Not every body who goes natural intends to stay that way for their entire life. However, there is a fair share of us that do intend to make a permanent change. For us, staying on the natural hair route can be frustrating and overwhelming at certain points.
I’m saying this from experience! I have broken up with my natural hair and tossed it and all of its products out the door twice since going natural in 2012. I also have friends who have relaxed their hair or cut it all off because they just could not stand their natural locks any longer. Why is the natural hair life so difficult to maintain for the long term?
Part of the reason is that we curly girls can fall into some bad habits. Yes, I’m blaming the victim! (But only partially, so don’t feel bad) These mistakes are important to recognize and avoid because they tend to strain our relationship with our natural hair. These mistakes involve smothering it with too much attention or suffocating it by trying to change its very nature (*dramatic “bum bum bum!”*).
In this post, I would like to outline a few of the worst mistakes that we make that tend to make us HATE our natural hair.
The Top Five Mistakes At-A-Glance
- Confusing “Lazy” and “Efficient”
- Not Mastering a Go-To Style
- Fearing All Hair Care Professionals
- Obsessing About Changing Your Hair Texture
- Stressing Over All Breakage
1. Confusing “Lazy” and “Efficient”
I can’t help but think the overall point here is obvious – if you want to stay happy with your hair, don’t let it dominate your life. Yet, people that seem to have found balance between managing their hair regimen and their other commitments often describe themselves as “lazy.” IT IS lazy when you don’t do enough to keep your hair healthy. But the general notion of finding a regimen that fits into your life and maintains your hair at a reasonably healthy level does not describe laziness. This describes efficiency and it is a smart move when your goal is to maintain a positive relationship with your hair over the long term.
You may feel like being natural requires hours of daily maintenance and styling in addition to a wash day that spans the entire length of your Saturday or Sunday. That is a regimen that works for some but not for everyone. Even if your hair loves it, if you do not personally enjoy it, you may be tempted to cut off all of your hair or to end your natural hair journey. Before you go down that route consider this: If you are feeling overwhelmed by your hair needs, instead of searching for ways to end your natural hair journey, spend some time finding a way to better balance your desired style, length, and health and the amount of time you are willing to invest.
For example, my relationship with my hair greatly improved when I started wearing it in two-strand twists throughout the week. I don’t have to moisturize daily or twist my hair at night. I really only need to moisturize my hair about twice a week. My hair stays neat throughout the workweek and is easy to style in the morning. Once I started doing this, managing my natural hair became a breeze and I love it even more now that I know I can help it grow easily. Two-strand twists are not my favorite style, but they come with a lot of benefits. It is a satisfying compromise.
2. Not Mastering a Go-To Hair Style
My feelings towards my natural hair improved significantly when I sat down and forced myself to learn one or two styles that: (1) I could do on dry or wet hair; (2) would not require any “setting” time; (3) would not take long to achieve; and (4) would stay neat for the rest of the day.
Not everybody can do their own hair. That’s why we have hair dressers. However, every girl – natural, relaxed, black, white, whatever – should have a go-to hair style that fits every occasion and can be done quickly. If you don’t have a go-to hair style, you are going to find yourself quickly overwhelmed the next time your hair is a mess and you have to leave the house in a hurry. To avoid these crises, and the negative feelings towards your hair that often result, I would suggest spending time mastering at least one go-to style.
I think there is a misconception about natural hair when it comes to styling. When I first went natural, I thought every style took a couple of hours to set. I remember thinking that it was so much easier to get out of the house and go when I was relaxed. This is not entirely true. I still had to comb my hair or put it up in a bun when I was relaxed. Often times I also had to get a curling iron or straightener to deal with my kinky edges. I remember my hair being easier to manage during that time because I had styles that I had figured out how to do that would look nice enough for me to face the light of day. It was not that it was easier. I just had the time over the years to master some styles.
I realized this once I started trying to master a quick go-to style on my natural hair. My feelings towards my natural hair improved significantly when I sat down and forced myself to learn one or two styles that: (1) I could do on dry or wet hair; (2) would not require any “setting” time; (3) would not take long to achieve; and (4) would stay neat for the rest of the day. Once I mastered these styles, I realized that I had just as much freedom and flexibility as a natural as I had when I was relaxed.
