Reader Q&A: CurlyNikki on Helping Natural Hair Hang
Calling all naturalistas: Do you have urgent tress questions? If so, you're in luck. Every Thursday, natural hair blogger extraordinaire CurlyNikki will be solving your curly hair conundrums! Submit your questions by tweeting them to @EssenceOnline with the hashtag #AskCurlyNikki.
Check out the newest installment in CurlyNikki's reader Q&A series:
READER QUESTION: Don’t get me wrong, I love my hair and the way it defies all laws of gravity. But sometimes, I long for hair that hangs down! I’ve been having a little luck with twist and braid outs but I still find that shortly after I release the twists my hair begins rising toward the sun. What can I do?
CURLYNIKKI'S RESPONSE: The grass is always greener! While you’re longing for hair that hangs, others, myself included, are looking for ways to get their hair to stand up! At any rate, I understand the desire for a change, and have a few tips to help you achieve hang time--
1. Flat twist or pin the roots. Whenever I two-strand twist, my roots unravel, leaving me with results that are half poofy and undefined. To achieve even definition from root to tip, I begin each twist by flat twisting the hair to my scalp. On lazy days, I’ll do a simple two strand twist, but bobby pin the root to my scalp. Both techniques allow for better definition, with the unexpected side effect of better hang time! Using this technique on wet or damp hair reduces shrinkage as well.
2. The scarf set. In line with the above, once your hair is twisted, reach for your satin or silk scarf and tie down your crown (think pirate or Left Eye from TLC). This will help to set your hair in the downward position. I do this whether I’ve twisted wet or dry, and if I sleep in my twists, I tie a scarf on my crown prior to donning a satin cap.3. Roll the ends! My signature style is the Twist-n-Curl. I simply twist my hair and set the last 2 inches or so on a roller. It gives super cute definition, but on wet hair, adds weight to each twist, which reduces shrinkage. This tip used in conjunction with tips 1 and 2 should be your best bet.
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4. Tension dry before twisting. I get the most hang time on hair that is styled dry. Whether I re-twist an old twist-out or blow out my freshly cleansed, moisturized hair, I get results that are more likely to lay down. If you choose to blow dry, use the tension method in which you simply stretch your hair with one hand and in a downward motion, blast your roots with warm (not hot) heat. It’s less manipulation than your typical blow out, and gently straightens your roots, which will result in some downward hanging action.
5. Product choice. Heavier products weigh hair down. Hair that is weighed down is less likely to rise. If it’s hang time you seek, then opt for a moisturizing leave-in PLUS a styler, such as a gel, butter, or pomade and be liberal! This tip works best on wet set twist-outs. Some hair textures don’t really allow for hang time, no matter what you try. I’ve also found that with length comes weight and that added weight helps hair to hang where it didn’t before. It’s important to remember to work with what you got! Don’t fight your hair. If it wants to reach toward the sky, you’ll be a lot less frustrated if you embrace that aspect and work with it, not against it!
Nikki "CurlyNikki" Walton is a successful psychotherapist and creator of one of the most credible online sources about natural haircare, maintenance, and decoding the psychological ties between black women and their hair. Visit her at her blog CurlyNikki or follow her on Twitter @CurlyNikki.