Tag Archives: natural hair care

Hair Care for Children

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Last week there was a lot of debate about baby Blue Ivy’s hair, after a ridiculous petition was created on change.org to ‘comb her hair.  It received over 3500 signatures.  It also brought natural hair into the forefront again and made me question if the stereotypes about it still exist. The woman who started the petition claims to have natural hair herself and has since said it was a joke. Perhaps people should think twice before ‘joking’ about somebody’s child or ridiculing a baby’s hair. So, what is good practice when it comes to hair care for children at various stages?  Here are 6 points that I believe are important for managing our children’s hair. Stayed tuned for more next week.

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Less is more when it comes to newborns and babies under 2 years

Not much should be done with their hair at this stage as their scalps are very sensitive; any manipulation is likely to cause damage or pain.   The hair fibers will  be developing and changing rapidly. In the early months their hair is usually fine, wavy or curly. As they grow, their hair will develop more texture. Most of us have baby pictures of ourselves with softer, loosely curled hair and probably believe it is a contrast to our hair now.  It is also common for newborns and young babies to have uneven hair and bald spots . The most likely area for a bald spot is at the back of their head. This is due to them constantly sleeping on their backs and the friction caused by rubbing. To prevent or minimize this, rub a little coconut oil on the affected area to protect it and lay them on a satin blanket.

Shampoos are not considered necessary at this stage either; a simple rinsing with warm water will suffice.  As the hair grows in texture and thickness, co-washing can be introduced.  A light moisturizer may be used daily to  style and nourish the hair.  As the hair thickens, a thicker moisturizer can be used, followed by a light oil for sealing.

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More moisture is needed for toddler years and older

As a child’s hair texture thickens and matures, the hair fibers will require more moisture, to keep them supple and pliable. A lack of adequate moisture will weaken the hair and lead to breakage. Avoid products that are too harsh for textured hair. With the growth of the natural hair community, there are now a plethora of products catered to natural hair.  Many of these products are 100% natural and free from drying ingredients, like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or silicones. There are a number of kinder shampoo and conditioners that are sulphate-free. Use conditioners that are rich and creamy for adequate slip when washing and detangling.

Low manipulation styling is key

Low manipulation styling should be practiced as the norm. Avoid heat, chemical relaxers and weaves (yes I have seen young children with weaves), as these can hinder healthy growth.  Traction alopecia is most prevalent with women and young girls of African descent. This is a cycle that must be broken.  Most of our bad habits relating to hair started in childhood.  The reasons we are known as the race with the shortest hair is because of generations of chemical use, excessive heat,  lack of knowledge about our natural hair and, an over-reliance on tight weaves and braids.  It is not because there is anything inherently wrong with our natural hair, or because it doesn’t grow.

Don’t fall for marketing gimmicks.

Be wary of marketing gimmicks such as ‘no tears’ formulas in baby shampoos.  These products are marketed as being gentle, but are just as strong and drying as adult shampoos. They still contain high dosages of detergents and surfactants. Being easy on the eyes should not be the only qualifying factor, as they can still be harsh on the hair and have little conditioning values. Afro-textured hair is prone to dryness by its nature. Baby shampoos strip already fragile curly or kinky hair types, leaving the hair shaft unprotected.

Also, be aware that relaxers targeted at children are not gentler than adult relaxers, the ingredients are the same. The only difference is the children on the packaging. The same goes for texturizers, which work the  same as relaxers. Both use the same ingredients, either sodium hydroxide or Calcium hydroxide.  They permanently alter the natural curl pattern, strip the hair of its elasticity and straighten kinkier hair textures. Texturizers rarely leave the hair wavy or curly like it appears on the box.

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Consider using no shampoo and conditioner for the under 5s

A shampoo free regimen is best for those under five years of age. Young children this age typically do not need to use shampoo of any kind on their textured hair, unless it has been heavily soiled (food, playing in the sandbox, swimming etc).  No shampoo or conditioner-regimens insure that moisture is reinforced within the strands and is not depleted due to the harsh detergents found in shampoos. This may be a method to consider if your child’s hair continues to suffer from excessive dryness no matter what shampoo you use.

