Sunday, February 23, 2014

Minimizing tangles,knots, and breakage on Type 4 Natural Hair

Well hello natural beauties!  I pray that all is going well with your journey?  At 4.5 years wearing my all natural hair I am here to tell you that I am still learning. Yah, the journey continues! With type 4 hair many of us know that tangles and single strand knots come standard. I didn't really run  into problems with tangles and knots until about year 2.5. My hair was a lot longer so there was more shrinkage thus more knots and tangles to deal with. I've kept those under control over the years by wearing my hair stretched in two strand twists. They have always been my go to staple style and has helped me to maintain healthy hair and retain a good amount of length. I've worn them protective up to 4 to 5 weeks. And when put in larger up to 2 weeks.

In the last year I sort of strayed away from twists because  the longer my hair gets the longer they take to install.  In my attempt to switch up my styling methods and save on time,  I have been reintroduced to how bad my type 4 hair can tangle, shrink, and knot up! I recently cut off about 3 inches to give my hair a nice shape, and since the cut, I've been wearing my hair in buns and ponytails. Lets just say my hair has reminded me that it does not like to be loose and.or out past 3 days or there is heck to pay! (buns don't stretch my hair in this state, the ends just further ball and curl upon themselves in the bun.)

The above photo is how my hair looked after wearing it out in a pony tail all week that I had been adding moisture and oils to. It was so fun and freeing to wear my hair out all week and not worrying about stretching, re-twisting or plaiting it at night. But hon-TEYS? Never again! With this freedom came single strand knots and tangles for days. It seemed as though every end  I had  possessed a single strand knot on it? And then when I added my pre-poo to detangle all of my ends were popping off where the single strand knot was. This is what slows down growth retention. Type 4  natural haired women ask me all the time why their natural hair isn't  retaining length. After speaking with them I find that they wear their type 4 tightly curled or coiled hair out most of the time, in a shrunken state. And I'm sorry, this is a no go if you want your hair to retain length at a faster rate, or at ALL for some people. I know people who have literally been at the same length of hair for years and its not been on purpose. (If you aren't trying to grow your hair longer then this is definitely not a big concern for you, as you can just keep cutting your ends off?)

Type 4 hair in my opinion is best managed in a stretched state. Meaning if you want to minimize breakage, knots, and retain length its better to wear your hair in a stretched state. Now it is up to you to find the healthiest way and the most convenient way to do that for your hair. Everyone isn't going to adopt all of the same practices when it comes to stretching, but definitely do what you can manage, and work it into your schedule.  Over the years I've always washed, deep conditioned, and plaited my hair to stretch it out, and then after about 90% dry I will add my two strand twists or plaits.  This has been working perfectly for my hair, and then  I had the nerve to not want  to spend 2 to 3 days post wash in my head.. Geez what was I thinking right? lol.   So,  I have been on a bit of a quest to find a quicker but still healthy way to keep my hair stretched.  So I've gone back to exploring the blow dry and or  flat iron heat stretching method.  

Blow out on Medium heat
I washed with a apple cider vinegar rinse, and did a protein "steam" deep conditioning treatment. I also used a silicone "this time" as a heat protectant (I typically use safflower oil or grapeseed oil). I used a silicone serum  because I knew I would be lightly flat ironing it, and wanted to see if it would reduce some of the frizz or quick reverting that I experience.  Although, I love how blow dried natural hair feels overall, it can make my ends feel dry. To counter that some I  saturate my ends in my deep conditioner and add oils. After I rinse, I use a heavy moisturizer, a protein leave in, and oil to seal. (Still trying to perfect the moisture to my ends).  After I blew my hair out this time I decided to run the flat iron through it, mainly out of length curiosity because I wanted to check out my new length post cut. Going forward I will use one or the other to heat stretch not both.
Flat ironed on 375

The flat iron seemed really hot to me even at 375, and it was a lot straighter but my hair seems to fluff out pretty quick after a light flat iron. I know if I want my hair silky smooth with flat ironing the temperature has to be above 400 and I'm not going there to get a tangle free stretch, its not needed.   After my hair was stretched I just threw in some plaits for a braid out.  In the future I will probably throw in some medium size twists to bun up for the week and twist out at the end of the week. And then re stretch the twists with plaits to possibly get another week in before washing again. (I've been using the Q-Redew to help refresh in between styles..will give my review on that soon!)   

