Tips, Tricks and Styles to Keep Your Natural Hair Healthy and Fabulous


Sydney Shuler

The population of black men and women wearing their natural hair has increased in recent years.
Black women in particular have been socialized to believe that their natural, curly, voluminous hair is unkempt, unprofessional, and visually unappealing. We have been taught that our natural hair is not beautiful and, as a result, we should do anything we can to change it.
Between the flat iron, hot comb, and relaxers, chemicals and handheld devices have come to allow us to Europeanize ourselves within the comfort of our own homes.
But why? Who decides that the hair that naturally grows from our crowns is unacceptable and too “difficult to manage”? There should be nothing stopping us from loving all of ourselves, hair included. Whether you sprout kinky curls or bouncy waves, tight coils or loose spirals, long or short, thick or thin, your hair rocks.
Black Panther Party Secretary Kathleen Neal Cleaver expressed the relevance of black people coming to accept all of their natural features, despite the whitewashed version of themselves that they felt obligated to succumb to.
“All of us were born with our hair like this, and we just wear it like this,” Cleaver explains, “The reason for it, you might say, is like a new awareness among black people that their own natural physical appearance is beautiful, and it’s pleasing to them.”
So how do we adjust to this new awareness?
We learn.

Hair Types.

Different hair types require different products and treatment that will determine your haircare routine. The hair natural types for black hair are organized into three categories (wavy, curly and kinky) that are then broken down into subcategories (A, B, and C). Determining your hair’s type, porosity, width, and length is the easiest way to figure out the best methods of taking care of your hair.

Type 3 – Curly

Type 3 hair is in the shape of a well-defined “S” loop; springy.; full-bodied; climate dependent (subject to frizz caused by humidity).

3a: Curls are naturally big and loose. Curls are often the width of a piece of sidewalk chalk.


  • Light hair products are ideal that do not weigh the hair down
  • Use a daily cleaning conditioner with rice amino acids to add volume and sheen
  • Using a daily conditioner can help avoid dryness
  • Allow hair to dry or use a diffuser
  • Sleep with a satin pillowcase/bonnet to reduce tangled curls


  • Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo ($3.99)
    • Contains all-natural ingredients; sulfate-free; gentle; adds shine
    • Found at Sally Beauty and Target
  • Curl Junkie Daily Fix Cleansing Conditioner ($20)
    • Gently cleans and conditions the hair while adding moisture and shine
    • Found at CurlMart
  • Moroccan Oil Treatment ($15-$44 depending on size)

3b: Hair may be coarse and dense; curls the size of a sharpie marker.


  • Use light products that do not weigh the hair down
  • Ensure that cleaners are silicone and sulfate-free
  • Humidity blocking styling creams or styling milks help avoid frizz while maintaining definition
  • Do not brush through hair while it is dry, or your curls will turn into a frizzy mane


  • Mixed Chicks Sulfate-Free Shampoo ($14.95)
    • Cleans hair without stripping it of its natural oils; color safe; works well on chemically treated, damaged hair
    • Found on at Walmart and  Target
  • Kinky Curly Knot Today Natural Leave‑in Detangler ($11.99)
    • Smooths the hair cuticle to immediately detangle tangled and knotted hair
    • Found at Target and on Amazon
  • Eco Styler Moroccan Argan Oil Styling Gel ($2.99)
    • Provides heat and sun protection; lightweight; contains vitamin E oil.
    • Found at Walgreens, Target, and Amazon

3c: Tight corkscrew shape with the circumference of a pen or straw; very small space between curls; fine curls; coarse and dense; voluminous; difficult to straighten or blow dry.


  • Avoid using heat
    • Twist-outs, bantu-knot outs, flexi rod sets, perm rod sets, or putting your hair in a bun are some superior means of stretching hair
  • Cleanse and deep condition once a week to retain elasticity and moisture
  • Use light botanical (obtained from plants) gels
  • Use the LOC method
    • This method includes a liquid (a liquid-based leave-in conditioner is recommended), oil to seal in the moisture from the liquid, and a cream to shape and mold your curls
  • Detangle hair before washing out your conditioner


  • Dove Quench Absolute Shampoo
    • Keeps hair smooth and soft while removing dirt and oils and keeping the hair’s natural nourishment
    • Found at Walmart, Target, and Walgreens
  • Suave Professionals Coconut Oil Infusion Damage Repair Oil Treatment
    • Light treatment that does not weigh down curls, and provides slip necessary for detangling
    • Found at Walmart and Target
  • TRESemmé Make Waves Shine Enhancing Cream
    • Smooths frizz and enhances shine while defining curls
    • Found on Amazon and at Ulta

Type 4 – Kinky

4a: Well-defined “S” shape; retains moisture fairly well, but is prone to dryness; circumference similar to that of a crochet needle; less cuticle layers than other hair types, thus less damage protection.

