So you’ve decided to finally go natural. Maybe you’ve just done the big chop or are in the midst of your transition from relaxers or heat damage. Now you have come to the question – “Where do I start?”. Watching numerous videos, reading all kinds of information, and hearing other’s stories may become overwhelming. But don’t worry – natural hair does not have to be complicated. Here is what you should know as a new natural to help you throughout your journey:
Disclaimer: Caring for Natural Hair is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. However all reviews, thoughts and recommendations are of our own.
Recognize any hair damage
Hair damage can appear as straight ends, excessively dry hair, and more. It is not uncommon for a new natural to have some degree of hair damage. For example, say you have been flat ironing your hair routinely for the past few years. You will more than likely notice some parts of your hair have straight pieces, or others have a more looser curl pattern than the rest. This is heat damage, and will at some point need to be cut as it will not revert back.
Porosity is your hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. High porosity hair can be a sign of damage. Characteristics of highly porous hair can include hair that dries up exceedingly fast after washing, and/or hair that is always dry and frizzy. High porosity hair can be alleviated with trims, deep conditioning / protein treatments, and time. Recognizing any hair damage you may have will help you to set the foundation for the rest of your hair regimen – whether you decide to cut it or transition to healthy hair.
Don’t set any expectations
When first going natural, it is easy to fall into a certain belief of what to expect. To avoid frustration, try not to set any expectations for the journey ahead and just go with the flow. Everyone’s hair is unique in appearance and properties. The way someone else’s hair style comes out, may not be the way that yours does – and that is okay.
You may even expect to have a ton of difficulty wearing your hair naturally, which may cause you to over-complicate things more than what they actually are. This can lead to stress and a lack of motivation. Rid your mind of any preconceived notions and just find what works for you. After all, hair is just hair – a fun accessory.
Moisture is most important
Natural hair is like a flower, it needs water in order to thrive. This is why moisture is most important in maintaining healthy hair. Moisture can come in the form of water, leave-in conditioners, and creams / butters, with oils used to seal in all this moisture. Making an effort to moisturize your hair at least once a day will help to improve manageability, moisture retention, and softness.
Deep conditioning is another way of restoring moisture back into your hair strands. Deep conditioners are formulated with a combination of conditioning ingredients that deeply penetrate your hair strands. It is most effective when used with some sort of heat – steam, hooded hair dryer, etc., as the formula is more thoroughly absorbed.
Oils can help
Our hair strands produce its own oil, called sebum. Sebum helps to maintain a balance of moisture and shine in your hair. The different types of curly, coily, and kinky strands in our natural hair make it a bit more difficult for the sebum to reach the entirety of the hair strand. This often times leads to dry, brittle ends. Luckily, there are an abundance of natural oils extracted from healthful sources that are perfect for natural hair. If you ever find your hair looking a bit dull – try olive oil. If you notice that your edges or roots are thinning out, try castor oil. When a product is not enough, there is likely an oil that can help.
Health over length
When you first go natural, it is tempting to want to hold on to your length, even if it is damaged – we have all been there. But ultimately, healthy hair is going to look and feel better.
From personal experience, when I first went natural, I was “transitioning” from heat damage (never had a relaxer). I didn’t want to go anywhere near a pair of scissors cause I wanted to keep my length. Eventually the frizziness and different damaged curl patterns got to be too much, so I went and got a Deva Cut.
I had never seen my curls so defined before. Now I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve cut layers into my own hair, and given myself an at-home Deva Cut. The healthiness is more important to me now – after all, it will all grow back. Getting regular trims and snipping any hair damage away will bring your curl pattern back to life and improve manageability in the long run.
There are products that will make things much easier
After I first went natural, I had zero natural products. In fact, there was a point in time where I had to get water directly from the faucet to put onto my hair because I didn’t have a spritz bottle. Detangling used to be a dreadful process that took me hours, until I found out about detangling tools like the Denman brush.
This goes to show that many of our natural hair woes are a lot of the times more than what we make them out to be. There are plenty of affordable products available that will make your natural hair journey much easier. In fact, here are some natural hair essentials you may want to explore.
Don’t compare your journey to others
With social media prevalent now more than ever, it can unfortunately cause us to compare ourselves to others. This is never healthy – what we see online is only a glimpse into others’ realities. Specifically with natural hair and in the natural hair community, there is sometimes not enough representation for all hair types and textures. This causes many naturals to feel discouraged at times because they feel that their hair is supposed to look like someone else’s.
But the thing about natural hair and the beauty of it is that it is so unique – no two heads of hair will be the same. We have to learn to embrace what we are given. Properly taking care of your natural hair and finding what works best for you, will lead to a happy, healthy journey.
What are some words of advice you have for new naturals, or those who have been natural for some time?