Photos: Joey Rosado
For those of you who are not familiar with who I am, I just so happen to have a best friend who was born from the same egg as mine; my identical twin sister. As twins we get asked some very amusing questions, but a few questions that are consistently asked daily regarding hair are:
“Is that all your hair?” (Yes)
“Wow, your hair must be heavy, it must be hard to balance your head” (A common misconception is that kinky afro-textured hair is heavy when in fact it is quite the opposite. Now I am not saying it does not get a bit global warming up on the dome in the NYC heat, but our hair aesthetically is deceiving since in actuality it is light as a feather. So the answer is no)
“Do you have locs?” (No)
“Why don’t you loc your hair?” (I think locs are absolutely stunning but we prefer our hair in it’s current state)
Then my absolute favorite is “Why don’t you wear your hair down like your sister?”. My first thought is “Well it’s my prerogative, obviously I am rocking this look because I love my hair exactly how it is or I would have chosen another style long ago.”, (along with a side to side movement of my head) but instead I simply respond, “it’s just my preference”. All jokes aside, my preference not only stems from aesthetics, but the difference between the actual state of our hair. Stay with me as I breakdown the two major factors that contribute to our personal style.
I have been natural going on six years, while my twin has been natural for 11 years almost 12. The density between our hair is the same, but since my sister has been natural longer her length obviously doubles mine, though besides length, there is big difference between the density of our individual strands. Wait, didn’t I just mention density … yes, and I know it may sound redundant, but density of the strands as a whole versus the density of the individual strand is as extreme as day and night.
As you may have noticed my sister for the most part styles her hair down in a braidout, while I am constantly in loose twists updos … but why? Besides preference as previously stated, it boils down to coarse versus fine. My individual strands are extremely fine while my sister’s strands are fine, but slightly coarser than mine. This is why like a fingerprint, no two heads of hair are alike. Due to the finest of my hair when worn down, the strands are much more susceptible to tangling and matting. The degrees of coarse and fine vary immensely, just the slightest difference can dictate a regimen and style that benefits one but not another, which in my sister’s case, equips her handle more daily wear and tear from that minuscule difference.
Another factor boils down to good old porosity; how your hair retains or absorbs moisture. This capability of the hair is broken down in 3 levels:
- Low: Cuticle of the hair shaft is too compact and does not allow moisture to enter or leave the hair shaft.
- Normal: Cuticle is compact and permits moisture to pass through the shaft into the cortex as necessary, but does not allow too much moisture (water) to penetrate the cortex.
- High: Scales of the cuticle are lifted too far apart, creating holes or void spaces along your hair shaft, in return causing strands to retain to much moisture leading to breakage.
(*click here for more info on porosity)
Now all hair is naturally porous and yes, it is quite normal and very common to have more than one porosity level, but depending on the combination, this is another major factor in determining what will or will not work for your strands. Our hair routines regarding management are similar, but if I were to wear my down as often as my sister’s I would experience dryness and breakage. This reason for this is, my strands are normal with tendencies of high, the stress of wearing my hair down contributes to abrasions from clothing, absorbing properties that can cause dryness or lost of moisture more quickly, which is why my strands flourish in updo styles. My sister on the other hand has a combination of normal with tendencies of low. The finer the strands the more fragile, making them more susceptible to the elements, due to cuticle’s degree of compactness.
After many years of trial and error, I am finally understanding the capabilities and limits of my hair. Following advice from your favorite naturalista can definitely help you along your journey, but remember your hair has its own distinct imprint and even as an identical twin, there is no exception to the rule.
With my twin sis, Lyricist/ Singer/ Songwriter, TK Wonder