Listen to your hair... The first step in 4C haircare

Listen to your hair...

Listen to your hair. This would be the one great piece of advice I would give to anyone who is seeking to properly maintain their natural 4C hair. Over the last 3 years I've learnt loads about what my hair responds well to and what it reacts against. It's been a long process but I think my hair and I are starting to understand each other! 

Are you struggling with dealing with your 4C hair at the moment? Does it seem like you've tried all the suggestions and pieces of advice given in the natural hair community. I know I have, and the wealth of information can over whelm you. But I would definitely say... start by listening to YOUR hair.

There are of course general principles of maintaining 4C hair which are very useful. These should be your starting point.

In short the basic principles are:

  1. Moisture (WATER, WATER, leave-in conditioner and more WATER)
  2. Seal (butters and oils)
  3. Low manipulation (reduce frequency of styling hair, limited heat and usage of dyes),
  4. Protective styling (to help retain moisture, reduce ssk knots and protect fragile ends)

OK so the second aspect to look at is your hair.

I would definitely describe my hair as 4C BUT I have 3 different textures within that '4C' range. Each texture needs its own particular care. Check out my latest video on managing different hair textures.

Hair texture lowdown

Hair at the side front-

  • Very fine
  • Very fragile 
  • Forms tiny coils 
  • Breaks if I look at it 
  • Needs gentle handling 
  • A no comb zone!

I find this hair the hardest to grow because of its features. It dries out really easily so I've responded by ensuring I spritz this area everyday and seal with a heavy shea butter. Flat twisting this area also helps retain moisture. I find I retain the most length when this hair is regularly in a protective style.

Hair at the crown

  • Coarse
  • Wavy, kinky curl pattern
  • Looses moisture rapidly 
  • Breaks easily 
  • Grows slowly

This hair is very coarse and seems to eat moisture up like anything. I also try and spritz this area everyday and not handle it too much during the week. If it's given what it likes then it grows well and has lots of body even though the hair here has a similar density to the hair at the front.

Hair at the side - The best hair of all!,

  • Fine 
  • Clumps well 
  • Defined coils
  • Retains length no matter what I do 
  • Retains moisture well 
  • Grows the fastest

Hair at the back - a mixture of the hair on my crown and sides.

This hair is probably the most predictable and if you give it moisture and seal it well, and leave it alone it usually just grows well by itself.

What is your hair like? Do you have problem areas? Or perhaps your hair is mostly one texture. If so, watch it carefully when you apply water, leave-in conditioner and a butter/oil to it. How long does it retain moisture? Does it dry out quickly? What does it do when it's wet? Shrink up or hang loose? Asking these questions will allow you to move forward in the development of a regime that will really allow your hair to flourish.

B

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Fine/Low Density 4C Hair

Managing Fine/Low Density 4C Hair

Hi everyone! In this video I wanted to talk about being natural and having fine, low density hair. Many people believe (and I was the same) that having afro hair means really thick, coarse hair and this is the reality for many naturals. However there are some, like myself who's hair does not share the same characteristics. My hair strands are fine/thin and I also don't have loads and loads of hair. 

Some bloggers who have a similar issue are Nalia 1908 and Evelyn From The Internets. These are good examples of naturals who are managing their fine hair, and Nalia in particular has retained lots of length. If you know of any more vloggers please leave the links in the box below and/or do post your own hairstyles on our Facebook page which naturals with fine hair can easily do.

As I mention in the video having fine hair can make creating certain styles a challenge, especially protective styles like single braids and twists which are so useful in aiding length retention. So what's a girl to do? One thing I would say is "Loose twist it!" Loose two strand twists have been great for my hair! Watch on to hear the rest!

Bola

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4c Hair Feature: Michele

4c Hair Feature: Michele

I know how encouraging it is to read about other naturals with 4c hair texture, especially those from the UK. Over the coming months I would like to bring more exposure to other UK natural websites particularly highlighting those who have 4c hair. If you live in the UK and would like to feature on the website please get in touch! So here is the first feature on UK natural Michele N Dimbua from UKnatssisters.com.

1. CurlyB: Tell us about yourself.                                                                                                                

Michele: Hello my name is Michele N Dimbua, I'm the official blogger and contributor at UKnatssisters.com. I live in Newcastle, and my facebook page is: www.facebook.com/uknaturals

2. CB: How long have you been natural or transitioning for?

M: I've been natural for 19 months now, and I love it! But at first I didn't like the look too much and I was relying on wash and go's or braid outs etc to reduce the kinkiness of my hair texture. But after that I began to appreciate my 4C texture and now I rarely do twist outs I just wear my fro out! 

3. CB: What is your hair regime?

M: My hair regimen is simple: 

  • Co-wash: once a week
  • Shampoo: once every 6 weeks (sometimes I don't at all for the entire 2 months)
  • Bicarbonate: Once every 5 weeks
  • Treatment: once a week ; Avocado and extra virgin olive oil 
  • Deep condition: once a week; Conditioner and olive oil

Styling: I used to wear my Fro out a lot, but now I'm on a protective style challenge. So my hair is always protected on buns, braids, twists etc. 

