Why, When and How to Trim 4C Hair

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how and when to trim 4C hair

Have you been experiencing tangles and breakage in your 4C hair even after taking all the necessary steps to keep your hair healthy and looking good? There could be one more thing that your hair is telling you – It is time for a snip! In this article, you will learn Why, When and How to trim your 4C hair.

Trimming your natural hair is essential in enhancing growth and maintaining health. As such trimming should be counted as an important part of your hair regimen. Just like any other bit of your hair routine, it takes time to figure out when and how to trim your hair best.

5 Signs That Your Hair Needs a Trim

If you find it difficult to figure out when or whether you need a trim, look out for these 5 signs:

1. More knots and tangles

4C hair is without a doubt known for knots and tangles, however when you realise that your hair is knotting more than what you consider normal, it is a sign that something is wrong.  Excessive tangling comes even after proper natural hair care:  moisturizing correctly and regularly, wearing protective styles, protecting your hair while sleeping and all the proper hair care practices you can think of. When this happens, it is time to consider a trim as you may be experiencing split ends.

2. Drying faster than normal

When your ends are damaged, the hair loses the ability to retain its moisture. Your hair will seem drier than it normally would when it has split ends. According to a 2015 journal, people with afro textured hair are more prone to damage from split ends and should therefore be more aware of how to take care of it.

3. Do your ends feel dry and rough?

Nourished and well-moisturized hair has a smooth and soft feel throughout the hair shaft. When the ends starts to feel drier than normal, then it could be an indication that the ends need some love. If you are experiencing this, it might be time for a snip. Trimming the ends of your hair will help keep your hair moisturized and ready to move to the next level of growth.

4. Hair that needs a snip will often give you a hard time styling.

Another sign that your hair needs a trim is when the ends struggle and do not conform to the selected styles. A trim will help in adding that much needed bounce back to your hair.

5. Detangling is a difficult process

If untangling your hair seems like a never-ending process, it certainly needs a cut. Untrimmed hair will take longer time to detangle and the dry tangles will lead to breakage as it becomes harder to untangle the tresses.

How often should you Trim 4C Hair?

Many stylists recommend a trim every 3-4 months, depending on how healthy your hair is.  Healthy, well-maintained hair might not need trimming or might not accumulate split ends for up to 6-8 months. It is important to let your hair give you indications on whether it needs a trim or not. Thereafter you can see the period of time it takes before needing another. Simply put, pay attention to your hair’ state of health.

There is no need to keep a trim schedule when your mane does not even need one.  Those who are able to maintain their hair on low manipulation protective hairstyles, are likely to require trimming less often than someone who wear high manipulative styles or use heat and color treatment too often.  

How Many Inches Should You Cut off When Trimming 4C Hair?

Similar to how often to trim, how many inches to trim depends on how damaged you hair is and personal preference. I personally trim between ½ an inch to an inch every 6 months.

While many feel like trimming is losing length, you can look at it in a different way. The longer you stay with split ends, the more they are likely to spread to the hair shaft and the more hair you might lose in length when you finally trim your hair. Additionally, staying on with split ends lead to breakage which further reduces the length of your hair. You are able to retain more length when you trim your hair regularly.

What Happens if Hair is Not Trimmed?

  1. If not taken care of, split ends spread all the way to the hair shaft, resulting in the loss of hair strands. Trimming your hair helps you deal with the ends, rather than waiting to lose the hair strands.
  2. Untrimmed hair develops split ends and single strand knots that catch and snag more on each other causing tangles.
  3. Untrimmed hair is prone to breakage. This because if not detangled gently; the tangles formed increase breakage.
  4. Split ends also make your hair look frizzy and unhealthy. You do not want this for your hair.

How to trim 4C hair

Some people may argue that it is better to trim your natural hair wet as it is more elongated, and it is therefore easier to make a clean cut. I personally find trimming wet hair more difficult than dry hair and therefore I prefer trimming my hair when dry.

If you are not confident enough to trim your own natural hair, it is best to get a professional hair stylist to do it for you.

Here are some common ways to trim your 4C hair.

1. Twist or braid method

This method entails separating your hair into sections, and then twisting or braiding them. Trim each twist one at a time. Only cut quarter to half an inch of the hair length.

2. Blowdry and flat iron trimming

This method is common with naturals with longer hair. Wash the hair; apply a heat protectant, brow dry and lightly flat iron. After achieving an even finish, place a section between your fingers, smooth it out with a comb and then cut the split ends.

3. Search and destroy method

This is the most common method among natural hair community and involves searching for split ends and trimming only the damaged strands.

4. Trimming hair while wet

Part the hair into medium sized vertical sections, spray out the ends with water, detangle the hair then use the comb to stretch it. Once done, hold the hair between the fingers and clip the damaged split ends.

In conclusion, without a doubt length retention is an important aspect of the natural hair journey. Many natural hair enthusiasts love chasing length, and maintaining it is a big plus and therefore the subject of trimming is a very ‘tricky’ conversation to have! There is nothing wrong with wanting long hair, but there is everything wrong when you hold on to length when your ends are terribly damaged. You will do more harm than good by leaving the split end untamed.

Do not hold on to damaged hair! If you are already feeling the effect of those split ends, make your life easier by trimming those split ends, your hair will grow to greater lengths too!

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