A 3-Step Guide To The Banding Method for Natural Hair

Aug 22, 2020

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Do you ever struggle with fairy knots, single strand knots, or deep tangles?

If you have Type 4 hair, you probably have. Type 4 hair is so coily that the curls tend to interlock with each other, creating these issues.

Using friction-reducing products (i.e. products that contain slip) can assist with this, but there’s a technique that you can employ to keep your coils tangle-free.

The banding method, which is a way to set your hair at night, not only reduces tangles and knots, but it also stretches the hair out, combating shrinkage.

And although shrinkage is a sign of healthy natural hair, sometimes a girl just wants to show off her inches!!

a GIF of Solange Knowles playing with her hair

Let’s get into how to do the banding method for natural hair.

Why You Should Band Your Hair

If you’re sleeping with your Type 4 hair in a pineapple, especially if you experience tangles and knots, the banding method may just be what your hair is looking for.

Now, if you’re Type 3b and below, with looser ringlets, the pineapple may work for you, and may actually keep your ringlets fluffy and defined for longer.

But for curly-coily textures (Type 3-4), the pineapple method may do the exact opposite of what we want.

In a nutshell, here’s what the pineapple method may do to your curls:

  • Loosen and flatten the curl definition
  • Make the hair extremely tangled, especially at the crown
  • Cause single-strand knots at the ends
  • Cause unnecessary shedding during the next detangling session

What Is Hair Banding?

The banding method is when tie bands around your hair, starting from roots to mid-length, stopping before your ends to keep the definition.

This may sound silly, but there’s a few reasons why this method is one of the best ways of sleeping with natural hair:

Benefit 1 – Stretches Out Curls

Shrinkage is an inherent characteristic of natural hair. The tighter your curl pattern, the more shrinkage you will experience. Type 4s can attest to this!

Although shrinkage is a sign of a healthy moisture-protein balance, sometimes we want to show off our length. And that’s okay!

Benefit 2 – Reduces Single-Strand Knots/Tangles

Single-strand knots and tangles result in unnecessary hair loss and breakage, and can really interfere with length retention.

The banding method reduces the likelihood of tangles and single-strand knots because the hair ties holds the curls in place, keeping them from interlocking.

Benefit 3 – Retains Style for Longer

How many of us cry in the mirror when we see our twist out flop only after 2 days? Super frustrating!

One of the reasons why this happens is because of our sleeping styles. Those of us who are aggressive sleepers, i.e. toss and turn, are unaware of our curls being squished and smushed in the process.

When you band your hair down, you’re protecting your curls from the tension of our sleeping habits.

Benefit 4 – Preserves Definition AND Volume

For those of us who prefer volume but would still like to maintain some curl definition, the banding method is perfect for you.

When you band your hair down, you focus your banding efforts at the root of the hair and in the middle of the hair. The ends of your hair remain un-banded to keep your curls defined there.

The result, after you take down the bands in the morning, is super fluffy hair with definition at the ends. Exactly what we want!

The Banding Method on Short Natural Hair

This method is especially useful on short natural hair for the above reasons.

Looking to elongate your curls and show off your true length? The banding method on short natural hair can stretch the hair immensely, making it look longer and fuller.

Trying to get more volume? This method will provide volume to your curls without compromising definition.

Now, if you have 4c hair, this method is DEFINITELY for you. 4c natural hair shrinks immensely, so the banding method on 4c natural hair will ensure that your length is adequately represented.

Essentially, the banding method on short natural hair will stretch out the hair, combat shrinkage and ensure your hair stays tangle-free. Score!

How To Do The Banding Method for Natural Hair

On dry, newly washed hair, simply section your hair in 5-7 sections where your hair naturally wants to part (one in the front, two in the back and 1-2 on each side).

Remember: the more moisturized your hair is, the better the style will be. Be sure to moisturize your hair with a water-based leave-in conditioner and follow it up with a friction-reducing styler with slip (either a cream styler or gel) for best results.

a picture of camille rose curl love moisture milk

Camille Rose Curl Love Moisture Milk

Best for TYPE 3c – 4

This buttery, soft leave-in contains incredibly moisturizing ingredients such as avocado oil, rice oil and aloe vera (aka the moisture G.O.A.T.)! Plays well with creams and gels for defined twist-outs, and good for all porosity types due to the film-forming humectants found in the formula. A must leave-in for dry, parched curls and coils.

an image of mielle pomegranate and honey leave-in conditioner

Mielle Organics Pomegranate & Honey Leave-in Conditioner

Best for TYPE 4, low porosity

This light-weight leave-in conditioner is great for low porosity hair struggling with moisture absorption. Key ingredients in this formula such as babassu oil and sugar cane extract are moisturizing enough to ensure every coil is hydrated for days without causing product buildup.

TGIN Butter Cream Daily Moisturizer

Best for TYPE 4

No other moisturizer exists on the market quite like this one – not only does it have amazing slip, but it’s rich formula with shea butter and vitamin E will help flatten your cuticles and promote hydration all week long.

Camille Rose Aloe Whipped Butter Gel

Best for TYPE 4

The most superior ingredient list of any gel on the market. Virtually all-natural, this gel will hydrate the heck out of your curls and works swimmingly for Type 4 naturals, especially for twistouts and braidouts. A definite must-try!

Wrap the hair tie at the roots of the hair, in the middle of the section, and then close to the ends (about 10-20 cm away from the ends) to keep the definition intact.

The key here is to use satin or silk scrunchies or ribbons. Never use regular elastics as they will suck the moisture out of your hair and reduce the length of your style.

an image of 60 satin scrunchies for hair banding

Satin Scrunchies (60p)

Best for all naturals

If you’re looking for affordable satin scrunchies for your curls and coils, look no further: this set comes with 60 scrunchies of various colours for all of your looks. Best of all, it comes with a transparent mesh storage bag to keep your new accessories tidy and collected. A steal!

Our editor-in-chief showing how she does the banding method. Each section is banded at the top near the roots, and in the middle of the section.

Notice how there are two sections in the back, one on the right side and two on the left side.

Since her hair is parted on the left, she has more sections on that side to keep the hair stretched (the more sections, the more stretched the hair will be).

The lowermost part of each section is not banded to retain the curl pattern

In the morning, spread some oil on your hands and slowly release each sections. Fluff your hair out to your liking and voila! Stretched, volumized hair!

This method will 1) minimize breakage and reduce the chance of single-strand knots, and 2) keep your wash and go looking good for a few days!

Final Thoughts on the Banding Method

The banding method is truly the best way to set your hair at night. This method has shown that it can retain your style for longer, keep the hair tangle-free and prevent the dreaded single-strand knots. 

The Curl Market is a natural hair blog catered to helping black naturals grow their curls into a long, luscious manes.

We use the latest evidence-based scientific research to provide you with the top tips on growing your curls, regardless of hair type.

We also provide lifestyle tips, both self care and mental care, to ensure you are optimizing your body’s natural hair growth cycle – because you can’t grow natural hair if you’re stressed out!

Come as you are.

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Ayana Aden

Ayana is The Curl Market’s brand founder. When she’s not deep in natural hair research or creating content, she’s hanging on the couch with her husband and her cat, reading a book or scrolling through TikTok. Follow her on Instagram at @ayanaaaden

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Learning your curl type is an important step in learning how to take care of your natural hair. It can help you understand what products will work best for you, how often to shampoo, how to style your natural hair, and other key information.

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