Kinky/Coily Hair

How To Manage Kinky Coily Hair: Products and Tips

Kinky coily hair is delicate and more prone to dryness than any other hair type. Coils with a tight “S” shape or “Z”-shaped kinks cause natural oils to work their way down strands slowly. Coily and kinky hair textures also have fewer cuticle layers, making these hair types prone to environmental and styling damage.Learn more about the characteristics of hair identified as Type Four in the most widely used hair texture classification systems.

Characteristics of Kinky and Coily Hair

lala daisy flowerHair develops its shape from the shape of the cortex. Hair fibers are flat, but the disulfide bonds between hair proteins can cause strands to take on an “S” or “Z” shape. Coily or kinky hair also has hooks at the end of follicles that prevent hair from growing at an angle.

Kinky coily hair is often naturally voluminous. Individual strands tend to be more fine and fragile than any other hair texture, including curly hair. These hair textures tend to be very dense in thickness but prone to shrinkage, which results in a visible retraction of length as hair dries.

The Andre Walker Hair Typing System and FIA system break hair textures down into four types. Type One describes straight hair that is fine, medium or coarse in texture. Type Two indicates fine, medium or coarse wavy hair. Type Three hair is curly, and the Andre Walker system breaks this type down into two textures: 3A or loose and 3B or tight. The FIA system differentiates between loose 3A curly waves, 3B ringlets and 3C corkscrew curls.

Type 4A hair has springy coils with a natural pattern that has the circumference of a knitting needle. The Andre Walker system had two textures under this type: 4A or soft and 4B or wiry. The FIA system identifies 4A curls as being tight “S”-shaped coils, 4B strands as “Z”-patterned with sharp angles and 4C curls as tight kinks with less natural definition.

4A hair has a visible “S” pattern, as opposed to the “Z”-shaped pattern characteristic of 4B and 4C hair. Hair with this texture may benefit from products formulated for curly or kinky coily hair. The 4B hair type has tighter curls and may have less definition than 4A. Strands of 4B hair feel soft, but are very fragile. Length may shrink up to 75% during drying without the use of a specialized drying method. 4B hair can benefit from regular moisturizing and strengthening treatments for coily and kinky hair.

Type 4C hair is dense and tends to have less definition and be more prone to shrinkage than 4B hair. Strands are very tightly coiled in a “Z”-shaped pattern and may appear to have one shape. Hair tends to be delicate and super-fine with a feel that varies from thin and soft to wiry and coarse. This hair type requires the most moisture and strength and can benefit from kinky curly hair products.

Areas To Focus On for Coily and Kinky Hair

lala daisy flowerIt is important to recognize the fragility of kinky coily hair and work toward adding moisture and enhancing strength. The lack of cuticle protection that increases the risk of environmental and styling damage for this hair type can be compensated for with the right cleanser, conditioners and kinky curly hair products.

Many experts agree that applying a liquid leave-in conditioner followed by non-greasy oil or hair butter and a coat of hair crème is the best way to moisturize Type Four hair. This is the LOC method, an acronym that stands for putting on liquid, oil and cream in this order. Each layer seals in the preceding layer, allowing hair to dry with more definition and less frizz, especially with the use of a heatless or minimal heat braid out, knot out or twist out drying method.

It may be possible to reduce breakage and repair damage with strengthening products or intensive hair treatments. Twenty amino acids are derived from a variety of sources. Consuming varied protein sources is a good way to replenish these internal building blocks. You can also use kinky curly hair products that contain silk, oat, wheat, soy or keratin amino acids.

The Effects of Climate on Kinky and Coily Hair

lala daisy flowerCoarse, coily or kinky hair textures developed over time in hot climates. Hair of this texture forms a natural barrier to protect the scalp from exposure to harmful rays and elements and prevent overheating. Regardless of its protective properties for skin, Type Four hair is vulnerable to damage from harsh cleansers, sun exposure, environmental stress, heat styling and chemical processing.

The lack of cuticle layers in coily and kinky hair means that heat styling tools and chemical processes may have more severe side effects. In addition to sapping protective moisture from the hair shaft, heat and harsh chemicals can weaken keratin bonds and cause breakage, damage or hair loss. It is best to leave this hair type natural or only use gentle processes.

Hair experts recommend using products that shield hair from ultraviolet rays. Wear a hat or cover hair during prolonged sun exposure. Counteract free radical damage by using products that screen environmental stress. Drink enough water to compensate for moisture loss through sweat in a hot climate.

A Hair Care Routine for Kinky Coily Hair

lala daisy flowerWetting hair is the most effective way to replenish moisture levels. Cleanse with a gentle shampoo, low-poo or no-poo formula. Type 4B or 4C hair may benefit from pre-shampooing with castor or coconut oil to preserve natural oils. Follow with a hydrating and strengthening conditioner and use a large-tooth comb or gentle detangling brush to work conditioner completely through hair from roots to ends.

Hair porosity determines the best methods for maintaining moisture. An easy way to determine how porous your hair is to put a shed hair in a glass of water. Hair that sinks quickly is very porous, while medium porosity hair may remain suspended for longer before sinking. The longer hair stays at the top, the lower the level of porosity.

