When I decided to go natural back in 2012 it was because I was done charring my scalp to smitherins by applying relaxers to straighten my hair every 6 – 8 weeks. I hated visits to the hair salon because those visits usually ended in pain…lots of it.
Now I know first-hand that the internet is littered with a gazillion articles and videos on how to look after your natural hair. However, my natural hair posts on this here blog, going forward, will chronicle my personal experience and what worked for me on this journey – I repeat, what worked for me.
What you’ll quickly find is that what works for someone else will not always work for you. For example,
Some natural haired beauties swear by coconut oil.
My hair does not. It becomes super brittle and crackly when I use it.
Tea Tree Oil is a fan favourite among a lot of naturals.
ONE DROP of the stuff has me knocking back anti-histamines.
Some natural hair regimes online will have you taking annual leave from work to shampoo, clarify, co-wash, deep condition & braid your hair.
Who’s got time for that? Not me.
So to kick off what I hope will be one of many posts, I am going to share some basic insights that I believe every Natural Hair Rookie would appreciate knowing off the bat:
1. Hair + Identity
I didn’t realise just how my hair was linked to my identity until I went on this journey. It’s going to sound super shallow but it took me 18 months to feel attractive sporting my coily curls. I remember one co-worker telling me that I was brave for going natural when I was single, as natural hair was a deterrent to most men. Yup, she said “brave”. Smh.
2. Water Is Your Friend
When my tresses where relaxed water was my kryptonite to be avoided at ALL costs. Rain storms and shower mist filled me with such dread. I would do a Matrix back-bend to avoid all forms of precipitation. What you quickly come to learn is that water is very key to moisturising and keeping your natural hair healthy.
3. Oil Is Not A Moisturiser
I hate to break it to you kiddos but oil is not a moisturiser. Water is. What oils do though, is that they seal in the moisture to your hair. You see, if you applied oil straight to dry hair you would be doing NOTHING for it. However, if you spritzed your dry hair with water and then applied oil you would be effectively trapping the water particles to the hair shaft and keeping your hair moisturised. Ta-da!
4. So Much Texture
When I first went natural I was under the impression that my entire head was made-up of the same hair texture. It wasn’t until I realised that I had been cutting off a lot my hair at the front of the head while transitioning, thinking it was still the relaxed bits, because it had a looser curl pattern at the front of my head compared to the much tighter curl pattern at the back of my head.
5. Braided or Twisted Hair > Fros
In the early days all I wanted to do was grow my hair out to a length were I could wear it as a cute ‘fro. The thing about wearing an afro is that whilst it initially looks cute, it leaves your hair dried up and a tangled mess by the end of the day. Listen, I suffer from ‘fro envy as much as the rest of them.
6. Shrinkage Is Real
There’s nothing like a quick douse under the shower to morph half a metre worth of coily goodness into 5 cm’s worth of a frigid, tangled mess. It’s going to happen. It isn’t a train smash. Accept it and move on.
7. Product Junkies Beware
When I first went natural I wanted to use and have all the fancy, schmancy products that the predominately American hair bloggers waxed lyrical about. These products weren’t (and mostly, still aren’t) available on my side of the world (Southern Africa). I was convinced that if I didn’t have those products NOTHING would work. I was wrong.
I did manage to get my hands on some fan favourites eventually, most of which didn’t take to my hair. Instead I looked to source locally available products that wouldn’t cost me a Queen’s ransom.
8. Park That Comb
Remember how you’d comb your hair, just nje, when it was dry? Stop that. Stop it now. Ideally combing should only occur when the following 4 states are observed:
i.Your hair is saturated in conditioner;
ii. A wide-toothed comb is being used;
iii. Combing starts at the ends and works its way to your roots; and
iv. You need it to form neat lines of hair division on your scalp for braiding purposes.
9. Limit The Heat
The natural hair nazis will demand that your locs never feel the effects of a blow dryer or hair straightener in this millenium. And while they’re correct that you should seriously consider limiting your exposure to heat emitting hair tools, errr getting your hair blow dried every 3 months for your split-ends trim or bi-annually for your length check isn’t going hurt.
10. Have Some Fun With It!
There are many ways to rock your hair – two strand twists, plaited lines, weaves, braids. Make a decision to intentional have fun with your hair. Have fun learning how it works. Have fun working out what styles you and your hair prefer. Have fun reacquainting yourself with the mass of curls residing your hair.
For more hair inspiration and tips, check out the pins I’ve posted to my Pinterest Board: https://www.pinterest.com/vimfromzim/h-a-i-r/
So did I cover most of the bases? What natural hair advice do you wish you’d known earlier?
Holla in the comments, chickens!