Articles By Titi Branch

Q: My name is Arielle and I am a college student in Rhode Island. I straightened my hair with a CHI staightener and it looked great. I then missed my big tight black curls and wanted them back. So I washed my hair and only one side of my head went back to normal and the other side is still straight! I need to know if there is something I can do to get back my big beautiful hair that I love and would cry for if I had to give it up.

A: Hair is like fabric and has some degree of memory to it. It should be handled with care. We see this all the time in the salon where someone has straightened their natural hair only to wet it and it not snap back to being as curly as before. Heat can break those bonds that make your hair curly just like a chemical. The key is not to style your hair straight, because it is unpredictable as to whether you will regain your curl or not. What you can do now is wash it and try to style it curly. If your hair does not regain its original curl I'm afraid it will never will. You will have to take this as a learning lesson and grow it out. The thing with straight-styling curly hair is that it is unpredictable whether the curl will come back or not. It depends on the hair's porosity and the amount of heat used and the application of this heat. This is sometimes difficult to determine so I say always proceed with caution when you are styling your own hair straight. A flat iron can be a dangerous tool because if the heat is allowed to rest in one area too long the hair might remain straight. I would recommend straight styling with a rollerset and blow. Only use a flat iron if you are a professional.

Q: I have type 4 hair, and I live in Philadelphia, PA.I currently use Aubrey's protein shampoo and conditioner. Currently I keep my hair plaited and I wear wigs. I am so tired of the wigs. I would like to wear my own hair, but I don't want to put chemicals in it, nor do I want to put heat on it. Can you help me with some products for shampooing, conditioning and everyday care of my type 4b hair. Thank you.

A: For shampooing I would recommend Creme de la Curl, its a non-sulfate shampoo that cleanses with moisturizing castor oil ( the idea being that oil removes dirt). For conditioning I would recommend Creme de la Creme and Rapid Recovery Treatment. These are moisturizing conditioners that will aid in detangling and really make your hair manageable. If your hair is a similar texture all over then I would recommend Curly Pudding for fingerstyling your 4B hair. If you have varied textures all over I would do a two strand twist with Curly Pudding. Moisturize daily with Baby or Curly Buttercreme.

Q: My son's hair varies in texture from the back and sides, to the middle and along the front of his hair line. Several months ago he scratched the top of his head so much that he created a bald patch. He was diagnosed with excema and once a week we gently wash his hair with a prescribed version of Selsum Blue shampoo. Afterward, I just massage in a little extra-virgin olive oil and comb it out with a wide-toothed comb. Now that he passed his first birthday I wanted to ask if you have tips on how I can manage his hair. After he wakes up each day it is so dry and right now, I just wet it a little and brush it. But this does not help much.

Q: I have had this problem for a while now. I wash my hair in sections once a week concentrating on my scalp with Trader Joe's Nourish Spa Shampoo and deep condition with 365 no fragrance conditioner with Extra Virgin Olive Oil added. I then twist my hair in two-strand twists in the back (from crown to nape) and flat twist the front (from temple to crown) using my mixture of Shea butter, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, peppermint oil, and vitamin E oil (based in olive, jojoba, rosemary, oregano oils) and pin it up in an updo. No more than 4 days can go by and my scalp starts itching like crazy. When that happens I promptly take it down and either wash it or just oil my scalp with coconut oil. The oiling of the scalp helps for just one day then it is back itching like crazy.

A: Crazy itching only 4 days after washing may indicate a deeper problem. Have you seen a dermatologist? As far as natural remedies go have you tried tea tree oil? It's naturally anti microbial and may help with your scalp situation.

Q: What is 'heat trained' hair and is it considered healthy for hair?

A: I have never heard of " Heat Trained" but if I were to guess, I'd thin it was altering the texture of one's hair by making it looser with heat. I would say this is not a healthy option. Using heat to alter the texture of one's hair is not a predictable or sustainable method. How would one determine the right texture they are looking for? And if they were to achieve it by some freak of nature how could they prevent additional loosening every time they heat styled their hair? Hope that helps!