Low porosity hair calls for water-based liquid hair products that contain humectants. Applying oil alone is not sufficient to moisturize hair. Oil seals hydration into strands, as do crèmes. Using these products in order is the LOC method. Medium and high porosity hair benefit most from this method. These hair types tend to have raised cuticles that make locking in moisture more challenging. Follow the application of oil with a thick hair cream or apply hair butter. Porous hair may benefit from using deep conditioning kinky curly hair products.

Kinky coily hair with a 4A and 4B texture may allow for a wash and go method, which may work for some 4C hair. While conditioning, detangle and divide strands into sections. Braid while conditioner remains in hair and rinse braids to retain product. Pull braids back after showering to reduce shrinkage during drying. Speed up the process by applying low heat to hair for 10 minutes.

Many experts recommend braid out, twist out or knot out drying methods for hair with a less-defined 4B or 4C texture. A braid out involves applying products to sections of hair, braiding and waiting for hair to dry naturally or by drying under low heat. Twist and knot methods manipulate hair by twisting damp strands into sections or creating knots that reveal defined, moisturized strands when dry hair is unraveled. Moisturize and rebraid, twist or knot hair overnight to prolong a style.

Good Hair Health Habits

lala daisy flowerWetting kinky hair is the best way to douse these tresses with moisture. Most experts recommend wetting hair for hydration at least once a week. Water and humectants have moisturizing properties. Oils seal moisture into strands, but are not sources of moisture. A combination of liquid conditioner that contains humectants, oil and anti-frizz styling cream can provide the best combination for healthy looking hair.

Once hair is moisturized, protection should be your primary goal. Apply kinky curly hair products and wear hair in styles such as twists or braids, particularly as it dries. Dry hair is less prone to damage. Braids and dreadlocks are also protective long-term styles for delicate strands. Only use clips or ties that will not break hair and avoid overusing heat styling tools.

One of the best ways to prevent kinky coily hair from becoming tangled is to sleep with it in a bonnet, cap, do-rag or scarf. These wraps exert pressure on hair to lock in the desired texture, particularly during a braid out or twist out. If you have looser curls such as a type 3C or 4A that don’t need to be contained to preserve the appearance, try sleeping on a silk pillowcase to prevent snags.

Nutrition Tips for Coily and Kinky Hair

lala daisy flowerFood and water consumption have direct effects on hair health. Healthy food can benefit any hair type, including Type Four hair. Omega-3 fatty acids are very important to maintaining healthy strands and preventing the scalp from drying out. Salmon and other fish are optimal sources of Omega-3 and Omega-6, which are also found in chia seed, flax seed and nuts. Avocado also contains healthy fats and vitamins.

Protein plays an essential role in supporting hair and overall health. Eggs, poultry and fish are healthy protein sources.  Beef, lamb and other meat provide protein and many nutrients. Vegetarians and vegans should substitute beans, legumes, durum and whole grains.

Getting a variety of vitamins and minerals is also essential for healthier hair. Eat more green leafy vegetables as well as vitamin-rich produce such as carrots, broccoli, oranges and pineapples. Trace minerals such as biotin, calcium, selenium and zinc can be found in many foods.

Kinky coily hair tends toward dryness. Drinking at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water can prevent dehydration and maintain healthy hair and skin moisture levels.  Water regulates the circulatory system, which stimulates hair growth.

Kinky Curly Hair Products

lala daisy flowerThe best products for Type Four hair include moisturizing or smoothing shampoo, low-poo and conditioner followed by leave-in conditioner or hair moisturizer. Many styling methods for kinky coils or curls recommend the LOC method.

Useful hair care and styling products formulated for kinky coily hair textures include twisting butters, hair milks, defining creams, curl activators and curl custards. Humectants such as aloe vera, glycerin and propylene glycol are humectants that moisturize hair. Plant oils and butters seal in moisture. Strengthening ingredients such as amino acids and keratin in kinky curly hair products reduce breakage.

People with coily hair should avoid products containing harsh cleansers, mineral oil and silicone. Sodium lauryl sulfate and other sulfates are surfactants that strip away natural oils and moisture that are essential for healthy hair. Mineral oil is a petroleum-based ingredient that coats the hair shaft and seals out moisture. When applied alone or in products, strands may become brittle and follicles on the scalp can get clogged. There is some controversy about silicone among Type 4 hair experts. Silicones are useful for achieving smooth styles, but can cause buildup and slow drying times when present in shampoo, conditioner or leave-in conditioner.

Several styling tools are helpful for kinky coily hair. Delicate kinky strands are prone to breakage when brushed, combed or detangled dry. Only comb through wet hair saturated with conditioner or damp hair after applying product. A gentle detangling brush may also be helpful. Add a finishing touch to your hairline with an edge styler.

Managing Kinky and Coily Hair

lala daisy flowerThe most important tip for managing coily or kinky hair is limiting processing. Exposing delicate tresses to chemicals and heat causes lasting damage. Use protective products to minimize damage and reduce the frequency of heat styling. Over-processed hair is more prone to breakage.

Try styling kinky coily hair with heatless or low-heat braid out, knot out or twist out methods. Braids and dreadlocks are the best styles to protect and increase the length of 4C hair. No matter which routine you follow, using the right kinky curly hair products keeps hair healthy and looking its best.