Easy Guide for How to Section Your Natural Hair: 7 Tips

Last updated on December 29th, 2023 at 07:30 pm

Natural hair with all its twists and turns needs special handling if you want to prevent hair breakage. In this article we’ll look at best practices for how to section natural hair including the right products and tools to use for the best results.

how to section natural hair

Of course, when you go to section your natural hair, you don’t just do it for the heck of it. Yet, you still want to be mindful of why are you are sectioning. You have to start with the goal in mind.

Why are you sectioning your hair?

Is it to prep for a particular style? Maybe a holiday hairstyle or a wedding style

To detangle?

To wash and apply product?

How you section your natural hair will be depend on your answers to those questions.

You may require more sections or smaller sections. You may need to use natural oils or even a leave-in conditioner while working through your hair.

It really depends on WHY you are sectioning your hair. You don’t want to go through all the hard work of sectioning only to cause excess tangling or worst, hair breakage.

Once you are clear on your reasons, you can move on to the How-tos.

When you’re working with a section of hair, it’s best to focus on just that section as if it’s a head of its own.

how to section natural hair

The Best Way to Section Natural Hair

When it comes to sectioning natural hair, there are some guidelines to follow.

Why guidelines you wonder?

Guidelines help you achieve a goal in the best possible way without causing problems.

How you section your hair will determine if you do so in a way that doesn’t cause damage to your hair.

By far, the best way to section natural hair is the fastest way BUT in a way that doesn’t cause you any hair breakage or at least mitigates it. So, sometimes faster isn’t always better.

Check out these basic guidelines for sectioning natural hair:

  • Always work with moisturized hair
  • Lubricate your hair as well
  • When sectioning, only work on one section at a time
  • Don’t detangle your sections while creating them
  • Create sections of the same size (there are exceptions mentioned below)
  • Use hair clips to contain your sections

Also, if you have a looser hair type or kinkier hair texture, how you section could take a little more time or less time.

Factoring in Density When Sectioning Natural Hair

Your density determines the overall thickness of your hair. Higher density, thicker hair. Lower density, thinner hair.

Density does not factor in the circumference of an individual strand of hair.

Fine hair, for example has a smaller circumference than a thicker strand of hair. Yet, if you have many strands of fine hair on your head, it could be classified as high density.

If you have less dense hair and are braiding or twisting your hair, you may notice that creating sections of the same size leaves you with different sized braids and twists. To circumvent or find a way around that, create your sections based on the density of the section.

For example, I have more hair in the top of my head than on the sides. Therefore, I part larger sections on the sides and smaller sections at the top. This allows for all of the size braids or twists to appear the same.

Even if the goal is to remove your braids for a braid out or twists for twist outs, your sizes can be parted with density in mind. That’s because you will break apart your twists into varying sizes for natural curls.

Factoring in Length When Sectioning

long hair

If your hair is short but super thick, then you want to take your time so you don’t rip at your hair.

You want to be very careful when sectioning long hair. It’s a bit faster sectioning short hair but that depends on the density.

If you have a longer hair length, you want to take your time and be careful not to tangle your hair or tug the ends of your hair while sectioning it.

As you can see, with short and long hair the common denominator is taking your time.

Wash Day Sectioning

On wash day, you’ll do a lot of sectioning of your natural hair. You’ll need to work in sections when:

To ensure adequate coverage of your pre-poo and deep conditioning treatment, you need to section your hair. Four sections is a good number of sections to start with but if you have a lot of density like mentioned above, you may need to create 6 or even 8 sections of hair.

After you section your hair to apply a pre-poo or deep conditioner, you will be already sectioned for washing as long as you clip your sections up to secure them after the pre-poo application.

As a fine hair natural, I create 4 sections with an occasional 5th section in the crown section of my head.

Check out this video which shares how to section your hair for detangling:

At the conclusion of washing and conditioning your hair, you’ll move on to styling. This is yet another time you need to section your hair carefully.

Sectioning Natural Hair for a Long Term Protective Style

protective style
Loose Twists Protective Style

When you are doing a long term protective style, you will be creating lots of small sections. So, you need to have lots of hair clips at the ready to hold your hair in place.

You’ll also likely need a spray bottle to maintain damp hair while sectioning. You don’t want to manipulate dry hair even when using a wide-toothed comb.

Sectioning Natural Hair for Curly Styles

cute natural hairstyles curls
Curlformers set

If you’ll be using one of these hair tools to create a curl pattern that’s different from your natural hair’s curl definition, create sections in the same size:

  • Curlformers
  • Flexi Rods
  • Straw sets
  • Read sets
  • Perm rods
  • Any type of hair roller

The reason you want all of your sections to be the same size is when you take out the hair tool and fluff, your curls will appear more natural.

Unlike when you are doing two-strand twists, simple braids or chunky braids, you want your curls to be different sizes. This looks much more natural and less like you used one of the planned curling techniques.

boho braids
Boho Braids

Unless “perfect curls” are what you’re aiming for, of course. The “unplanned” curly look is much more natural looking.

The sections you do should be created when you are working on the section and not before. If you section everything at once and apply your styling product of choice, you’ll end up tangling your hair and the styler will have dried out.

Sectioning Natural Hair for Bantu Knots and Finger Coils

sectioned natural hair

Bantu knots are a beautiful natural hairstyle that when taken down leaves you with beautiful bouncy curls.

If you have very long hair, bantu knot outs are very similar in appearance to when using a curling wand. So, you want to part the hair in such a way that takes into consideration how your curls will fall once the knots are removed.

If you’ll be doing a style like finger coils, sectioning can be tricky.

For longer lasting finger coils, you need to do smaller sections using a rat tail comb for more precise parting and coiling.

Apply your favorite products for styling to the section of your hair you’ll be working on, right after parting it.

Just remember, the larger the section, the shorter lived the style will be. This is a rule of thumb for all curly and coily hair styles.

Whatever curl method you use, you want to section properly so your hair comes out looking like you want.

Tools Needed for Sectioning:

  • Wide-tooth Comb
  • Alligator Clips
  • Hair Ties
  • Rat-tail comb

These tools can be found in my Amazon shop here: https://www.amazon.com/shop/reviyve

As you can see, there are different methods for how to section natural hair. Sectioning can be a hair care routine all on its own.

Where to Next?

Speaking of hair routines, do you want to learn about how to build a hair regimen? Your specific hair routines are what make up the totality of your hair care regimen.

Your next step is to grab one of these hair care guides

It will help you to build a solid set of routines so that your natural hair can flourish and you can finally reach your hair goals.

how to section natural hair

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Michelle Smith

Michelle is a Christian natural hair enthusiast. She's been natural for 20+ years and shares natural hair care tips and easy hairstyles for those with low density or thin fine natural hair. It's her joy to inspire you to live by faith in God while caring for your "crown."

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