Titi Branch

Titi Branch

Q: My 5-year-old daughters is biracial — Mexican and African-American. Her hair has been relaxed with a texure softener. She could wear it down, but I can't get her frizzy baby hair to lay down and she has at least a good half inch on the sides. Any suggestions?

Titi: Miss Jessie's Baby Buttercreme is an excellent product to "lay those sides down." Apply Baby Buttercreme with a boar-bristle brush. Dab a teaspoonful on each side, and then proceed to brush down the sides with the brush.

Q: Oh em gee! Your hair is really beautiful. I'm 17 and I'm trying to learn how to deal with it because my mommy has been doing it all of these years. But it's time for me to take over because I'm going to college in a year.

naturallycurly

College-bound curly looking for advice on caring for her hair.

Titi: What a beautiful head of hair you have! Is the curl pattern the result of a twist out? If it is, I think you are doing the right thing to manage your hair. You can do a wet twist out with Curly Pudding. Section freshly detangled hair and apply Miss Jessie's Curly Pudding to each section and twist. Either air dry or sit under an overhead dryer then untwist. The result is a marvelous twist-out. Retwist large sections at night with Baby Buttercreme to preserve the coil that was formed and then untwist in the morning. You can continue this process for about two weeks without rewetting your hair.

Q: I live where it's very humid, and it's impossible to leave my 3c hair down. After an hour I have a big ol' fat head like you can't even imagine. But I don't want my hair straight, either. I love curls. I was thinking about relaxing it to just kind of loosen the curls. Are there styling products and techniques I can use instead of turning to chemicals? I'm going crazy! I can't even get ready in the morning anymore without crying.

Redken Extreme Iron Repair

This photo shows a model with one side stretched out and elongated.

Titi: If you don't want to use chemicals to stretch your hair out, you can do so manually and with heat. Apply Curly Pudding to wet hair and comb it through in sections. Allow it to dry then take a blow dryer and blast the hair out from the root to about mid shaft. The heat should relax the curl, allowing it to temporarily hang longer and be more controlled. The heat blast lasts about 24 hours.


Q: I'm looking for ideas to style my hair — mainly updos and styles of that sort. My 3c hair is below my shoulders when wet. I live in Florida and there is no way I can wear it down. It will get three to five times as big within an hour of being out and it will make me feel like I'm suffocating. Any ideas what to do with hair that doesn't make you look like a little girl and isl sexy/classy?

Titi: Use some Miss Jessie's Quick Curls for light hold. Diffuse your hair dry. Accessories are really key here. You can pin up your hair by twisting large sections from the nape to the crown and insert a flower or any other beautiful ornament. This combination of texture and ornamentation tends to be beautiful and unique.

Q: What are Tomoka's Twists, and how much hair is a good minimum to have to rock them?

Titi: I can't say I've used them but some quick searching online I came up with this: "Tomoka’s Twists was a style established to meet the needs of the growing numbers of women embracing their natural hair who wanted to creatively and functionally adorn their crowns. Tomoka’s Twists started around an old, oak table when a young lady wanted something better than a rubber band to make a huge, afro puff. With the help of her family, a few laughs and a few hours later, three Tomoka’s Twists were born. One became an anklet and another a bracelet. And finally, one was worn for its true intention — a high afro puff."

So it seems that they are an alternative to rubber bands except they are way more creative and beautiful. If it can be used for an afro puff you can pile all of your hair high and wrap and twist a tomoka twist around it to keep it secure.

Q: I am experiencing breakage in the back of my 4a head. The area feels dry and brittle. As such, I'm pretty hesitant to do a protein treatment. What should I do to nurse that area of my head back to health? Or are deep conditioners and patience the best remedy?

Titi: Moisturizing deep treatments, not protein, are the way to go. I recommend Miss Jessie's Rapid Recovery Treatment at least once a week. If you can steam with it for 20 minutes, that would be beneficial. The idea is to keep that area soft and supple. As far as daily moisturizing, Curly Buttercreme or Baby Buttercreme would be a good bet to keep the dry patch moisturized. As our hair grows, we just need to ensure that we are preserving all of that growth. That means patience, moisturizing treatments and a daily moisturizing hairdress.


