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5 Natural Hair ‘Problems’ That are Overblown

Avatar • Jun 1, 2012

Sometimes we make natural hair care a bit harder than it has to be. While mastering your hair is certainly a process that takes time, there are some issues that quickly go from molehills to mountains. Check out our list:

1. Not knowing enough “hair science”

On the one hand, it’s good to have a curious mind about your hair, to research the structure of hair, know how key ingredients function, and how hair follicles react to heat, chemicals, water and other stimuli.

On the other hand, hundreds of black women before us (including some of our own mothers and grandmothers) grew full, healthy heads of hair through simple observation and a common sense approach. (Need evidence? Look back at your girlhood pre-relaxer pictures. Many of you had thick, long heads of natural hair courtesy of your mothers’ hair care).

Knowledge is power and it’s important, but you should never become paralyzed by the fear that you don’t know enough or need to know more to master your hair. You can learn a lot from top hair science blogs like The Natural Haven, The Beauty Brains and Hair Liberty, but you are also learning about your hair every time you touch, cleanse and style it.

2. Fairy Knots

Did you know that there are many naturals with long, healthy hair… that is chock full of fairy knots! Okay, maybe not chock full 🙂 But fairy knots are a pretty much inevitable result of having highly textured hair. So why does natural hair thrive despite them? Because depending on the strength and texture of your hair, fairy knots might not be a deterrent to retaining length. If your hair is on the fragile side, fairy knots will create weak points that lead to breakage. But if you have thick/coarse strands or generally strong hair, your follicles will continue retaining inches of hair, even with the pesky knots along for the ride.

3. Not knowing your hair type

Yes, it’s helpful to know your texture classification. It can give you an idea of what styles and styling products work best for you. But honestly, other factors — like hair strength, density, porosity (the ability to absorb moisture) and how tangle-prone your strands are — are far more relevant to building a regimen. Consider this; there are 3c (loose curls) naturals with similar regimens to 4c (tight kinks) naturals because they both have fine hair that needs protection. And 4c naturals who can wash and go like 3c naturals, because they both have strong hair that isn’t tangle prone. Yes, hair type is helpful, but it isn’t everything!

4. Having multiple hair textures

Most naturals have multiple textures on their heads. It’s not uncanny or unusual yet it remains a major point of contention. There are many simple, attractive styles that address multiple textures. We’ve actually dedicated two photo galleries to them: The Best Styles for Hiding Multiple Textures and 5 Styles for Defined Uniform Curls.

5. Figuring out “Protein/Moisture” Balance

According to Audrey Davis-Sivasothy, author of The Science of Black Hair, protein treatments really aren’t that relevant to natural hair. They are more important for chemically treated hair since relaxers, texturizers and hair dyes break down protein bonds and compromise the structure of the follicle. If you’re natural you don’t need a protein treatment unless you are experiencing excessive shedding and breakage. Otherwise, reach for a non-protein strengthening treatment, like henna or an intensive conditioner, instead.

Alright ladies, what complaints and problems have you heard that are perhaps a bit exaggerated?

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B
B
8 years ago

I dont see any point really in knowing your hair type. Hair products arent sold saying for 3c or 4b hair etc.

maralondon
maralondon
8 years ago
Reply to  B

I totally agree. I remember reading a comment by someone on the web who said something like; shouldn’t we rate our hair type 1a since it was the first texture on earth. I loved it so much that i’m now going to tell anyone who ask what my hair type it’ is 1a.

Lola
Lola
8 years ago
Reply to  maralondon

+a million

To me, knowing your curl pattern tells you NOTHING. But knowing your porosity, your hair density, your strand width tells you everything and knowing that can help you pick products that are best for you based on you and not based on the arbitrary curl pattern designation created by a man who has documented issues with natural hair.

Ashes
8 years ago
Reply to  Lola

+infinity. I mean, that Andre dude is the same one that said we should use chemicals to make Kinks more manageable. Then gave a half arsed apology for it. Why on earth would we want to use any terms coined by this dude?

