We’ve all been there, yes? You’re on a lovely beach, ready to dip your perfectly polished pedicure into the salty clear blue seas, and then you realize you are not Bo Derek in 10. Your hair is not naturally straight and it’s not immune to the curling power of water. You have natural kinky hair that will fight to cling together in tight coils if the slightest ounce of water touches your tresses. However, the good news is there are ways to prep your hair to prevent sun, chlorine and salt damage, so you can maintain your beautiful natural glow all summer long.
Them: “I like your hair.” “How can I get my hair to look like that?”
Me: “Like what?” “A twist-out?”
Them: “Oh. Will a twist-out make my hair curl like that?”
I don’t know how many times someone has asked me to recommend a product or style, that would allow their hair to mimic my natural hair texture. I usually tell them I’m rocking a twist-out, which is my go-to style, but it’s hard to explain that their twist-out will probably not look exactly like mine with mini coily spirals at the end of each twisted section, because my texture is mostly 4A and theirs is mostly 4C. Sometimes, I don’t feel comfortable trying to explain the difference, because I don’t want to appear offensive when I try to explain that my coily ends is due to heredity and humidity not to any style I’m trying to achieve. Their beautiful zig-zag pattern would find it hard to contort into a coil. I too envied other people’s texture when my hair didn’t cooperate.
But, once I studied my hair texture and the specific products and styles that would compliment it, I began to have a better relationship with my hair and its individual personality. So what type of hair textures do most Africans have? Personally, I have a mixture of the 4s all over my head. I’m mostly 4A with 4 B/C textures around the edges of my head, but I certainly don’t have 3 A/B/C Fulani hair like some suggests. I explained more in my African Hair Typing post. Here is a rundown of the different Type 4 textures.
Type 4A texture is characterized by tight mini spiral coils. It has an “S” shape and a defined curl pattern. What I’ve noticed is that when the coils are stretched in a style, it may still has a noticeable spiral at the ends.
Type 4 hair, in general, has low moisture retention, so it needs a lot of moisture. However, 4A hair tends to have more moisture than 4 B/C hair.
Type 4B texture is characterized by a “Z” pattern and it has less curl definition than Type 4A. When stretched, instead of a spiral pattern, it has an angled “Z” shape.
It feels like cotton to the touch and needs a lot of moisture. It can be referred to as kinky hair. This hair is very wiry and can be very fragile despite popular belief.
Type 4C texture is characterized by an undefined coil pattern. It is very similar to 4B hair texture, but the pattern is more tightly packed together.
This hair texture needs a lot of moisture, but it can definitely hold a style. I really admire Type 4 B/C beauties, because, even though their hair may not be as defined, I feel like it easier for them to maintain their growth. I love my coils, but I’m tired of cutting out fairy knots and tangles because it coils on itself, creating damage.
Every hair texture has its highs and lows. Once we learn about its individual personality and how to maintain it properly, we will be able to better embrace our hair for all its glory.
Which Type 4 African beauty are you?
I was browsing the web, during a
short long work break and I came across this Dove #LoveYourCurls campaign and can I say tears were lit.er.a.lly streaming down my face while I was sitting in front of my computer. This inspiring and heartfelt video depicts how young girls with curly or coily hair feel about their hair texture.
Even though I made a confident decision to rock my natural coils and leave my relax days behind, I still get some tension from some that believe I should have kept my hair relaxed, especially my mom. My mother still has not accepted my decision to be natural. She complains about the inevitable frizz, the imperfect shape, the inconsistent curl pattern, the list goes on. Part of the reason for her uneasiness is because as a young student, in the Nigerian school system, she was forced to rock a mini fro (which we now know as a TWA) to encourage her to focus on books and not boys. When she matured, she had the liberty to rock extensions and experiment with her hair. However, I feel because of her experience she equates natural hair to a form of restraint, oppression and a lack of control. She asks me why I choose to be natural when I have other options. It’s an interesting perspective considering that a lot of African-American women equate natural hair to a form of liberty and freedom from Westernized norms. It appears that even though African and African-American women have similar hair textures, our experiences and perceptions can still be different.
As for me, going natural was one of the best decisions I could have made and I celebrate my coils.