A woman’s hair, just like her fashion, speaks volumes about her. It tells you if she’s adventurous, quirky, confident or more. Unlike fashion, hair seems a bit more personal. Deciding whether or not you should color your hair or cut it are major ‘hair decisions.’ And, if you are a woman-of-color, you may have found yourself pondering over whether you should chemically relax (perm or straighten) your hair, or let it flourish in all its natural glory. It’s a big decision that definitely hits close to home. As a natural hair girl, I know that it can be tough to weigh the pros and cons of going natural, so I decided to shed light on a few things that most of the natural hair gurus don’t always mention.
If you are in the midst of deciding between going natural or relaxing your hair, then keep reading. With any luck, you will learn something new or possibly get the information you’ll need to help you make the best decision for you and your hair:
1. Straight-ends are not your friends. If you transition to the natural hair lifestyle without cutting off your straight-ends (relaxed hair), then your twist and braid-out styles won’t turn out the way you expect them to. Straight-ends do not allow the hair to hold the manipulated curly or crinkled styles as long as your natural virgin hair will.
2. Damaged-ends are a styling challenge. If your strands are all natural from root to end, but your ends are dried out and damaged, then your styling options will be limited. The curly look will look more frizzy and frayed because of the lack of moisture in your ends.
3. Going natural requires a lot of hard work, dedication and discipline. It requires tons more effort to maintain a healthy head of hair. You have to use the right products, natural oils, and conditioners, as well as have consistent routines to ensure your hair is infused with moisture. If not, it can become damaged because of the lack of TLC.
4. You must plan ahead and allow the proper styling time. When attempting staple styles to achieve a curly look (which include, but are not limited to, twist outs, Bantu knot outs, braid outs, flexi rods, and flat twists), you have to allow enough time for your hair to dry completely or the curls will not take. Your hair will come out looking like a wet jerry curl (think Soul Glow in the hit comedy, “Coming to America”). It is highly disappointing when it comes time to style the pre-set look and as you’re unraveling the twists, flexi rods, and braids you notice how damp your hair still is. Being natural means no last-minute glam looks for you. More than likely, you’ll have to prepare ahead of time for the look you’re going for.
5. Scheduling in hair care is a must. You will need to make room in your schedule for your natural hair routines in order to keep those kinks, coils, and curls luscious and beautiful. Wash day and hair day are big deals, and the reason they include the word ‘day’ in their title is that it will more than likely take up the bulk of your day. Make sure that day is open and dedicated to your crown.
6. Natural Hair is an attention-grabber all on its own. People will ask tons of questions about your hairstyle and they’ll want to touch your hair. Prepare for the compliments, comments, and questions, “I love your hair… how’d you do that… I wish I could do mine,” and the list goes on.
7. Hair textures are as unique as people. Some people go natural in hopes of getting curly ringlets and manageable textures. It’s important to understand your hair type because if you’ve been following a natural guru with different hair type than yours, you could end up disappointed with the results. Know the difference between a kink, a coil and a curl. All beautiful, yet all different, curl patterns.
8. Protective styles are your best friend. If you do not have the time to spend on hair routines and constantly styling your hair, use a protective style. Protective styles include braids, twists, weaves, wigs, and crochet braids (which is an alternative form of a hair weave used with crochet hair extensions and a latch hook crochet hair needle). These styles are considered ‘protective’ because they keep your hair away from heat and daily style methods that might be causing damage to your hair. With protective styles, you can also give your arms a break and save some time in the morning while getting ready for the day. Also, while your hair is safely tucked away in your protective style, it will thrive and grow more. Be careful though, protective styles can become very addicting and we have to allow our hair some room to breathe and be free. It is important to maintain proper hair care in between protective styling.
9. Wash and go’s are something to strive for. The Natural gurus make them seem easily achievable. Wash and condition your hair, put the product in it while detangling it, let it dry and boom big beautiful curly fro fresh out the sink. Wash and go’s are one of the styles that can be disappointing if you do not have the texture or healthy hair that allows for it. You can usually tell right after you dry your hair from wash day and add your leave-in conditioner (or moisturizer) if you can achieve the look or not because your curl pattern will be revealed after carefully applying the product to your freshly washed hair.
10. Going Natural is all about experimenting with different styles, techniques, products and looks. It is trial and error. What works for others may not work for you and vice versa. Going natural isn’t just about achieving the look and getting hip to the trend. It is a long journey and the destination is self-love. As you begin your natural journey you’ll experience joy and frustration paired with satisfaction and disappointment. But you’ll be investing in yourself and falling in love with the beautiful crown you were born with.
I hope these tips help you with your natural journey. The tips were not meant to discourage, but to let you know from someone who is over two years into her natural journey that you are not alone with the struggles of going natural. It is worth every bit to end up loving your hair for exactly what it is. Enjoy, and as they say in Cool Runnings, “Peace be the Journey!”