Short Natural Hairstyles – 5 Tips for Maintaining a TWA

4C Natural TWA

After last year’s media rave over the lovely Lupita Nyung’o’s gorgeous and versatile hair, there’s no surprise that many naturals are now rocking short natural hairstyles. There are many advantages to wearing short hair…especially as a 4C natural. TWA’s (Teeny Weeny Afro) take less time to maintain, are very stylish, and bring out your facial features. If you currently are or are considering doing a shorter look, here are some key tips for maintaining a TWA.

1.Use Leave-In Conditioners (if Using Styling Products)

Moisture is key for any 4C natural and regardless of any hairstyle, it is important to moisturize daily. However, many have complained of their moisturizers becoming a burden when trying to maintain certain looks. The preferred moisturizers for 4C naturals are usually creamy and packed with oils. Although these moisturizers make the hair very soft and have their place for many TWA hairstyles, they usually react horribly when combined with styling products. The consistency of the moisturizers often make the hair either too heavy or resistant to manipulation by styling products. Therefore, the good product for moisturizing your TWA without sacrificing the desired hairstyle, is a water-based leave-in conditioner. Leave-in conditioners are typically lighter than creamy moisturizers, making them a better mix with your styling products. Also, even though they are lighter they still moisturize the hair well and often add a pleasant sheen.

Note: In the winter, make sure to use leave-ins (and all products) that are glycerin free. Glycerin is a humectant that pulls the moisture from the air into you hair. However, the air is very dry in the winter and the last thing you want is your products pulling dry air into your hair.

2. Use Alcohol Free Products

Many of the popular short natural hairstyles require you to use products that have good hold (i.e. gels, styling mousse, etc.) however, you must make sure that any products that you purchase are alcohol free. Very few things ruin 4C natural hair faster than alcohol. This drying agent can make the hair hard and brittle, eventually leading to a breakage nightmare. There are many styling products on the market that are alcohol free that are still great for styling. Make sure to always pay close attention to the product ingredients and avoid those that will hinder hair health. Although your hair is short, healthy hair should always remain a top priority.

3. Keep Your Edges Tapered

There’s just something about tapered edges that make your TWA look fresh and neat. Tapering your edges can be the single greatest difference between your hairstyle looking mediocre versus amazing. Although TWA’s are typically depicted as being low maintenance, this a very important factor for those considering a short natural hairstyle. Unless you know how to trim your own edges, keeping a TWA looking its best is an investment of time and money.

4. Protect Your Hair at Night

If you have shorter hair it’s understandable how you can get caught up in the ease of things and begin to slack off when it comes to protecting it…I’ve been there. Nevertheless, keep in mind, that regardless to what length your hair is, standard pillowcases can cause serious damage. When most fabrics rub against your hair they have the tendency to roughen the hair’s cuticle which can lead to breakage.  Always tie your hair with a satin scarf or buy a satin pillowcase to protect the hair at night. We don’t want bald spots ladies!

5. Change it Up

Many people think that short natural hair lacks versatility but that’s simply not true. I think Lupita gave us all examples of many cute looks you can achieve with a TWA. From twist outs, to blowouts, mohawks, parts, and wash and go’s…the looks at this stage are endless. Also accessorizing is great way to revamp your hairstyle. Experimenting with headpieces, scarves, and headwraps are just a few ways to use accessories to your advantage.

Take chances and make the most out of your TWA. I hope this post was helpful and I’d love to hear your feeback.

What are some of the ways you maintain a TWA? Leave a comment below! 

Source: “Lupita Nyong’o” by gdcgraphics is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

About author


Angie is the creator & Editor-n-Chief of, a 4C natural hair site encouraging naturals to embrace the hair that God gave them. Through sharing her journey, she hopes to help unveil the beauty of natural coils. You can connect with her via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.


  1. justin 19 January, 2015 at 16:26 Reply

    Great advice, i think anyone in the 4c hair community will be able to relate to the content in this post. very well written 🙂

  2. Tich 19 January, 2015 at 16:55 Reply

    Solid advice on maintaining hair. Just a quick question? Do you have any advice on how to maintain healthy dreadlocks? I have some. And what products do you recommend I should use?


    • Angie 19 January, 2015 at 17:52 Reply

      Thanks so much Tich!
      To answer your question, here’s a couple tips:
      1. Use Clarifying shampoos (shampoos without sulfate) they clean the hair without stripping the hair and retain moisture
      2. Hot oil treatments (my preference would probably be using coconut oil) – Doing this often will stop your locs from drying out

      I should be writing an in depth post about this sometime in the future, so check back! 🙂

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