Joan B. in S. C.
Joan B. in S. C.
8 years ago
Reply to  Ashes

Cosigning with Ashes!

Ana
Ana
8 years ago

we all have hair get knots every now and then. the drier you hair is the more knot prone it will be. always moisturize before detangling and you will notice less knots.

B
B
8 years ago
Reply to  Ana

For me silicone free products cause knots…

Amber
8 years ago

Yeah all those are true. We seriously don’t need to know the detail of those things just the basics and that’s pretty much it. I never understood the hair science and protein stuff nor do I even care lol.

jpsignatureorganx
8 years ago

Visit our shop on etsy at http://www.etsy.com/shop/jpsignatureorganx for all of your natural hair care and facial needs. Were making products for growth, moisturizing dreadlocks,transitioning and replenishing your hair back to health!!! Great for girls going natural and any hair type… Also were making facial products to get your skin clean and glowing

Rae
Rae
8 years ago

The amount of knotting in my hair is RIDICULOUS. Fortunately the knots do not cause breakage, but the one time I tried to straighten my hair the knots were visible & didn’t look so good.

Jasmine
Jasmine
8 years ago

I don’t like the over exaggeration about protective styling. I understand for some it’s how they have been able to retain their length but it is not the only way. One of the main reasons I went natural was to wear my hair in a natural free state, not to have it restricted all the time.

B
B
8 years ago
Reply to  Jasmine

Agreed!

Crescendo
Crescendo
8 years ago
Reply to  B

I think it depends on the hair type. I know for myself if I didn’t put in two strand twists in my hair it would be break, break city — my strands are extra fine but ultra dense. I do two-strand twists once a week and then manipulate those twists multiple times a week to get the desired look. I don’t see two-stand twists as a chore or hindrance. I like the ease of them and knowing that I don’t have to touch, manipulate, re-wet, etc. my hair for a week. I like the freedom that they provide. Everyone has their… Read more »

Lele
Lele
8 years ago
Reply to  Crescendo

Yeah, I mean, if people don’t need protective styles to maintain/retain length, then they shouldn’t do it (unless they desire)! I wish I could, but time and time again, my hair has proven that it retains length best by twists. I wish to God that my hair would retain length by just wearing loose hair. I do however leave mine free for a week every month. And then I know some people who experience bad results from protective styling even when done right, like my sister…

Alexandra
Alexandra
8 years ago
Reply to  Jasmine

I’m with Jasmine. I love wearing my hair free and letting it do what it wants.

Monisola
Monisola
8 years ago

i dunno about the last one. I have been natural for three years and I KNOW that my hair does a lot better when I use some Aubrey Organics GPB (protein) conditioner on it every 5 weeks.

SA
SA
8 years ago
Reply to  Monisola

#1–4 is pretty much on point. I kind of side-eyed the last one myself lol. Figuring out a proper moisture/protein balance can be tricky for some, however I think it’s silly to say that if your hair is natural you don’t need to use protein treatments until there’s a visible need for it ( ie. extreme breakage or shedding) I’ve observed a lot of naturals (via the hair forums) mistakenly believe that myth and their hair has suffered in the process. Using protein (natural alternatives or store bought) can be used as a preventive measure, why wait until there’s an… Read more »

Jane
Jane
8 years ago
Reply to  Monisola

I read that to mean strong proteins like aphoghee 2‑step or similar stuff. I don’t use protein that often, but I have found it beneficial in small amounts at regular intervals. Proteins also help retain moisture better.

df
df
8 years ago
Reply to  Monisola

everyone is different…protein in any form just makes my hair dry and brittle…I could go 6 months without using protein and nothing but moisture and i’m good…

Lerato
Lerato
8 years ago
Reply to  df

Im not so sure about proteins … nothing keeps my hair beautiful and healthy like moisture … i find i dont even have to treat it … the more moist … the healthier. Some yeas ago a stylist told me, that if i want to grow my hair very long i must find a way to make it retain moisture in the most natural form, sleeping with a shower cap on (it grows very fast and soft).. I have the softest longest afro under the sun !!! … but waking up with wet hair everyday can be tedious … rather… Read more »

EG
EG
8 years ago

I think #1 is waaaayyyyyy overblown, and some of those ‘top’ scientist have been wrong more than once. None of my favorite ‘gurus’ are scientist and their advice is always on point.