Contact Titi or read her bio.


Q: I love your hair. Do you two-strand twist it to get that effect? I don't have as much hair as you do, but I'm looking forward to growing mine out to the length you have in the picture. The top of my hair is growing much faster than the rest and I want to know how to coax it downward instead of it standing straight up all over. I'd love to know what products you use to get your look as well.

Titi: Thanks! I don't 2-strand twist my hair. I have a Silkener which I fingerstyle. I switch off different products for different effects. Lately, I've been using Miss Jessie's Stretch Silkening Creme for fingerstyling it when wet. If your hair is totally natural I would recommend Shingling the hair with Miss Jessie's Curly Pudding when wet to get the hair to move in a downward motion.

Q: I need some advice/help. Since I have been trying to do better by my curls (i.e. natural curl-friendly products, no heat, conditioner washing, not straightening, and more moisturizing), it's like I have two TOTALLY different textures of hair on my head. I haven't straightened my hair in over a month (a long time for me). I know we all have a mix of different types of hair, but here is my issue. The front of my hair is getting straighter and straighter while the rest of my hair is getting more defined and curlier. What am I to do?

Titi: This is not uncommon. Straightening the hair tends to leave the front sections straighter than the rest because that area tends to get handled the most. Try to get all the hair to look more consistent. Do a twist set or a spiral rod set to make all the curls look the same. The key is that you have to wear your hair curly to "train" it to remain in that formation.

Q:: How do you achieve that "hang", so to speak? My hair (4a) is a decent length, and when it's still kind of wet, I get the weight that I like. It'll hang and looks nice overall. But once it's completely dry, it just kind of stays in one spot. I don't know if people achieve that "hang" with thicker hair, longer hair or specific products.

Titi: Ah, the "Hang." What causes naturally curly hair to hang is when the individual strands are stretched out and elongated so that they are free to move about. This can be accomplished chemically with a Silkener or thermally with heat. If you are doing it by heat fingerstyling your naturally curly hair, when the hair is completely dry, take the nozzle tip of a blow dryer and blast heat to the root area, halfway down the hair shaft. This minimizes the tightly compacted nature of curly hair that it tends to adopt after the hair is dried. This stretching-out technique will create the movement that you are looking for!

Q: My hair (3c) is about shoulder-length and I'm having trouble with frizz (mainly the top part, which is weird). Ever since my hair got damaged when I was younger, from chemically straightening it, it's become really frizzy. I'm currently using stuff to get it healthy again; however, everyone tells me using gels defeats the purpose of using products to get my hair normal again. How do I battle this frizz?

Titi: Frizzy hair is generally damaged hair. Deep conditioning treatments like Miss Jessie's Rapid Recovery Treatment are really helpful in plumping and filling the hair shaft so that the strand appears consistent from root to end. You should also avoid gels that contain alcohol, which can be very drying to the hair.

Q: How is it possible that I have tiny little knots on individual strands of hair (3c). Is there a way to stop it? It looks like someone purposely took one strand of hair and tied it into a knot at the bottom. I guess my hair is just that curly. I've noticed several and there is no way for me to undo them.

Titi: I've seen this phenomenon before, and although it's very annoying, there is a way to minimize the knotting. Knotting occurs when the strands tangle unto themselves and form a knot at the end. By keeping the hair fully moisturized and making the strands of the hair "slippery," this can really cut down on the amount of knotting that tends to occur in a dry hair environment.

Q:: I'm confused about the best way to deep condition. Should I apply it to dry or wet hair? What's the best way to get the most out of my deep conditioner?

