When someone utters the sentiment “I don’t like my hair type. How do I fix it?” my thoughts begin to spiral into an abyss of frustration and empathy. My mind immediately runs through what I have scheduled for the day in the event that this conversation becomes longer than I expected. Sometimes they are succinct and other times it requires more time. Some people misspeak when they say they do not like their hair type. Of course in our niche online community we assume that their use of hair type means curl pattern but that is not always the case. I always ask people to explain their concerns so that I can more accurately understand their needs and direct them appropriately, whether it is NaturallyCurly.com, a product recommendation, or a trichologist. Here are a few statements that many newbies tend to say when sharing their concerns.
“My hair is so dry.”
Sometimes when people say they do not like their hair type, they are genuinely confused on how to properly communicate their concerns. For some women, hair type is understood as purely tactile. When I ask them to expound, they tend to say, “It’s so dry.” From there we go into a pleasant conversation about regimens, products, and ingredients. Asking about their regimen and products usually provide more clarity on why they might not be achieving their desired results. A lot of newbies are not knowledgeable about reading labels. Like many, they fall prey to advertising. They see the $4.99 price tag with the word natural on the label and go with it.
“My hair is stuck to my head.”
When people are accustomed to blow-drying and flat ironing, of course there is likelihood that mastering a twist out, flat-twist out, and braid out will be a challenging adjustment. Patience is key. In Jenell B. Stewart’s video 8 Reasons Your Twist Outs are A Hot Mess she gives very specific tips about achieving a defined twist out. Giving tutorial suggestions is a great way for people to see the versatility of their texture.
“My hair is pretty when it’s wet.”
Maintaining the definition of your hair while it is wet is a combination of the right product and technique. Sister Scientist focuses on how to maintain curl definition in her exposition of How to Tame Frizz, According to Science. Notice how I said maintain and not create. Hair care products cannot create curls, only capture or enhance them. The best way to enhance your curl definition is to start with moisturized hair. Dry hair is more prone to frizz, so making sure your hair is properly moisturized is the first step. Some textures are naturally frizzy, so frizz is not always an indicator of dryness or damage. Here, I tend to ask about moisturizers and styling product and direct them to a few wash and go tutorials with women who shared their curl pattern.
“My hair doesn’t curl.”
I wanted to address this statement last because it always brings me the most grief. At this time it is important to not become so overwhelmed with frustration that your response is condescending. Use your discernment to decide if this is a time for a history lesson that is accompanied with love and encouragement or just a simple “Your hair is beautiful too.” There are countless women who want to go or return natural but are oblivious to the potential emotional or mental aspects that may occur when your reality does not meet your expectation. I know it is not that deep for everyone but it is indeed for many. This is a time to be gentle, loving, and kind. Everyone does not arrive to the same place you are as fast as you did and some never get there! Another thing we (seasoned or veteran naturals) tend to forget is that you cannot expect everyone to be a hair enthusiast. Although I always encourage people to do their research, do not gawk when they tell you they use Pink Lotion or scoff when they do not know about different types of silicones.
When people express disdain about their hair type, do not immediately dismiss it as self-hate. Ask more questions to see where the concern really lies. When (not if) you are ignorant on a subject you do not know which questions to ask or how to ask them. If it is not hair care, it is a car dealership, doctor’s office, job interview, or large college campus. Believe it or not, we have all been there so let’s show a little more love to the newbies.