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Afope: Is Natural Hair for Everyone? 5 Tips & A Video to Help You Figure that Out!

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Natural Hair - Bellanaija - November 2014

I’ll admit it. For the longest time I struggled to wrap my head around how anyone could feel natural hair was not “for them”. I mean, it grows out of your head, it couldn’t be any more “for you” than that…right? Well, turns out it’s not that straightforward.

The decision to go natural is usually taken with the intention of having healthier hair. However, if the right precautions are not taken, said naturals may end up more frustrated and with hair just as damaged as it was  prior to transitioning.

In light of this, I’ve drafted a list of some key tellers to let you know if natural hair is “for you” or indeed “not your thing”. So let’s get to it ladies – natural hair is not for you if…

1. You have not done your research
Going from relaxed to natural hair in the space of anything from 1 day to 1 year is a big transition for anybody. It only makes sense that adequate research is done prior to making your final decision. Not everybody has (or is willing to do) what it takes to care for natural hair, so it’s important that you know where you stand before you make such a drastic and (may I remind you) permanent change.

2. You only want natural hair on the condition that your hair will look & act like that of your biggest curl crush
We all go through this stage and it’s perfectly natural – no pun intended (okay maybe a little bit). But the point is this; if you are so caught up in having hair like another natural, then you will be one dissatisfied girl if your hair doesn’t turn out exactly like you fantasized. By spending so much time trying to make your hair like that of another girl’s (which cannot be done without chemically altering your hair), you may be keeping your hair from reaching it’s own full potential.

3. You are not wiling to put in the work
If natural hair was a week, this factor would be ‘hump day’ – it seems like the biggest hurdle, but once you get over it, everything else seems to, well, flow. Most people are unwilling to put in the work but putting in the work is the most fundamental factor in the equation for healthy natural hair. Granted, it’s more work than what you may be used to, but with good time management and savvy practices you’ll soon find that a little work goes a long way.

4. Patience & Consistency are not your thing
Not only do you have to be wiling to put in the work, but you also have to be willing to put in the work consistently, and be patient with yourself and your hair. It’s new territory so for optimal results, it would be most beneficial to take your time and treat your hair with the care it deserves.

5. You cannot do without constant heat styling
For most non-naturals your flat iron is more than just another styling appliance, it’s your best friend. It’s been there through all the tough times, the emergencies and bad hair days so it’s understandable that a break up would be somewhat painful. So perhaps you shouldn’t think of it as a break up. Heat styling is not 100% off limits, however on the road-trip to healthy natural hair, that flat iron may have to take the backseat and not the wheel. Flat ironing 24/7/365 will most certainly be counterproductive to your healthy hair goals.

So there it is, if you’re thinking about going natural but aren’t sure whether it’s really “for you”, perhaps these factors could help you make your final decision.

And just in case you need some more insight, watch this Essence.com video with Hair & Beauty Editor, Deena Campbell with Jane Carter (Founder/CEO, Jane Carter Solution) on what you should ask your hair stylist before going natural.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime/Jason Stitt/Antonio Guillem | Video Credit: Essence.com

12 Comments

  1. benny

    November 18, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    I love my natural hair. It gives me a sense of freedom and connection with my roots. Im not judging anyone for relaxing their hair; ur life ur choice.
    Back to the issue with natural hair… when we go on and on about length, I feel like it defeats the essence of natural hair. We make it so difficult. Its like we African women cannot wear nature given hair without so much maintenance and money going down the drain.
    I thought it was psychologically healthy to keep natural hair but I don’t think so anymore. I am ok with my length and the pace at which it grows. Are we encouraging us black women to love our hair in its entirety or adding another factor. Black hair but mixed race or European lengths.
    Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying black hair doesn’t grow that long. It does and it will overtime but this pressure… This damn pressure. Sisters please, do we really have to put in so much?
    There is a natural hair salon around here that charges 1500 to simply wash. Is this necessary?
    The whole essence seems defeated and if u are loading up on all these products (when I say LOADING UP… u know im not talking about one or 2 products) and putting in all these hours… it is a bit hypocritical to look down on people who love their weaves and darling perms