Titi: Apply deep conditioner to wet hair. Wet hair is in its most pliable state. Heat really amplifies the effect of a deep-conditioning treatment because heat causes the cuticle of hair to swell, thereby allowing the treatment to penetrate the shaft more deeply. Apply your treatment to wet hair. If you are in the shower, apply the treatment to your hair and allow the steam from the shower to penetrate each strand for about 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water and then finish with a "cold shot" rinse to close the cuticle down. If you have an hood dryer, apply the treatment to wet hair and sit under an overhead dryer with a high heat for approximately 15-20 minutes. Follow the rinsing instructions above!

Contact Titi or read her bio.


Titi Branch

Learn more about and ask questions of Branch and our other columnists.

Learn more about purchasing Miss Jessie's products in CurlMart.

Q: My hair problem is for the last month or so my hair has been feeling like straw. I've tried everything possible to soften it up, but nothing works. Yesterday, I applied a protein treatment thinking maybe a lack of protein was the problem. The treatment went well. My hair was soft and I was happy. Then I applied moisture leave-in, and within seconds my hair turned into straw. I couldn't even comb it out it tangled so bad. Any ideas what the problem is?

Titi: It's hard to say. A protein conditioner aids the hair by adding a fiber-like substance to bulk the hair up and protect it. This is generally followed by a moisturizing treatment, which softens the shaft. This should not have turned your hair to straw. So it may be something about the leave-in you're using.

Q: I know this sounds silly, but when does hair start to drop instead of growing up? I know that at some point a fluffy afro starts to fall, the longer it gets. But when?

Titi: It all depends on the density of one's hair. Hair that has a coarser texture (4c) may not ever fall whereas a softer 3b texture may fall after four to five inches.

Q: I would like to get some help in the use of extra virgin olive oil (my hair loves this stuff). I started using it with my deep conditioner and the difference in my hair is dramatic. After further research, I found that many people use it right before you apply your moisturizer or right afterward. My question is whether I should apply it before or after? Also, is it beneficial for my hair to do oil rinses if I use oil with my deep conditioner with great results?

Titi: It depends on the ingredients in your moisturizer. If they are oil-based, you can apply olive oiil either before or after. If it's water based, I would say apply the olive oil after your moisturizer so that you give your moisturizer a chance to absorb.

In terms of oil rinses, it sounds like you really love oil! And for good reason. If your hair is dry, extra-virgin olive oil is a great complement. I would say an oil rinse is fine as long as you do a water rinse directly afterward.

Q: I'm biracial with 3b (well at least I used to be) hair. I'm a mommy to a 1-year-old (my hair was amazing during pregnancy and, well, I'm trying to not only transition to curly but to also grow my hair out as well). I've been straight-ironing once or twice a week. Now I'm not really sure what kind of hair I have. I have some loose curls, some tight curls and some straight hair. Can I transition without looking like I have CRAZY hair? i want to let my hair finally be natural. Are there vitamins I can take?

Titi: Transitioning after you've been straight ironing once a week is challenging, but not impossible. The first thing you must do is stop straight ironing. All it's doing is eliminating your natural curl pattern. So what to do as an alternative? Twist set your hair so that your entire mane looks consistent. The more you keep heat away from your hair, the more your curls will respond. Twist set them at night and take them out during the day. As for vitamins, they are always good because you are what you eat. But I think you will get the most benefit from eliminating the straightening iron.

Q: I have one patch of hair in the middle of my head that is a different texture from the rest of my hair. It's also a lot shorter. I guess it doesn't grow fast like the rest of my hair. My new growth is wavy/curly, while the patch, which is half the size of my new growth (patch is longer), is straight. I never bothered with it before because I always got relaxers. But now that I am going through a transition, it's infuriating! Not only is it a different texture, but my scalp also gets really irritated in this spot. I think I have new growth underneath it. What am I supposed to do with this patch of hair?

Titi: We all have different textures of hair on our head. That may be due to the shape of the hair follicle in any one given section on our scalp or it could be another reason. Because you are experiencing an irritation, I would say visit your dermatologist. There may be another reason for your condition.


Titi Branch

Learn more about and ask questions of Branch and our other columnists.

Learn more about purchasing Miss Jessie's products in CurlMart.