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Butters, oils and leave in conditioners

There are many products with petroleum and mineral oil that claim to combat dryness.  Instead, these ingredients coat the hair and prevent moisture from being absorbed. This leads to dryness and causes a dependency on the product, causing you to constantly reapply it for temporary relief.  Such products have resulted in dry, weighed down tresses for many of our children.  Baby oil is 100 percent mineral oil for instance.  Instead use natural oils such as coconut oil, grapeseed oil or avocado oil, for sealing and styling.  The type of moisturizer used depends on your child’s hair type. Thicker, kinkier hair works well with heavier butters and creams, whereas looser curls and finer hair would need lighter products, so it is not weighed down.

The simple use of water in a spray bottle will suffice, or a water based spray or leave in conditioner can be used. You can purchase detangling sprays, leave-in conditioners, creams, custards or simply make your own water, oil and conditioner concoction.  Nourishing butters such as avocado, cocoa, mango and shea can also be used instead of mineral oil or petroleum.  The same moisture-sealing rules apply with children. Hair must be moisturized with water, or a water based moisturizer and sealed with an oil or butter.  This will help the hair retain moisture, promote shine and improve manageability.

Shea Moisture for Kids

Shea Moisture for Kids

Next week will include: appropriate hair tools, methods of styling and washing your children’s hair.

Please share your hair care tips for children below?  What did you think about the Blue Ivy hair petition?

 

Sources: babycenter.com

Davis-Sivasothy; The Science of Black Hair

The “fringe sign” for public education on traction alopecia:

http://escholarship.org/uc/item/1h81c7s1

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Top tips for going natural

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Going natural may not be a huge declaration or momentous occasion for some.  Perhaps you have taken your hair out of braids and want to delay using chemicals for a while. You may never look back.  Some may have experienced breakage due to relaxers and believe going chemical free is best.  Whatever your reasons for going natural, here are some tips to get you started on the right track.

1. Big chop boldly

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Decide whether you want to big chop or transition. The big chop is simply cutting all of the relaxed hair, right up to the new growth. For this, you must be willing to have short hair; a TWA (teeny weenie afro) or shorter.  You may have seen videos on YouTube of women drastically shaving their heads to big chop.  You do not have to do this.  The Amber Rose look isn’t for everyone! You can choose to wait until there is a sufficient amount of new growth to showcase a TWA. If you are only going to be comfortable with hair long enough to put back in a ponytail, perhaps transitioning is more suitable.

I have a round face, so I was hesitant about having short hair.  I never thought very short hair could look good with my face shape.  However, I found that afro textured hair framed my face well, better than a short straight cut would have.  I certainly didn’t’ shave my head, I wore braid outs with my relaxed hair to blend in the little new growth, until it grew out adequately.  For me personally, I knew playing around with two textures was not going to work.  So I big chopped soon after giving up the chemicals.

2. Transition with care

Transitioning is holding off on cutting the relaxed hair and growing your natural hair out gradually. This is done until you are happy with the length. For this, you have to be willing to care for two different hair textures at the same time.  If you decide to transition, you may want to wear braids, weaves or wigs in the meantime.  Be careful that these styles are not installed too tightly because your edges may thin or you may experience breakage in other areas.  This would be a terrible set back so soon into your journey.

When transitioning, avoid falling into the trap of using heat on your new growth, to blend the two textures.  A small amount of sweat on the scalp will cause your new growth to revert back to its natural state.  You may find yourself using heat daily as a result.  When it is time to big chop, you may be left with heat damaged hair.

For transitioning, start doing braid-outs and twist-outs to get the feel of curly or kinky textured hair, and to get out of the mindset of straight hair.  Check out styling tutorials on YouTube, such as FusionofCultures who transitioned for two years.  Roller sets, two strand twists, bantu knot-outs and flexi-rods can be used for styling your transitioning hair.

