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4c natural hair texture

I am finally getting around to showcasing my hair in it’s wet state, which might give you an idea of what my hair is really like. For me it’s a continuous journey of understanding what the structure of my hair is and as a result, how best to care for it. It’s part of developing a healthy relationship with my hair and a path to complete self-acceptance 🙂 So what characteristics does my wet hair reveal?

natural 4c hair

Cotton-like Appearance

From a distance my hair appears like a big ball of cotton. The barely there curl definition immediately following a wash seems to disintegrate as moisture is eliminated by drying. If you look at the video (linked below) you’ll notice this progression – at the beginning when my hair is still very wet you can make out the curls (okay, if you squint ha!ha!) but by the end of the video it’s completely shrunk and looks like a field of cotton. This confirms my texture is definitely 4C.

Do I actually have curls?

Yes. Up close I can see millions of tiny curls clung together. My texture seems more loose on the nape area, almost like 4b but not quite that loose. Moisture absorption (wet) seems to stretch the curls out as the water causes the hair to swell. As it dries, the water is eliminated and the curls revert or shrink causing them to cling together even closer. This gives my hair the cotton-like appearance when dry.

natural 4c hair

Speaking of Shrinkage

My hair shrinks rapidly, which also means my drying time is very short. That’s good news and bad news. Good news because I do not have to wait hours for my hair to dry. Bad news because this could mean I do not retain moisture easily. I think that frequent moisturizing is necessary for my hair. I figure my shrinkage is about 80% of true length (meaning 80% of my length is hidden by the time my hair dries). That number could possibly go up to 90% if I let my hair dry without any kind of stretch, something I do not encourage.

Density

Hair density is a measurement of the number of strands per square inch of scalp. This is what determines hair thickness. The more strands per square inch of scalp, the thicker the hair. From my research I understand the range is of hair strands per square inch is anywhere from 250-2200. I didn’t exactly measure my hair but it’s obvious to see that I do not have a lot of hair from the small section I grabbed. This means my hair is light density. Since density is determined by genetics, this observation simply means my hair will never be that thick mane that’s the stereotype in the natural hair world.

The question here is: Does it mean that I have inactive follicles or simply less follicles than someone with a thicker mane? Hmmmmh.

natural hair 4c

Strand Diameter

Strand diameter could aid in hair thickness. Strand diameter is the measurement of the diameter of a single strand of hair. The bigger the diameter, the thicker the hair strand making the overall appearance of the hair thick. I am still researching on strand diameter so I am not sure what mine is but I think the thickness of my hair is as a result of a larger strand diameter rather than a lot of strands per square inch of scalp. I attempted to grab a single strand of my hair but it’s very tricky. For now my working theory regarding my hair’s thickness stands until I find a better one. My hair is classified as fine when it comes to thickness.

Tangle Situation

I know I have said this a million times before but this is the last time, no promise. My hair is super prone to tangling. The tangles get worse if I air-dry my hair without stretching it. Between the resulting tangles and a shrunken mess I have completely eliminated drying my hair without stretching it. A good deal of tangles is avoided as long as my hair remains stretched 99% of the time. Most of the time I divide it in sections (divide and conquer people) and use bands to stretch each section before covering with a micro fiber turban to dry.

natural hair 4c

The rough coarse appearance of my hair is a calculated disguise. In reality my hair is fragile and very fine, which means extreme caution is essential in order to retain all my growth (and at ¼ inch a month, I need all my growth). I was a little disappointed with the realization that my genes do not grant me the enviably thick mane that is the stereotype of the natural hair community. However, after much contemplation I am very grateful that:

  1. I have hair
  2. It is growing
  3. It doesn’t overwhelm my face (my mother loves to see the cheek bones I inherited from her)
  4. The length and structure is manageable for my life
  5. My healthy hair is a testament that not all curls need to be thick
  6. I can help someone else who might be struggling with a similar texture
  7. It’s just hair and not a vital organ. All my vital organs are in tiptop shape.
  8. I could always use extensions to achieve any thickness