Ask Kcurly- Trying to “whiten” hair when twisting?

by kcurly on January 29, 2012

in Ask Kcurly,Healthy Hair Tips

A comment from shirley:

How did your natural hair grow so much! Your braid out picture is beautiful! How did you get your hair to grow? All I do is wet my hair, co-wash and put gel in it, it kind of curls. But I have trouble with kinks and nearly loc-ing, which I don’t want.

Shirley, thank you for the compliment. I credit my hair length retention to protective styling and proper moisture.

If you have trouble with matting or the hair locing, you may want to dabble in other styles such as twistouts because, in my experience, they decrease the tangles and knots that cause matting. I personally can not do a lot of wash n go’s without tangles, dryness and, sometimes, matting.

It did give me pause when you said you had “trouble with kinks”.

Shirley, one of the most important things, in my humble opinion, to remember when going natural is that you have to love your hair for what it does, not hate it for what it doesn’t do. If you hair curls a little, great. If it kinks a little, great. It’s your hair, it’s part of you.

I’m not going to tell you to love your hair. Only you can do that and, for some, that comes with time. I will tell you to try and focus on the positives instead of what you perceive as negatives. That is a great starting point. (Example: “My hair has never been this thick before!”)

I also advise you to focus on the health of your hair. A lot of people can do wash n go’s with no problem. However, since you said that you are having issues with near locing, perhaps it’s time to ditch the gel (which always does a number on my hair long term) and practice some healthier alternatives. Good luck to you.


This next comment wasn’t really a question, but something I wanted to comment on publicly.

From Anonymous:

I’m so conflicted about twisting. On the one hand I get the length I crave and definition to my curl on the other hand I feel like I’m trying to “whiten” my hair by making it look curly but isn’t twisting your hair to highlight the curl no different than brushing your hair to highlight the shine? It’s not fair we have such a complex relationship with “our” hair.

Anonymous, we only have such a complex relationship with your hair because we make it so. It’s time for a lot of people to stop feeling guilt over ridiculous assumptions.

First, in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with curl definition. I don’t really try to define curls anymore but I’m not going to knock anyone who does. The only time the quest for curl definition begins to become a problem is when frustration arises from trying to define something that isn’t there.

Second, I can’t even equate wearing twists and twist out with “whiteness” because those styles are uniquely ingrained in the styling of Afro-textured hair. Braiding and twisting does stretch the hair out but tribes in Africa were doing those styles and more way before they set eyes on Europeans.

Lastly, the only people who are walking around with completely unaltered hair are those with free form locs. And when I say free form, I mean locs like these (no twisting or coiling beforehand to give a uniform look):

There are some people who make the argument that twisting and braiding are an attempt at being white because it changes the look of the hair.  I’m not exactly sure how far you need to go to make these types of people happy (and really, I am done trying).

If I comb my hair, that changes the look of the hair. Therefore, it would appear that the only way to make those people happy would be to just stop combing the hair and let it “do what it do”. That’s “natural”, right?

Nope, sorry. I’ve stopped chemically straightening. This is my natural hair. It is in my heritage to decorate, braid, and further style my hair. It is not an attempt at being white, it is not an attempt at anything but styling my hair.

So, Anon, please rock your hair how you want without the guilt. You know what’s in your own heart and head.



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  • Vonnie (socialitedreams)

    that’s really silly to suppose that curl defining is “whitening” the hair, especially with twists. I have rarely if ever seen a white girl with twists, sometimes a fishtail braid, but twist outs? seriously, can we do anything without it being associated with whiteness? they don’t have the lock on everything besides tightly kinky hair, there are black people with wavy, curly, and even naturally straight hair.

  • Teflon Mom

    That second letter man….that second letter. That’s where I feel some folks are going. “Natural” is becoming more and more narrowly defined – oh you flatironed your hair? You not natural. You combing hair now, huh? You not natural. Henna? Not natural. It just goes on and on – I define natural for myself. To me that means my hair is free from chemical straighteners. No more, no less. All these folks out here yelling and the voice of reason gets lost in the shuffle.

  • monniej

    sometimes we just take things too far. how in the world is twisting my hair “whitening” it? what am i doing to it when i do a roller set or braids? *smh* i’m getting a little perturbed with this nuts and berries approach to being natural. i do not chemically alter my curls and in my book that makes me natural. don’t agree? not my problem!

  • Regina

    Well, my white co-workers stare at my twists in awe and lament that they can’t get their hair to have the same volume, thickness, and versatility so no, twists are not me “whitening” my hair. And I agree, it’s kind of annoying and frustrating that people have taken something that’s meant to empower us as black women and turned it into another “are-you-really-keeping-it-real” debate. Can’t we all just bond over our shared four-hour wash/detangling/conditioning/twisting sessions?

  • ZivaSimone

    I agree w/ all of you ladies—lets not go crazy over who is “really” natural–Love your hair, straight, curly, kinky, short, long–whateva—I just wish we would stop comparing our hair to someone else’s. I ve heard people say “my hair want curl like yours” OK–you can have 30 black woman with “process free hair” :) and you will have 30 different hair types, textures, lengths, and everything–I love it!

  • deb

    wow…some people give white people/whiteness WAYYYY to much credit…

  • deb

    although I do give people the sideeye who ONLY really appreciate their hair when it’s in a twist out, non frizzy, braid out, shiny. I’m not saying that other races LOVE their hair without all the primping they do but we have a unique history with our hair and many of us downright don’t like our hair in it’s unaltered state. I used to be that way, still am and had to just be real with myself. Anyway just my opinion….everyone’s journey, destination is different!

  • Trisha

    Just because your hair is natural does not mean that it can’t be neat, clean, and presentable. So what if some naturals like frizz free twistouts/braidouts. Everyone is entitled to have and pursue their own vision of what they want to look like. These ridiculous debates of who’s really natural and who isn’t is a senseless distraction to the real point of going natural: To be free of damaging chemical straighteners.

  • Kat

    I happen to be a white girl with naturally curly, frizzy, kinky big hair. I grew up hating my hair because I had no idea what to do with it. Through forums like this I’ve learned a ton and now enjoy my hair in its natural state. I have recently started wearing twists (and twist outs) at the advice of my fabulous (and black) hair stylist. I love the protection my hair gets from it, but I can definitely say I am the only white girl I have ever seen with twists… and yes, all the white people are in awe of it because there hair would never actually hold twists, in fact most of them don’t even understand the concept. So I would say twisting your hair does not ‘whiten’ it, whatever that means since black and white people alike have a huge range of hair textures.

  • Mandy

    I agree with you Kat, I am a white female with naturally curly, kinky , BIG hair as well. I never know what to do with it and honestly I find braiding it and throwing it in a sloppy bun convenient (sp? lol). I have been searching all over the web looking for things to do with my hair because pulling it back all the time has caused breakage :( in turn making it frizzier!!! I am going to try a twist out, not sure if I’ll make it all the way through without wanting to die since my hair is super thick and long, but I am going to give it a try. I have just recently purchased the Garnier Fructice Morroccan oil to try as well, so far my hair is super soft. My hair is very course so it feels nice to have soft hair without an oily film. Wish me luck ladies. :)

  • Tara

    Ladies of the Curls — I’m like Kat and Mandy, and I want to second Kat’s saying that twisting your hair certainly doesn’t ‘whiten’ it.

    If this were the case, and some white hair dresser had suggested a twist out, I wouldn’t have suffered crap hair for too many decades.

    Anyway, learning about twist outs was the best thing ever for my hair — never mind the four hour weekly ritual!

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