Q: Is it true that if you wear a relaxer for a long time, you can actually change your type of hair or curl pattern? My friend wore a relaxer for five years and cut her hair off two years ago. She says her hair isn't the same, and is not as tight and curly as it used to be. Can relaxers damage your hair that much?

Titi: Relaxers only alter the texture of the hair they are applied to. So if you cut off all your relaxed hair and start off all natural, the previous relaxer should have no effect on your new, natural hair. That's not to say that your natural texture has not changed from what it was a five years ago. But that may not be due to relaxing. We all experience changes with our hair as we age.

Q: What hair options are available to 4B's? I have a friend who wants some suggestions. I told her 2-strand twists, coil outs, and wash 'n go are good options. Anything else?

Titi: The main styling options are 2-strand twists, coilouts, wash 'n go and shingling. However, to add more variety, alter the way you execute each styling method. For a 2-strand twist, changing the size of the twist will give you a dramatically different look. Larger twists result in a fatter curl. Smaller twists result in a tighter curl. Or try a 2-strand twist cornrow and untwist. That will give you a totally different look. For coilouts, try unraveling the coil in more sections to create more volume. This will change the look of a coilout. How you apply product for a wash 'n go changes things too. Applying more product with a more deliberate hand will result in a controlled curl. Raking product through more randomly will create a more whimsical look.

Q:: I want to know how I get my natural hair back? I've been perming my hair every three to four months. When it's wet, my hair will curl up. But how do I keep it? By the way, I have alopecia areata. How do I get my hair healthy and curly?

Titi: In order to go "natural," you have to stop relaxing your hair. As your natural texture grows in, you may have to start cutting off the relaxed portion of your hair if the two textures are dramatically different.
If your relaxed hair curls up, the way to keep it curled is to use a product that captures the curl. Miss Jessie's Curly Pudding or Miss Jessie's Curly Meringue are excellent curly styling creams that capture the texture of the curl when it is wet. As for alopecia areata, my suggestion would be to consult a medical professional. Healthy curly hair is the result of many factors, including heredity, regular haircuts, deep conditioning treatments, minimal chemical processing and just overall caring for your curls. Finding the right curl expert for haircuts and color is key. So is using the right product for your particular type of curl. It's a journey and a process. Thankfully, NaturallyCurly.com is a great resource when you need answers!

:Q I have long, loose medium-fine curls that look great the first day. The second day, I have a lot of bulkiness. What can I do to reduce bulk, and what is a good second-day refresher?

Titi: The initial day of styling is critical. Applying the product to deliberately remove bulk is key. Shingling is a great styling technique for this. By applying product in small, isolated sections and flattening the section, it discourages expansion. If you are going to "shingle" your curls, it is important to sit under a dryer so it completely dries before you touch it. At night, sleeping with a satin bonnet helps to keep the curls in place.

Q: I am so frustrated with my inability to bring out the curl in my hair, elongate my curl, prevent frizz, style my hair and control it. I am so tempted to texturize it with a no-lye texturizer. Should I?

Titi: Realize that if you texturize it, you will have to continue texturizing in order to keep the textures consistent. Make sure you have this process done by a professional. Texturizing is an art. If not done properly, you could end up with a head full of different textures -- more than what you started with.

Q: Although detangling my super-tight 4a/b spirals has gotten much easier, detangling the hair on my crown has not. In fact, it's been quite painful these past few weeks. I'm not sure what to do. I've tried oil rinses, ACV rinses and detangling under running water. Sometimes I just don't feel like bothering at all. But then the hair there gets really tangled and breaks. There's a lot of breakage there, and my crown is significantly shorter than the rest of my hair. What should I do to get rid of this tangling and what should I do about my sore scalp?

Titi: That area in the crown may be tighter than the rest of your hair. The key to detangling is this: You need a rich emollient detangler that makes the hair nice and slippery preventing knots from forming and you need a flat paddle brush with flexible rubber teeth. You will be amazed. Only detangle your hair when it's wet. I recommend a heaping tablespoon of Miss Jessie's Rapid Recovery Treatment. Apply it to the section you are detangling. Use your flat paddle brush, section by section. You should see an immediate improvement.

