Nov 9, 2011

Melissa's Hair Diary: The 4B Struggle

Last week, Toya and I were talking on the phone, She asked me if I partook in the Shea Moisture BOGO sale at Walgreen's. Sadly, ladies (and gents) I did not. Wann know why?  It's the struggle - The 4B struggle! If you have true 4b/c hair, you can identify with the describers below.  Let's define what 4b hair is all about (source):
  • Type 4 is kinky, or very tightly curled, with a clearly visible curl pattern 
  • Circumference: Crochet needle or even smaller
  • The hair is very wiry, very tightly coiled and very, very fragile
  • Type 4 hair can range from fine/thin to wiry/coarse with lots and lots of strands densely packed together
  • Type 4 hair has fewer cuticle layers than any other hair type, which means that it has less natural protection from the damage you inflict by combing, brushing, curling, blow-drying and straightening it
  • Type 4 hair is known to shrink up to 75% of the actual hair length
Knowing what I know about my hair, I can't go around buying any type of hair product, because type 4b/c hair doesn't really like alot of products.

Anything that says curl defining I usually pass up. Why? I have almost 0% curl definition, 75% shrinkage, and the thought of letting water touch my hair after it finally dries, scares me. So, products that are loose/ watery usually don't work for me. In addition, they shrink my hair. Those are usually the curl definers. Oh yeah, that's also why Wash n' Go styles don't work for me - water = shrinkage = a carpet like appearance.

The funny thing is, 4b/c hair needs water - but not for styling purposes, just for moisturizing purposes. Usually, I let my hair air-dry, because blow-drying it makes my hair weak and more prone to breakage. My routine is a two-strand twist or braid my hair while it dries.

On a good day my hair resembles fluffy cotton candy. It's light and airy and very very poofy. I like it like that. On a bad day, like if my hair got wet, my hair will shrink so small that it will resemble a small Brillo pad by the middle of the day:

I was a product junkie for about 5 months. That was until I realized that my hair wasn't like Tracee Ellis Ross' hair and that most products marketed for natural hair wouldn't work for me. I started making my own products and searching the world of YouTube for other 4b ladies - mimicking their techniques. Through patienece, I learned that my hair likes oil - coconut, shea, and olive oil. It likes cream moisturizers, and hates anything labeled a styling gel.
So what's the point of this post? Well, I just wanted to further explore the world of naturals. Sometimes we think every product works for every hair type. That's not the case. There are probably alot of generalizations in this post that other 4b/c ladies may not deal with. Everyone has their struggles. Everyday I grow to like my  hair even more, but some days, the struggle is real and relevant.
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