 3. Keep it simple with products

Keep your approach to products simple at this stage.  Perhaps it would be best to continue to use the products you are already familiar with, unless you found that they were damaging to your hair. Focus on getting familiar with styling and caring for your hair. It is your skills that make the difference, not the products. While styling and maintaining your hair, start to research natural shampoos and conditioners and the ingredients you should avoid.  Know the reasons why they should be avoided.  Educating yourself about ingredients will ensure you choose the best products for your hair.

Don’t fall for marketing ploys. Products that claim to give you a certain curl pattern or accelerated growth for instance, or products that claim to be natural but aren’t.  I see too many naturals become super focused on product brands, expecting a product to ‘fix’ their hair, while failing to learn good hair care practices.  Most of these products do not do anything that water, natural oils and butters don’t do, unless they contain chemicals or unnatural ingredients.

You may not be too concerned about using products that are 100% natural, do what is best for you. As long as you have the sufficient knowledge, you can make an informed decision. The most important thing you can do for your hair is learn how to take care of it: how to comb it correctly, how to finger detangle, how to deal with shrinkage, when to use protein treatments, when to trim, to name a few. You don’t need to invest your time trying every product on the market and over spending as a result.  The reason we used relaxers was for them to ‘fix our hair’, do not have the same attitude towards products.

 4. Keep the use of heat to a minimum when dealing with shrinkage

Shrinkage is one of the main challenges for any new natural who has passed the TWA stage. Remember that shrinkage is a good thing; it shows you that your hair is healthy and simply reverting back to its natural curl pattern when wet. However, if you have very kinky hair, it may be best to keep it stretched out as much as possible, especially for styling. Check out my posts on this and practice techniques that ensure you do not have to rely on blow dryers and flat irons. Frequent use of heat can create dryness, breakage and heat damage. Heat damage is when your hair doesn’t revert back to its natural curl pattern and you are left with straight strands, in some sections. If you develop good habits in the early stages of your hair journey, you will continue this good practice for years to come. Unfortunately, bad habits are hard to break.  Besides, the longer your hair gets, the less problematic shrinkage becomes. If you invest in good hair care practices now, you will reap the benefits later.

5. Go natural for you, not for others

Personally, I couldn’t care less what men on YouTube say about women with natural hair, whether positive or negative.  I choose not to pay attention to general opinions about natural hair. Whether men, other women, people of other races or even employers like natural hair; I had to decide to embrace my natural hair regardless.  Anyone who says they don’t like natural Afro textured hair, I put in the same category as those who say they don’t like dark skin; ignorant and not worth arguing or wasting my time with. Positive attitudes are great and welcomed, but these can change like the wind. So be secure with your natural beauty, such security must come from within and not be based on the opinions of others or on trends.

What advice would you give to anyone who is considering going natural?

Is Relaxed Hair Really Easier to Manage?

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Here I discuss this misconception and review some of the major mistakes I made when my hair was relaxed? Perhaps this explains why my hair never grew past a certain point.

A certain reality TV star was quoted as saying that natural hair isn’t for everyone. This was puzzling to me and many others in the natural hair blogosphere.  How could a person’s natural hair not suit them? Was he claiming that for some women the only option was to alter their hair texture permanently or to be constantly reliant on weaves?  This is fine if it is a choice but it’s unfortunate when women believe they have no choice but to rely on relaxers.  This implies that there is something inherently ‘wrong’ with their natural hair.

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 It’s very rare that you hear people of other races make such comments. This idea simply isn’t true and is a major misconception.   After making these comments he later ‘clarified’ on Twitter that he wasn’t being critical, he was simply pointing out that not everyone knows how to ‘manage’ their hair in its natural state, so thus it isn’t for everyone.  Really? I use to think like this, ask many women with relaxed hair or those that tried to go natural and have since returned to relaxer. Some will say the same thing.