    • Afope

      November 18, 2014 at 2:38 pm

      Hey Benny!
      I really appreciate your thoughts on this issue, you have definitely highlighted a viewpoint that a number of people seem to have but hardly anyone voices. However, as much as I can definitely see where you are coming from, it seems to me to be slightly unfair to make such a generalization about all naturals (please correct me if I am wrong and that is not in fact what you were actually saying). I’ve been natural for about 3 years now and although my hair has managed to grow to lengths most people can’t believe, length was most certainly not a target for me but rather a by-product of me striving for healthier hair. I loved my hair at every stage it was at and have even considered chopping it all off and starting again because I loved it that much. At the end of the day it’s all about what is convenient for you, cost effective and most importantly what makes you happy. This piece was specifically written to admit that the ‘natural’ lifestyle may indeed not be for everyone. And for those who do feel like it is something they would like to try, there are various means/regimens they can follow that will suit their schedules and pockets. I can definitely see how the lifestyle can be seen as “a little too much trouble”, however it is my personal opinion that people only feel like this because a lot of us haven’t got that much information about how to care for our hair in it’s natural state and thus rely on our stylists (who may charge us extortionate amounts) to do the things for our hair we could very well do for ourselves…and for free. Same goes with the endless buying of products. It is very possible for naturals to spend just as little – perhaps even less money on products than relaxed. It’s all relative to the person’s hair needs and wants.

      Lastly, I’d just like to say that most – if not all – of us have been raised, being taught hair practices that we now see are far better suited to european/caucasian hair textures and so that is what we became accustomed to – for generations. The bulk of the pressure/stress/effort that we see regarding natural hair is to do with the actual learning of what works/doesn’t work with our hair… Practice makes perfect and consistency breeds habits. I’m so glad to be part of a movement that I guess has to do all the “excess work” so that my daughters and their daughters can live in a world where they are presented with the opportunity to make an educated choice as to how they would like to wear their hair…relaxed or not.

      All that being said, I really do appreciate your comment – it definitely got me thinking about a question I had never really asked myself before. Thank you! x

  2. Bolanle

    November 18, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Nah…I’m team fake!

  3. Noni

    November 18, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    Natural hair is definitely not for everyone.
    I’ve just relaxed after going natural when I was 16 (now 21) and I’m so relieved, I loved being natural when my hair was fairly short but as it got longer, well to put it bluntly, ain’t nobody got time for that. I miss my fro, the springiness, the attention it got and the less complicated routine but it will be a while before I go natural again. I think no. 3 and partly no. 4 was my problem. By the time it got to the point where it took me 3 hours to detangle, wash, condition and twist my hair I felt like I was a prisoner and my hair was the jailer. I never cared about how quickly or slowly my hair grew or that I had what my sister called 4z hair, I didn’t mind the shrinkage and I only blow dried my hair when I needed to braid it but man the time and effort of wash day broke me. When I started dreading wash day to the point where I’d put it off for a week I realised I had 2 options; cut the hair or relax it. Since I’m on a journey to full waist length hair option 1 was no go.
    I’m definitely going to go back to natural at some point after getting to my goal length (hopefully by the end of next year wooh!) cos I miss how much more relaxed I was about my hair. Now that I’m relaxed I’m constantly worrying about my hair porosity, my protein-moisture balance and taking minute care not to over process my hair when I self relax but at the moment I’d take that over washing my hair only once every 2 weeks or constantly wearing braids because I was scared of dealing with my own hair.

  4. You

    November 18, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    I wear my hair (yes, the hair that grows out of my head) in a perm. The assumption that permed hair is not natural is overreaching, permed hair is altering the natural state of your hair, and it is still your natural hair. Individuals with “natural” hair that color it are altering their hair but yet they still consider it their “natural” hair and consider it healthier than permed hair, it is not. The author here makes the assumption that because you have permed hair, your hair cannot be health and that one must flat iron their hair “24/7/365,” I really want to know where they got that from because anyone can tell you that if you do that, you will have nothing left to flat iron. Hair, whether altered (permed) or unaltered (no permed), is all in how you care and manage it. We all have different hair types, so while unaltered hair may produce the best result for you, it doesn’t mean it will produce the best result for someone else. No matter what type of hair you have, permed, “natural,” or weave you must invest in your hair.

    • Afope

      November 19, 2014 at 4:31 pm

      Hey Girl!

      This is was quite the passionate comment – LOVED and AGREED with your perspective on the whole thing so much so that I clicked the ‘Love This!’ Button. I do feel, however, that you may have misunderstood me on some certain points I made in this piece and I would very much like to reassure you that I wasn’t insinuating any of the things which you mentioned in your comment.

