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Natural Black Hair: My Journey and Hair Advice

Updated on May 8, 2012
braided natural hair after 3 years
braided natural hair after 3 years | Source

Why do we use relaxers anyways?

Natural black hair is not hard to manage. This myth prevents many black women from going natural. They think once they stop relaxing their hair, they will be left with kinky matted hair.

Black women have been conditioned to believe, that their natural hair is unattractive and impossible to manage. Relaxer companies feed this lie, to sell their products. Relaxers are very damaging to the hair and scalp. not only are they unhealthy for your hair, but they can have unhealthy effects on one’s self image.

Most black women relax their hair because they have been taught from a young age that black hair is ugly and needs to be fixed. The decision to chemically straighten one’s hair, is likely about being socially acceptable. It’s more than just a hairstyle choice, for most black women.

Who's setting your beauty standard?

So what’s the solution to fixing our beauty standard?

I want to make it clear, that I’m not coming down on women who use relaxers. I just hate the idea, that black hair is ugly and needs to be fixed. I’m not trying to make anyone go natural. I just want to get women thinking about why they do the things they do. The issue isn’t just hair, it’s unhealthy mindsets. I understand that it can be hard to change the way you perceive your hair, especially, if you believe that your natural hair is ugly.

My goal is to give you sound information and advice so you can make an educated decision.

I wonder what my real hair looks like

My decision to go natural started with this thought, “I wonder what my real hair looks like?” I remember feeling my roots that day. They were crimpy and unruly. It was definitely time for a relaxer. I patted the top of my head of my head thoughtfully. I remembered even as a child, I liked when the new growth appeared; I always liked feeling the little waves. As I patted the top of my hair that day, I began to imagine. What if all my hair were taken over by this unruly, knotty, kinky mess of curls? The thought was scary and yet intriguing. The inner child who liked the wooly mess of curls, was very happy to rebel. In that moment, I decided to never relax my hair again.

then came the waiting process. The following months were trying on my resolve. I had to withstand some critics. Many said rude things like, “Girl your hair is getting nappy” “Are you really going outside like this?” a lot of it came from family members. It was almost like they were embarrassed to be seen with me. I’m not going to lie, it was hurtful. But as the months went by, I became stronger in my decision. I also encountered other naturals, who knew how to style transitioning hair. They helped a lot. One of my good friends encouraged me the most. She would always compliment me on my hair. She had this lovely natural hair, and knew how to style it. I was always amazed, each time I saw her hair. She carried this amazing confidence and self-acceptance, that I wanted. Her confidence helped me to embrace my own beauty.

Growing like a wild fire

I decided against chopping off all my hair at once. Instead, I patiently grew out the relaxer, for a year. I trimmed my hair several times during that year. At the end of the year I chopped off the remaining relaxer. It was very liberating to finally say goodbye to my relaxed hair.

The first couple of months with my natural hair, were so much fun. My hair was cut short. It was about 6 inches long. It was so easy to manage at that length. I didn’t have to worry about tangles as much. But then my hair grew like a wild fire. The longer it grew the harder it became for me to handle. It took longer to detangle, and I had to figure out new styles. This was a time of trial and error. I wouldn’t attribute this difficulty with my hair being natural.

You see when my hair was relaxed, it didn’t grow as long. My hair would always break at collar bone length. So, I never knew how to take care of hair longer than that. If you go natural, your hair will most likely grow longer than it did with relaxers. I also want to dispel the myth that black hair doesn’t grow. Black hair grows just as much as other hair; It just has to be properly cared for and styled.

Some practical advice

Since I’ve gone natural, I’ve discovered that caring for natural hair is easy. there are a wide array of quality products for naturals. The right products combined with the right hair care regime will leave you with healthy, soft, moisturized, hair.

Natural hair is stronger and healthier than relaxed hair. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be gentle with your hair. Black hair tends to be more fragile than other types. I would advise handling natural hair as if it were delicate lace. Combing hair gently and slowly is the key. How you comb natural hair is very important, if you want to maintain length. I usually section my hair with hair clips. I work though each section carefully. Combing from end to root.

Natural hair can be styled in a wide variety of ways. The possible styles are endless. Natural hair can also look beautiful without the use of hear. When I went natural I had so much fun experimenting with hairstyles. I did wash and goes, two strand twists, braids, updos, and Bantu knot outs. I also loved buying girly hair clips and flowers to wear with my afro.

I love my hair now

I Ioved my new look. Not only did I look different on the outside ,but I was changing on the inside. I started to see the beauty and versatility of my hair. I definitely felt more beautiful than I did with relaxed my hair. I know longer felt like my hair needed to be hidden or conformed. I had more appreciation for my unique beauty.

My hope is that my hair journey and advice, will help others to appreciate and celebrate their hair’s natural beauty.


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      ib 2 years ago

      Thx for your encouragement to black woman to go natural. I've read quite a number of your articles. I've been locking for over 5 years. It's one of the best decisions I've ever made. Liberating and releases me of the stress and hair loss I used to experience. Was tough at first but certainly worthwhile!