However, is relaxed hair really that much easier to manage? All I know is when my hair was relaxed it didn’t grow past a certain point. Now this may not be the case for everyone but many of us can relate to this. During my time with relaxed hair I also had to deal with occasions where my hair was over processed, which led to breakage and regular setbacks.  Looking back now, I simply wasn’t aware of good hair care practice.  The principles that I have learned since going natural are also important for women with relaxed hair. They don’t just apply to natural hair but are integral for promoting healthy hair in general. For example both relaxed and natural hair benefit from protective styling. If I had incorporated this principle when my hair was relaxed I may have seen better results.

Click to check out vlogger KinkyCoilyCurlyMe's story below

Check out vlogger KinkyCoilyCurlyMe’s story below

Unfortunately, I believe many of us are still unaware of the effects of relaxers to the strength and overall health of our hair. This may be the reason why black women are considered to have the shortest hair length or  hair that ‘doesn’t grow’.  Relaxers may be one of the main reasons for this. Although there has been an increase in the percentage of women with natural hair in recent years, the majority still opt for relaxers.    After reading The Science of Black Hair, by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy, I became more aware of  what chemical relaxers do to the hair. I realized where I was going wrong when my hair was relaxed. I wasn’t incorporating the practices needed to combat the negative effects of chemical relaxers.  I believe many women with relaxed hair are still not aware of how to manage their hair.  I’m not simply referring to styling, which is usually put before health.

Relaxers weaken afro textured hair because they strip the hair of its elasticity. With little elasticity, hair is more susceptible to breakage. Afro textured hair is naturally fragile as every kink and curl presents a potential breaking point. The American Academy of Dermatology found that relaxers make curly hair even more fragile and may therefore be the reason why the hair doesn’t grow beyond a certain point.  Afro textured hair certainly grows, that’s why we have to get a re-touch every 6 to 8 weeks. So the logical explanation is that the hair is breaking off from the ends and doesn’t reach a certain length as a result.

Good practices for relaxed hair

So what are the good hair care practices that would have helped me to manage my relaxed hair better?

Avoid bone straight hair

Hair care experts suggest that you should not relax your hair to the point where it is bone straight. Generally it should not be more than 80% straight; this leaves some elasticity in the hair.   I certainly didn’t know this when I relaxed my hair and my hair stylists didn’t follow this rule either. Instead they would wait until my scalp started to burn before they would even consider washing the relaxer out, this is not good hair care practice. Most of us believed that the straighter the hair the better. If  our hair wasn’t bone straight after a relaxer session it would have been considered a failure.  This doesn’t mean that such hair care experts are condoning the use of heat either in order to get the hair bone straight. In fact using heat on relaxed hair is not recommended, as this can cause dryness and breakage on hair that is already lacking in elasticity.

Wavy Relaxed Hair

Wavy Relaxed Hair

Relax the hair less frequently

Hair care experts also recommend that you relax your hair every 10 to 12 weeks rather than the popular 6 to 8 weeks. This is simply because of the harsh effects of the chemicals in relaxers and the risk of over processing. The more time that passes between relaxers the better, as this would reduce your overall use of chemicals.  How many of us followed this rule when we had relaxed hair? I relaxed my hair every six weeks without fail because I couldn’t handle the re-growth.  I didn’t like the very appearance of it. If you were going to follow this rule, you would have to learn to blend the two hair textures. Again, the use of heat to do this isn’t encouraged and it is stressed that such usage should be minimized. Using heat on the new growth is futile because any slight moisture on the scalp will result in the hair reverting. That’s why many of us fell into the trap of using heat too frequently, in between relaxers.  Some of us used it daily!  It would be beneficial to try braid-outs and twist-outs in between relaxers as this will blend the two textures well.