Combing: I never comb my hair unless it's wet! I usually finger detangle.

Moisturising and products: 

  • Daily: with water and olive oil. 
  • Once a week: home made Shea butter cream. 
  • Leave in - African Pride Shea butter leave in conditioner.

Trim: when necessary! 

4. CB: What products do you use on your hair?

M: I use:

  • Alberto Balsam for deep conditioning 
  • Kuza 100% Shea butter
  • Homemade Shea buttery cream 
  • IC Fantasia Gel
  • Extra virgin Olive oil (best moisturiser)
  • Castor oil
  • Almond oil  (best sealant)

I use Almond and extra virgin olive oil because they are the two few oils that penetrate the hair strand. I buy these products anywhere. Fantasia gel I buy at any local African Shop. Olive oil - Tesco, almond oil - any Pakistani or Bengali corner shops, Alberto Balsam - Savers, Asda or Tesco. Castor Oil - Amazon UK.

5. CB: What are your 3 favourite styles?

 M: Mini twists, Marley twist, big fro! Because they are styles that most naturals don't do. It looks different and Afrocentric. 

6. CB: What do you think is the best feature about your hair texture?

M: Best feature about my hair is shrinkage, the fact that I can have it out long or short is brilliant! 

7. CB: Do you have any encouragement for those with kinky, coily hair?

M: For newly naturals... Dare to be different, there is a reason why you were given a particular type of hair! 

A big thank you Michele for featuring on CurlyB. Stay tuned for more 4c features!

Thoughts on Texture

Thoughts on Hair Texture

Pinterest

Pinterest

I recently watched a natural hair vlogger on youtube discussing the issue of hair texture within the natural hair community. She asked a number of good questions regarding the attitude of some within the natural hair community towards tighter, coarser hair textures. She felt that there was a hierarchy of natural hair, with looser curl textures perhaps being favoured above tighter coarser textures. She suggests that there is a natural hair 'look' which is more acceptable and sought after by many naturals or those looking to go natural, and how those with the idealised natural hair 'look' were seemingly more popular on youtube than those with tighter textures.

I thought the questions she raised were very good and I would agree with many of the points she mentioned as I have seen in my own experience how these attitudes are very real. So is there really a hair hierarchy in the natural hair community? Is there one particular hair aesthetic which is idealised within and without the natural hair community?

To these two questions I would answer yes, I think there is. 

But why are looser hair textures seemingly preferred?

It seems to me that many prefer loose textures or hair textures which have a bit of 'hang' not first and foremost because they are more 'manageable' but more so because of the way they look. That particular aesthetic is desirable to many. I think this preference can be seen within the natural hair community and wider afield too.

I believe this is the attitude of many even outside of the natural hair community as I have experienced this attitude personally in regards to my daughters. My daughters are of mixed heritage and they have loosely curly, ringlet type texture. I have had so many comments from strangers about their "lovely" hair. I wonder why is their hair seen as better than any other hair type? There is beauty in all hair types and textures! When I receive these comments I usually say something like "your hair is lovely too". To which the reply is usually "no, it's not".

But why not?

Another experience I had was when someone had made another lovely hair comment about my eldest daughter and then another person who was present turned to me and said " I bet you're jealous"!! I couldn't believe it! I then calmly answered, "No i'm not, why should I be?". There was no reply. I then continued to tell the person that I was happy with my hair texture...but there was still no reply. Perhaps that person thought that I must really hate my kinky hair, probably first and foremost because of the way it looked. If I had the same hair texture as my daughter's or straight hair like the person commenting did, I doubt whether such a comment would have been made.

I am so thankful that I can now say that I love my kinky texture, and I love my daughters' ringlet curls and my husband's wavy caucasian hair too!. There is no hierarchy in my mind!

Is aesthetics at the heart of why perhaps many women who have kinkier, tighter hair feel insecure about wearing their own hair texture? If really kinky, coily tightly curled hair was highly desirable in today's society I believe many people would happily put aside the "it's not manageable" excuse and be prepared to wear their natural hair because it was idealised and stylish.

protectivestyle_complete_4.jpg

I know that I desired a particular texture when I first went natural and it was only after I big chopped I realised that my hair wasn't like the 4a's and b's I had been watching on youtube. Since then I have grown to appreciate and see the beauty in my really kinky hair but I think there are still many who follow a hair hierarchy. 

Society's construction of aesthetics play a major part in our perceptions of beauty. Our perception of what is beautiful is shaped by many external factors like our upbringing, our social groups, television, film, literature and the internet. I'm sure there are so many reasons why a hair hierarchy has developed, probably too many to discuss in one post.

But one reason I would mention, which naturalfashionista highlighted was the fact that kinky hair is under represented in the natural hair community. If there were more images and videos of really kinky haired women growing their hair well then perhaps many more people would start to feel more comfortable with their own kinky hair texture.

We need to be satisfied and confident with what we have regardless of the mainstream idea of beautiful hair is. I hope that in the coming years kinkier hair will be more represented in the natural hair community and in the wider community too.