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How To Better Manage And Style Very Thick Hair
Photo: Natalie Live / The Tiny Closet
Read our interview with Natalie Live about how she takes care of her naturally thick hair.

I’m having a bit of an issue with my hair. Don’t get me wrong I love it but it is soooo thick! Its kinky curly to super tight kinks in some areas and collar bone length. I try and tame it by doing twist/braid outs but those only last a day or two before my hair is back thick, frizzy and almost unmanageable. I guess my question is what can I do to better manage it and get my styles to last longer and also be able to try more versatile styles because I get bored with my hair very easily.

Oooohhh the thickness of it all! Thick hair of any texture can be a blessing and a pain. A blessing because there’s so much of it that it can sustain damage unimaginable to those with thinner densities before breakage and thinning are noticed. A pain because…we’ll there’s so much of it that it takes forever to detangle, dry, and style. A positive to thick hair is that that’s the team most everyone wants to be batting for and lush thick hair is something many of us covet from the manes of the girl next door to our favorite celebs like Marsha’s curly and thick afro bush. But I also understand it can be a bit much to handle at times so don’t fret, here are some thick natural hair care tips that will help you manage that hair like a pro!

KEEP YOUR HAIR HYDRATED

Well hydrated hair is key to ease of management as it just behaves and looks better. And is stronger, more elastic than hair that is dry and prone to snapping off at the slightest thought of a tool. If you are not already, try washing your hair with a sulfate free cleansing conditioner like Hair Rules Cleansing Cream or L’Oreal Cleansing Conditioner. They help to keep your hair and scalp clean but keeping your hair supremely moisturized while doing so. You can also keep your hair hydrated with regular deep conditioning once every 1-2 weeks until moisture levels are where you like (hair is soft to the touch without product) then you can go to once per month. For deep conditioning, I like Aubrey Organics Honey Suckle Rose Conditioner paired with an olive or coconut oil based scalp and hair oil like Clear Scalp & Hair Therapy Nourishing Scalp & Hair Oil or just plain olive oil or coconut oil. Put the oil on your scalp, hair and your ends and then add the conditioner to your hair. Cover your head with a plastic cap and if possible, sit under a hooded dryer for 20 minutes. If you don’t have a dryer, wrap your head (still covered in the plastic cap) with a towel and then rinse and style.

KEEP YOUR HAIR STRETCHED

Hair types with tighter curl patterns benefit most when their hair is stretched as the primary base for styling. This allows for moisture to be sealed from root to ends and keeps hair from coiling on itself as much, minimizing breakage due to increased detangling and manipulation. My thick type 4a hair lives for a twist or braid out and is almost always set in one immediately after conditioning. Once your hair has dried in its stretched state styling is a breeze and detangling even easier come next wash day. If you don’t want to braid your hair every night to keep it stretched, four big plats should do the trick or just stretching your hair and loosely pinning it into big bantu knots and covering your hair with a silk scarf can help to keep it stretched as well.

USE QUALITY PRODUCTS

Ingredients matter. Take natural oils verses silicones for example. Oils and silicones essentially perform the same functions, they smooth and coat hair for protection from heat and elements. However, natural oils,while requiring more frequent application, are actually capable of fortifying hair where as silicones just sit on top of your hair. That said, make sure you are using moisturizing shampoos and conditioners the more natural, the better. Follow that up as well with stylers based with butters, oils or water with butters and oils to give your hair the maximum benefit. We like whipped butters by Oyin Handmade and Shea Radiance. As for styling creams Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie and R&B by Lush Cosmetics are excellent choices and we use them too (It’s normally our policy to try to recommend things we ourselves use). When hold is desired be sure to put a gel type product on after your cream or butter or you’re frizzing in two days flat! We like Eco Styler Olive Oil Gel or Aveda Flax Seed Aloe.

GET A HAIR CUT

Of all the advice I’m giving, take head of this one. Really. I know you’re like, “But I’m growing my hair and I don’t know a stylist I trust to cut it for me.” Listen doll, as fabulous as our hair is sometimes we have to give it something extra so it can be all it can be for us. A cut for shape and movement is just what I gave to myself for my hair’s one year natural anniversary last June. It was growing very well but the shape was just blah and it was all falling to one point making it major “blockish” and thick from roots to ends. So I had it cut into round layers and texturized not with chemicals but with a cutting technique that creates tappering from the mid-lengths to the ends. Can you say back in love again and whipping my hair like I’d just sewn some in? Thick haired girls won’t miss the hair visually and when you’re running the fingers through your hair and styling those strands, you’ll thank yourself for the decision to get your hair cut by a professional. Just be sure to get a personal recommendation to a great professional stylist who serves up cuts. We like Devachan Salon. Founded by a curly-haired woman, they are experts at curly hair styling with their own trademarked cutting technique.

FIND A NATURAL HAIR BIG SISTER

It can be very helpful to find naturals with type and texture similar to yours whose hair you admire and inquire as to how they care for and style their hair. I like blogs that feature naturals by hair type for this purpose, such as this one, Black Girl Long Hair and Curly Nikki. You can even read stories from some of the women we’ve interviewed, including Natalie, about how they take care of their thick natural hair as a source of inspiration.

Thick hair can seem overwhelming, but with smart approaches, your can feel more in control of your hair and less like it’s controlling you.

Cheers to your hair!

Amena BelledeSoleil is an Aveda certified cosmetologist and owner Hair Polish Natural Hair Studio in Los Angeles. Find her on Facebook.

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