If you aren’t aware of a TWA is, let’s start there! “TWA” stands for “Tiny Weeny Afro”, and refers to an afro that is short in length and on the smaller side in terms of volume. More often than not, it’s referring to the former, as some NaturAllista’s hair can be compressed and compact no matter the length! When discussing TWAs, it is normally in the context of it being the result of a big chop, and is typically something new NaturAllista’s will rock if they’ve suffered chemical or physical damage to their hair. Despite this common link between new NaturAllista and TWAs, a lot of long-time NaturAllista’s sport TWAs and not all new naturals will take the route of cutting their hair.
Whether you’re a NaturAllista who has just decided on doing the big chop or someone who has shorter hair, there are many styles you can pull off with your unbound curls or coils. Aside from how you style your TWA, how you care for it will help it remain healthy and flourish, if you so choose to grow it out. Here we’ll go over how to care for your TWA, how it can differ from caring for longer natural hair, and how caring for it can be slightly different depending on if your hair has been damaged or not. This can also be useful for those debating on whether they want to go big and cut their hair into a TWA!
First and foremost, let’s go over how to care for a TWA in general…
Caring for TWA
TWAs are just like any other hair length or style in terms of what they need to hydrate, remain moisturized, and maintain the hair’s health. Some may have the misconception that they require little to no maintenance, however this is far from the truth. You want to nurture and care for your TWA just as you would care for a fro that’s too big to fit into a baseball cap, as your hair needs looking after no matter the length. This brings us to our first point…
1. Don’t neglect your TWA just because the hair is shorter: no matter the length of your hair or the volume of your TWA, you want to care for it as normal. The only difference there should be is in the amount of product you use on your hair. Shorter hair naturally means less product. This, however, isn’t referring to the amount of product your hair normally takes in. If your hair normally is high porosity and takes a lot of product well, it will do so at any length. You just will not need the amount of product to cover a section of your hair that is, say 1 inch when stretched, that you would when covering a section that is 2 inches when stretched.
2. Keep in moisturized: don’t think that your TWA doesn’t need any product to stay moisturized. It’ll need more than a spritz of water every morning to stay hydrated; especially if you have kinkier coils that have trouble retaining moisture. Using leave-in conditioners and moisturizers are still a must if you want to maintain the physical health of your hair. Just because you’re wearing your hair out and it isn’t very long doesn’t mean it’s split-end-and-one-strand-knot-resistant! Our Hydrating Leave-In Conditioner is perfect for those who plan on doing wash-and-gos with their TWAs or wish to have a less defined fro. If you’re looking for more of a styling product, you can go for the Hydrating Moisturizer, as it will define your curls while also moisturizing them.
3. Protect your hair at night: this goes beyond using a satin bonnet or pillowcase. You also would benefit from separating your hair in some way so it doesn’t become matted and tangled as you sleep. As tempting as it is to just pop a bonnet over your afro, separating the hair in any way it will allow, even if it's a few clips here and there, will prevent any tangling from happening. This will make it easier for you to refresh your TWA and reduce breakage throughout the week.
4. Deep conditioning is still important: don’t get into the habit of not treating your hair the same as you would if it was longer! No matter how short your hair is, it still needs to be nurtured. Deep conditioning not only deeply hydrates the hair, but makes it so your hair is able to retain moisture better the more you deep condition. This will ultimately help reduce breakage and damage to the hair, no matter the length. One great thing about TWAs, like mentioned before, is that you won’t need as much product. Our Ice Cream Deep Conditioning Treatments come in 4oz packets. No matter the length of your TWA and the porosity of your hair, it’s a guarantee you won’t be using a full, or even a half of, a packet. The good thing is these treatments last 3 months in the freezer, allowing you to hang onto them a little longer than those with longer hair.
Caring for TWA: How it differs from longer lengths
When it comes to differences between caring for long hair versus shorter lengths like TWAs, there really aren’t a lot. Hair needs what it needs to remain healthy and flourish, no matter the length. The only real difference you’ll come across is how you go about tying your hair up at night or protecting it while you’re sleeping. Like mentioned before, you don’t just want to pull a bonnet over your head and go to sleep. Your hair still has the ability to loop around itself, creating single strand knots and split ends.
However, if your TWA is shorter than an inch or so, it may be hard for you to put the hair into any kind of twist or braid. That’s fine! You could be a case of throwing on a bonnet and heading to bed. Your main goal is to make sure the hair is moisturized and lubricated enough so you won’t have to worry about it rubbing against itself. Simply spritzing your hair with some water and a little leave-in conditioner would help prevent this.
