Image Source: @chelleee_b
I don’t know about y’all, but I personally don’t know one woman who hasn’t had a moment (if not a series of moments) when they haven’t struggled with their natural hair texture. More times than not, it’s not because they don’t like the hair that they came out of the womb with; it’s just that, because they grew up with a relaxer or pressing comb, they never really got “to know” their own hair or, figuring out how to bring out the best in their natural hair has been no easy feat.
If you just read that and can totally relate, on a myriad of levels, while the topic of getting (and staying) comfortable with natural hair is a docu-series of its own, my hope is that the following seven tips can help you to be more at peace with your hair and yourself. Because, trust and believe, there is something that is powerful and beautiful about a woman who knows what her natural hair texture is and doesn’t hide it.
1. Study the texture of your hair like you were getting a degree in it.
If you don’t get anything else from this article, please retain this first point. Whether you’re currently considering going all-natural, you are in the transitioning process or, it’s been a minute since you’ve been natural but, in all honesty, you’re hating every minute of it—please take a moment to consider that you might be struggling because you don’t know what your hair texture is. If your hair is chemically-treated and it’s been that way for a while, you might not know what your actual hair is like until you start to let your roots grow out. But if you are in the transition phase or your hair is already totally natural, it will benefit you, big time, to study your hair, so you can figure out what type you’ve got. That way, you’ll be better equipped when it comes to what products to use, how to approach the amount of shrinkage you have and what approach you need to take in order to maintain length retention. If you’d like some tips on where to begin this part of your natural hair journey, if you don’t know your hair type, take our texture quiz, here to read up on different hair types (there’s 2, 3 and 4 and then a breakdown of A, B and C), and here to look at different curl patterns and to learn more about things like porosity and density.
2. Find YouTube naturalistas who have a similar texture.
Once you’re pretty clear on what your hair type and texture is, set aside an hour or two to look up some YouTube naturalistas who have a similar one to yours. I know from personal experience that there is a bevy of women who can help you to learn how to protect and style your hair. Plus, each naturalista has her own personality, so you can also find someone who feels super relatable to you. There are way too many naturalistas on the YT site to even start naming names. What I will say is, if you go to the site and put “natural hair” and then your type (an example would be “natural hair” and “4c”), you’ll be immediately shown different channels of women with that hair type. Then all you’ve got to do is subscribe to their channel and you’re good to go.
3. Create a vision board of your long-term hair goals.
You know what they say—when we fail to plan, we plan to fail. While I’m pretty sure that you are familiar with what a vision board is, have you ever considered creating one specifically for your hair? One that includes pictures of where you’d like your hair to be a year, then two, then five years from now, along with diet plans, hair regimens, styling tools and other things that can help to make your hair journey a lot easier? I know that when I first got intentional about growing out my natural hair, I had collected so many hair reference links that it got to be super overwhelming. Putting some of those things into a vision board helped me to see, much clearer, what I wanted to do. If you’ve never made any type of vision board before, go here for some intro instructions. Oh, and if you’d prefer the convenience of having an electronic vision board (so you can download it on your phone at any time, click here for some apps that can help you out).
4. Remember that you can always blow-out or flat iron.
Just because you’ve made the decision to go all-natural, that doesn’t mean that your hair has to be curly all of the time. As a Black woman, one thing that I absolutely adore about my hair, is that it’s versatile as all get out. If you’ve got 3c-4c type hair, there is no way around the fact that you’re going to have a significant amount of shrinkage. But, if you want to rock straight locks or you want to see how much your hair has progressed, you can always pull out your hair dryer and wear a blow-out or you can flat iron your tresses too. Just make sure to keep in mind that while natural hair may look really strong, in many ways, it can be quite fragile. As far as maintenance tips for a blow-out, check out our article, “How To Maintain a Blowout on Natural Hair”. And when it comes to flat ironing, always remember that it’s best to take the “less is more” approach. For tips on how to safely flat iron your hair, you can check out these videos here, here and here. (Oh, also remember that you can always color your hair too. A rinse or using some hair paint is a safer option than permanent color. You can also be more “safely creative” with those options too.)
5. Don’t forget about braids, wigs, wraps and other cover-ups.
I won’t lie to you, when you’re first getting to know your natural hair in a very up close and personal way, there are going to be days when you’re straight-up frustrated. Between the bad hair days that everyone has, figuring out how to get your tresses to adapt to the weather (humid days can be the absolute worst), and deciding which products work vs. which ones don’t, sometimes you’re going to really want to either reach out for a container of relaxer or just take some clippers to your hair altogether. On those days, don’t forget that there are all sorts of options that will still have you out here looking beautiful without you having to worry too much about your locks in the process. You can braid (or twist) your hair. Some of the wigs that are out here? They will totally blow your mind! Also, something that has been my favorite hair cover-up accessory are hair wraps and turbans (if you go to Etsy and put “turbans” in the search field, you’ll find a ton of ‘em). What I like about all of these options is, not only will they have you out here lookin’ as fly as you wanna be, but they are a great way to protect your natural hair as you’re trying to gain some extra inches along the way.
6. Pamper your hair—and yourself.
When it comes to my own natural hair journey, something that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed is learning how to pamper my hair and also making sure to reward myself for choosing to let my natural soul glow. I give myself scalp massages. I deep condition my locks with Chebe power (which is some of the best stuff ever!). I add great-smelling essential oils to my shampoos, conditioners and my Jamaican black castor oil. When I’ve gone another month without any hair damage, I also treat myself to a new scarf, turban or I even toast myself with some bubbly. Something that going—and staying—all natural has done is helped me to celebrate the core of who I am in every way—and doing that has made me live more authentically, from head to toe. That’s always a good thing.
7. Remember that all hair is GOOD.
You don’t have the time and I don’t have the typing space to get into how deeply it both irks and grieves me to hear Black women talk about what “good hair” is. Whether folks realize it or not, that comes from the PTSD of slavery and the whitewashing of Black culture. Bottom line, there is no such thing as bad hair—just different textures. And honestly, the more comfortable I’ve become with my (mostly) 4a/4b hair, the more I adore it because of the range of styling that I’m able to do. Yeah, I truly do believe that if a lot of women who struggle with either going or staying natural were really honest with themselves, a big part of the issue has been that they don’t see their own hair as just being just as amazing and wonderful as anyone else’s. But the moment that light bulb goes off, trust me, while the ultimate goal should be to get your hair into its healthiest state, beyond that, you won’t want anything other than what you were blessed with. That’s because, you’ll see that your hair is better than “good”; it’s dopeness infinity! Regardless of what type and texture you’ve got, never—EVER—forget that.
What are some tips that you have or use to understand and embrace your natural texture? Let us know in the comments!