By Jc of The Natural Haven
The best thing about being natural today is that there are endless resources to help with styling and product selection. Several years back there were just a handful of websites dedicated to natural hair but now there are literally thousands of blogs and vlogs.
This is a cautionary tale. You must always listen to your own hair because it is your guide. It will complain clearly before it breaks (notice the crunch, matting and tangling that comes before snapping), it will react when mistreated (notice the brittleness and lack of movement when you apply too much product or heat and deprive it of water) but most of all it will thrive when you take care of it (less tangling, more length retention, easier to style).
To be perfectly clear, most people are masters of one hair type — their own. Things that work on their hair may not work on yours.
This is what you should watch out for when watching Youtube videos or looking at Fotki albums
1. The Volume Factor
Naturals with hair with a lot of volume usually get a deserved second stare but we have to bear in mind that the number of hair follicles we have and the thickness of our hair is predetermined by our genes. Admire their hair but remember that while you can aim to have someone else’s length, it is not possible to have someone else’s volume.
Many naturals with long hair have a lot of volume. It may be worth it to identify naturals with less volume to get a sense of the styling possibilities for thinner-haired naturals.
2. How Hair Clumps and Curls When Wet
All curly hair can look like type 4 (very tightly curled) hair if you brush it out especially if you do this when it is dry. Dry hair does not really tell you much. If you want to see a curl pattern and compare it to your own, then you cannot go wrong with wet hair. When hair is wet, the curl you see is the natural curl that you can lock in with the right products. Additionally, shrinkage varies greatly and you can see this with wet hair.
Sera is another natural with gorgeous hair which at first glance looks like Mwedzi’s but her hair when wet has more of a tiny wave than a curl (‘true’ 4b hair). Kimmaytube is another hugely popular natural but her curls are larger and do clump together. Her shrinkage is not as dramatic as Mwedzi or Sera. There are also naturals who have hair that really defies a generic description. They are clearly in the type 4 category because of the curl size but their hair is just different (curl definition, shrinking and volume) for example Cynthiarf, Hair Crush and Curly Chronicles.
3. Pay Attention to How People Describe Their Hair
It is so easy to watch videos on mute when you find someone’s voice/music choice annoying or to skip over what people write and just look at the pretty pictures. However, I would recommend that you do listen to what they say as much as you pay attention to how their hair looks.
I noticed for example that Mwedzi who has gorgeous hair with identical shrinkage to my own described her strands as somewhat thick and breakage resistant. Despite the strong similarity in the look of our hair (curl type and shrinking), my hair is fine and breaks very easily. The description of her hair makes me see why it is that she can apply heat to her hair regularly without major problems.
Mwedzi first interested me in the tangle teezer. I then saw two other naturals with similar hair also give positive reviews — Katie and Naturlalovesong /Pooks — and this sealed my decision to get it. My hair reacted immediately on the first run by breaking dramatically. For arguments sake, I tried it a second time with the same result and stopped using it. Mwedzi on the other hand was able to use it for months before her hair also started breaking. Her hair is not my hair.
Ladies, what do you keep in mind when taking natural hair advice?
For more of Jc’s writings check out The Natural Haven.