Grow Healthy Type 4 Hair

This past week was my second nappiversary — the anniversary of my big chop! Two years of being fully natural. While 2015 was the year of the Crochet Braids, 2016 was the year of the Marley Twists. I’m hoping this summer to have some box braids installed at my local salon. If you’ve been following my journey the past few years you know that it’s been a liberating and challenging decision to go natural that I have no regrets about. As my type 4 hair has grown longer, it’s expanded the amount of styles I can rock.

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If you are going natural and wondering what products work for curly hair, it pays to experiment a bit with different product combinations to retain length. Some brands such as Shea Moisture will send you a sample in the mail based on your hair type, while others like Carol’s Daughter sell travel-size bottles at drugstores if you want to try something without breaking the bank. Here are a few hair tips I’ve learned in this past year that help me survive the week.

BEST PRODUCTS FOR LOC METHOD

In the past few months, I’ve found a stellar combination that keeps my hair moisturized and soft during the cold winter months. It’s Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Extra-Moisture Detangler, Olive or Coconut Oil and Cantu Shea Butter Conditioning Creamy Hair Lotion in that order. This follows the LOC method of applying a leave-in conditioner, oil and cream or hair butter to “loc” in moisture.

The olive oil I’m using here is a great stand-in for when I’m low on my extra virgin olive oil, and it’s only a couple of dollars at the grocery or drug store. I LOVE coconut oil, as most naturalistas do (it’s almost exclusively what I use in the summer months), but in the winter I alternate between coconut and olive oil. This combination (along with a Denman brush for detangling) leaves my twists soft and juicy! It may work for you too.

 

 

STRETCH HAIR BEFORE YOU STYLE

Shrinkage is no joke! I find that natural hairstyles work better and are easier to create when the hair is stretched. If you’re not keen on heat styling, like me, it’s best to let hair dry overnight (or at least halfway before you use a cool dryer setting) in large twists.This allows my hair to dry elongated so it better mimics the full length of the hair shaft.

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Left: Brushed hair a week after blowout. Right: Full shrinkage from first wash after blowout

TAKE NOTE OF YOUR VARYING TEXTURES

Make sure you pay close attention to the way your curl pattern changes on your hair to prevent damage. I have very coarse, kinky hair, but the back of my head is extremely soft (I’m talking baby soft) and much looser, like Type 3 curls. Different products or tools may work best. I only use my fingers and wide tooth combs on the back of my head because they are more delicate, but my Denman brushes is the only thing getting through the jungle on the rest of my scalp.

 

PROTECTIVE STYLE

Protective styling retains so much length when done correctly. Every time I take out crochet braids or marley twists I find longer hair than I began with. Don’t leave these styles in more than 3 weeks, unless you have a professionally installed weave or box braids that are meant to last longer. And don’t forget to take care of your scalp beneath your extensions so your locks remain healthy. Protective styling also includes wearing twists and cornrows that don’t require additional hair.

 

Hope these tips were helpful to you. Follow my journey on Twitter @candacehowze or Instagram @aceisjoy. Leave a comment below, what other hair topics would you like to see on the blog?