Beginning your natural hair journey can be overwhelming. It can be hard to process all the information that is available today. I’ve been on this road now for more than seven years and I’m still learning new tips, tricks and techniques everyday. Sometimes I wish I could share some of the knowledge I’ve gained with my younger natural self. I’m sure I’m not the only one who's had one of those, “If I only knew then what I know now” natural hair moments.
For all of your newly naturals, here's a few things I wish I had known way back then.
It's a Big Decision
I wish I really grasped the magnitude of going natural at the onset. In 2004, I simply cut my hair off and resumed my normal daily activities. It wasn't a big deal for me. I cut my hair because I was in the mood for a change. There wasn't a big "movement" back then, or at least not one I was aware of. I didn’t “transition” in the way we think about it today, nor was I member of a natural hair forum. There wasn’t a whole lot of information readily available like there is today.
I kept my routine extra simple, wearing wash-and-go styles and using minimal products. I was NOT a product junkie then! When my hair started growing and I entered that awkward stage, I had no idea how to manage it. Instead of embracing my curls, I flat ironed them the first chance I got and subjected by hair to heat damage. It wasn't until that moment that I realized how fragile my hair really was.
Myth: Natural Hair is Stronger Than Straight Hair
That brings me to the first myth I wish I had not believed. Natural hair is not stronger than relaxed hair. In fact, it has many more points at which to break. Every bend, every curl, every ringlet is an opportunity for breakage if you don’t properly care for your hair.
Natural Hair is NOT Relaxed Hair
After my second big chop in 2006, I pretty much wore braids to get me through my awkward phase the second time around. This was good in the sense that it was a protective style, but I didn't know anything about deep conditioning or taking care of my hair outside of the braids. I bought a bunch of "good" products for my hair, and although they would've worked great on my relaxed hair, they were no benefit to my new natural hair.
Even after my heat damage experience, I continued to go through the process of washing, blow drying then flat ironing. I was fighting a losing battle trying to keep my sleek style in the Houston heat and humidity. Had I known how truly versatile my hair was, I would’ve embraced my natural curls instead of trying to force my hair into styles that weren’t complimentary to my wild and gorgeous mane.
I wish I had realized early on in my journey that natural hair is different from relaxed hair. You may need to use different products to attain the best results with your natural hair. Many naturalistas find that using more natural products yields the best styles. These products usually are designed with your natural hair in mind.
Myth: Water is Your Enemy
Your natural hair needs water! Your relaxed hair may despise water (mine did), but your natural hair absolutely needs it. Most of the people I’ve talked to or met who describe their hair as being dry are not giving their hair enough moisture. Water is the only true and consistent moisturizer, and if your hair doesn't have it, then it's not getting enough moisture! As naturals, we have to separate our thinking from relaxed to natural. Water is your best friend!
Not All Natural Hair is The Same
This may seem obvious, but all natural hair is not the same! You have to take the time to learn about the unique needs of YOUR hair. I can tell you all day what works for my hair, but what works for me may not work for you.
What I can say with a high degree of certainty is that there are particular styles that work well across the board. Twist outs, braid outs, bantu knots and mini twists are universal styles whether you have 2A or 4C hair. Have fun with your hair, experiment, try new things and enjoy the freedom that being natural brings.
Myth: Natural Hair Isn't Worth It
I wouldn't be where I am today if I didn't go through all that I have been through. Sometimes I wish I had been able to take a class on being natural. It's hard learning on your own, but if you don't go through certain experiences, how will you appreciate how good you actually have it?
Just beginning on your transitioning journey? Get our top 10 tips for transitioning to natural hair.
It is okay not to know everything when you begin your natural hair journey. Part of the fun is learning. I don't have all the answers, but I think if there were more places spreading reputable information about natural hair care, then more people would be encouraged to make the change.
If you could travel back in time, what piece of valuable information would you share with your newly natural self?