Don’t relax damaged hair

Dealing with two hair textures in between relaxers sounds like hard work to me and indicates that relaxed hair is not as easy to manage as people would love to have you believe. From personal experience the longer I waited in between relaxers the more shedding I experienced. This gave me the false idea that my hair was breaking without the relaxer and so I needed to relax it as soon as possible. The cause of heavy shedding between relaxers is still unknown and this topic has been debated.  It is suggested that you should wait for this period of shedding to subside before getting another relaxer.  Relaxing the hair is such a harsh process and should be done when the hair is in the best possible condition.

Respect the mark of demarcation

This is the point where the new growth reaches the straight, relaxed hair.  Hair care experts stress that when you relax your hair, you should not apply any of the mixture to the hair that is already straightened. You must only apply the relaxer to the new growth as this can lead to over processing. Well, I know from experience that this is almost impossible to do in reality.  Audrey Davis-Sivasothy suggests that you cover the relaxed hair with a thick cream or oil to form a protective barrier between the new growth and the relaxed hair. This may be the best way of preventing over processing. In practice, I know many of us did not take this rule seriously and I have seen hair stylists applying the mixture to about half of the hair. They certainly didn’t take care to ensure that they only applied the relaxer to the new growth. Hence, this is why many of us endured over processing as a regular occurrence.

Protein and moisturizing treatments

How many of us knew the difference between protein and moisturizing treatments when our hair was relaxed? And the importance of balancing moisture and protein with our treatments and products?  I can now concoct my own homemade protein and moisturizing treatments and I’m aware of the benefits. I don’t do protein treatments very often because I don’t have to, but with relaxed hair frequent protein treatments are a must.  Getting the protein/moisture balance right takes time and practice.   Protein treatments combat the weakening effects of the chemicals in relaxers.   Regular moisturizing treatments are also important in between relaxers. Relaxed hair is even more prone to dryness due to the chemicals in relaxers, despite clever marketing to convince you otherwise.

I only had treatments at the salon once in a while and the treatments I bought from the shops were mainly moisturizing treatments. I probably should have been having more protein treatments but I was unaware of the difference.  According to expert advice, protein treatments should be done every two to three weeks and moisturizing treatments should be done weekly with relaxed hair.

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SimplYounique's hair growth

SimplYounique’s natural hair growth

After truly researching the effects of relaxers, I do not consider relaxed hair easier to manage. It also takes time and effort to maintain the health of relaxed hair. Dealing with the effects of chemical relaxers can be more of a headache, literally and figuratively speaking.  I think it was a miracle I made it through my relaxed years with hair still on my head, because I broke so many hair care rules.  Besides, you can still have straight hair when it is natural without the use of chemicals. If you are happy with your  relaxed hair that’s great!  You may still believe it is easier to manage.  We are all allowed our own opinions and our individual experiences differ.  However, I would suggest doing your research and adopting good hair care practices whatever your hair texture.

Click to check out hair Chime Edwards on Youtube

Click to check out hair Chime Edwards on YouTube

Whether relaxed or natural we should all learn to manage our hair correctly and no longer be stereotyped as the race that has the hair that doesn’t grow. Or that women with long hair in the black community must be bi-racial. I know there are black women with healthy, long relaxed hair too. But when I was growing up they were always the exception, not the norm.  For me personally, it was not a healthy period for my hair or for my self-esteem. Now my hair is longer than it has ever been. It is a wonderful experience to not have to rely on weaves or extensions for length and thickness.  It takes time to learn how to manage your natural hair but it is worth it!

What do you think?  Whether you have relaxed or natural hair, share your thoughts below.

Sources

·         The Science of Black Hair, Audrey Davis-Sivasothy; Saja Publishing Company 2011

·         www.blackhairscience.com

·         Ultra Black Hair Growth II, Cathy Howse, UBH Publications 2000

·         Grow It! Chicoro; ChicoroGYM Publishing 2009

·         http://www.curlynikki.com

Natural Hair in Australia

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What is it like to live in a country that doesn’t have an endless supply of black hair care products and numerous salons that cater to black hair?

