I am providing some tips so that when it comes to wearing your hair out naturally, styling, using accessories, adding extensions, and using tools to maintain/tame your hair you will have some food for though and information at hand to help you through each element carefully and successfully.
Diva R has thin hair, always has and probably always will so this has been something that over the years i have had to learn how to work with, having no choice in the matter *_* Regarding Diva, it has been extremely hard to style, use certain accessories and learn techniques to be soft on her hair and scalp because generally when people have thin hair they have a tender scalp too.
I will begin by touching on the use of Beads... There are normally 3 different size hair beads...
The sizes and quantities are very important when deciding how many and what types to put in the hair.
The small pony beads are the lightest in weight and have the smallest holes (aside from the Sidewinders which are feather light), so more of these beads are required to complete a style than any of the bigger ones for stacking/proportion sake. So by adding more you are also adding more weight, this in return isn't good for thin hair especially let alone thicker hair, because with this hair the more weight added the more the risk for damage, breakage, splitting and pulling out the hair increases. The small pony beads cannot fit a whole lot of hair through the centers, so the braids/twists have to be quite small for them to slide on with ease. For baby/toddler thin hair i would recommend limiting the amount per strand/braid/twist to 2-7 and that is length dependent, because you DO NOT want to load a babies hair up with beads from scalp to ends, that's only paving the way for disaster. Thin hair that is about shoulder length or beyond can safely use 2-12 small pony beads per grouping.
With the medium size chubbie pony beads, these are slightly heavier than the small pony beads. One of these is equivalent to nearly 2 small pony beads in outer diameter. The holes are slightly bigger than the small pony beads allowing for more hair to fit in through the bead allowing you to be able to braid and twist a little bigger or use bigger sections of hair to slide the beads on to. With these you must take into account that because they are bigger than the standard size pony bead you have to use less of these. So for example, 5 of the chubbies would equal 7 small pony beads. So the weight of the chubbies is about two beads less BUT only 5 beads make up the weight of 7 small pony beads so in this case less is more. When using these on thin hair it is best to not go bead crazy and by my recommendation i wouldn't put any more than 2-4 on baby/toddler short hair and 6-8 per medium thickness braid/twist/strands on shoulder length or beyond for safety and hair preservation's sake. These are the best choice for medium-thick/thick hair.
About two small pony beads equal the size of one medium chubbie bead.
The Large/Extra Large Barrel Beads really resemble actual Barrels, like the sort that hold wine. These are LARGE in diameter and hole size, the hole size is double the hole size of the small pony bead and a whole and a half size bigger than the chubbie bead's hole. So obviously these weigh even more than both the small pony beads and the chubbies. One of these are equivalent to about the length of 3 small pony beads and 1 and 3/4 of two chubbie beads. Meaning that these are way heavier than the small ponies and chubbies so much fewer of these must be used at a time to preserve the already thinned hair.
I wouldn't even recommend using these on a baby/toddlers hair. I would say that using no more than 3 of these on shoulder length or longer hair is recommended. To each his/her own when it comes to EVERYTHING but through many avenues of thin hair that i have traveled i have learned that beads are a huge culprit for damage and usually people use too many. I have seen these quite frequently in Loc's because locks are generally stronger in nature and most beads don't like to fit on Loc's well, this is fine in moderation. It is suggested that if you are going to use these that you use a smaller ending bead under the big barrel bead because wrapping the hair around one of these bad boys will for sure damage a huge portion of the ends very quickly. I cant say that i would ever recommend these size beads to anyone because of how HUGE they are... These have mad weight and are really bulky.
In summary of the normal hair bead variations this picture below should help to illustrate the quantity and size differences in relation to how many should be put on the hair safely (note that i used a random amount of beads and stacked them on top of each other in rows so that you can do the math as to the weight vs amount ratio.)
These sizes can range from small to large in diameters and holes. They come in many materials such as glass, ceramic, metals, clay, and the like. These ones are especially of concern with those with thin hair because they are HEAVY and variate vastly in shape as well. The weight of one of the glass ones i have pictured is equivalent to 5-6 of the large barrels discussed above and a whole handful of the small pony beads!! That description sums it all up.
