How best to explain the challenges of styling mixed textured natural hair? How about a quick hair map?
This is what I’m working with, people. Thick, dense, and loose on top. Fine, dense, and loose on bottom. Fine, sparse, and kinky at my temples. Thick, dense, and kinky at the back where the knot fairy likes to hang out.
It’s easy enough to get nice curls with rollers and similar tools, but when it comes to twist outs, results can vary. Wildly so, with mixed textures. They shrink differently, and hold patterns differently. They are even different lengths. Yes, I tried keeping a shape, but in no time at all Wavy Falls would outgrow all the others.
Instead of trying to get them all to behave the same way, I’ve come to rely on various techniques tailored to maximize the positives and work around limitations. Here are my top five.
1. Bantu Low Shrinkage
Bantu knots create springy curls that want to contract to their knotted state. This does the work that low shrinkage hair does not. I use these in the back where my hair tends to dangle and on top of that is longer than surrounding hair. Same with The Highrise depending on if I want bangs in my face or not.
2. Stretch & Pin High Shrinkage
If I just let my two strand twists hang as they dry, they’ll do their thing and shrivel all the way up. The temples of my twist out, especially, will look like an accident. Like I just took a nap on them and proceeded to have a bad hair day. So, to get as much hang time as I can out of them, I pull them back and pin them down until they are set.
3. Pay Attention to Section Sizes
Y’all already know if your section has too much hair in it, it won’t dry in time and you can forget about wearing it out at all. Besides that, though, the size of my sections affect the amount of volume I get. Like with bantus, small sections = Medusa, but medium sections = Queen!
4. Separation & Fluffing
My loose textures fall fast, and my 4c areas frizz with too much manipulation. So, I try not to separate the ends, and if I need lift at the roots I prefer to pin the parts or massage the roots upwards, rather than using a pick. But when you master the installation, you can practically skip this step altogether.
5. Pick-up size
Which brings me to pick-up size. That amount of hair you add into your flat twist or cornrow as you go. The larger the pick-up size, the chunkier the end result, the more I have to separate my strands, which leads to over-manipulation and frizz. Pick up too little and the end result will be stringy, lacking structure, and in need of much more fluffing. It took some practice to find the right balance, but once I did my twist outs became more predictable, as well as easier and quicker to style.
Do you have tried and true techniques for your “out” styles? Share in the comments, or holla at me on Twitter @edinPON.