The City of Adelaide
So I arrived in Adelaide, Australia last month and will be here for the foreseeable future. Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia and the fifth largest city in the country. It isn’t huge but still has all of benefits of a big city, yet maintains a level of calm about it. I did arrive during the festival period which was a lot of fun. There was an African festival across the road from my hotel which had some excellent live performances of traditional African music. One of the first things I observed when I arrived in Australia was how diverse the people are.
In Adelaide there is a wide choice of restaurants, from Asian restaurants in China Town, to Sudanese restaurants in the outskirts of the city. Quite clearly Adelaide has a growing African community which consists of those from countries in East and South Africa. Over the last two decades, Africans have come to Australia either as migrants through Australia‘s skilled and family reunion programs, and as refugees through Australia‘s humanitarian program. Other communities that live in Australia include those from the Polynesian islands such as Samoa, economic migrants and refugees from countries in Asia, and of course the indigenous aboriginal community. Australia is a nation of immigrants, other than the indigenous aboriginal community everyone there is likely to have connections to other parts of the world.

Rymill Park, Adelaide

Rymill Park, Adelaide

Somerton Beach, Glenelg

Somerton Beach, Glenelg

Adelaide Zoo

Adelaide Zoo

Natural hair community?
It is a wonderful country that I cannot wait to explore. I couldn’t wait to interview some of the African women about life in Australia and to find out whether or not they have heard about the natural hair community, that is prevalent on YouTube and on internet blogs or forums. Of course it has taken off in the U.S.A in a big way and continues to grow in the UK as well. One thing I also noticed is that black beauty products are not readily available like they are in the United States; it reminded me of the UK ten years ago. Growing up in London, I had to go to specialist afro hair and beauty shops to purchase beauty products that catered to my hair and skin tone. In the United States they sell these products in regular stores such a Wal-Mart or Target. The availability of products has improved greatly in the UK but in Australia this simply doesn’t exist. For instance they have Target in Australia but when I browsed through the makeup section I noticed that the darkest color available was caramel.  There certainly wasn’t any black hair care products either. I didn’t see any black hair care shops like Paks Cosmetics in the UK. Fortunately, in America you could go to a regular beauty supply like Sally’s and pick up products that cater to afro hair and those specifically for natural hair.

So I was curious to find out where I could go to get my hair done. Fortunately, since going natural and even before, I have learned to do my own hair and I no longer rely on going to the salon. My hair also thrives with basic products such as Shea butter, coconut oil and plain water. I have learned good hair care practices, so the health of my hair is not dependant on product brands. Therefore I wasn’t panicking because I had moved to a country where I couldn’t pick up any Shea Moisture products or any other popular brands that are freely available in the U.S. However, I still wanted to know where the African women in Adelaide go to buy hair products and if there were black hair salons.
Looking around I saw that many of them wore weaves and braid extensions. The first girl I interviewed said that she mainly relied on a family member to do her hair and she visited the salon occasionally. She told me about the areas where the African shops were and reassured me that there were black hair care shops and salons, you just have to know where to go. Surprisingly, she had never heard of the natural hair community on YouTube. She wore weaves a lot and her hair was relaxed, although she didn’t relax it very frequently. There was also a beautiful young lady from Kenya that I interviewed with immaculate braids, again she had never heard of the natural hair community. Only one person I spoke to was aware of it and she had considered going natural but said she loves her weaves. :D. I explained to her that she could still be natural and wear weaves.

I did see a couple of girls with natural hair though. Two had cute TWAs (teeny weenie afros) and another had two-strand twists. So there are women there that wear their hair natural and I’m sure there is some knowledge about natural hair but it is yet to grow in Australia. It doesn’t appear to have taken off here and I couldn’t find any Australian natural hair, YouTube vloggers.  I am use to seeing blogs and vlogs from women in the UK, Nigeria and the US.  If you know of any or have natural hair and live in Australia, please drop by on this blog and let us know about your experience so far.