  • Use LOC method
    • This method includes a liquid (a liquid-based leave-in conditioner is recommended), oil to seal in the moisture from the liquid, and a cream to shape and mold your curls
    • Keeps curls moisturized
  • Pre-poo with coconut oil or castor oil to help retain natural oils that shampoos tend to strip from the hair
    • Pre-pooing is is applying a conditioning treatment to the hair prior to shampooing/ washing so as to add moisture to the follicles
  • Use a t-shirt or other microfiber fabric to dry hair rather than a towel
    • Terry cloth will strip hair of its natural moisture and cause tension on the strands
  • Use thicker moisturizers like shea and mango
    • Since type 4 is naturally drier than other types, extra moisturization is key
  • Avoid mineral, and petrolatum (petroleum) oil and heavy waxes


  • Miss Jessie’s Quick Curls ($9)
    • Great for loose or tight curls, thick or thin hair
    • Found on Amazon and at Walmart
  • SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen, Grow & Restore Shampoo ($8.98)
    • Sulfate-free shampoo that removed product build-up while moisturizing with apple cider vinegar and Jamaican black castor oil
    • Found at Ulta and Walmart
  • Nubian Heritage Honey & Black Seed Heat Protect Leave-In Conditioning Cream (8.99)
    • Made with honey and macadamia nut oil to soften and moisturize hair; black seed oil; and babassu oil help strengthen hair, while carrot oil helps protect against thermal damage
    • Found at and on Amazon

4b: Strands have a “z” shape and less defined curl pattern; tightly coiled and sometimes feels wiry; experiences shrinkage up to 75% of its actual length; susceptible to dryness and breakage

  • Use LOC method
    • This method includes a liquid (a liquid-based leave-in conditioner is recommended), oil to seal in the moisture from the liquid, and a cream to shape and mold your curls
    • Keeps curls moisturized
  • Develop a heat-free method of stretching hair
    • Ex. perm rods, Curlformers, flexi rods, twist-outs, braids, etc.
  • Deep condition frequently to retain moisture
  • Trim your hair when it’s when needed
    • It is often said that trimming your hair helps it grow, but that is a myth since hair grows from the roots; but cutting off split ends when you notice them is the easiest way to avoid being forced to cut more hair in the future
    • Keeping hair well-moisturized reduces the frequent need for trims
  • Wash your hair in sections to avoid tangling


  • Carol’s Daughter Mimosa Hair Honey Shine Pomade ($13)
    • Made with natural ingredients including nettles and sage leaf extract to soften and strengthen the hair without weighing it down
    • Found at Walgreens and Sally Beauty
  • EDEN BodyWorks Coconut Shea Curl Defining Crème ($7.79)
    • Strengthens hair, provides frizz control, and optimizes style definition while defining and separating curls
    • Found at Target and Walmart
  • Aveda Phomollient Styling Foam ($20)
    • Creates weightless volume on fine to medium hair; made with organic honey
    • Found at Nordstrom and on Amazon

4c: Strands do not clump together in recognizable curls without using styling techniques; strands densely packed; can shrink up to 75%; curls tightly kinked with less definition.


  • Use a creamy leave-in conditioner that will retain and preserve moisture
  • Wear a silk or satin cap to bed to prevent breakage
  • Use slippery elm or marshmallow root  to co-wash
  • If you want to grow your hair, use long protective styles such as braids or twists that do not require daily manipulation, i.e. twist outs, braid outs, buns, etc


  • Curling Gel Souffle by Shea Moisture ($8.99)
    • Made with coconut, hibiscus, agave nectar and flax seed oil, this souffle moisturizes without weighing down the hair and making it greasy
    • Found at Target and Ulta
  • Cantu Shea Butter for Natural Hair Hydrating Cream Conditioner
    • This creamy conditioner is great for detangling and co-washing; it will leave your hair thoroughly cleansed and moisturized
    • Found at Walmart and Walgreens
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • nourish the scalp, condition the hair, and improve the elasticity of the hair; use sparingly so it does not weigh down the hair
    • Pompeian Extra Virgin Oil
    • Nature’s Alchemy Extra Virgin Olive Oil ($6)

Now, no one said jumping on the natural train was easy – times will come where you will want to go 2007 Britney Spears with a pair of clippers- but I assure you, it’s worth it.
Whether you decide to rock braids, twists, weave or any other protective style, embrace your natural hair and all of its curly, kinky magic.