There are so many videos on Youtube describing how to achieve a few quick styles on wet and dry hair. If you are feeling like doing your hair takes forever or is just so much of a time investment, I suggest finding a few styles that you like and really investing time to master them. I bet it will improve your outlook on your hair.
3. Fearing all Hair Care Professionals
We have all heard the natural hair salon horror stories. A girl with perfect, beautiful hair comes in to a salon for a simple trim and style and comes out looking like a wet poodle with about 10 inches of her length gone!
When the natural hair movement began, there were not a lot of professionals that knew how to manage black natural hair. But times have changed and there are really great professionals out there that can help you manage your tresses if you feel like it is overwhelming on your own.
Yes, you should know how to accomplish at least one style that satisfies the requirements I talked about earlier. However, if you do not like doing your hair at all and find that maintaining it on your own is too much, consider enlisting the aid of a natural hair care specialist who can do the brunt of the work for you. (Of course, you still have to do your part of maintaining it between salon visits.)
I personally enjoy doing my own hair. When I am washing my hair, I turn on one of my favorite podcasts and relax and enjoy my scalp massage and the warm water on my head. It is relaxing for me and one of the few moments I have during the week where no one ask me for anything. It is definitely a part of “me time.” So for me, I don’t go to a salon because I like doing my hair alone.
But if styling your hair brings you far more pain than joy, don’t be afraid to do research and find someone who can help you. Who knows? It could completely change your perspective on your natural hair.
4. Obsessing About Changing Your Hair Texture
There are a lot of products out there that directly or indirectly claim to take your 4c hair and make it shine and wave like the 3c hair model on the package. Likewise, I have seen beauty gurus post reviews of products that they claim changed their natural hair texture.
My experience has been that all attempts to change my hair texture have been, at best, completely unsuccessful or, at worst, permanently damaging. I have done just about EVERYTHING to change my hair texture. Sometimes my attempt are blatant. Sometimes I just tell myself that I want to try something different (but I know what I’m really up to).
I can not tell you how many times I have rushed to the beauty supply store to buy a product some hair guru called her “holy grail” and the secret to her curls. I studied the videos and watched the technique carefully. I prayed to the gods of hair and applied the product exactly as I saw in the video. And my result was that I had a head full of product that made me look like Frederick Douglas rather than the beauty goddess I was hoping to become. It was so frustrating! And it just made me hate my hair.
The problem here really comes from the idea that you NEED to change your hair texture. When that is your mind set, you will start to do things that work against your hair rather than with your hair. And trust me, when it comes to changing the way that hair comes out of your scalp, RESISTANCE IS FUTILE! Even when you relax your hair, your new growth will always betray you.
So the best bet for those who want to remain natural is to always focus on just moisturizing and protecting. I literally will not buy a product or watch a video that promises to change my hair texture. It doesn’t work! All I care about is whether a product will moisturize and nourish my hair. When your hair is moisturized and well cared for, it will thank you by being the best version of itself. It may not be the exact texture you were expecting when you began your natural hair journey, but it will be healthy and beautiful in its own unique way.
As a side note, I notice that my hair does a lot of things I wanted it to do a long time ago (bounce, shine, and curl on its own) just because it is healthy now.
5. Stressing Over All Breakage
When I first went natural, I had no idea what to expect with my hair. I remember seeing a lot of Youtube videos and posts discussing how natural hair shedding and breakage was normal. Nevertheless, I have encountered some naturals that are obsessed with preventing ALL breakage.
For example, I saw a woman post a comment on a YouTube video about never putting her head down on a pillow or other surface (unless she was sleeping) because she did not want her hair to rub on the surface and break. I saw another woman talk about always wearing a silk-lined hat when leaving the house because she did not want to ever subject her hair to the wind.
I don’t mean to pass judgment, but it just seems like being this concerned about breakage would make a person miserable with her hair. Natural hair does not have to be this much of a burden.
As I have said before in this post, it all comes down to compromising. You can not become a slave to your hair. Don’t be afraid of a little bit of breakage. Let yourself enjoy your hair at least from time to time.
I hope that this post has been helpful for any of you feeling like you hate your natural hair or that natural hair is overwhelming. By ensuring that you are making the right compromises and working with the hair rather than against it, you can strengthen not only your hair itself but also your relationship with it. Let me know what you think are the worst mistakes natural hair beauties make in the comments below.
Thank you for reading!