It’s locked, it’s in a cute fro. There are
short cropped do’s and there are full heads of kinky, coily
ringlets cascading from brown faces! It is as if we are
walking into a new culture, although it has always been our
It’s just as normal now to see Natural Hair
as it was in the previous years, to see un-be-weaveable hair
of all lengths and textures. In the 90s, women were wearing
all kinds of braided extensions in loud colors, and BIG hair
weaves that stretched “down-to-there.” If you weren’t
wearing a long, sleek pony tail or even longer ropes of box
braids, you may have been an outsider.
Today, beauty is not solely defined by bone
straight, waist length weaves and heavy makeup. It has
evolved into bouncy, lively coils, stretched waves, cropped
Afros and nude skin. Years of wear and tear on the hair and
scalp have been caused by the excessive wearing of weaves,
wigs, hair color and other types of extensions as well as
We are seeing an increase of Women of Color
being represented on runways and in magazines with natural
hair or at least, textured hair weaves. We also have Issa
Rae, Ava Duvernay, Tracee Ellis-Ross and Viola Davis leading
the big screens with their natural coifs and beautiful skin.
Now that women are going natural in higher
numbers, it’s great news. However there is
another side of this coin. We took the
plunge, we are liberated, so now what? What do we do
with all this thick hair, high texture, and
full on fluff?
Back in the day, we wore braids. To maintain
them, we put a scarf on and used braid spray on
the scalp here and there. With weaves, all we
did was wrap it up, then brush it down and go.
Now, with natural hair, we have to wash,
condition, detangle, moisturize and style. It isn’t as
easy as 1-2-3 like before. But if we really
think about it, we had to learn, by experience, how to
wear and care for extensions. The process is
the same with natural hair.
What happens when the curls are defined when
hair is wet, then puffs up like a sponge when it
dries? And why is it long when it is wet and
during the detangling process, then shrinks up
when it dries?
We spent a great deal of time transitioning
to natural hair under weaves, wigs and extensions
only to go natural, then return to weaves,
wigs and extensions because we don’t know what to
Trying to maintain curl definition is difficult. We love
what we see when the
hair is wet, lovely, perfect little ringlets,
each dancing as if nature choreographed every direction each
curl would fall. But when it dries, it is as if we need to
exorcise whatever consumed the curls with demonic
strongholds that won’t release them!
The solution doesn’t have to become a
Hollywood production, but we do have to develop
regimen. The wash and go has been perfected a few times over
now using the co-washing method (aka The Curly Girl Method)
You can use a hand-held dryer with a diffuser
to hold the curls without disturbing the pattern or you can
also sit under a bonnet style hair dryer on a medium to low
setting to gently set the curls.
In the hotter months, however, even the most
expensive products that proclaim the wonder working powers
of retaining curls, may be no match for high heat, humidity
and perspiration. The best thing to do is to accept the fact
that natural hair grows with great variety. Some hair will
do fine with retaining curls, and many will not.
Dealing with Shrinkage.
There’s nothing like a clean head of hair
that is detangled and ready to go until shrinkage starts.
This is happening to ladies everywhere, seeing all that
length virtually disappear before our very own eyes! What
can be done to remedy this?
For braidouts and twistouts, you can roll the
ends which will give the overall texture, shape and a bit of
stretching. For loose natural hair, you can section the
hair, then plait it loosely, then when it dries, unfurl it
so it keeps some of the length.
Finally, you can blow dry the hair on a low
setting, to gently stretch the hair bit, then style it as
desired. There are temporary products out there that help
straighten the hair until the next wash, but that is another
When we become frustrated with the fact that
our hair shrinks to sometimes less than half of its actual
length, we want to straighten it. The problem with those
products is, that they may alter the hair texture over time,
if repeated and used with extreme heat, leaving the hair
thinner, limp and fuzzy.
Coming out of hiding. At some point during
the shampooing, conditioning, detangling and styling
process, we become discouraged. Some of us have second
thoughts about plunging into what seems like a bottomless
pit of hair issues, while some just become ashamed of what
is on top of our heads because we can’t make it
So we resort to wearing weaves, extensions
and wigs. We would rather cover up the “problem” than to
figure out what works best for our hair. We run out of
patience quickly and become content with at least going
natural, and leaving it at that.
What’s the big idea? How do we wear our own
natural hair? After investing the time to research the
benefits, do we give up?
No, the key to rocking our natural
successfully is knowing our hair! We should know our hair
type and texture and how it behaves from season to season.
Those are the basics, then learn some simple techniques to
create a variety of styles (i.e. braid, twist and knot outs)
And for as much research that was done before going natural,
we should continue to utilize all the resources we can find
to discover inspiration and encouragement throughout our
journey. Also, we should network with others who traveling
with us and exchange information and tips with one another.
Natural hair doesn’t mean we are going back
to slavery, bound by negative perceptions, oppressed by
natural naysayers and bullied by hair nazis. Natural hair is
freedom, and the key to coming out of hiding is being true
to ourselves, understanding the African-American esthetic
and embracing what is organically our own, then walking in
boldness; being our own kind of beautiful!