines can be discussed. If you don’t
know what type 4 hair is it’s considered to be hair that is kinky or
coily in curl pattern. The strands are typically very closely packed
together and this hair type has fewer cuticle layers than other hair
types. In terms of strand thickness the hair can be fine, medium or
thick. The curl pattern can range from an “s” pattern to a “z” pattern
and everything in between! Due to the thickness of the strands and the
way they are packed together, the hair of some type 4 curlies appear as
though there is no defined curl pattern.

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Coily Kinky Hair Care Tips

Cleansing
Whether or not you want to cleanse your hair is based on your personal
preference and product use. Many curlies opt to conditioner cleanse or
co-wash their hair in order to ensure it remains hydrated and doesn’t
get stripped of precious oils. If you are using a shampoo to cleanse
your hair then use a sodium lauryl sulfate-free shampoo and/or a
moisturizing and conditioning shampoo that can add conditioning agents
to the hair, soften it and make it more manageable. If you use a lot of
oils in your hair you may need to use a clarifying shampoo once a month
to ensure there is no product build-up on the hair. Product build up can
be partially responsible for products that used to work not working
anymore, so it’s essential that you start with a clean slate monthly in
order to keep your hair as healthy as possible. If your hair is prone to
tangling then I recommend that you section your hair to wash it if the
length allows. Divide your hair into 4-6 large sections and twist or
braid each section. When you are washing your hair, undo each smaller
section and distribute the cleanser through your hair in a downward
motion, using your fingers to detangle your hair. Rinse the product from
your hair and then continue the same steps with each section. Yes, it
does require more time to cleanse your hair this way but I’ve found that
it greatly reduces my detangling sessions and I’m able to style my hair
a lot quicker because it’s already sectioned.

Conditioning
In my opinion conditioning is THE essential step in making sure your
hair is healthy. Conditioners are meant to do a lot. Conditioners:

• Restore lost moisture
• Seal the cuticle
• Provide emollients and oils
• Soften the hair and make it easier to comb
• Improve manageability
• Strengthen the hair

Given the important job that conditioners have in improving the
health of the hair finding an effective conditioner is extremely
important. Deep conditioning the hair is a must for type 4
hair, especially if it tends to be on the drier, brittle side. A good
deep conditioner will hydrate the hair and restore lost oils leaving the
hair feeling soft and looking shiny. Deep conditioning treatments can
be done once a week or once a month depending on the needs of your hair,
and you can add heat for deeper penetration of the conditioner into the
hair. I usually condition my hair in a similar way to cleansing – in
sections.

Moisturizing
The number one challenge with natural hair is maintaining proper
moisture levels. A good moisturizer will hydrate and nourish the hair
deeply within the hair shaft. In my experience type 4 hair benefits very
well from thicker, cream-based moisturizers and hair butters. Lighter
lotions may not do much for your densely packed hair. Seal your hair
with oil to keep in the moisture. You may need to moisturize your hair
as little as once per week or as often as every day. Thefrequency depends on several factors including the porosity of your
hair, the climate and the type of moisturizer you use. I’ve found that
since I’ve been deep conditioning my hair and giving it some TLC, I can
wait up to 1 week before needing to remoisturize my hair.

Styling
For the first two years after my big chop I wore my hair in wash n’ go
styles exclusively. After my hair reached a certain length I stopped the
wash n’ gos and now I wear twist outs and braided styles. I find that
twist outs are an amazing style for type 4 hair especially. This is
because for some women, they may have no visible curl definition and
twist outs and braid outs can be your best friend because they give the
desired definition. For me, wash n gos can give me a nice big
curly hairstyle. This is not the look I’m going for on a daily basis so I
don’t wear this style that often. When I do opt for a wash n’ go after
experimenting with a few techniques I’ve found that on my hair, gels –
and especially thick gels – clump my curls a lot better than lighter
gels and creams. While raking and smoothing the product through my hair
doesn’t really result in major curl clumping, finger twirling can elicit
some clumps from my stubborn hair. Another technique is a wet twist out in which you twist the hair with product in it, allow
the curls to clump, remove the twists while the hair is still damp and
then let the hair dry. Lastly, contrary to what the norm is for wash n’
gos, I apply gel to DAMP to DRY and not soaking wet hair. Yes this is
against the grain but it works for me and it works well.

The objective with any hair care regimen is to bring out the best in
your hair. You have to find the products and methods that work best for
you. Working through the amount of information available on natural hair
care can be confusing as you try to determine what applies to you
and what doesn’t. Ultimately you’ll need to try things out for yourself
and acquire tips from other curlies with similar hair textures. Once
you’ve found what works for you you’ll be well on your
way to loving your natural hair!
 

From products to styling, what’s working for your kinky coily hair?