When it comes to styling, again, you may not be able to put your hair in twists or braids for a twist/braid out. Most naturals are aware of this once they decide on how short they want their hair, so keep that in mind and decide what you want before chopping.
Caring for TWA: If your hair is damaged
Like mentioned before, a lot of naturals decide to cut their hair and rock a TWA to get rid of any damaged hair. Most of the time, this damage is from chemical treatments (like relaxers), that damage and restructure the whole length of the cuticle. This means that most naturals who choose to do the big chop into a TWA are getting rid of most, if not all of their hair down. Even though some may choose to buzz it all off, most decide to leave a little of their hair, aka a TWA, left around to play with. It is not necessarily a bad thing to keep the damaged hair around, however it does mean you will have to be extra careful and mindful of how you’re caring for your hair. Any new growth can suffer if not attended to properly; split ends and breakage are the two likely kinds of physical damage you will experience if not careful. Here are some tips on how to care for a TWA that has damaged hair:
1. Make sure you are deep conditioning whenever you wash. This will not only deeply moisturize your hair, but help to strengthen it against any further damage. When your hair is chemically damaged, it is often weak and in need of repair. Consistently deep conditioning will ensure you are providing your hair with the nutrients it needs to repair any damage that can be reversed and prevent any irreversible damage from causing more issues along the hair shaft. Our Strengthening Ice Cream Treatment with Moringa-Monoi and Carrot is perfect for hydrating the hair while also feeding it what it needs to remain strong and resistant against breakage and split ends.
2. Keep up with trims. You want to make sure you are keeping your hair as healthy as possible. Trimming will ensure you’re getting rid of any split ends, knots, or damaged hair that could travel up the cuticle to cause more damage.
3. Be realistic if your hair is experiencing extreme splitting or breakage. If you regularly trim and your hair still seems to split up its length and experience knots, you may need to cut off more hair than you initially planned. Some damage to the hair, especially if it is chemical, cannot be reversed or repaired. This is no fault of your own, your hair just cannot recover from the chemical breakdown. Your best, and time saving, option would be to cut off whatever damage is there. This may mean cutting your hair shorter than you’d like, but it would be the lesser of two “evils”. Evil is definitely a very strong word when applied to anything regarding hair, so try to see it in a positive light...it will always grow back! This may be a good time for you to experiment with wigs or just rock a short buzz. You may even find you have to cut off less than anticipated. The important thing is that you listen to your hair and pay attention to how it’s reacting to the length it’s being kept at!
4. Moisture, moisture, and more moisture. Without overdoing it, make sure your hair is being rehydrated and moisturized throughout the week. You want to reduce any breakage that may occur on the damaged ends of your hair. Since the ends of your hair are the oldest, and more often than not the most damaged, they are prone to breakage and splitting. Focusing on keeping the ends moisturized will prevent breakage from the bottom of your strands. Making sure the rest of your hair, up its length, is properly moisturized so it’s strong and resistant against any breakage or splitting that could travel up the hair from the ends. Making sure the base of your strands, closer to your follicles at the roots, are properly moisturized will prevent fraying at the root and damage new growth. Our Hydrating Moisturizer is a great option for shorter hair, as it is like a styler as well. It will define your curls while providing enough moisture to last you throughout the week.
5. Keep your scalp healthy. This could look like washing more thoroughly, paying more attention to your scalp instead of the strands of your hair (which is what we recommend anyways). Keeping a clean and healthy scalp will only encourage growth and allow your strands to receive the oil naturally produced by your scalp. If your scalp is dry and not producing enough oil to keep itself and your roots nourished, you could use a light oil to help. Our Hydrating Oil Blend is perfect for the scalp, as it isn’t too heavy and will not clog your pores. This allows your scalp to absorb the oil, nourishing it and encouraging it to produce more oil than it is.
6. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different styles that will also protect your hair. If your TWA is at a certain length, you may be able to utilize some protective styles like flat twists, braids, or twist outs. This will allow you to give your hair a break from any manipulation or tension on the hair, which will mitigate any breakage or excess damage.
1. Have fun with your TWA! Cute styles like Bantu knots, twists, or little puffs can help switch things up. If your hair isn’t at a length where these styles would work, have fun playing with color or cool buzzed designs. Now’s your time to experiment and get creative.
2. Make the decision if your goal is to grow your hair out or keep it shorter. This will help you know how often you want to trim your hair. Like mentioned in a section above, if your hair is damaged, trimming should be done rather frequently. However, if your hair doesn’t need frequent maintenance, you may not want to trim every week if you wish to grow your hair longer. This does not mean don’t trim at all! If you wish for your hair to remain shorter, you may want to trim every week or however frequently you need, even if you have no damage or “reason” to trim.