The metal hearts pictured are HEAVY also, one of the hearts is equivalent to the weight of 5 small pony beads. The small ceramic beads pictured are also heavy, one of those is equal to the weight of 6 small pony beads. Without me even saying it, you already know i wouldn't recommend ANY beads like this nor any bead that is NOT acrylic.
Acrylic/plastic beads are the ones to use PERIOD. You can even get cute shells and other shapes in acrylic. These are the lightest bead.
Hair ties, beads, headbands and the like with metal in them should be avoided at all costs, this metal will break, snap, cause hair separation from the root, create hair/scalp disorders, cause unexplainable frays throughout the hair shaft or tear the hair undoubtedly. Bouts of excessive accessorizing are also blamed for being culprits for causing hair to fallout, become dry/brittle and break off. Items that are commonly used to over accessorize are ballies(bubbles), beads, hair ties, ribbons, clippies, barrettes and things of that nature. Its fine to wear these in thin hair of course just in moderation :) The last thing you would want to do is weigh down already thinned hair.
Now i am going to touch on the use of combs, brushes, picks, and the like on thin hair.
It is recommended that on thinner hair types you use smaller toothed combs and brushes. BUT your selections shouldn't depend on that solely if at all, because since the hair is CURLY you have to keep in mind that the WIDER the teeth are spread apart on the comb the easier the hair is for detangling, less susceptible to be damaged during combing/detangling and there will be less tension applied to the scalp while combing/detangling/parting the hair.
Here are some GOOD combs to have on hand if you have thin curly hair or thin coarse hair and thin hair PERIOD! These are great for all thin hair types and you don't have to buy the name brand ones if you choose not to but there are PLENTY of all types of brands as long as they look like these your good to go :)
Wide Toothed Comb Ouidad Wide Toothed Comb Denman Comb
The closer the comb acts/looks like finger detangling the better off the hair will be because of the wide-ness of the detangling/combing tool, this will also benefit the hair by using less pull when combing versus a small tooth comb which would virtually yank on the hair if a knot comes about. the dollar store even sells some plastic versions of these combs that would make doo until a better one could be obtained. When it comes to taking care of your natural hair you must consider the benefits ahead by purchasing the good things that would spoil your natural blessings :)
As for brushes that are good for Thin Hair..
Finger detangling with the right products is a great go to first guide for a brushing alternative :)
Paddle brushes are suggested to be the brush of choice with thin hair because if its shape and brissle alignment, it fairs to be rather soft on thin hair and it wont just rip on knots such as brushes with really close together brissles will, not to mention how those packed brissle brushes damage hair also!!!
Boar brissle brushes are recommended for those with coarser hair types Safely i would say for 3c-4b and kinkier hair types.... So whether the hair is thin or not isn't the concern for boar brissle it is just a better slicker brush as well as tamer all around, this brush isn't known to pull on the hair either :) The Denman brush is a brush with alot of faces, there are so many different styles to this brush that they suit every hair type from thin-thick. So for Thin Hair, since that is the topic we are discussing 7row Denman brushes would be a great fit, it is evenly spaced enough so that brushing wouldn't be dreadful and stressing on the hair and the brissle construction is soft too. Denman makes alot of good quality brushes and is widely recommended by hair guru's all around.
Paddle Brush Boar brissle brush
Brushing and the like are big concerns with thin hair because if your too rough the hair can break, split or crunch just that easy. Its important to start from the ends of the hair while holding the mid shaft of the hair so that when you brush/comb your not tugging down on the hair. Its important to shop around and find the right hair tools!!!
Another food for thought bit of insight when it comes to thin hair is weaving/extension use, considering all of the already present negative stories and connotations weaves have and have had, it is important to note WHY it could be considered a no-no for thin haired individuals. This addition to the natural hair has been blamed as one of the leading culprits for thinning of the hair and has made peoples hair fall out over time and or break off. If it wasn't bad enough for all hair types on a consistent tightly weaved basis, for thin hair the problems get worse. A good portion of people who use weave/extensions with thin or short hair usually go that route for added fullness/length or both, which is completely achievable with out destroying the hair.
This is where proper technique, professionalism and the use of good hair comes in.
