I have heard this refrain so many times. It usually follows a conversation like this:
“Gosh your hair is so cool, wish I could do that.”
“Why don’t you go natural then?”
Then I get the usual barrage of excuses:
“I’m not mixed”
“It’s too unmanageable”
“It won’t suit me”
The truth is: going natural is not as daunting as one might think. The hardest part for me was making the actual decision and once I did that, everything fell into place. The experience won’t be the same for everyone, and one must remember that anything worth doing involves hard work. If you decide that you want to take the plunge at anytime and stop relaxing your hair, here are a few tips that will make the journey easier:
- Do your research: I cannot stress this enough. Natural afro hair and relaxed afro hair are as different as night and day and as such, cannot be treated the same way. If you try to handle your new growth the way you handle your straight ends you. Will. Cry. Take my word for it. If you don’t want to lose combs and give yourself migraines, you have to do your research. People that make the decision to go natural these days are lucky. Lucky in the sense that as recently as three or four years ago, there were very few resources that available on natural hair. Now there are numerous blogs, websites, YouTube channels and books that provide information on caring for all types of afro hair. All one has to do is type “natural hair” into the search box of Google or YouTube and they will be inundated with results. A few good websites and YouTube pages to check out are:
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are so many resources available for hairstyles, hair care tips etc… all at your fingertips!
- Be realistic about your hair type: A lot of people I’ve spoken to, have told me that they would only go natural if they had hair like my friend Z’s. Now Z is mixed race and has defined spiral curls as a result of her heritage. The people I spoke to are not mixed. Why pine over something that isn’t yours and will never be yours? The key to happiness is being content with what you have and finding ways to work it. My point is, don’t go natural expecting to have Rachel True type curls if you know that it isn’t in your heritage. If it turns out that you do have that kind of hair, that’s good. If you don’t, that’s good too. You can always fake it with rod sets and twist outs and such, but it is important to be happy with your hair the way it is naturally. Don’t spend time and money searching for a product that will define curls that really aren’t there. Frizz is a part of Afro hair. Deal with it!
- Find a transitioning buddy: Transitioning is the process of growing your natural hair out and getting rid of relaxed ends. I will talk about this in detail in another post. If you’re fortunate enough to have access to someone that is transitioning at the same time as you or has already transitioned, it will make the process easier. You can swap tips and ideas, you’ll have someone to moan to when it gets tough, and you’ll be able to talk to her about hair stuff, long after your friends and family have gotten sick of hearing you talk about hair. Your transitioning buddy doesn’t have to be in the same area as you. In fact, with the advances in technology these days, she doesn’t even have to be on the same continent. If you don’t know anyone going natural, then don’t fret. A lot of YouTubers detail their natural journeys from beginning to present and you can follow them from the start. Most of them are happy to answer questions and might also agree to be your buddy if you ask nicely.
- Surround yourself with hair porn: Find images of women with beautiful afro hair. Look at them daily, find a hair idol. When you feel like giving up, looking at the pictures will inspire you to stay strong. Le coil is an amazing site with gorgeous hair porn for all afro hair types.
- Ignore negative people: Trust me, the world and its mother will try to dissuade you. They will tell you that you’ll look unkempt, unattractive, crazy… they’ll say anything really. However, once they see how fabulous and well taken care of your afro is, they’ll be eating their words and asking you for advice.
- Be patient: This is probably the most important piece of advice I can give you. It will get difficult, you will get bored and frustrated, but the end result is worth it. Once you decide to go natural, you will want the big ol’ afro right this minute, but it takes time. with the right information and lots of care and diligence, you will get where you want to be.
Now these are only the basics, but know that going natural is a learning experience and a journey. It is never the same for two people so don’t take the advice given here as the last word on natural hair. Rather, do your research and use the information that you feel applies to you. Always ask questions and know why you do what you do to your hair.
“The Cotton Crown” aspires to be the definitive BellaNaija guide on natural hair. Expect to see hair care tips, hairstyle tutorials and common natural hair questions answered. Any questions concerning natural hair can be left in a comment and will be answered to the best of my ability.
Photo Credit: [source]