When growing out natural hair it can sometimes feel like you have to make a choice between style and hair health. If you have tightly coiled hair you have likely heard protective styling is a must, daily manipulation a “no-no” and hair accessories must be natural hair friendly lest they rip out your curls and coils. This information is what I gleaned from my perusal of vlogs and forums years ago and because I was tired of seeing no progress in my hair I had no problem following a strict set of rules. At this point in my hair journey I appreciate the frustration that some express when discussing the confines of natural hair. I’m here to tell you that there are ways to modify the rules while keeping your hair intact. I’ll start with what I consider to be safe “out” styles. These are styles that are not pinned up or tucked away. You can frame your face without losing your inches.
First things first: The key to determining if your style won’t set you back in your hair journey is asking yourself the following questions: Do I need to comb, brush or manipulate my hair everyday to maintain the style? Will I need to use products that strip my hair of moisture to accomplish the style? If so, do I plan to wear this style for an extended period of time? Does this style lead to excessive knots or tangling?
Once you’ve answered these questions based on YOUR hair, you can then decide if the hairstyle is right for you.
Style Options #1: Braid Outs/ Twist Outs
Style Icon Geri
Okay, so I know you’re thinking “Duh, of course every natural knows braid outs and twist outs are the go to “out” hair styles. I want to focus on how you maintain the style rather than creating the style. I have found that the way you care for the style can mean the difference between stretched, bouncy hair or knots galore by the end of the week. When wearing either style (I personally wear braid out more often than twist outs) it is important to think of ways to minimize daily manipulation. For me this means that in the evening I take about six sections of my braid out (usually created with 15 braids) and band them with elastic hair bands or strips of satin fabric. I don’t re-braid the hair, rather I band the entire section so I end up with six banded pony tails. To keep the hair in the front of my hair looking fresh I may braid two small sections in the front. The great thing about this technique is that I can apply a little bit of a creamy moisturizer before banding without waking up with frizzy hair.
Style Option #2: Bantu Knot Out
Style Icon Kimberly
Again, depending on the technique and maintenance of this style it can be a “safe” out style or one that leads to tangles. If you want the style to last through the work week I recommend medium and small sections. At night you can put your hair in a high loose ponytail which will stretch the style a bit without ruining the waves and curls. In the morning you will want to make sure you apply a light oil to the ends to limit knots. When the hair needs refreshing you can place it into large knots (basically buns) while place 3 or 4 smaller bantu knots in the front. The point is you want to avoid having to restyle your hair every night and when you do, you want to manipulate the hair minimally.
Style Option #3: Stretched Fro
Style Icon Cassandre
In order to accomplish a voluminous jaw dropping fro many rely on the aid of a blow dryer. This isn’t necessary to accomplish this iconic style. When you wash your hair you want to detangle hair in sections, then band the hair to stretch it. In order to minimize knots you will have to exercise restraint and resist the urge to constantly fluff, twirl and caress your fro throughout the day. If you can leave your hand out of your hair and remember to re-band your hair in large sections each night then wearing a fro won’t necessarily lead to a setback.
Hope these tips were helpful.
What “out” hairstyles do you wear and how do you keep your hair from tangling?
Island girl raised in the most royal of NYC's boroughs. Proud nerd, social scientist, educator and recovering awkward black girl. When not listening to NPR, trying to grow spiritually, or detangling my fro, I'm searching for the best shrimp and grits in the Queen City.