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

x

 

 

 

Yes you can 4C that style! : Style 002 Chunky Twist Updo

Style 002: Chunky Twist Updo

Style 002: Chunky Twist Updo - Here is an easy style to try with stretched 4C hair. It's fast to do and you can play around with pinning the twists in different positions to create a new look.

To create this style you will need:

  • Bobby pins
  • Long elastic hair band 
  • Moisture (water or leave-conditioner)
  • Sealant (oil or a butter)

Instructions:

  • Start by doing roughly 25 loose two strand twists. When twisting, ensure the twisting at the roots is loose and then gets progressively tighter towards the ends. Make sure you have at least 5 in the front.
  • Starting from the back, divide the back horizontally so you have a top section and a bottom section.
  • Take the ends of the top section, bring them together, roll, tuck and pin them downwards while slightly pushing the roots upwards towards the crown of your head.
  • Now taking the back bottom section, bring the ends of your twists together, twist and pin upwards and tuck the ends away.
  • Place your elastic hair band across the top part of your forehead with approximately 5 of the fringe twists underneath the elastic. 
  • Take the ends of the fringe twists and curl them over the elastic and a little way towards your ear.
  • Tuck the ends down and secure with a bobby pin if needed.

Night maintenance

Simply re-twist the chunky twists to neaten up. Spritz your hair all over with the style installed and cover with a hair scarf. In the morning use your fingers to gently press the twists outwards so that they don't look flat or pressed down. Now you can position your elastic over your fringe area again.

How long does the style last for?

This style can last for a week to two weeks. If you would like to wash your hair with the loose twists installed I would suggest re-twisting them a little more tightly at the root and then proceeding to wash them. This is to ensure your roots do not tangle when you wash your hair. When you're done washing your hair, moisturise and seal each twist in turn and then stretch hair by making sure the twists are tight or you can band or african thread your hair in the pre-made sections. The next morning you can easily re-twist each twist loosely to create volume at the root.

Happy styling!

Bxx

 

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!

Henna on 4c Hair

Henna Treatment

henna_4.jpg

I've been wanting to try henna on my hair for a while but now I've actually plucked up the courage to give it ago. To learn a little more about henna see curlyNikki's post here. After doing a lot of research on henna I decided that I would love to give it ago for it's strengthening qualities. Because my hair is fine its perhaps more prone to breakage than other naturals who have thicker hair strands so I wanted to try treatments which strengthen the hair shaft naturally. Henna leaves colour deposits on the hair which I don't really mind, as long as it wasn't going to turn it orange! I also read that it can loosen the curl pattern of your hair every time it is applied. I don't know if this will really happen to my hair as my curl pattern is so tight, but I read that this has been noticed with people who have looser curl patterns (3c, 4a hair types) so I don't think I have too much to worry about.

Anyway, onto the process. if you prefer to watch the process please see my youtube video or read on for a summary.

I decided to buy Lush Caca marron (£8.25 a block) because I wanted to get the henna from a trusted source. While researching I read a few comments from people who had been scammed when purchasing their henna. They had tried to purchase the Jamila brand henna but instead had been sold fake henna which probably contained harmful substances. Also, some kinds of henna need to be mixed with other ingredients so that the dye can be released. Everyone I read about seemed to do it in a different way so I searched for an easy solution. Lush Costmetics sells henna in blocks which you simply add hot water to and stir up. I also consider Lush to be a trusted brand so I decided to buy my henna from them. I chose the Caca marron because I prefer the darker chestnut tones it is said to give instead of redder tones. The Lush henna also contains some great added ingredients like coco butter and essential oils.

Things you will need

  • Henna
  • Gloves
  • Plastic cap
  • Clips
  • Heat proof bowl
  • Newspaper (for the bathroom floor)
  • Old towels
  • Cleaning equipment
  • Hot water
  • Vasaline (to put on your hairline to stop the henna from dying your skin)

 

Getting Ready

I would say that planning is essential for the whole henna process. I would suggest setting aside a day when you're not massively busy. Firstly get all the things you need together and put them in the bathroom e.g. newspapers for the floor, old towels, clips, vasaline and cleaning equipment. Then mix up the henna with hot water and stir it until It reaches a thick yogurt consistency.

 

Application

Section off your hair into 4 or more sections. Apply vasaline to your hairline. Put your gloves on and apply the henna to your hair by gently patting it onto the section you are working with. Be careful not to press and smooth down the henna too hard along your hair. The henna is very gritty and I read that if some of the sharp pieces are pressed down onto the hair too hard there's a possibility of introducing mid shaft splits along your hair strand. This part took me about 30 minutes. 

Wrap your hair in cling film (optional for extra protection) and put a cap on. I kept the henna on for 6 hours, during this time I went out to the shops and just simply popped a beanie hat on over my plastic cap. I kept the henna on for 6 hours because it was convenient for me and my timetable. I think the pack says you can leave it on for 2-3 hours but I don't think it really matters if you leave it on for longer than the stated time. 

Be prepared to do a bit of clean up. But don't worry. if you've tried to be careful when applying the henna then the clean up shouldn't be too bad. I suggest cleaning the sink area as soon as you have finished applying the henna to reduce the chances of stains.

Results

When washing the henna off do so one section at a time. You can use a conditioner to do this. I used Cantu shea butter conditioner because I had some I needed to use up. It took me 4 washes to really get all the bits and pieces out so make sure you leave yourself enough time.

After I washed the henna out, my hair felt great. My curls really popped, especially at the crown area where the curl pattern is more of an 'S' shape. My hair didn't feel hard or dry like many people had reported from their own experiences. I didn't follow up with a conditioning treatment as my hair felt really good. I just applied my curly pudding and stretched my hair as usual. In the morning I styled my hair, it still wasn't dry and hard. Instead it felt really soft and hopefully it had been strengthened by the treatment too.

Pros and Cons of Lush Henna

Pros:

- Improved the condition of my hair

- Easy to use

- Reasonable price

Cons:

- Very gritty ( this made it difficult to wash out)

-  Strong grassy smell developed hours after henna was applied 

-  Quick and careful clean up is needed to avoid stains on sink

- Planning the process is essential

 

Overall I would recommend giving this product a go to discover whether it works well for you and your hair. You might find the whole process a little too fussy and drawn out, or perhaps you find the benefits to your hair out weigh the process. I have two young children, 4 and under, so I made sure that when I was applying the henna they were occupied with my husband. When I wanted to wash the henna off I did so in the evening when they were in bed. I loved how my hair felt after using it so I'm going to continue to use it, perhaps four more times and see what the effects are. What have your experiences been with henna? Good? bad? or ugly?! 

 

African Threading

African Threading

Have you ever tried african threading on your hair? You might remember it from your youth (I certainly do) when perhaps your mum or auntie wrapped huge amounts of thick black thread around sections of your hair to create stiff , sticking out spikes of hair. Well recently I have revisited this method of wrapping my hair- not as a styling option but rather as a way of stretching my hair.  It's fast and easy to do and works really well yielding similar results to a light blow out. I would really recommend you give it a try if you're looking for a good way to regularly stretch your hair without using heat. Here's part 1 of my video explaining the process:

Here is part 2 showing the results:

Note: Apologies for the low lighting in the video, I recorded the video late at night!