Lately we have seen a rise in the natural trend, some are in it for the long haul, while some women view it more as a fad. Nothing gives me great pleasure than seeing women proudly wearing their hair in their natural state, the kinks and all. The rise in women looking all fierce with their Afros, gives me so much joy. The reason I say going back to natural, is the fact that we were born with natural hair, simply implies that we are going back to our roots; however so many women are going about it the wrong way.
My sisters and I grew up in an environment that made us come to appreciate styling hair and knowing how to deal with hair. Our mother was (still is) a professional hair stylist. She allowed us to experiment and express ourselves through our hair and we did all kinds of things with it; from dreadlocks, to curly perms, textured hair and eventually found ourselves wearing it natural again.
When we finally decided to call it quits with chemicals on our hair, natural hair was still viewed as “shaggy” and wild.” It wasn’t an easy journey, it had a lot of twists and tangles along the way, but I’m glad I had my sisters and mother in this journey. I almost called it quits a few times, I made mistakes along the way, it was a learning process, still is, it took me a while to learn from my mistakes, but this five mistakes can always be avoided:
1.Product Junkie habits- Natural hair products weren’t easily accessible a few years back. The likes of Shea Moisture, Cantu, As I am, were very sacred to get; unless you knew someone who was importing them from abroad, or better yet, your summer bunny friend had to bring them over or else things wouldn’t end well for them! We had to contend with coconut oil, Shea butter, natural products for deep conditioning and that was pretty much our daily routine. My hair was healthy, my curls were popping all over the place, the texture was soft and easy to maintain. They always say less is more, and when it comes to natural hair, those words are true; with so many natural hair products available in the market, the temptation to sample as many products that your hair can withstand is high. Unfortunately so many products on your hair do more harm than good. Learn what works for your hair, not somebody else’s hair and stick to it. When you bombard your hair with so many products, your hair gets so confused and that in turn will take a great toll on it.
2.Hair Comparison- I always believe natural hair has a life of its own. What works for someone else, will necessarily not work for you. Your curls won’t pop like your favorite YouTube vlogger, because natural hair is very versatile and with it comes different textures. Some have tight curls, loose s curls or wavy curls; that’s the beauty of natural hair, textures differentiate; most people notice that their hair tends to be very soft with a loose S curl pattern at the back and kinkier in the front. It’s amazing the kind of versatility natural hair has to offer, rather than obsessing about whether you are a 3a or 4c hair type, learn to embrace your hair, relish every moment you have styling it and try not to compare it with other naturals.
3.Embrace shrinkage- The shrinkage that comes with natural hair is so real, every time I stretch my hair, I always have to contend with the shocked looks on my friend’s faces when they see how long it is. The humidity with coastal weather forced me to embrace shrinkage, I had to get used to the “why did you cut your hair?” comments from time to time. The awkward stage was tough for me to accept; it made me feel like I was a village girl going to fetch water from the lake, no matter how much I tried to style it. My arms got toned from the nightly routine of two strand twists, for it to look all stretched out and curly the next day, eventually I had to embrace shrinkage and smile whenever people thought I had trimmed it off.
4.Health over Length- Chasing length is not a bad thing; however there are so many women who always have this fantasy of having waist length Afros like Diana Ross within a year after they made their big chop. Holding on to your split ends like they are the life jacket to your Titanic, will make you end up with a lot of breakage than retaining length. Getting a good trim every three or so months is good for your hair. Staying with braids too long won’t help your hair grow; your hair needs a break from the pulling and straining that comes with braids. Daily moisturizing it, weekly deep conditioning your hair and oiling your scalp on a regular basis plus eating right is all your hair needs to flourish, not split ends that look like they are holding on to faith.
5. De-tangle your mind- We grew up knowing natural hair was not presentable; it was instilled in our minds that it had to look sleek and straight. We embraced chemicals and perceived natural hair as being so cumbersome to maintain. It’s not a perception that changes overnight, so many women who make the big chop always have to endure hurtful remarks from their loved ones, their friends and sometimes employers! The hardest part is changing your mindset and accepting your hair with all its kinks and tangles, acknowledging that not everyone will like it, but what matters is that you like it and are comfortable wearing your crown in all its natural glory. De-tangling the roots in your mind gives you some kind of freedom that no one can take away from you; it just requires having a thick skin and a good support system to help you through your natural hair journey!