Black hair receives a lot of hate, especially Type 4 Hair, especially 4c hair. As someone with 4b-4z hair on my head I hope these helpful tips can make your wash days more enjoyable!
I didn’t realize how many people wash their hair everyday until I went to college (a PWI). According to some, straight hair becomes oily and greasy if left alone for even a day. Others disagree and say that no matter your hair type, it’s all about how much product you use. Either way, no one can tell you how you should take care of your own hair, including me. All I can do is show you how I take care of my own hair.
Wash Day is truly a day-long process, because we need to give our hair all the love and attention it deserves. This is the day that I cleanse, moisturize, detangle, and style my beautiful strands. I’ve narrowed this process down to five core (essential) steps that have made my wash day 10x better.
Over the week, my hair loses all its moisture and becomes bone dry. It doesn’t matter if I hydrate and moisturize it, within a week it needs to reset. I only started pre-pooing my hair once I went to college, because I didn’t understand why it mattered, or how to do it.
The purpose of a pre-poo is to prepare your hair for shampoo. Shampoo often rips away at the oils and products on your hair, which not only cleanses, but causes the hair to become bone dry. With low porosity hair, the dryness only increases. Pre-pooing is an absolute treat for dry hair, especially after rocking a protective style.
My homemade formula includes:
Coconut Oil + Water + Peppermint Oil + Tea Tree Oil + Aloe Vera Juice ( + cheap conditioner if pool water is involved)
This combination gets the hair nice and hydrated and can allow you to better undo your hairstyle (with weave or not) and reduce breakage. With your hydrated (not moisturized) hair, you can prepare it for washing.
I keep my hair in sections of six to eight for this step. Why? Well, I have a lot of hair, it’s thick and if I stop cutting it, it’s long too. Shampooing my hair in an afro state leaves it free to become a tangled mess. This would be a big mistake. Trust me. I’ve done it several times.
Apply your shampoo to your scalp and massage with the flat parts of your fingers. This loosens up any buildup and dead skin. Nails will scratch up your scalp so BEWARE.
Depending on how long you’ve waited for this wash, you may need to reapply shampoo several times before the dirt, dandruff, and gel is removed completely. Sometimes you can even hear your hair squeak.
Once your hair is clean, you can finally nourish it and show it some love.
3. Deep Condition
I recommend you keep your hair in sections for this step if you plan to detangle it and style it later. If not, you can feed it some food, let it curl, and watch it shrink so it can POP once it’s satisfied.
The most important part of your hair to condition are the ends, because they are the most fragile. The ends are the oldest part of the hair, and struggle to retain moisture. If you wash your hair weekly, you could probably get away with using the conditioner to detangle and wash it out. If you wait two weeks or more your hair will thank you for some undivided attention.
For low porosity hair, the strands only accept warm water and product. The conditioner has to be applied in the shower and I use an aluminum cap to humidify and moisturize my hair. 20 minutes is all the time we need, according to the internet, but if it’s cold for my skin, it’s cold for my hair even in the cap so I typically go for 25-30 minutes. With looser curls you could probably go for less time, and detangling will likely take less time, as well.
I have mostly 4b, 4c, 4z hair and different sections require more or less care. I always finger-detangle my hair first and put it into sections. I only use a brush when my hair has been in low tension, detangled natural hair styles for at least a few days. If I decided to wear afro puffs, for example, my ends would not be very detangled and using a brush would cause unnecessary breakage.
Make sure that you wash away ALL of the conditioner, especially on your scalp. If any remains, it will lead to buildup, and possibly mildew.
4. Apply Leave-In/Detangler and Moisturizer
If you wait until night-time to wash your hair, this is the step you may end with. Still, I recommend brushing the leave-in through the strands with your fingers or a brush while in the humid shower or bathroom so the product can be absorbed.
With low porosity hair all that work could be for nothing if the leave-in and moisturizer aren’t applied before cold air reaches you. I often use a cap to keep my hair wet while I style it to maintain as much moisture as possible.
5. Apply Sealants and Oils
There is a lot of debate about whether we should put oils on or hair and it’s up to you whether you want to stop with the moisturizer. For me, I find it easiest to brush my hair when I use a thick oil after moisturizing my hair. Coconut oil may not be for sealing in products or moisture, but it is very affordable and if I’m on a tight budget I will use it for my hair.
Some sealant oils that I have used are jojoba oil, almond oil, and castor oil. Shea butter is also thick and can help lock in moisture. It may take some trial and error to find the oils that your hair prefers, but if you’re looking for a starting point, make sure to check out my Pinterest board on How To Care for Type 4 Hair.
The tighter your curls and longer your hair, the longer it takes to care for your hair. I cut my hair six inches TWICE in the past four years just to make caring for my hair easier.
If you plan to style your hair I recommend using the styling gels instead of sealant oils because the oils can interfere with the gel. The gel may actually seal your hair, though doing your own research on your products of choice is important when making these decisions.
If you plan to use any heat I recommend you follow the directions on your devices and the heat protectant you use.
I hope you found this tips helpful and that your wash day becomes easier.