A Zig-Zag Life: Using Hair Texture To Decode Hair Care
Through years of myth-making and standard sowing, the cosmetic industry meta-morphosed beauty into stereotypes based on shape and colour. In terms of hair and hair care, the agenda that straight hair (only) is beautiful reigned supreme. When it came to skin and hair, the concept of beauty used to control people as much as the boogey man (or the tooth fairy) was used to regulate children’s behaviour. For generations, consumers (black) have resorted to personal care choices (products and services) that dismissed the fact that one size does not fit all, neglecting the uniqueness of diversity. As a result, deeper issues pertaining to personal care were not considered when designing products and services for different individuals. There will never be enough time to get into all the history behind black (natural) hair, but in this post, we want to explore two almost similar hair types (4B & 4C) as this can be helpful in choosing the right products, styles, and services for the type of hair we might have. As we switch over to new realities, transforming the ways in which we look at our hair, the way we take care of it and even make decisions on our individual preferences: is it a secret why the beauty industry is booming?
Many of us are newly natural, still having an on and off relationship with our hair and remain confused about why it even matters to know certain things (even if it is just to know). For example, someone who struggles with dry hair (dryness/dehydration) may have thought that the key is to use more hydrating products. However (and backed by science), there are highly specific formulations meant to be applied to hair that is of a certain type. You may not be aware that it might be because of the hair texture that certain products do not seem to get the job done (well). I used to notice how different my hair was from other people, scaring me completely off being natural. Notably, after transitioning (17 months ago), I have seen how one person’s holy grail can be my disappointment (and that is okay). This notion can be applied to a host of hair challenges depending on individual hair texture, density, and porosity (and maybe even hair goals). But what is a hair type?
Hair texture is something that you are born with, but it can change throughout life depending on a variety of factors such as chemical treatments and processing plus other exposures. Before we continue, we would like you to note that it was also no coincidence that Hafro Natural products were made to nourish coily and kinky hair. It all started as a personal journey to caring for previously chemically treated and damaged 4C hair. I know some of us who still (at times) feel that natural hair is just too much, put coily and kinky in the mix and you have a prevailing stereotype that it is difficult to maintain. As different types of hair will require unique kinds of care, there are also different hair typing systems (The Andre Walker, LOIS, FIA’s hair type systems). These hair typing systems were created to help decode the different curl patterns/textures commonly found among women with wavy and curly/coily hair. The most common used system is adopted from the system created by Andre Walker, but remember that the same way you are in your lane, your hair is in its own lane too, and it is totally up to you which guide to follow in order to create your own user manual (if you wish).
It is said that there are 4 types of hair, straight, wavy curly and coily. Recurrently, the amount of curl, wave definition (or lack thereof) can tell a lot about the type of hair you have and the type of bond you can have with it. Generally speaking, Afro hair is type 4 hair, with different variations. If you have Coily hair (4B & 4C) and feel like your hair is not growing, you might be looking in the wrong direction. The natural state of coily hair is an Afro that grows out and up (not down your shoulders-unless it is straightened). It is hearty, and delightfully full. Because of the structure of the cuticle and pattern (Zigzag), it is the driest type and requires the most care to avoid breakage. When it comes to caring for this type of hair, here are a few pointers you can look into in order to start a detailed research routine:
- Wash Days:
First, look out for ingredients that dry out your hair, and avoid them at all cost. Remember that your hair is dry in its natural state (and there is nothing inherently wrong with that). Invest in moisturizing cleansing treatments free from sulphates and parabens.
With coily hair, detangling might be something that you think twice about-but it is the first step in your moisture routine. Here is a tip: there are no days off when it comes to moisturizing. However, depending on your preferred style, you do not have to detangle everyday (but do not wait too long between routine). Similar to product build up, knots build up too. Again, look out for products that help with elasticity to help stretch out the knots, these can include conditioners and detangling specific products. Moisturize daily with your choice of butters for rehydration and, use oils to seal in the moisture. You can also take advantage of the L.O.C method as a consistent way to seal in moisture (for several days at a time). Remember, detangling without some sort of moisture gets you on the highway to breakage (not to mention an unpleasant experience)- moisturized hair minimizes breakage and do not forget to give attention to both roots and strands.
Deep treatments and deep conditioners are superfoods that work to keep hair follicles strong and rehydrate strands after washes. They help to soften and strengthen hair follicles and strands to avoid breakage. Remember how hard you work to put the step (moisture) back into your hair? Do not forget to silk up when all is said and done.
Density (and shrinkage) is the way of the afro (4B&4C) so any protective styling that helps to stretch out the hair is welcome. These can include any styles as long as you do not forget that pulling on your hair hurts your scalp more than you may think it can help your hair strands grow. This can contribute to your 4C hair being more fragile than it already is. If you use heat, invest in heat protectants.
At the end of the day, you have choices when it comes to defining your hair texture, type, pattern and when it comes to addressing your hair concerns. That said, it is worth noting why many naturalists are against determining their curl/coil type. It can be demoralizing to find an arsenal of information but no hard and fast rules regarding the tricks, methods and a million tips available anywhere you want to look. As far as the hair typing systems are concerned, they are not the gospel, and when it comes to boasting the volume of your 4C hair, we’re only concerned with protection against dryness, maintaining moisture, avoiding tangles and living with shrinkage. Until next time, find more of this and other tips on our YouTube Channel @HAFRONATURAL to help care for your 4C natural hair.