      Firstly, I completely agree that chemically altered hair – whether it be from a relaxer, or a box colour – is indeed chemically altered hair and both will do their fair share of damage to relaxed AND/OR “Natural” hair. And while your observation (about the term “natural hair” being wrongly used solely for hair that isn’t relaxed) makes complete sense, let me assure you that it was never, has never, nor will it ever be my intention to belittle those who perm/relax their hair by saying their hair isn’t “natural”. Simply put, I use the term “natural hair” as a label so people know what type of hair I am writing about.

      Furthermore, I was in no way implying that people with relaxed hair could not have healthy hair nor was I accusing them of straightening their hair 24/7/365. If anything it would be the complete opposite; it is people who don’t already have straight hair that I’ve seen make the most frequent use of flat irons. I have plenty of friends with healthy relaxed hair just as I have plenty of friends with healthy natural hair – the one thing they both have in common is their caution regarding heat styling, which is exactly the point I was making – that having natural hair can be tough, most especially if you are used to having straight hair. And that IF you made the decision to “go natural” as a step towards healthier hair, then flat ironing your hair constantly/frequently will be counterproductive to your healthy hair goals…relaxed, or not. The “24/7/365” was merely used as a hyperbole and was not intended to be taken literally.

      Lastly, I want to guarantee you that as a student of black hair myself I do spend a lot of time looking into the science of our hair in order to help ALL black women and not cause any riffs between those with natural hair and those with straight hair… There are no teams here; “TeamNatural” and/or “TeamRelaxed” mean absolutely nothing to me. I’m all about “TeamHealthyHair. I deeply apologise if I gave off any impression that is contrary to this and I now hope that you can better see the heart behind my message!
      God bless You and Thank you so much again for your comment! x

  5. bokun

    November 18, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    love my natural hair. its clean, healthy i can run my fingers through it without my fingers getting caught in a web of deceit.. I love the fact that its all my hair free from hiding it like a shame. I use to rock all that 100% natural forgery, but this beats it hands down. free to shower it, swim with it, my man run his fingers through it. free to be me. right now am rocking 2 strand twist, its easy, breezy and i can shake, shake, shake it. And of cause if you don’t have it feel free to fake it.

    • Verian

      November 19, 2014 at 11:17 am

      I hear you loud and clear. Two strand twist on natural hair is so easy and it looks good on me. and a guy running his fingers through your hair, massaging that scalp is such an aphrodisiac, it lowers the blood pressure too! loool. . To each his own. I am team natural and proud.

    • kina

      November 19, 2014 at 3:14 pm

      Yeh baby but u got to have wat it takes to rock nappy. A confidence person eludes sexiness no matter what they have on their head. ive seen sistas with natural locks and they just look like they’ve been forced to have it , or too broke to explore other options, not cool. like wise some sistas get the weave all wrong!. like u i prefer natural for all the added benefits u mentioned loooool, and i rock it like i mean it. Seriously , For me its not an alternative to anything its just my preferred look. Web of deceit though looool.

  6. Losbeauty.com

    November 19, 2014 at 8:28 am

    We agree that the decision to stay relaxed or go natural is a big one but the point still remains that regardless of whatever method one chooses, caring for ones hair with great product is the only way to make it thrive.

  7. Irene

    November 20, 2014 at 12:52 am

    I love the way you present this Article. Natural Hair has become a major subject nowadays. The whole idea is acceptance and celebration of the very texture that grows out of your scalp and how to care for that texture in a healthy and loving way. With maintenance, we need to consider our Health by what we apply to our scalp. Whatever you nourish will flourish! It is not so much the type of “curl” pattern you achieve but the sourcing of ingredients necessary for healthy hair growth and as well as paying attention to what our scalp is absorbing into the bloodstream to compromise our health. Our hair is so Beautiful! if only we acquire the proper products, patience and creativity to manage our diverse textures.

  8. the mane captain

    November 23, 2014 at 5:26 am

    Great Article afope. The title could also be titled “Is healthy looking hair for every Black woman”? These tips relates to everyone. I find Black women are generally lazy when it comes to their hair. This is why most wear wigs or a braided hairstyle for months at a time. And at the same time, they want nice hair. But i’ve seen women spend more time and money on their weaves than their own hair. Healthy hair takes time and attention or else it will forever look frail and it won’t “Grow”

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