A rule of thumb to consider is this, for weaving, it puts alot of stress on the hair as it is so it is best to choose sew in or glue in weaves versus braid in weaves or weaves that require the use of extra tension or tools beyond a curved crochet hook. What is most important about doing/having tracks put in is the tension applied and type of weave used. As the tracks are put in, the tightness of applying is what you must be lighter handed on. You can design your parts and sections in many different ways, the options are unlimited, but you have to keep in mind that tender heads and thin hair will suffer greatly from improper weave'age.
With thin hair the scalp is more tender, hair is more fragile, and the roots are more spaced apart. When it comes to using free hair to add into cornrows per say, try adding the extension hair in using the "Feed-In" method that doesn't create the knot at the base of the beginning of the cornrow. Click here to learn more about the "Feed-In" method.
On to wigs... The safer weave alternative
Here is an idea for those who love weaves/extensions but would rather not go through the pain, risks and the cost gauge. Wigs that have the breathable inner layer that you can remove are wondrous ideas compared to consistently using weaves that could be or are destroying your hair. They make wigs so good now one cannot tell one from natural hair. Wigs can be switched up frequently, styled, colored, permed and the whole sha-bang. Wigs are so common any more that its hard to tell real from the fake, and of course there are the many varieties of real haired wigs too that the options are endless!
This of course wouldn't be harmful in anyway to the hair :)
Here is what the majority of the problem with having thin hair and loving cornrows and the like comes in to play. If the hair is manipulated to frequently in the same areas of the head the hair could start breaking off close to the base of the scalp. To try and avoid this experiment with parting in different spots each time you part the hair, wear varying styles, switch up the tool usage, and make what you do to your hair change from time to time so that your hair doesn't get set in one place and become difficult to style differently allowing your hair to be manageable from all angles and remain healthy. If you are going to venture out into the world of hair braiding, it is a great rule of thumb to learn how to be "light-handed" because this can make or break you as well as your client. Tight braiding can cause whirl winds of problems for the one being braided. Are you being told your heavy handed or that IT HURTS? Do you see a red scalp consistently or in certain sharp points as you braid? Do your inner webbing's of your hands hurt/throb during styling? Did you notice big chunks of hair falling out or breaking off after taking out a style or while a style is in?
If you answered Yes to any of those above, it is time to re-evaluate your braiding technique...
Here are some ways to tell if your braiding is too tight and some associated hair and scalp conditions
Traction Alopecia (Baldness)- This is baldness that results from braiding/styling being too tight on the head. The hair actually falls/breaks out/off because the tension used during styling was too harsh, rough and hard. Usually there is alot of PULLING involved on the hair shaft that causes this condition to surface. Prolonged and/or untreated Alopecia leads to permanently damaged hair follicles and doesn't allow for new ones to develop speeding up hair loss and making it lasting. The hair line is usually the first affected if not first then, ultimately the damage done till show in the hairline.
Scalp Dermatitis, Scalp Psoriasis, Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema), Tinea Capitis, Seborrheic Dermatitis, Acne Keloidalis Nuchae, are other conditions related to braiding/styling to tight..
Click here to read more about those conditions...
Being on the subject of tight braiding also highlights protective styles, which are also done for longevity and convenience such as tight braiding according to many stylists. I must say that i do not agree with tight braiding no matter the results, longevity or any given answer, its outright damaging all around. So styles that you plan on leaving in for a while, make sure that you aren't using excessive force in order to tighten up the style in hopes it will stay longer, because what your really doing is destroying the hair and its follicles and in due time whether its sooner that later or later than sooner YOU WILL SEE the effects of what has been done. The goal here with thin hair is to NOT do protective styling. This is recommended because even though during protective styling the hair isn't being manipulated often, the hair isn't able to "rest" as it requires. Consider the hair being at work if you will, and if the hair never gets a break it will tire out and die just like us humans with no rest, we start to shut down. Thin hair and protective styles don't mix well as it is since thin hair tends to have to be managed often. It is quite easy to tell/feel right away if the braiding is too tight, not rocket science at all.
With these tips i hope to help someone make better choices for their little ones/self when considering options for styling and caring for thin hair. These tips can benefit everyone no matter the hair type, but this time around thin hair in particular was my focus as many of us have little thin haired cuties to tame daily :)
I will provide more as i go... Happy SAFE Styling :)
Diva R's Mommy-Kim