Check out Miranda's story on BGLH

Click to check out Miranda’s story on BGLH

Update: here is a link to Miranda’s blog: http://www.StyleGallivanter.com

Good hair care practice
If you have recently gone natural, focus on good hair care practice as opposed to products brands. It is good hair care practice that will promote the health of your hair, not necessarily the products you use. You never know when you may no longer have access to your favorite products or may need to save your money at that particular time. Besides, I find that my twists outs come out beautiful by simply using water and Shea butter. In fact some of the products I’ve tried made my hair too frizzy and were not suitable for twist-outs.

Do you live in a country that doesn’t provide much choice for black hair care and beauty products? How have you adapted to this? Share your experiences below.

Love Your 4b Hair

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I was recently watching a YouTube video by a vlogger who decided to go back to relaxed hair. Her main reason was that it is her hair and therefore her choice. I couldn’t agree more and I am not against women relaxing their hair.   However, one point she made that I didn’t agree with was that she had the ‘real African hair’ and that therefore her hair was somehow harder to manage as a result.  Although she may have meant it as a joke, I do believe there is this misconception within the natural hair community that some hair types are harder to manage. Also, instead of saying good and bad hair we now say 3b or 4b hair.   I get the impression that some see the 4s as inferior to the 3s and out of the 4s, 4b hair is seen as the ‘bad hair’ type, by some people.  I do not necessarily subscribe to hair typing but for the purpose of this article I will say that my hair type is 4b.

Hair-Types-1709658

4b hair is kinky and tightly coiled.  It has a zigzag curl pattern instead of spirals.  Hence, 4b hair types usually have a more fluffy appearance and a less obvious curl pattern.  This is NOT to say that 4b hair doesn’t have a curl pattern.  Afro textured hair is ‘textured’ by nature and therefore has some sort of curl pattern (I’m aware that some black people may have naturally straight hair though).

Styling

I have only tried a wash and go once and I did not get the same results as women with different hair types. My wash and go did not result in loose or tight spiral curls because that isn’t my natural curl pattern. I will try it again using a different technique but I know that no product is going to make my hair do anything it doesn’t already do naturally.   This certainly doesn’t make 4b hair inferior to others.  All hair types have perceived strengths and weaknesses. Even if my hair doesn’t curl up as much as a 4a or type 3, it doesn’t mean that I cannot wear my hair in a super curly style using perm rod sets, bantu knot outs or twist outs.  4b hair is still very versatile and easy to manipulate. It holds styles well and is a lot of fun in my experience.

As for managing my hair, the more I learn, the easier it becomes to manage. As I always say; it is never our hair that is the problem, it is simply our lack of knowledge. Learning more efficient techniques of managing your hair and even learning from your mistakes, is all part of the fun of natural hair.  One of the greatest challenges with my 4b hair was shrinkage. However, after learning different techniques to stretch out my hair (without heat), shrinkage doesn’t even bother me now. In fact, if my hair didn’t shrink, this would indicate that there was something wrong with it.   So in my opinion 4b hair isn’t any harder to manage than other hair types it simply needs to be managed differently. I subscribe to YouTube channels of women with different hair types and I have seen the beauty of them all, but they all have their challenges.  For example very curly hair could be more difficult to manipulate as the natural curl pattern could interfere. If I had 4a hair I would have to learn how to deal with this, it wouldn’t make my hair harder or easier to manage, just different.

Negative comments

I have heard negative comments about natural hair looking ‘more African’ and 4b in particular being referred to in this way.  Black hair reflects African heritage. So to say someone’s hair looks more African (in a negative context) just because it’s natural or 4b, is plain ignorance. Why is something inferior simply because it looks ‘more African’ anyway? That’s implying that hair which reflects European or Asian heritage is more beautiful. That shouldn’t make it more beautiful, it should just make it beautiful in a different way. It’s a shame that these phrases are used and a lot of the negativity is coming from within the black community itself.  African hair is extremely diverse; no two hair textures are the same. Many women find that their hair is made up of more than one hair type anyway. Their hair may be 4a in the front and 3b towards the back for example. Again, this is the beauty of natural hair and these differences should be embraced, not used to create competition within the natural hair community.