Q: My little sister has 4b hair, and my mom does not know what to do with it, despite the fact that the 4b hair is from my mom. (That's a whole other story!) My sister is eight and should now be able to do her hair herself. What can she do to help her with it?

Titi: Her 4b hair requires moisture. At age 8, Miss Jessie's Baby Buttercreme is a perfect solution. Apply it to the edges of the hair for a neat frame. Apply it all over to soften and control unruly curls. Twist outs are a great styling option for kids because they are a way you can wear your hair curly and control it too. At night, retwist large sections to keep the hair from tangling. Untwist it in the morning for a controlled, defined curl.


Q: Naturally my hair is kinky, tight elastic, thick and very, very hard to manage. I am growing my hair out and would love to have that look that you are rocking in that picture. I have researched wave nouveau and silkening (or mild relaxing). I am looking for the best way I can rock full curls and manage it on a day-to-day basis. If I were to go the "silkening route" would my hair eventually become straight? That is the experience I had with a texturizer. Is there a specific method and product for silkening? Please advise.

Titi: Silkening is the method. Silkener is the product that is used to perform the silkening method. Silkening is a very specific technique of chemically stretching out a curl, kink or wave. Most silkener clients are interested in reducing shrinkage, and having a smooth, manageable curl. This method is very different from texturizing because, when done properly, it produces the most consistent curl possible. The differences between silkening and texturizing are simple: the results. Because many safeguards and precautions are taken to prevent overprocessing, silkening does not straighten the hair over time.

Q: Is it okay to let dreadlocks grow under a wig? I would love to loc my hair, but I'm not confident that it will look right until I get some growth. If I care for it properly, will it grow while I wear a wig?

Titi: My biggest concern with locs that are cultivated underneath a wig is that they may get matted easily, or that the friction from the underside of the wig may cause shedding and breakage, which defeats the purpose of obtaining any growth. Since it takes anywhere from six to 18 months for the hair to completely loc, it's best to let those locs breathe!

Q: I have type 4a/b hair, and I have a couple of questions. First of all, how can I get rid of frizz? Second, should I adjust my regimen or leave it the way it is?

Here's my regimen:

  • Shampoo and Clarify: once every two weeks with baking soda in Elucence Moisture Benefits Shampoo.
  • Leave In: after every wash with Elucence Moisture Balancing Conditioner.
  • Moisturize: every three days with Africa's Best shea butter and tea tree oil.
  • Deep Condition: every week until hair is repaired, then every two weeks with hair mayo.

Titi: Frizz control on 4a/b type hair is all about starting with freshly conditioned, tangle-free hair. I like Keracare's Hydrating Shampoo and Miss Jessie's Super Sweetback Treatment for deep conditioning. If you can comb it through your leave-in treatment, that's helpful because it further detangles and smooths out the hair shaft.. Moisturizing every three days is fine. But make sure when you apply a moisturizer, it is smoothed down the hair shaft from root to end. Application of your moisturizer and/or styling product is key. We like Miss Jessie's Curly Pudding and Miss Jessie's Buttercreme. Enjoy!


Q: Naturally my hair is kinky, tight elastic, thick and very, very hard to manage. I am growing my hair out and would love to have that look that you are rocking in that picture. I have researched wave nouveau and silkening (or mild relaxing). I am looking for the best way I can rock full curls and manage it on a day-to-day basis. If I were to go the "silkening route" would my hair eventually become straight? That is the experience I had with a texturizer. Is there a specific method and product for silkening? Please advise.

Titi: Silkening is the method. Silkener is the product that is used to perform the silkening method. Silkening is a very specific technique of chemically stretching out a curl, kink or wave. Most silkener clients are interested in reducing shrinkage, and having a smooth, manageable curl. This method is very different from texturizing because, when done properly, it produces the most consistent curl possible. The differences between silkening and texturizing are simple: the results. Because many safeguards and precautions are taken to prevent overprocessing, silkening does not straighten the hair over time.

