Do you have tightly coiled ends?

If your answer to the question is yes then you are not alone.One of the characteristics of type 4 hair I have never been able to understand is its ability to coil up so tightly at the ends. A reader once left a comment on our forum describing the coils as "little naps/balls of hair" that are "impossible to detangle".
Still transitioning(2010)

Since I have been natural for most of my life I can relate with the frustration and pain that comes with really tight ends. For those of you who do not understand, let me describe what exactly I’m talking about:

You chop off most of your hair and as it grows, your type 4 hair seems to be doing great. The curls are smaller than other hair types but you love how it looks and can manage it well. Then after some months, it grows longer and you notice that some inches of your hair seem to be type 4a/b and the ends, type 4c. Your hair curls normally from the roots and at the ends it coils up so tightly that it easily gets entangled with other hair strands, causing knots. You comb it dry but the process is painful and just as frustrating because you cannot get your revolting hair to behave!

Pictures below show clumped hair strands from my hair at the nape, crown and above my ears.
Notice how tightly my hair coils at the ends when wet. When it gets dry, the coils get tighter. Some say the solution is in trimming your ends.

                          Back in the day, I took that advice seriously  but I can tell you that once I gain a little length the tight coils are back!! 

You might have noticed that a some ladies with type 4 hair on the blogosphere prefer to keep their curls stretched out. I won’t be surprised if this is one of the reasons. 
Managing type 4 hair
 Not knowing how to manage type 4 hair can be frustrating. You might spend more time and money on your hair than you should without getting the desired results. You might also lose a lot of hair in the process as too much manipulation can lead to breakage. Thirdly, you might notice that your hair is not retaining as much lenght you want it to. This is the downside of over manipulation as doing too much to your hair on a daily basis can lead to breakage.

Some tips from me to you:

  • In my opinion, healthy hair starts from wash day. Reduce the time you spend on detangling and styling by washing, deep-conditioning, stretching, and drying your hair in sections.
  • Let your hair dry in braids, twists, thread, rollers, or flexi rods.
^_^ ...roller sets were my style of choice when my hair was still short. The first picture is day 2 hair   and second picture was taken at the end of the week.
Results of stretching hair using braid (pic.4) and threading technique (pic. 1,2 and 3) 
Picture to the right was taken after a man-shanu treatment.
  • A wash and go might seem like a great style but the end result might be more of a problem. Remember, if you wet your hair and it dries without been stretched out, your ends will likely coil up on each other, making it difficult for you to section and detangle it.

  • Let hair dry properly before taking down your braids, twists, rollers, or flexi rods.

  • Keep your hair moisturized. I have noticed that when my hair is really thirsty it starts to coil up more tightly at the ends (even after stretching). And if I don’t do something quick I’m going to have to deal with breakage.

  • Beware of the weather.  Please let me share this: For NITC2, I planned on wearing out my fro. But when in Lagos, I noticed how humid the weather was. I thought my hair could manage the humidity but the moment I fluffed out one part of my hair, the other side would coil up tightly at the ends. After repeated fluffing, I gave up, as my hair looked flat and unevenly shaped. Add that to the thought of having a sore scalp while trying to detangle before sleep and you'll understand why I chose to wear it in 2 huge braids. Some ladies who knew me from NITC1, asked why I wasn’t wearing out my hair and my reply was “weather”. See, I know from experience that when the weather is very humid, my hair would most definitely put up a fight. This is not your normal shrinkage o. If it is just shrinkage, that’ll be super easy. This one is shrinkage plus tightly coiled ends which equals tangles and knots (at the ends). In the past, I have had to do away with some inches because of this.
This is one of the reasons why I hardly wear out my fro in dry or rainy season and if I really must, then it’ll have to be in a twist or braid out. For me, the dry harmattan season is more fro-friendly.
Sorry about the picture quality. This braid out was done in rainy season. My hair was feeling dry so I moisturized it by spritzing some  water on it and applying Natural Nigerians leave in conditioner (a gift my hair loved). I really wanted to wear it out like this but the Ibadan weather won't let me so I put it up in a bun and tucked in the ends.

  • Lastly, understand your hair and avoid over manipulation. Wash your hair, plait those twists or braids and escape daily styling. After all, it IS just hair and there really is no need to worry too much over it. At least that’s what I think…*shrugs*
Loose twists

No need to get frustrated over it

Since I’m no expert, I shared our problem with  a popular natural hair blogger who was kind to share the following tips with me:
"Tightly coiled ends are normal for type 4 hair that is allowed to dry without been stretched out in braids or twists.Patience is everything if your hair has a tendency to  coil up at the ends. 
 While your hair is in a protective style keep the ends tucked in and you can use a conditioner with slip when taking down your twists or braids."

Thanks for the tips Jc!!


  1. Very Very Very Informative post and it came in due season. I guess I have to make sure I quickly put my hair in twists while it's wet after a wash. I'm just too lazy to add the extra 20-30min. But not doing this is actually the reason why styling my hair takes ages; because I have to patiently separate the knotted ends when I part the hair, rather than the usual tearing apart that stylists normally do. I'll try this method the next time and see how it goes :)

    1. Thank you Curious Kinks! Happy to help and I hope it works for you. From your pictures, I'm thinking that we have the Same hair type. Keeping your hair stretched out in twists or braids (I prefer braids and thread) helps keep those knotted ends away. You should add that to your regimen. It works great.

  2. I agree with washing in sections I used to think it will be so complicated but I have been loving it so far and it saves detangling time. I also think another good tip is detangling in sections using a conditioner with plenty slip.

  3. i feel you wrote this blog post with me in hair is really coily and thick it is ridiculous but hair strands are fine. have learnt the hard way that it is better to wash hair in section even if for me I wash in 12-14 sections, any less, twists would unravel on washing and conditioning.i prefer braids while hair is drying.

    thank you for the usual you blog posts are very informative.



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