The Beginner’s Guide to Natural Hair
One of the most important things going natural taught me is that my hair is mine. A lot of people go natural for number of reasons, and that’s fine. For those who didn’t just chop off their hair spontaneously, you’ve probably giving going natural a lot of thought. You’ve googled how to transition, styles you can wear, and products you should use. You’ve probably also written “Hair Goals” under a couple of Instagram pictures. If this is you, the very first thing you should take from this article is to cut all your expectations.
A lot of the advice you will get online will revolve around knowing your hair type, buying “holy grail” products and mastering specific techniques of styling or washing and deep conditioning. While not all of this is bad advice, it’s all pretty generic and there’s always a chance that it won’t work for you. Imagine reading up on doing bantu knots, and finding that your hair can’t hold the knots after the big chop. Personally, my heart broke a little as I watched my attempted knots unravel time and again.
The thing is; whether you are going straight for the scalping, or you want to transition first, regardless of what your hair type is, there are some basic things you need to be aware of in the formative phase of your natural hair journey. The essential things to do are to drink plenty of water, eat healthy, stress less, wear protective styles, avoid applying direct heat to your hair as much as you can, and wash and deep condition your hair regularly.
A Simple Guide to Going Natural
1. Keep A Journal – Hair goals are great, but, like I said, “Your hair is yours”. Your hair may not react the same way to certain products and styling that the internet or other naturals may suggest. It’s important that you pay attention to your own hair and learn what works for it. I keep a natural hair journal that helps me keep track of everything I do to my hair and the resulting effects. Over time, you’ll settle on a regime that works for you, unless you’re like me who like to experiment with new things regularly.
2. Trim your ends – People say I’m only comfortable trimming my hair because it grows quickly. This may be partially true, but I also trim regularly because my hair texture is frizzy. This means I’m very prone to split ends and messy-looking hair. Trimming may not necessarily “make” your hair grow faster, but trimming split ends will improve the way your hair looks and feels. When your hair is healthy, it grows – right?! I’ve learned some products may repair split ends but it’s only temporary; they’ll simply reappear in a matter of days.
3. Use Sulfate-Free Shampoo – With all the products advertising so many results out there, shopping for shampoo can be hard. Even harder for me because, like I mentioned, I love to experiment – I’m also attracted by pretty things. At first, I just bought any shampoo that looked pretty and smelled good. As I studied my hair more, I started to seek out shampoos that had specific effects – like anti-frizz formulas. Always look for products that are designed to be gentle on your hair.and pH-balanced shampoo to prevent dryness and hair damage during shampooing.
4. Find A Conditioner That Works for You – I’m not going to lie; conditioning/deep conditioning will probably give you the most stress on your natural hair journey. You will come across different types of “conditioners” from hot oil treatments to protein conditioners, and even leave-in conditioners – to name a few. The point of conditioning is to give your hair protein and moisture, so that it’s strong, has body, and doesn’t break. I’m not even going to talk about all the DIY options you will experiment with. Just remember most expensive isn’t always best, and to always document the effects of whatever you use.
5. Protective Styling is Very Essential – Failing to protect the hair is often the reason why people experience hair breakage and don’t see their hair reaching its full potential. Even though I have great genes working for me, my hair would probably be a hot mess half the time if I didn’t protect it from the weather and other harmful elements. A protective hairstyle doesn’t necessarily have to require much fuss or maintenance. Me, I often just do medium-sized twists after a wash or when I have free time. Protective styles should allow you moisturize as needed, and keep the ends of your hair safe. Be sure that you’re always being gentle with your hair, and find one or two protective hairstyles that you like so you can incorporate them into your natural hair regimen.
Of all the tips you will come across on growing and maintaining your natural hair, the one you should remember the most is to not get caught up in the hype. I’m what most would refer to as a “lazy natural”, but that’s only because I find washing my hair once every other month is what works for me right now. Your hair should make you happy and not be just another source of stress in your life. Find what makes you and your hair happy, and stick to that.
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