Having Difficulty Managing Your Natural Hair?
Confession: I am terrible with styling my hair. While everyone else can go on YouTube and follow along to create bomb hairstyles on themselves I don’t even know how to cornrow; I've been natural since 2015 and I'm still trying to master two-strand and flat twists. I’ve experimented with countless hair products and unfortunately spent several pretty pennies along the way.
If hair styling/management isn’t your strong suit it is still very possible to grow and maintain healthy hair. Here are a few tips for managing the mane when you don’t know how to do your own hair.
Invest in the essentials. I categorize my essentials as the following:
Styling tools (combs, brushes, blow dryer, flat iron/curling iron), hair ties, clips, flexirods, perm rods (and the like),
Products used for cleansing (shampoo, co-wash),
Products for moisturizing/restoring (grease, creams, curl puddings, conditioner), and
Styling products (gels, creams, mousse, sprays).
It helps to identify what hair type (or types) you have when selecting products. This (as we all know) is easier said than done and is often a lengthy, frustrating, costly, and on-going process. It takes time to learn what works for your hair; with changes in seasons, your environment, or even age you hair’s needs evolve. One’s diet and water intake also impact the health of your hair. In this natural journey there will be periods of trial and error, especially when you are newly natural. When you use the right products for your hair it makes the detangling and styling processes a lot easier. If you are interested in a more holistic approach to hair care don’t be afraid to try your hand at making your hair products at home! There are various combinations of oils, fruits and vegetables to try, just be sure to do your research and watch plenty of reviews/tutorials first. Have patience; once you find those essentials that work for you, hold them near and dear!
Keep your utensils clean! We’ve all had that moment when we needed to borrow a friend’s comb or brush, or we let a friend use our flat iron to touch up her leave out before heading out. Everyone has unique bacteria on their bodies and in their hair; as a hygiene practice I have made it a habit to clean my tools every time I wash my hair. Whether you decide to share your utensils or not it is SO important to routinely clean the items that come in contact with your hair (items like combs, brushes, flat irons/curling irons, and blow dryer heads). For my blow dryer head and flat iron I use an alcohol pad; to wash my combs and brushes I use a small amount of shampoo (you can either use the shampoo you use to wash your hair or purchase a cheaper shampoo designated for washing your tools).
Find or create a support system. Shortly after I did my second big chop in 2015 a few of my friends and I formed a group chat in which we talked about nothing but our hair. The chat served as a great source of encouragement during my beginning stages of being natural. Our hair textures varied but we constantly shared photos of growth progress, protective styles we tried on ourselves, and product recommendations.
If you are not able to create this type of network amongst friends or people you know, it is relatively easy (in the age of social media) to search on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest (or sites like KinkyCurlyCoilyMe.com) for reliable hair inspiration, advice, simple styles, etc. I actually learned how to do two strands and Bantu knots from Instagram videos.
Having natural hair can be frustrating and even more cumbersome if you don’t know how to do your hair and/or have no desire to learn. Regardless of your level of expertise it is always helpful to hear other voices, realize you’re not alone, and find women who can keep you encouraged.
If you’re not willing to learn how to do your own hair be prepared to pay someone else. The profession/skill of hair styling is an art that deserves to be adequately compensated. It can be very costly to have your hair done (especially certain protective styles and weaves); going to a hairdresser for a trim, blow dry and curl has even increased in price over the years. In order to grow your hair and keep it healthy it’s not necessary to go to the shop every two weeks, however from time to time we all need to give our hair a break from the elements or show our tresses some tender loving care with a good trim and deep condition. Many women have figured out how to do these things at home so that they don’t have to go to the salon and pay someone else, but if you’re like me and you don’t have the time or patience to learn you’ll have no choice but to pay someone else to render those services. You get what you pay for; there are plenty of stylists who know how to do hair, and their prices are budget friendly. If you know these women, SUPPORT THEM! On the same token, if you know women who have earned licensure to style hair professionally (and you can afford them), SUPPORT THEM!
Embrace your natural curls. Confidence doesn’t always come overnight; for most it is a lifelong process. Some days will definitely be better than others. On the days that you’re struggling to bring your look together it helps to have a last resort style (I like to call it an escape plan). Sometimes it helps to keep cute accessories or throw on a nice lippie. There’s also absolutely nothing wrong with owning your bare natural beauty and rocking your coils however they fall out of that bonnet. As women we tend to be harder on ourselves than we need to; I can’t tell you how many times I thought I looked terrible and was self conscious about my hair, only to receive compliments all day long. It’s natural to doubt yourself sometimes, especially when you’re adjusting to a new look or style. OWN IT. You are not alone in this natural hair journey, you are more than your hair. You are an intelligent, beautiful, confident, charming, amazing woman! Rock those curls boo!