Managing and Training Multi-Textured Hair
By GG Renee Hill
Do you have one part of your hair that never seems to cooperate with the rest? Maybe it never seems to retain length, or it stays straight when the rest of the hair curls up? I have had so many almost great hair days that were compromised because one part of my hair didn’t come out right. For many of us, the most difficult area is the crown of the head, where the hair tends to be coarser, more fragile and may lack curl definition. Just as challenging, many naturals struggle with their edges and the nape of their hair—often called “the kitchen” where a combination of dryness and harsh styling tools/practices wreak havoc on the delicate strands. If you’re not sure about the differences in texture on your head, let’s start by doing an analysis.
Start with dry, detangled hair that has not been straightened – at least not to the point where you can’t see your natural texture. Section your hair into five sections: the front/top section, side sections over each ear, the middle/crown section, then finally divide the remaining back of your hair into two final sections. For those of you with very dense, coarse hair, you may want to break these down even further.
Run your fingers through each section and look closely in the mirror to observe the following things:
1. Are some sections wavy while others have tight, springy coils?
2. Are there any pieces that are completely straight and never curl up? This is common in the front area of the hair. Also, if part of your length is still relaxed, this will apply to you.
3. Are some parts notably more frizzy and less defined?
4. Do you have areas that are damaged by heat or chemicals that are thinner than the rest?
5. Are your edges and nape very dry and fragile?
If this is your first time doing this, first allow me to introduce you to your hair and its multiple personalities. If you’ve been struggling with your hair up to this point, learning the needs of all the textures on your head could be the beginning of a huge breakthrough for you. The following practices can help you to develop an overall healthy head of hair based on the philosophy that your hair is only as strong as its weakest link and you must ensure that you cater to that weak link. On the other hand, if damage isn’t really an issue for you and you’re looking for styling tips that will essentially hide your multiple textures, I can help with that too.
Sectioning and Detangling
Always, always, always section your hair before detangling. You can make your hair work for you if you make this a consistent practice. This way you can ensure that each unique section gets the attention it needs. Be sure the products you are using are designed to address the traits that you consider to be most challenging. For example, if part of your hair is relentlessly dry and frizzy, use detangling products that are made for dry, thirsty hair. You will still use this same product throughout all of your hair, but you will concentrate more of it on the areas that need it most. Be thorough and gentle and your hair will thank you by cooperating when it’s time to style.
Strengthening and Moisturizing
If you’re dealing with extremely damaged hair in some places, or your hair is very coily and dense, be sure to add a protein conditioning treatment to your regimen. This will help the difficult hair to retain moisture more effectively, and it will also serve to further strengthen the rest of the hair. The need for protein is often overlooked, particularly when there are other parts of the hair that seem to be thriving without it. Always follow protein with a rich, moisturizing treatment. And again, always apply product section by section.
The hardest style to tackle with multiple textures is the wash and go, but it can be done. If you’re looking for some consistency, you will need to take the time to section your hair in relatively small pieces and apply your styling product piece by piece, smoothing it in and allowing the hair to clump together and dry completely. This process is called shingling and can be very time consuming. The easiest styles to tackle with multiple textures are twist-outs and braid-outs. The size of your braids or twists will be determined by how tightly defined you want the results. Set each one piece and allow to dry completely. If your ends are straight, leave a few inches at the end and you can create a curl with a flexi rod, a sponge roller, or even a straw.
If you are consistent with these practices, your hair will start to become trained and you will see results like stronger, more defined and cooperative hair with less damage.
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