For women of color with Afro-textured hair, part of the holistic approach to the new year might include setting chemical hair straighteners aside and embracing their natural hair texture. Natural hair isn’t a fad, nor is it a fleeting trend. Today’s natural hair is about expression, freedom of choice, and beauty on your own terms—and it’ll look flawless if you follow these four simple tips.
Begin with research. Back in the day, many people had no idea what to expect from the process of going natural. Now there’s a galaxy of natural hair blogs and social media accounts to provide information and inspiration: Afrobella, Black Girl Long Hair, Chary Jay, Curly Nikki, Chescaleigh, Hey Fran Hey, Natural Hair Rules, Natural Chica, Naptural 85, Mahogany Curls, the Monroe Sisters, Taren 916. The list of natural hair blogs, vlogs, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts you can gain helpful information from is lengthy. You’re bound to find someone online who’s got a similar texture or look to inspire you to visualize your own natural hair, try new products and styles, and address your concerns going into the process.
Do the big chop. Or don’t. The choice is yours. Some people choose to go natural by going through the “big chop,” where all of the relaxed, straight hair is chopped off and you begin anew with a close-cropped head of natural hair. For those who are ready and brave enough to make that decision, going natural begins immediately. For others who are concerned about retaining length and aren’t ready to cut it all off, the need for transitioning styles comes into play. Many women who want to go natural without undergoing the big chop use roller sets, rod sets, or blowouts to keep their hair’s uniform texture. Be careful with heat styling when you’re transitioning, as too much heat can affect your hair’s curl pattern.
Reconsider your old products. Natural hair has new needs, and part of the initial challenge can be working out what your hair is trying to tell you. For the most part, natural hair is deprived of moisture, and a new natural will require more frequent deep-conditioning treatments, oil treatments, pre-shampoo treatments, and steam treatments to replenish what the hair craves. You’ll discover that products that worked great for your hair in a relaxed chemical state don’t work as well (or at all) for natural hair. It may be time to revert back to your really old favorites to tame your new mane. It is a process of trial and error, but it’s an important process.
Learn to love your hair again. It takes quite a while to really understand what products worked for newly natural hair, which styles make it look its best. Most of all, it takes some getting used to as far as loving the way it looks. But know that your hair is your hair, and it won’t necessarily grow at the same rate or look the same way as someone else’s. It is unique to you, and the important thing is to love and celebrate your natural hair at every stage of the journey. Consider the reasons you went natural in the first place—for the long-term strength and health of your hair, as well as to reflect an authentic version of yourself. Love it, live it, and be it—it’s yours and it is naturally beautiful!
Photo credited to: Mark Lyndersay