Nothing pleases me more than when a stranger walks by me and pays my 'fro a compliment, especially when it's a day that my hair and I aren't speaking due to a violent fight that occurred during detangling. On these occasions, I'll do my combo of dry and wet detangling only to find an area that was just detangled in a huge knot. Typically, if you were to walk by my bathroom door during a 2-hour detangling sesh, you can overhear this fight with shouts of "Are you fuckin' kidding me???" or "I'm going to murder you." Eventually, I give up and twist my hair into a hair wrap and spend the day slightly dejected. After I've gotten some distance from said fight, I'll unwrap my hair and apologize to it profusely, in hopes that we can get passed our battle. Fortunately, during the past couple of years, it's always all good and it turns out my hair and I just needed some space.
With the humidity causing major shrinkage and dryness, I've been pretty hard on my hair. Narrowing my eyes at it often and calling it lazy and dry. One of the biggest pains of having natural hair is the shrink-factor, when the curl patterns are much tighter with moisture making the coils appear shorter. I try to embrace hair shrinkage in order to keep my hair healthy by wetting and moisturizing daily, but I definitely yearn for long locks too.
On those days where hair compliments are plentiful, it's because my hair is looking long and moisturized. There are a few ways I get some serious hair length retention throughout the week that are not only healthy, but can actually help your hair grow faster! These techniques will give you length and style.
1. Dry Detangle: Coconut & Jojoba Oil
Viva Labs Organic Coconut Oil, $11, AmazonNow Foods Organic Jojoba Oil, $8, AmazonNow, I've mentioned before that I finger-detangle on dry hair because my strands get tangled so quickly and I find it stronger when it's on the dryer side. I've often found this a catch-22 and spent up to 3 hours washing and detangling my hair because I didn't have the right system down. I would dry detangle the shit out of my hair and then shampoo (tangling my hair again) and then finger detangle the same knots I had already dealt with. Now, I detangle and shampoo on different days. Not only is this a time-saver for me, but it's also more efficient and gives me a super puffy afro. I heat up coconut oil, which is amaze as a natural hair moisturizer, and jojoba oil which is great for a healthy scalp. Then, I place the warm mixture on my hair and scalp (freshly spritzed/not wet) and work my way through my hair with my fingers. This process gives me serious fro-age at no cost to my hair health.
2. Hair Twists: Castor & Lavender Oil
After I've worn my afro proud for the day, it's time to put it away. It's freshly detangled, which is a bonus, but it's also dry and needs some TLC. I soak my hair with a spray bottle filled with just water and then, to retain the moisture in my locks, I use castor oil. Castor oil is incredibly moisturizing and is known to be one of the best oils for hair growth that nature has to offer — especially if you've got Type 4 hair like myself.
Previously, I've reluctantly used castor because I loathe the smell — it's just not sexy enough — but, I finally found an essential oil that can mask the scent effectively. Fortunately, adding just a few drops of 100% pure lavender oil makes my hair smell absolutely delicious. I take small sections of my hair and apply this mixture directly on my wet locks and further detangle, castor is my jam for detangling right now.
After I'm satisfied that any problem-knots are taken care of, I two-strand twist the section. I do this all over my hair and usually end up with at least a dozen twists. I typically do a side part and twist accordingly to that style. Now my hair is moisturized and in a nice protective style for the evening. I make sure the twists are never tight enough to be pulling my hair, which gives me even more length and less curl. The best part about this is that I can wear my twists under a cute boat hat in a silk scarf or keep them out for a couple of days, before taking them out. You can leave the twists as they are, or if you prefer hair that's large and in charge, separate each twist with your fingers upon taking them out.
3. The Blow-Out: Grape Seed Oil
Yes, I know. Heat is the devil. If you've got some kink, this theory was ingrained into your mind when you came out of the womb. The thing that makes the blow-out so enticing is the incredible length you can achieve. It's fairly easy to do a healthy blow-out that won't strip all the moisture from the added heat. My method is to always do this on freshly detangled, moisturized hair with a leave-in conditioner and grape seed as my hair protectant. Grape seed is similar to the oil we naturally produce through our pores and hair follicles and it won't make your 'do look super greasy.
I section my hair, making two-strand twists throughout and wait for my hair to dry slightly. It's best if you don't apply heat on soaking wet hair. I untwist each section and apply my heat protectant with my hands to the twist, without separating them, and apply low heat, gently pulling the twist until dry. If your hair is especially sensitive to heat, keep the twists in-tact when you apply heat and unwrap them when the hair is dry, being sure to gingerly spritz your hair protectant all over your mane.
Personally, my hair tangles at a much slower rate when I do a blow-out because the curls are loosened and therefore less likely to trap other curls, resulting in knots. My hair doesn't mind heat so much, but I try to only do the blow-out once a month when I actually apply a shampoo.
Looking for some ultimate length retention tips for your 'fro? Check out KinkyCurlyCoilyMe's website to determine your specific curl pattern for ultimate hair growth.
Images: Kristin Collins Jackson