It’s been a long time since I left you without an Ask Afrobella to step to! < /corny intro>
Sometimes when I get your Ask Afrobella questions it sparks a bit of an internal dilemma. I’m not really an expert-expert…can I really come up with an answer for this person’s question? Am I truly being as helpful as I could be? Well THIS Ask Afrobella is different on a few levels.
#1 – it’s from a guy! Shoutout to the afrofellas! Afrobellos! Whatever you prefer
#2 – I can only answer from my own opinion and experience, so for a REAL answer I turned to an expert in the field. If you’ve dealt with tangles and knots and little balls of hair, read on!
I’m Shaquille, I’m an 18 year old Graphic Design student from Mississippi and I have a natural, EXTREMELY thick & curly fro.
I recently cut it all off due to so much damage. I am growing it back as soon as I found out more information about keeping my hair healthier. Anyway, my split ends traveled close to my roots and the knots…..don’t even get me started on knots. I would pull out these little hair balls and it wasn’t from not combing my hair. I would take a shower the night before and within that morning, there would be knots would be there. I’ve tried so many things that I could afford to put in my hair to try and keep it loose but still curly but nothing worked.
I’m a guy and i don’t know much about hair and I’ve asked many of my family members and they all keep telling me the same thing: Relaxers. But, I thought that would defeat the purpose of going natural, and i don’t want to walk around looking silly, haha. So PLEASE, Ms. Afrobella, I need your advice. What can I do to keep my hair healthy and not struggle with trying to combing knots out every morning while still keeping my curls?
Shaquille, two things off the bat.
#1 – I LOVE your hair. Please don’t turn to relaxer. Unless in your heart that’s what you want to do, in which case, do you. But if you truly want to keep your coils (and you should!) just love them and be patient. We’ll do our best here to help you!
#2 – I LOVE that you wrote to ask me this question and I bet many many MANY people reading this will more than identify with you. I get those little hair balls too! For me they usually happen when I haven’t detangled my hair in a while, or if I’ve done haphazard or careless detangling.
One question occurred to me while reading your letter. How exactly are you detangling? My advice is, slather your hair with conditioner – I love a thick, buttery conditioner especially for weekly use. It also helps me if my hair is quite damp. Then use a wide toothed comb and gently comb from the tip of your hair up to the root. I sometimes hold my hair while combing so I don’t pull too hard on the roots while I detangle. This is the ONLY way I detangle my hair, it’s the only way that legitimately works on my hair without too much pulling or struggle.
In terms of product, once you’ve detangled your hair try to use a product that’s moisturizing but will help to maintain your curl pattern. Everyone’s hair likes something different, but for very coarse hair I’d recommend products with a shea butter base. Also, how often do you detangle? I need to do it at least once a week, preferably twice if I want my hair to not be matted. For a really thick texture like what you describe, you may need to detangle even more often. And after you detangle – let’s say you detangled at night like you mentioned. Don’t just go to bed on a regular pillowcase without your hair taken care of! I sleep with a sleep stocking and on a satin pillowcase so my detangling efforts don’t go to waste. Make sure you’re sleeping on a silk or satin pillowcase, it can help with that overnight matting.
I hope that helps somewhat, Shaquille! But to give an even more precise and helpful answer I turned to an expert.
Alecia Tucker-Perkins is known on Twitter as @AfrosNBabyHair. She’s a professional hairstylist who lives and works in Chicago, and is making a major name for herself as a natural hair expert. I shared Shaquille’s question with her and she gave an excellent and detailed answer. Take it away Alecia!
Hey there Shaquille!
Sounds to me like you have one bad case of single strand knots and potentially split ends.
Remember these key points:
1. Single strand knots and split ends are two different conditions.
2. Naturally curly hair is prone to dryness. Due to the coil of the strand, lubrication has to fight to coat the coils.
3. Improper detangling, rough handling of the hair, and dehydration equal a recipe for disaster.
4. “Trichonodosis” is the knotting of the hair strand due to excessive stress, friction, or pulling.
5. “Trichoptilosis is the technical term for “split ends”
* Keep in mind, both conditions can exist on the same head of hair.
Dr. Baby Hair’s Orders:
When detangling the hair, work from ends up to the scalp. This works best on hair lubricated with oil or conditioner as a pre-treatment. Removing shed hairs will keep you from finding loose knot balls of hair later on.
I recommend a full detangle every shampoo. If that’s weekly you could potentially have hundreds of shed hairs lost in your hair jungle. Fully detangling on the day you shampoo will allow you to save your curls the stress of daily combing.
Handle your hair with care to reduce damage due to over manipulation. Minimize the amount of friction on your hair by blotting your hair with a towel as opposed to wringing or rubbing. Keep your hair deep conditioned regularly. Water based moisturizers daily (or as needed) will combat dryness between shampoos.
If you have split ends already, go ahead and get them trimmed. Damaged ends aren’t worth the trouble of keeping, especially when frayed. A clean slate, followed with a solid weekly maintenance schedule will result in well preserved ends. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
For more Natural Hair Chat you can follow me on Twitter @AfrosNBabyHair
And if you are in Chicago and without a hair care home visit styleseat.com/afrosnbabyhair for booking info.
Shaquille, I hope we were able to help you out and give you the information you need. One of the beautiful things with natural hair is the sharing of information you can find online – via Twitter or on blogs or on YouTube, there’s bound to be someone who can help! I am happy you came to me and I hope this was what you needed.
Bellas, if you have any advice for Shaquille, or want to share your detangling issues and tips, please do! The more information, the better!