By Choya Randolph
So you decided to let the creamy crack go and embrace your natural hair. Congrats! Most of us have known hair relaxers our entire lives. We lathered our hair in Just For Me perms just to graduate to using Motions. But now it’s time to learn our natural hair and the best way to take care of it. Going natural means you probably did the big chop and are now rocking a TWA, a teeny weeny afro. You’ve probably done a bunch of research before busting out the scissors. I did the same. However, there are many things I’ve learned along the years that I wish I knew before doing my big chop. Here are some tips to help you on your natural hair journey!
First off, detangling is important…like really important. With your TWA, detangling is quite easy. You can use a comb and call it a day. But once you start growing those inches, make sure your detangling skills grow as well. Start detangling from the ends and even try finger detangling. Always detangle your hair when it’s wet. If you didn’t know that…baby girl, you are not okay. To make detangling easier, detangle with products that lather easily like a leave-in conditioner. If you’re not sure how often you should detangle, listen to your hair. I promise, those knots and matted sections will have much to say. To stay on top of detangling, try to do it every time you wash or co-wash your hair.
Find You A Good Gel
I spent years not seeing my actual curls. Partially because I wasn’t using the right products to keep my hair hydrated but also because I didn’t know the power of gel. A lot of us have soft hair that feels like a cloud but where are the coils and curls? Getchu a gel sis. It’s not just for slicking your hair back. It will give you the curl definition you’ve been looking for. Gels can be pretty cheap but some of us may want to go the organic route which can be a little more expensive. I make my own gel using flax seeds. You can find instructions on how to do this easily online. Making your own hair products is a rite of passage for going natural so go explore and see some curl definition while you’re at it!
Don’t Just Condition. Deep Condition.
Going natural can be overwhelming. People tell you to use this cream and try this oil or buy this shampoo. It seems like a lot of work and to be honest, sometimes it is. If you’re struggling with dry hair, it’s time to take a look at the products you’re using. If you aren’t using a deep conditioner, then you’re missing out on some juicy hydration. Deep conditioners go that extra mile to replenish the hair’s molecular layer leading to thicker and healthier hair. If the deep conditioners you find aren’t giving what it’s supposed to have given, remember that hair masks do the same thing as deep conditioners.
Don’t Be Afraid of Water and Heat
When I went natural, I still had a fear of getting my hair wet as if I still had a perm. I also wanted to stay away from any heat. After years of being natural, I’ve realized that I need water for my hair which is why every natural should have a spray bottle. If your spray bottle doesn’t spray like a can of Febreze, you fumbling sis. I also learned that incorporating heat into my hair regimen is actually healthy for my hair. Steam treatments have been a life saver. So next time you’re deep conditioning, try to incorporate heat by putting on a plastic hair cap. The heat opens up your hair follicles which allows the moisture to penetrate your hair to give your curls more hydration and definition.
Get Your Hair Trimmed
Once you make that big chop, you may never want to chop your hair again. When I went natural, I noticed my hair seemed to stop growing once it got to a certain length. This was because I wasn’t getting my hair trimmed. I used to think trimming was unnecessary. My hair is growing so why cut it at all? One word: breakage. Because natural hair is kinky, the curls get tangled easily which is why detangling is important. Our kinky hair strands become best friends who don’t want to let go of each other. This naturally leads to breakage and split ends. To stay on top of this, you just have to suck it up and get your hair trimmed regularly. It may seem like an L now but I promise your hair will be healthier because of it.
Meet Your New Best Friend: Protective Styles
Taking care of your natural hair can sometimes feel like a chore. It definitely requires more TLC than what our relaxed hair required. This is why protective hairstyles are a heaven sent. Protective styles protect our hair by tucking it away. This not only gives us a break from a tedious hair routine but also gives our hair a break from our constant styling of it. Protective styles can be braids, faux locs, twists, crocheted weave-ins and more. Protective styles include methods that our ancestors have been using for centuries so don’t be afraid to wear a cute style that embodies your history.
Don’t Compare Yourself. Period.
There are so many hair textures within the kinky community. When we see natural hair in the media, more cases than not, a certain hair texture is the beauty standard. Not everyone has loose curls. Some of us have coils rather than curls. Not everyone has super long coily hair. Some of us have short kinky hair. Many of us have found ourselves in the bathroom crying because our twist-out didn’t come out right or maybe we aren’t seeing the growth we want. Sometimes we just look at our hair and it doesn’t look as good as society has told us it should. Lemme stop you right there. Comparison is the thief of joy. Not having hair like your biracial friend or favorite celebrity is OKAY. Your hair journey is yours alone. Don’t get off track looking at someone else’s path. The most important thing I’ve learned from being natural is that if you want your natural hair to be beautiful, you first have to believe it’s beautiful.