Time consuming?

You learn more about your hair as time goes by. It used to take me four hours to detangle my hair, now I have learned to do it in less than one hour. This was simply by trying out different techniques. Saying that you don’t have time to be natural is again something that I do not think is a valid excuse. My profession required me to take a lot of work home with me in the evenings and it was a high pressured work environment. I simply had to learn to adapt my hair care regiment accordingly. I wore my hair in protective styles more often, which allowed me to leave my hair alone and gave me a break from dealing with it. Plus, since going natural I no longer spend my Saturdays travelling to and from the salon and waiting around for hours. I have always styled and managed my own natural hair. So  I may spend more time detangling but I spend less time and money going to the salon to get my hair relaxed, treated or weaved.

So whatever your hair type, embrace it because that’s what your hair is like naturally and no product or styling technique is going to change that. Don’t buy into the ranking of different hair types.  The hair typing system is supposed to be used as a guideline not as a ranking system of ‘good hair’ verses ‘bad hair’. Don’t go back to relaxer just because you have 4b hair, 4b hair is just as beautiful as the other hair types and has its advantages just like the others. Whatever your hair type, you are going to have to learn how to manage it and deal with challenges.   If you love your hair other people will, if you see it as inferior then that is the message you give to others. There’s enough prejudice out there, surely we can do without the kind that comes from within our own community.

.Celebrities with 4b hair?

Jill Scott

Jill Scott

Shingai Shoniwa

Shingai Shoniwa

Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu

Janelle-Monae-Guide-006

Janelle Monae

My favorite 4b vloggers

Kinky Curly Coily Me

http://www.youtube.com/user/BlakIzBeautyful

African Export

http://www.youtube.com/user/africanexport

CharyJay 4b/4c hair

CharyJay 4b/4c hair

Kinksgalore

http://www.youtube.com/user/Kinksgalore/videos?flow=grid&view=0

CharyJay 

https://www.youtube.com/user/160Days2Lose2

Stayed tuned for next week where I explain how I manage my 4b hair.

Do you have 4b hair? What do you think about hair typing? Share your thoughts below:

Do our curls always have to be defined?

Standard

Is there a need to always have super defined curls ? Solange Knowles has been criticized in the past for not wearing twist outs or braid outs and there are numerous hair care products  that claim to define your curls, some of them cost an absolute fortune! Sometimes it’s nice to wear your hair  out big and beautiful and not worry about how defined your curls look. So, you’ve had a twist out for a few days and it’s looking more like a big afro, that’s fine. I like this stage and often wear my hair like that for a couple of days before I go ahead and wash it.  Who says  our curls have to be defined all the time or that our twist outs, braid outs or roller sets have to look perfect. If you wake up in the morning and your curls are no longer defined, don’t give yourself a hard time because you don’t have time to retwist it.  Big, fluffy hair can be just as beautiful as defined, neatly arranged coils, twists or waves. So if you don’t feel like doing a twist-out, or your ‘wash and go’ didn’t result in super define curls, that’s okay!

solange-0331

I’ve never painted myself as a team natural vice president. I don’t know the lingo and I don’t sleep with a satin cap…

However, I did noticed when I picked out my hair, I kept seeing feedback about needing a “twist out”. Connnnfesssioonnn: I HATE twist outs.Solange Knowles

Check out Essence magazine’s top 50 natural hairstyles of the year.  Here are some of my favorites that do not necessary include super defined curls.

essence  50 styles

essence updo 50

Do you feel the need to always have super defined curls? Personally, at this stage I’m over it. Share your thoughts below…….