Earlier this year, in February, I celebrated my 4th ‘Naturalversary,’ or four years since I’ve gone natural. It’s truly been a journey – through heat damage, multiple color switches, product changes, and much, much more. So much so, I’ve come to name my mane (most of you know her as Solace). Through these past four years, I’ve learned so much about my kinky, low porosity strands and how to keep them flourishing.
So, it’s time to share the wealth! Type 4 hair is sadly underrepresented in media revolving the natural hair community – and I’m here to change that. If you’ve got type 4 and/or low porosity hair, here’s what I’ve learned as key tools for success.
Hot & Steamy is the BEST Way to Go
The defining quality of low porosity hair is hair cuticles that don’t easily open and therefore absorb moisture. Anything dealing with moisture – such as deep conditioning treatments – need to be done with some heat to get those stubborn cutitles open. Steam is your best friend (my fave steamer can be purchased here). The Baggy Method is also HUGE in soaking in as much moisture as possible.
LOC is Not for Me
Lots of naturalistas swear by the LOC (liquid, oil, creme) method for moisture retention, and while it does work for lots of people, it’s not the best for kinky, low porosity hair. Moisure can so often leave your strands 10x easier than it took to get it in there – super frustrating! The key here is to pack on that moisture. Oil will separate the goodies from the L and the C, and you best believe those two need to be in conversation with this type of hair. So, the solution? Switch it up: LCO is the way to go.
Don’t Confuse Your Hair for the Title of “Product Junkie”
I’ve come to learn that a true knowledge of your hair doesn’t require a closet full of products. Just like you wouldn’t want to foundationally switch up your diet over and over again, your hair doesn’t like it either. Find (or make!) products that your hair likes, and stick with them until it says nah. Going from, say, a glycerin heavy moisturizer and immediately switching to a shea butter heavy moisturizer is unwise.
Protective Styling – IN MODERATION – is a Yes
The biggest part about this is the “in moderation” part. I know not having to do your hair everyday is great (an extra 10 mins to sleep in is always appreciated), but back-to-back-to-back protective styles ain’t protecting anything. These styles, such as braids, can really help with length retention, but your hair and scalp can only handle so much tension. Don’t overdo it.
Yes, Naturalistas Need Trims
This is one I still have to yell at myself even. You *need* trims every 3-6 months depending on what your ends look like. And to quickly debunk a myth, trimming does not “help your hair grow.” They keep split ends and knots from ruining everything you work hard for. Think about it: your ends are the oldest part of your hair. Take care of them and keep them healthy and the rest of your hair will thank you.
Braid outs > Twist outs
This is more an opinion than a fact, but I’ve noticed that most type 4 haired naturals do better with braid outs. They offer more stretch than twist outs (because shrinkage is real), don’t mess with your natural curl pattern too much, dry faster, and more. Mastering your braid out is, in the end, mastering your styling.
Do What YOU Want with YOUR Hair
While I have the best intentions for anyone reading this, the simple truth is no one knows your hair more than (hopefully) you. And you know your aesthetic more than I ever could. Do you know how many times folks have advised me against dyeing my hair? Against wearing weaves as protective styles? Do you think they stopped me? It’s your hair, and at the end of the day it’s just hair.
Do you have Type 4 and/or low porosity hair as well? What are your keys to success?