It felt great to manipulate my stretched hair without worrying about tangles, because even with air drying my hair in stretched plaits, my texture is still tangley when those come down, and especially at the roots.  This just felt so much better. I loved it! So to manage my hair I am seriously thinking about doing this more often but I have to figure out how often my hair can take something like this. As I said, the ends is something to consider. If you choose to do any kind of  heat stretching on a regular basis you could end up with dry or crispy ends which can lead to splitting and you obviously don't want that either, so be sure to add tons of care to them prior to introducing heat.   There are also many other ways to minimize tangles and knots without heat(African threading,banding,plaiting etc). Also there are treatments like oil rinses,frequent hot oil treatments, and adding yogurt to your deep conditioners, or you can make up a homemade conditioner that includes yogurt.

Ladies, if you don't take anything else away, just remember that keeping type 4 hair stretched "in most cases" is the best way to minimize knots and tangles and to retain length. If you want to wear your hair out, by all means wear your hair out, it's yours and you should enjoy it!  Just know  that you have to be willing to put in the time and care on the tail end of that to avoid breakage.  You also have to know how far to go with that. We all know what our hair is capable of and what the limits are for our hair. If not, just hold on, those strands will be faithful to remind you as mine did! lol.  Until Next time keep it Healthy and Happy!

Loving my new cut! 



Angel Light said...

Great post! I too have 4B/C hair and experience same issues. I recently discovered that for me, twisting & rolling the twist, keeps the ends more smooth and flat and helps greatly with knots & tangles. Using a wrap serum also helps to give hair more body and smoothness. Going forward, this is how I will maintain my natural hair most of the time b/c still too short to wear twists & look stylish.

Angel Light said...

I too have 4b/c hair and recently discovered that for me, twisting & rolling the twist, keeps the ends more smooth and flat and helps greatly with knots & tangles. Using a wrap serum also helps to give hair more body and smoothness. Going forward, this is how I will maintain my natural hair most of the time b/c still too short to wear twists & look stylish.

Chan said...

Hello Angel thanks for sharing. I do like how using wrap foam makes my hair feel also, so I need to revisit that! I've tried rolling my twists or braids on the ends and my hair don't seem to like that. When I take them down my ends are going every which way and I don't have the uniformity of style that I'd like. But maybe its something I can try and perfect because I can definitely see how rolling the ends will keep them further stretched keeping knots at bay! Yes the longer your hair gets the more styles you can do with twists making them look more stylish.

Koils Of A Libra said...

Hi! I'm a new visitor. Love your blog! I'm a natural type 4 as well!

I just have a question: my edges aren't thin, but they are shorter than the rest of my hair on the temple areas. I have never done extensions or anything and was considering braiding my natural hair for the New York winter months. How can I protect and grow my edges without causing breakage? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

Chan said...

Hello Koils of a Libra! Thanks for stopping by and loving my blog! Edge care is all about making sure they are strengthen and that your styles aren't too tight. I like to use Hydratherma Naturals Follicle mist to strengthen my edges. It works! As for braids just make sure who ever put them in, aren't attaching them too small or too tight....: ) Also you don't want to leave braided styles in past 2 months. If they are individuals get touch ups around the edges 4 weeks after the initial install, or when you feel you have a lot of new growth and the loose hair is not longer protected or safe.

Koils Of A Libra said...

Oh I didn't mean getting braids with extensions. Sorry about the confusion. I meant I'm thinking of doing box braids on my natural hair without extensions or weave.