This is probably a dodgy question for anyone outside the 4C natural hair curl, but for us 4C girls, it is a valid question! Must you really comb your hair?
Several years ago during my senior secondary school days, I had a bad case of ‘over combing’! Over the two year stretch my hair never moved past the afro phase. My daily routine was comb before bed, plait to keep it stretched and then wake up in the morning take out the plaits and comb again. Me and my girls did this to our heads twice a day, seven days a week. What were we thinking?! Needless to say no one ever made any serious length gains. The problem of course was over manipulation.
Fast forward to my current natural hair journey, shortly after I arrived at afro length, my friend said to me, ‘you know you really don’t need to comb that much’. A natural hair journey requires self discovery. One needs to think about why they do the things they do and whether they are suited to their individual curl pattern. ‘So I asked myself why do I comb so often?’ I decided to stop and I have never looked back. Now, I probably comb once every two months, may be less.
Firstly, combing is not easy on knots at all. A comb is not sophisticated enough to pull strands apart to prevent knots or untangle them before they tighten. When combing the motion is upward and leads to tightening of knots. At this point, the temptation is to pull the comb ever further to remove the knot, sometimes we imagine that the comb magically undoes the knot (this never happens by the way) when in actual fact its ripping the knot from the rest of the strands.
Secondly for 4Cs, in my opinion is that our hair will never really be 100% detangled, so the attempt to get to that 100% point leads to excessive combing for something that will not happen. We tend to keep combing until the comb can smoothly run from root to tip, only for the strands to do their thing again. Think about the hair coils lying next to each other. By default they will intertwine. So to keep combing really is counter productive.
Lastly, as an up-do person who rarely rocks an afro, I really don’t have the need to have my hair arranged like the keys in and on a piano. Not any more. So therefore the case for combing is not strong enough for me!
So how do I get by? Finger detangling. I make sure my strands are well moisturised with some coconut oil, part into four sections, and gently pull my strands apart, carefully detangling any knots. When I find that I can easily manipulate it into protective style, or ran my hands through during a wash, then my job is done!
Something to watch out for is shed hairs but between washing and protective styling, those tend to move to the end of the strands, at which point they are removed.
Think of your 4c coils as fine silk, requiring some serious tender loving care. A comb does not possess these qualities.
Please watch my youtube video on the subject and let me know your thoughts.