Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Suggestions for Natural Hair Newbees & Transitioners

I recently realized how many people are in their first year of being natural or are seriously thinking about transitioning.  Personally, I think that first year is the most difficult - at least it was for me.  Also, I know others who have struggled a lot during their first year, so I thought I would put together a list of suggestions that should help you during that first year of your natural hair journey.

Find support
The sisterhood of naturals is a strong community.  I met a group of beautiful natural women in my first year of being natural who helped me with my styling questions and helped me to see the beauty in the hair I had not yet accepted.  If there is not a group like that in your area, think about starting one or take advantage of the many online communities of naturals providing support.

Let it do what it do
Remember those days of going into the beauty shop with a magazine or cut-out asking your hairstylist to make your hair look like the lady in the picture?  I give much respect to beauticians who are more like magicians than hairstylist transforming our hair to make it do things we never thought it could do.  Well, embrace those memories cuz those days are gone!  If you want healthy natural hair, you do not make your hair do what it does not do naturally.

Don't try to fix it.  Embrace it.
Remember getting up in the morning and realizing that your hair was curled in some places and straight in others?  The first reaction was to pull out the curling irons, so you can fix your hair.  Now as a healthy natural, you do not "fix" it. You embrace whatever your hair is doing.  If I plan to wear my hair in a twistout and my twists are not looking fresh, then I may either pull it back with a scarf or pull it up into a puff.  Either way, I do not always determine what style I will wear, sometimes my hair determines it and I just go with the flow.

Learn to listen to your hair
If you're a mother, you can relate to this:  your strands are like your children.  When your baby cries, you generally know what kind of cry it is - scared, pain, hunger, tired or just wanting some attention.  If you don't know, you figure it out.  Your hair also talks to you, you just have to learn how to understand the language.  Is it shedding or breaking?  Take a strand that came out and look for the root and look at the length.  If the hair is shedding, then it should have a root and the length should be consistent with the length of your hair.  If it doesn't have a root and/or it's much shorter than the length of your hair, then it's breaking.  Is it damaged?  Inspect the strand for split ends and mid-strand splits.  Is it dry?  Take the strand, hold each end between your fingers from tip to tip and lightly pull the strand as if you were stretching a rubber band.  The strand should bounce.  If it snaps into two, your hair is too dry.  Need protein?  From what I understand, most naturals don't need protein, but if your hair is limp, you may need to invest in a light protein, but be careful.  Protein can make your hair brittle, which can lead to breakage. Those are the "cries" that I understand right now.  The "cry" that I'm trying to figure out is the mid-strand split.  I have some of those, so I'm trying to figure out what my hair is crying for.  I think it may be in need of a gentler comb, so I now I have a seamless comb.  Also, I think I may have been letting my hair get too dry in the winter (due to that horrible Chitown wind and bitter cold), so I'm adding water to my nighttime regimen and looking for other ways of getting more moisture during the winter.

Water = Moisture
Our hair is naturally dry, so embrace water.  Put away the shower cap and let your hair enjoy a steamy shower.  Stop running from the rain (unless it's a down pour) and let your hair soak up the water.  Don't starve your hair of moisture because you're worried about shrinkage.  Natural hair will never show it's true length, but it will be healthy because you're giving it what it needs most.  Also, remember what you do not see in length, you will see in width.  One time, I was relaxing in a hot tub.  I didn't even think twice about my hair. When I got out, I was shocked to see how much it shriveled up (length) and how much it expanded (width).  Also, it felt extremely soft, so I learned to embrace all forms of moisture - rain, humidity, steam, etc.

Don't get frustrated
Natural does not mean carefree.  Natural hair is a lot of work.  When you feel yourself getting tired and/or frustrated, put your hair in a protective style and give yourself a break.  It's good for your hair and it's good for you and your sanity.  Everybody wins!  When I'm feeling that way or if I know my schedule will be extremely busy, I put my hair in twists.  For me, that's an all day activity, but then I will have low maintenance for the following 2 or 3 weeks only needing to spray it with some water and using a little oil.  I will then wash it and after it dries, take the twists out for another 2 or three weeks of twistouts and puffs.  Also, unless your hair detangles easily, never wash/detangle your hair when you're in a hurry.  I promised myself I would never do my hair unless I have time to deal with it because my impatience is not good for my hair.

Don't get bored
Natural hair is versatile.  I think we all generally fall into the cycle of twists, twistouts, puffs and fros.  When you start getting bored, combine the styles.  Why not try twists in the front and back and a puff in the middle? Flat twist the front and have either a twistout at the top or a puff at the top (those are my favorites).  Flat twist one side and have it lead into a cascading twistout or fro.  No ideas?  Check blogs and natural hair groups for pictures to get some ideas.  There are many "Do It Yourself" styles out there and most naturals are more than willing to give you step-by-step instructions on how to achieve that style.  I'll be on the hunt for some new styling ideas this spring.

Create your own beautiful reality
Photo by: Triple L Photography
Don't worry about negative comments or the stares you may receive.  People stare at me when I wear an afro.  In fact, one day I wore a frohawk to the mall and one girl was so busy staring at me that she walked into the people in front of her.  I chose to believe that the people who are staring are doing so because they never saw such a vision of natural beauty.  If they frown, then I think they're frowning because they are disappointed that they have chemically straighten hair (cuz you know who normally frowns) and therefore cannot create this vision of loveliness they see before them.  Is that reality?  Who knows and who cares?  It's the reality I've created for myself.  For years, I believe what I was told - my hair is nappy and unattractive.  Now, it's time for me to believe what I tell myself.  

All the best to you all!

~Loving Me Naturally


  1. Great Advice, I can't wait until I see some length.

  2. Thanks for commenting. Take great care of it and take pictures along the way. You will look back and be amazed at the growth! I know I was ;-)

  3. Hey girl, thanks for the advice, I am experiencing all stages right now. I was never one to be real creative with hair. Now I am inspired to check out new styles, which I have found some good ones on youtube.

  4. Hey Shaunda - glad this was useful. I'm actually pulling myself out of the getting bored stage and I did the same thing during the holidays - read several blogs and watched some youtube videos. I'm working with a new style this week that I will write about in my next post. I love my twists, twistouts and puffs, but they get a little old after a while :-)

  5. I'm currently transitioning and I want to say THANK YOU for these advices!

  6. Love all your posts,22 of this month will make my hair 2months its not been easy but I can't give up now.

    1. Hey - sorry for the delayed response. I hope you're still hanging in there! Please reply back and let me know how it's going. If your experience is anything like mine, then the first year will be the hardest. During that time, I was trying to figure out what to do with my hair and getting frustrated every time I needed to style it. I also had to adjust mentally. It was hard feeling beautiful with a head full of a texture you grew up believing was ugly and unacceptable. Hang in there! It gets so much better and I'm still amazed how my hair transformation led to a mental transformation which sparked many life-changes.