Help! What to do with 4c hair?
I’m ready to throw in the towel, get my 7 yr old girl a doggone fade and call it a wrap! Her natural 4c hair is making my life more crazy. It’s extremely thick (lots of shrinkage) yet fragile and hard for me to manage. I’m looking for a regime that is low maintenance, doesn’t cause breakage, and will keep her hair looking neat. She often wears braids because it’s the lowest maintenance style I know of. But box braids put too much stress on her edges and cause breakage. I usually let her hair rest for 2 weeks between braiding styles. During that time I flat iron or use the pressing comb. But because of her hair texture I find myself having to press every 4 to 5 days which isn’t good either as the heat causes breakage too. The last style she got 2 days before school, the stylist did part cornrow, part crochet. Her hair doesn’t last very long in cornrows and was a hot mess by day 4 (partly because the stylist didn’t cornrow well. Pic attached). Now a week later I’m having to figure out what to do with her hair next. I always said I didn’t want to perm her hair but now I’m not sure. A perm or texturizer is looking more appealing by the day. NOT because it’s straight and “less African” as some would accuse, but because it’s more MANAGEABLE. Can anyone offer suggestions on what to do before I take her to the barbershop and say, “take it all off!”? (Ok, I’m joking about the barbershop.)
lol! Not a fade. Before you do all of that, let’s go over a few things. First, there’s no such regimen as the one you described. 🙁 Not trying to bust your bubble, but if you find a “low maintenance” regimen that does everything else you’ve described, you’ve hit the jackpot. You need to market it and become a billionaire. lol. The reality is that caring for textured, extra coily (4c) hair does take a small time investment and a specialized regimen, but once you get into a routine and “learn” the hair, it does become second nature and a whole lot easier.
If keeping her hair natural is your goal, you’ll have to stop with the flat ironing and hot combing. You know that it causes heat damage and breakage, so if health and length are your goal you’re going to have to retire the tools that require heat for a little while. Hair should really only be pressed or flat ironed on special occasions. A few times a year at the MOST.
If manageability is what you’re seeking, regular deep conditioning (with heat) is the ONLY way to achieve that. Deep condition weekly and either warm the conditioner in the microwave or process it with a bonnet hair dryer so that the conditioner can actually penetrate the hair effectively. Here’s an article on when and how to properly deep condition.
You’re on the right track with regular protective styling. Ideally, you should wash the hair, deep condition and style all on the same day and then install a protective style that lasts through the week with little to no manipulation. Then do your wash process again the following week. Once her hair gets to better hydration levels (and you’ll know this because it will be softer and easier to manage) you can ease up and stretch her washing and conditioning to every other week; but it sounds like her hair is in need of some intensive moisturizing sessions. That can only come with regular deep conditioning. Make sure you’re using a conditioner that boasts “hydrating” or “moisturizing” qualities on the label. The ones that say “repair” should be used once a month ONLY. Those contain protein.
If the hair is fragile (breaks easily) then it sounds damaged. You’ll need to do a protein treatment ASAP if you haven’t done one within the last month. You can purchase protein packs from your local beauty supply.
Remember, whether you put a relaxer or texturizer in her hair is entirely up to you as the parent. Don’t feel judged by anyone for making that decision. But try and give her hair a fighting chance first. Stop the heat and give her hair what it really needs: extra moisture. 🙂