While it's a beautiful thing that more and more black women have come to embrace their natural hair, not all hair types are equally represented, or even accepted in the discussion.
Often times women with kinkier textures, usually those who fall in line within the 4B, 4C type hair range, are excluded. Whereas others with looser, softer and more defined curls are praised for their natural tresses.
The reasons behind these ideals can vary. Some say it could be the black community's underlying notion of wanting to be more aesthetically acceptable to the world based on European standards (which are overwhelmingly celebrated in mainstream media is the one, perfect ideal), while others assume it has to do with lack of equal visibility.
But regardless of how one may feel about natural hair, the truth is that regardless of hair type, it's never a one-size-fits-all type of deal. Every black woman's locks are unique, and requires its own distinct regimen to fully flourish.
And when you have 4C hair, due to the shortage of resources, it can be tough trying to figure it all out, especially if you're newly transitioning or have only recently gone natural.
That's why we've rounded up some of our favourite kinky-haired Instagram beauties to share their best tips and tricks when it comes to growing, maintaining and protecting their luscious 4C curls.
"I have found what works for my hair is just two simple rules: wash it once a week and leave it alone. Once a week (I aim for once a week, but sometimes it is every two weeks, if I'm busy) I wash my hair using the Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla shampoo and conditioner. My time in the shower washing my curls takes at least 45 minutes because I don’t use combs, so I spend most of my time gently removing shed hair that is stuck in my curls from the past week. After I finish washing my curls, I let my hair air dry.
As far as deep conditioning, I wish I could say I do it once a week like I am supposed to, but that sadly is not the case. I aim for once a month, because I have been honest with myself and realized once a week was not happening. When I deep condition my hair I use the Shea Moisture Anti-Breakage masque.
I do not use any styling products, I just let my hair be! I know that I am very lucky to have the ability to do that, because I know a lot of 4C ladies have to style their hair once a week after washing, and touch it up every day.
My everyday curl routine is very easy. I take off my silk scarf from the night before and get in the shower to let the steam wake my curls up for the day. Then, halfway into my shower I take the water and add it to my hair and then viola!
I urge everyone to listen to their hair. Sometimes an overload of styling products is not what your hair wants, and sometimes it is. Not using any styling products has been awesome for my curls and it may work great for you as well!"
Follow Taylor on Instagram @_tayloranise
Shana a.k.a. NappQueen
"I’ve been growing my hair from chin length since 2013. My style staple, from chin length to longer than bra-strap length like it is now, is the braid-out. I find that it stretches my hair in a way that does two important things: One, it helps to define a curl pattern in my kinky hair and two, it styles my hair in a way that doesn't lead to loc-ing and tangles, unlike other styles.
When it comes to growing healthy 4C hair, or any kind of hair, I feel like the methods you use to take care of your hair are more important than the products you use. In the beginning of my journey, I had a product junkie phase that my bank account quickly ended. As a college student, I did not have the funds to buy $40 worth of products every month. So I decided to go back to the basics and use what worked when my mother did my hair as a child and it's been working wonders ever since — for my hair and my wallet.
My most cherished staple product is Hollywood Beauty's Hair Cholesterol with Shea Butter and Tea Tree Oil. It's the best conditioner in my opinion and it melts all of my tangles away. Another important staple of mine is Blue Magic hair grease. My hair is very porous and I need very thick sealants to seal moisture into my hair and nothing does the job quite like Blue Magic.
I think the most important thing to figure out as a natural is what works for you personally. No two heads are exactly alike, and on top of that everyone leads different lifestyles. Establishing a routine that was healthy for my hair but most importantly healthy for my happiness, I think, was the key to growing this happy, nappy head of mine."
Follow Shana on Instagram @napp.queen
Ndidi Aliago a.k.a 4C Chronicles
"Essential techniques I’ve incorporated into my 4C hair routine include: pre-pooing (applying a hair treatment before shampooing), LOC (liquid, oil, cream) methods and finger detangling. At present, my staple LOC products consist of: water or My Honey Child aloe vera leave-in treatment for the liquid, olive oil or castor oil for the oils and shea butter for the cream.
Although tedious, I’ve found that pre-pooing, washing my hair in sections (anywhere between two and six), finger detangling and air drying have made wash days a lot more manageable.
After overzealous use of heat last year — which eventually lead to some hair breakage, damaged ends and a reduction in hair thickness — I’ve decided to go at least two years without heat! As I’m not against appropriate and minimal heat styling, I’ll quite happily slowly incorporate the use of mild heat once this period is over.
My go-to style is an afro puff. This works for me as minimal hair manipulation means better length retention. Furthermore, I prefer twists to braids when protective styling as I feel that they require less hair manipulation.
I think what is key for natural hair routines is understanding what your hair can, and cannot, tolerate. For example, everyone seems to rave about coconut oil but I try and stay well away from this oil as it leaves my hair dry, stiff and more prone to breakage."
Follow Ndidi on Instagram @4cchronicles
Angelica Alston a.k.a The Strong Suit
"I have been natural for five years. I decided to go natural back in 2011 when it was not quite popular. I was too chicken to big chop so I decided to start my transition journey after realizing that my hair was completely falling out, due to being over-processed. There has been a lot of trial and error to figure out which products and hair techniques work the best, but I like to think that I have a handle on it now! I suffer from dry ends more than anything, so I usually try to find products that are extremely moisturizing, and sometimes they vary according to style. Below are my favourite products and go-to techniques for my hair!
TGIN Triple Moisture Replenishing Conditioner
TGIN Honey Hair Mask (15-20 minutes)
TGIN Green Tea Super Moist Leave In Conditioner
After my co-washing regimen, I blow dry my hair using John Frieda’s FRIZZ-Ease serum and begin putting in my choice of protective style.
I love doing twist outs after I've washed and my hair lives and flourishes by the LOC method. I will use an oil like black castor oil or coconut oil to seal the water into my hair, and choose my twist out cream of choice. I am currently using the TGIN moisture rich line and so my cream in this case would be the TGIN Twist and Define Crème. I use the cocoon technique seen on Naptural85’s YouTube channel which helps my twist outs curl perfectly at the ends.
If this is a twist out on old hair, like I am refreshing the twist out, then I usually just use water and a little oil to refresh my curls and twist them back into place. This helps prevent product buildup and keeps my hair light and bouncy. If I want elongation in my twist out to skip first day shrinkage, I will flat twist my hair straight back style."
Note: Responses have been condensed and edited for clarity.