Q: Is it okay to let dreadlocks grow under a wig? I would love to loc my hair, but I'm not confident that it will look right until I get some growth. If I care for it properly, will it grow while I wear a wig?

Titi: My biggest concern with locs that are cultivated underneath a wig is that they may get matted easily, or that the friction from the underside of the wig may cause shedding and breakage, which defeats the purpose of obtaining any growth. Since it takes anywhere from six to 18 months for the hair to completely loc, it's best to let those locs breathe!

Q: I have type 4a/b hair, and I have a couple of questions. First of all, how can I get rid of frizz? Second, should I adjust my regimen or leave it the way it is? Here's my regimen:
Shampoo and clarify: once every two weeks with baking soda in Elucence Moisture Benefits ShampooLeave in: after every wash with Elucence Moisture Balancing ConditionerMoisturize: every threee days with Africa's Best shea butter and tea tree oilDeep condition: every week until hair is repaired, then every two weeks with hair mayo

Titi: Frizz control on 4a/b type hair is all about starting with freshly conditioned, tangle-free hair. I like Keracare's Hydrating Shampoo and Miss Jessie's Super Sweetback Treatment for deep conditioning. If you can comb it through your leave-in treatment, that's helpful because it further detangles and smooths out the hair shaft.. Moisturizing every three days is fine. But make sure when you apply a moisturizer, it is smoothed down the hair shaft from root to end. Application of your moisturizer and/or styling product is key. We like Miss Jessie's Curly Pudding and Miss Jessie's Buttercreme. Enjoy!


Q: I'm confused about whether I should comb my hair or not. I heard that less manipulation to the hair will make it grow. I usually wash my 4a hair twice a week and detangle my hair every time I condition wash. Now that I swim every day, I condition wash daily and I finger pick instead of combing. Is this ok? How often do should I detangle/comb my hair?

Branch: To detangle or not detangle -- that is the question. With a 4a hair type, you're sort of in a Catch 22. On one hand, less manipulation will prevent the breakage that is sometimes associated with too much detangling. On the other hand, if you don't detangle your hair, you may end up with long matted locks! I think detangling is important. If you do not detangle your Type 4 hair, the coily strands are left to do what they naturally want to do -- wrap around one another into a tight helix, which form matted balls and ultimately break off in a knotted peppercorn.
If you are doing a daily conditioning wash, I like the idea of finger combing. But once a week, slather on a slippery, moisturizing reparative deep treatment like Miss Jessie's Rapid Recovery Ultra Nourishing Deep Treatment, which will be available in February. This creamy formula helps to reinforce a smooth, tangle-free curl. Take a wide-tooth comb and approach your curls section by section, combing out the underneath layers before approaching the crown. This weekly treatment and detangling session will help to keep those hyper-spiraling helixes in check!

Q: I have a question about breakage. Earlier this year, a hairstylist told me that my hair had broken off on my right side, right in the middle. I then noticed breakage at the top of my scalp as well. Now it seems that the breakage on the right side is growing in, but the hair on the top of my head is not growing and it seems to be causing breakage on the strands around it. And that patch of broken hair seems to be getting bigger. My first thought was to get my hair braided (cornrows) to give it a rest from wearing it out all of the time. Then I thought that maybe I just need a trim. I guess I noticed the great divide (what I call it) last summer ('05), but I don't think there was any breakage then. It just seemed like my hair is growing funny. I've had to cut my hair so many times in my life because of breakage, but that was when I had a relaxer and couldn't afford to keep it up. I don't understand why or how my hair is breaking now, and I don't know what to do about it.

Branch: You need to find out the source of your breakage. Natural hair is often more fragile than relaxed hair because there can be more friction between curly natural strands than relaxed strands that have been chemically smoothed out. A lot of people are under the misconception that natural hair is easier to manage. To the contrary, you have to be more careful with natural hair. The strands tend to dry out easier, creating "crunchy breakage". The key is to handle it carefully and to use products that moisturize, penetrate and create a more slip 'n slide on the surface of the hair shaft. This helps to minimize breakage. Miss Jessie's Curly Buttercreme and Baby Buttercreme are excellent penetrating moisturizing creamy balms that hydrate the strand and help minimize friction which can cause breakage.

