Frequently Asked Questions About Styling Transitioning or Natural Hair – Styling Basics

If you are new to having natural hair you might find that you have a few basic questions about styling, using heat, and general care. Here we have compiled some of the most frequently asked questions regarding caring for natural hair.

How do I do a successful braid / twist out? There are 3 elements to a successful twist or braid out style:

  • The size of the twists or braids. If your twists or braids are too big or too small, the style will not look right. You need to experiment with the size of the sections you use to create the wave or curl pattern that you like best. In general, if the braids or twists are too small you will get a crimpy looking style, if they are too big, you might not get the amount of waves or curls that you were expecting for. A general good size for longer hair is to have a twist or braid that is about 3/4 inch thick.
  • The products used. You want to use the proper moisturizing and shine products so that the resulting texture in the curls or waves is shiny and it holds. You will need to experiment with the amount of hair gel or shine serum to use on each braid or twist to achieve the desired result. Straightening serums for flat ironing or blow drying often work very well for these styles even though you are not applying heat.
  • The dryness of the hair when the braids or twists are removed. Make sure that your hair is completely dry before removing the braids or twists. Its best to set under a bonnet hair dryer to get the hair properly dry. Otherwise you have to allow it to air dry for a significant amount of time.

It's a good idea to take pictures and note the products and technique that you use every time you try a new style so that you can recall what worked or did not work and duplicate or make adjustments the next time.

How can I finish the ends on my braid / twist out styles? Use a perm rod, pipe cleaner or roller on the ends to give the final look a good polish.

Do I need to twist transitioning or natural hair every day? No. You only need to twist your hair as often as you need to keep it looking as neat as you want it to look. If you wear a curly style where your hair is "out" it is a good idea to re-twist it with some moisturizer to infuse it and keep it moist. You can choose to retwist it every night before you sleep on it to keep the style looking more tidy.

How do I prevent knots in kinky hair? You can prevent knots by avoiding a lot of manipulation of the hair, keeping your hair in protective styles, and keeping your hair moisturized. It also helps to sleep with your hair covered with a satin scarf and sleep on a satin pillowcase. Also, whenever you comb out your hair, make sure to do so when it is wet with conditioner in it. Do not try to comb through dry hair. This causes breakage which can leads to knots in the frayed ends.

How do I prevent or cure frizzy ends? The best prevention for frizzy ends is proper moisturizing and proper care. Never comb or brush your hair when it is dry. Twisting your hair and then sealing the ends with an oil and moisturizer mix is ​​a great way to tame frizzy ends. Other things to make sure of are to:

  1. Trim or get your hair trimmed on a regular basis (every 6 – 8 weeks)
  2. Avoid too much combing, brushing, and manipulation
  3. Wear protective styles often and be sure to moisturize while your hair is in the style

How do I roll or set my hair without getting frizzy ends? Use endpapers to cover the end of the hair before you put it on the roller. Also add a bit more of product to the end of your hair and smooth it out over the roller before you roll it up. This is also a great way of moisturizing and sealing your ends to protect them.

What is the best way to curl kinky hair? The absolute best way to curl kinky hair is doing a twist out style using pipe cleaners to curl the ends. If you want a more straightened look, blow dry the hair then twist and use pipe cleaners.

Are wraps good for relocating and natural hair? A wrap is when you brush the hair tightly around the head so that it naturally straights or flattens out to achieve a straightened style. This can be bad for the hair because the process of combing or brushing through your hair in that way could be damaging specifically to the delicate line of demarcation where natural hair meets relaxed hair. Also, your kinky / curly hair will probably not submit to the wrapping process as well as you might like. It is better to start getting used to your natural texture and try more textured styles such as braid-out or twist-out styles.

Should I roll or set my hair when it is wet or when it is dry? You can roll your hair wet or dry, however it is always better for your hair to do a roll set on wet hair after it has been washed. This is because your hair does not have to end the stress of drying, regardless of how you dry it. One of my favorite styles, though, is to blow dry my hair and then do a roller set or twist out. Especially if hair is shorter, this gives a little more length and shine. When you roll hair wet it comes out more tight to the head, but it usually also comes out shinier and with more body. Try different methods to find out what works best for you.

How can I get my twist extensions to stay twisted? If you are using synthetic hair you can dip the end of the twist extension into boiling hot water to "set" the hair and make it stay twisted. This is also a great method to use if you want to curl the synthetic hair.

  • Wrap the hair around a perm rod, roller (the smaller the better), or a pipe cleaner (I just discovered this one) making sure to secure the ends. You can do up to 2 or 3 extensions on one roller depending on the thickness. Doing 1 per roller gives the best result.
  • Dip the roller into very hot water after you have the hair securely wrapped. Usually you would boil the water then pour it into another container where you can dip the extensions in. Do not try to dip your hair over the stove !!!
  • Dip the roller into cold water. Following the hot dip with a cool dip secures the curl.
  • Remove the rollers. You should have a head of lovely curls. Experiment with how far up the shaft of the extension you roll the curl. You may want to only do the ends, or you might want to try and curl the whole extension.

Maintenance: If you do not like the result or get tired of the curls, you can re-straighten the hair by dipping it into hot water without rollers. You might be able to curl the hair one more time after you re-straighten it, but that is about as much as the synthetic hair can take. Because of the effect that heat has on synthetic hair you might notice that the curls loosen or fall out if you wash your hair in hot water. Just keep the temperature cooler when you wash to maintain the curls. This is also a classic way to keep braided extensions from unraveling or for curling the ends. Another method is to tie a knot at the end of the extension, or braid it at the end. But the hot water method is the best.

What is the best way to blow dry natural or transitioning hair? You need to have a quality hair dryer, preferably with adjustable heat settings and with a comb attachment. After that, your main goal is to dry your hair quickly and with minimal breakage. Section your hair then work from tip to root combing / blowing through each section until it is dry. Do not put on any product except heat protectant until after the hair is dry. Having product on the hair causes it to take longer to dry.

How to I flat iron my transition or natural hair? To flat iron or straighten your hair you want to make sure that you have a blow dryer with a comb attachment, a very good flat iron, and the following products:

  • Straightening serum
  • Anti-frizz product
  • Heat protectant
  • Moisture block
  • Natural oil

Beyond using the correct products, you'll also have to use the right technique specifically to make sure that you do not cause damage to your hair. Use the lowest heat setting that will still straighten your hair. Do small sections and run the flat iron over your hair from root to tip. Only pass the flat iron over your hair 2 or 3 times.

Which is better pressing or flat ironing when I want to straighten my natural or transitioning hair? Using a flat iron is more "controlled" … especially if you use a heater with your pressing comb. With pressing combs, you usually use the stove to heat it up, or you use a pressing comb heater. Both get really hot and the heat is very unpredictable. Electric pressing combs are also sold, but these are extremely unpredictable in their heat settings. The heat distribution on a flat iron is more stable, and you can usually control it to make it cooler or hotter. Also with a pressing comb you have to physically comb through your hair … you'll inevitably end pulling out more strands than you would with the flat iron.

What are the best coloring products for natural or transitioning hair? When coloring natural hair it is important to look for coloring products with non-peroxide and non-ammonia. That usually narrows it down pretty fast. Hair coloring without those ingredients is least damaging to the hair. If you are going from light to dark, covering grays, or are going red you might also try henna. Natural henna powder will also work for darkening or reddening. You'll have to experiment with which colors work best with the natural tones and highlights in your hair. Henna also adds the benefit of conditioning and strengthening your hair.