Braiding and Twisting: Clean parts

Elli sent me a really sweet email asking for tips or advice on how to make clean parts. (In case you get confused, the picture in this post is just one I found on wiki).

Her daughter is 7 years old and her hair looks like Little B from HGH just denser.

The Issues:
1. Parting takes long
2. Partings are crappy (her description not mine lol!)
3. Tangling is an issue with hair drying up even when secured in sections.

Here is the secret - you need to break some rules. See all that stuff we say about moisture - umm well it goes out of the window just a little bit.

1. Sometimes you want dry hair (well sort of dry)
For type 4 hair , wetting the hair only makes it more curly (wetting includes water based creams or gels). Braiding, twisting or cornrowing is going to be a lot easier with dry hair. However dry to me means freshly washed, detangled  and conditioned hair which has been allowed to dry to 80-90% dry. Why the 80-90% mark? A little bit of water helps the hair to be more flexible with some strength compared to fully wet hair which is easy to break.  

2. Stretch the hair before and during braiding
As hair gets longer or denser, it is much easier to handle if you can keep it as straight as possible.  The heat free method would be to braid the 80-90% dry hair into large braids or twists (noting that braids are usually better than twists) which helps to elongate the hair.  Keep the hair in the large braids until you are ready to braid it.

The slightly more involved technique is banding or threading which usually require you to sleep on it before it is effective. As I am African, I will be biased and highlight this video which shows a more traditional technique

3. Salon technique: Blow dry it
The heat method is to do a gentle blow dry with tension. This means section a small portion of  80-90% dry hair (never ever blow dry dripping wet hair, no matter what!!) and then apply medium heat to the hair to stretch it. The salon method is useful for longer hair (6 inches plus) and thicker hair. As always if you can avoid heat, do avoid it. However, weight out the pros and cons and if a small blow dry helps your hair break a little less, then do use it.

Here is a helpful video (Sadly Nikki/Mwedzi who is a type 4 took hers down)

Finally let me also highlight the twist queen Loo who has the most instructive series on twisting and maintenance of twists

Start with this post -
Then read them all -

Do you have any useful tips for parting?
Image Credit


  1. I've found that using a metal pin tail comb helps create much cleaner lines. Unlike a plastic rat tail comb, the thickness of the point doesn't vary a lot between pin tail combs. A $1 pin tail comb can work just as well as a $5 or $10 pin tail comb. We just ignore the part of the comb with teeth and use the metal pin end.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this, I am from Nigeria and I grew up having the thread styling done on my hair. I completely forgot about it. I am going to get some threads this weekend from the African Store and stretch my hair with it.

    Take care,

  3. No worries about the link Tinuke, thanks for letting me know :)

  4. I JUST found the GirlsLoveYourCurls YT channel, who is a mom of 2 girls, and she's African. She also has vids on African threading/twisting. I'm going to try this method on my next wash. I think it's SO helpful for type 4 hair and much less stressful than blow drying. Blowdryers give me an aching headache and just pull out way too much hair.

    I also find that adding some castor oil can help me part my hair when it's dry. It adds the needed moisture to help my hair move and not break when parting.


  5. Oh what a cool post Jc, this brought back childhood memories of threaded hairstyles!! (it wasn't just done for stretching, we actually wore our hair like that, smaller sections, sky seeking horns! lol). i also remember that for the parts, my mum used to use a particular bone, yes bone! i'll have to ask her to remind me where it was from. But now, i use metal tail of a rat-tail comb and make big sections first, then divide those into smaller sections.

  6. The threading and music reminded me so much of growing up!! Since I started doing my own hair I've also found that parting hair especially for cornrows is tricky. In addition to letting it dry and stretching it, I find it easier to braid when it's been slightly oiled. So I do a hot oil treatment after washing and rinse out the excess oil. Or when I'm ready to braid and find the hair is too dry, I spray some water to dampen it a little, apply a mango/coconut oil butter--just a little-to each section. This way the fingers glide through and there are less snags, and therefore little to no breakage.

    I could not find an applicable metal tip, so I just learnt to use my plastic rat-tail which works pretty well for small-medium sized cornrows. A cuticle-pusher also works really well for small-medium sized box or micro braids. It's the one with a blunt metal-tip, hope I got the name right! Just take one from your manicure set!

  7. I like to part my hair while it is moisturized, well detangled, and about 60% wet. I use a wooden hair stick most of the time. The wooden stick I use is actually a wooden hair chopstick that has a narrow point on one end. If I am doing something like flat twists, I like to work with my hair in sections so I divide my hair into several smaller sections in order to make the job less overwhelming.

    If I don't get the part straight the first time, I just keep going back over the part until I get it straight enough. But you definitely only want to try parting your hair while it is stretched out. It makes the process a whole lot easier.

  8. Clean parts are the BANE OF MY EXISTENCE. I can't do them to save my life so this post is fantastic! Keep posting tips/advice everyone :)

  9. thanks for this post, I was born in Ghana every time I see a video on banding I would think of threading. Like hybridomatech, I vividly remember getting my hair threaded into styles.

  10. I like the video on blowdrying. That's actually how I blow dry my hair. Thought I was the only one who did it like that, lol. It definitly helps takes tension off the strands as opposed to constantly running a comb attachment through it or a paddle brush

  11. So what's wrong with blowdrying sopping wet hair?

  12. Anon - I was going to say bubble hair and refer you to the archives. However I always do a search before I refer people to it and I actually have not done a post about it. I need to do one!

  13. I agree, that "sometimes you want dry hair"

    I'm African and my hair is 4b course kinky. it works sooo much better almost dry when it comes to styling.

  14. (Sorry about the delay, just back online after a break:) THANK YOU JC and thanks to everybody for the advice! I'll try the 80 percent dry parting- that should help with the shrinkage-related tangles that form while moving from twists to style. And thanks so much for the informative hairandhealth links! Love those! One of these days I'll try threading - - it looks fabulous, but I'm intimidated! -Elli

  15. Thanks to all for posting your comments it helps a lot and I appreciate the owner of this website even offering it for us. My parts always come out yukie I will try the metal end comb and I will certainly pull the hair while blowdrying it. I have two girls hair to braid in cornrows this weekend. Wish me luck. thanks again


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