Q: I'm considering cutting my locks and going back to a loose, natural style. I did the big cut back in July '99 and started locking in March 2001. Do you have any tips or suggestions that can help me make up my mind? I will always be natural, and am just trying to decide if I have the time to go back to a loose natural style.

Branch: Many people are cutting their locs and opting for a loose, natural style. Most often, they just want a change. Locs are beautiful and versatile but after having them for so many years, you may just want to do something different. You make a good point when you question whether you "have the time to go back to a loose, natural style" It can be an adjustment. With locs, you had to do virtually nothing. Cut the locs and now you have to "style" your natural hair in some way. The questions you may want to ask yourself include:
Why do I want to cut the locs?Am I willing to commit to spending more time on my hair once I cut them?Once I cut the locs, what am I expecting my hair to look like?How much time am I willing to spend on my natural hair?The answers will help you make your decision. If you are willing to spend about 20 minutes on your hair daily, I would say cut them. Those 20 minutes will be spent on applying product and lightly twisting your hair in small sections. If you are not committed to spending a lot of time but you still want to cut them, then the range of styling options (and results) are more limited. The answer lies within you.

Q: I've just started to transition, and last week I asked my regular stylist for a twist set. She proceeded to to put six different types of product on my hair and spray it with hairspray before putting me under the dryer. The end result was a sticky mess that included gel crusted around the front of my head. My stylist is good at regular blow-outs, but I think transitioning is beyond the scope of her abilities. Based on the conversations with other stylists in the area, natural hair care isn't that big. Most people deal with relaxed hair, looser curly hair or hair that needs to be pressed. Is it me or do a majority of stylists simply do not know how to deal with tightly coiled hair?

Branch: You have observed something all too common in the hair industry. Natural hair styling requires a lot of expertise. and often a lot of labor. Some stylists just don't want to do the work that may be required to make natural hair look great. So they don't invest their time and energy in the skill set that is required to work with natural hair. Even if you live in a city like New York, Washington DC or Atlanta where there are emerging natural stylists, you still have to seek them out. My best advice is to get referrals. Web sites like NaturallyCurly.com are a great source of information for finding solid, qualified, natural stylists.

Q: Is there something I could use to get great curl definition with out the crunch I get using gel?

Branch:: Absolutely. I love Miss Jessie's Curly Pudding and Curly Meringue. The key is the application. Apply to damp hair. Whatever you use, you have to smooth it on in the direction that the hair grows from root to end. Air drying is helpful, too, because a minimal amount of moisture remains in your curl preventing that dry crunch!

Q: My hair is a mix between 3b/3c -- more 3c than 3b. I'm transitioning, but there's still some relaxer in it. I want to know if there's any way to get ringlets without having to use a curling iron? If so, how would it work?

Branch: It depends on your texture. Is the relaxer on the ends? If so, you will be hard pressed to create an optimized ringlet without a curling iron. Another option would be a damp set. Take small sections, pin curl them, and dry with a diffuser or overhead dryer. Yet another option is to take sections and do a slightly damp twist. Sit under an overhead dryer for 20 minutes and untwist. The bottom line is that you have to manually manipulate your hair to get it to form a ringlet curl if it doesn't have one on its own.

Q: I have 3c hair (I think) and am in need of some help. I'm having a problem with my hair matting whenever I wear it out. My poor boyfriend had to help me YANK out balls of matted hair last week. Do you have any suggestions on how to prevent it?

Branch: Deep condition and detangle every week. But most important, it sounds like you need a good trim. Uneven strands are great candidates for matting into balls. Healthy chunky strands are not. It's time for a good haircut!



Total 3 results.

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Lush Henna Hair Dye Tutorial

Shannon from Curly Deviants shows us how she uses the Lush Caca Brun Henna to add luster to her 4c coils.
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