Styleosophy
8 years ago

I agree with 1–4. My grandmother and mother were beauticians and if you asked them what “hair typing” means they would laugh at you. Back in the day, there was a products and there were styles. You worked it out. Life was good. Number five gave me issues because Audrey spoke specifically about chemical treatments. Adverse factors such as swimmers hair (salt and chlorine water can cause a need for intense protein treatments), heavy sun exposure, or working with hard water as your only way to wash your hair can cause a need for protein treatments based on the shampoos you need… Read more »

ladyluo
ladyluo
8 years ago

#5 has really made a difference in my hair but the other tips are also great info

Coco
Coco
8 years ago

I’ve always wonder why people make such a big deal about multiple hair textures. I literally have four different textures on my one head and that’s fine. I don’t need to manipulate my hair a certain way to get the textures to blend. It is what it is, accept it. I do like the different textures, though. They make my hair look extra unique 🙂

Cacey
Cacey
8 years ago

i totally second all five of these points. i’ve learned that snipping off fairy knots usually meant a good inch to 2 inches down the drain. so i quit doing that. i only address big knots that involve multiple strands and rarely do those implicate fairy knots. we’ve been trained to villify innocent fairy knots but they’re really harmless. identifying hair type is about the most useless thing. i have yet to see what that’s actually good for. and i second the multiple hair textures thing. there’s always style options that address multiple hair textures, so that’s certainly no big deal.… Read more »

dani
dani
8 years ago
Reply to  Cacey

That’s what you call a Napzi

Cacey
Cacey
8 years ago
Reply to  dani

here here! i didn’t wanna say it.

Serge
Serge
8 years ago

Shouldn’t shrinkage be on the list?

Ashes
8 years ago
Reply to  Serge

^THIS^

lovelylauz02
lovelylauz02
8 years ago
Reply to  Serge

TRUTH… people get BENT OUT OF SHAPE about shrinkage and stretching their hair…

Jo Somebody
Jo Somebody
8 years ago
Reply to  Serge

Do people regard shrinkage as a ‘problem’? I like shrinkage!

Cacey
Cacey
8 years ago
Reply to  Jo Somebody

i dont mind it 🙂

Lerato
Lerato
8 years ago

Im not so sure about proteins … nothing keeps my hair beautiful and healthy like moisture … i find i dont even have to treat it … the more moist … the healthier. Some yeas ago a stylist told me, that if i want to grow my hair very long i must find a way to make it retain moisture in the most natural form, sleeping with a shower cap on (it grows very fast and soft).. I have the softest longest afro under the sun !!! … but waking up with wet hair everyday can be tedious … rather… Read more »

Chelle
Chelle
8 years ago

1–4, I agree, but I think #5 isn’t presented exactly right. If you read some of Audrey’s stuff and the book, she has always talked about everyone needing to balance protein and moisture and that the balance is different for different people. I agree! When it comes to natural hair, we don’t need as much protein as our relaxed sistas, but we do still need it from time to time. Especially if our regimen has heat styling, color treating and other stuff going on in it. I think #5 should say that the whole “Protein is Evil” thing is the… Read more »

LM
LM
8 years ago

I don’t attempt wash and gos anymore, not only because of tangling, but because of my dramatically different textures. It’s so profound that even non naturals point it out lol. The left side of my hair is only slightly wavy while the right side has very tight corkscrew coils. Middle is mostly just frizzy with little curl pattern and the back is loosely curled. My wash and gos just look lop-sided and I’ve had to fluff and tease the crap out of the left side to get it similar to the right side when doing braid/twist outs. It isn’t heat… Read more »

GM
GM
8 years ago

I have alot of knots near my roots. recently just started using infusium 23 leave in just to detangle my hair. My hair has been like this since I been a kid but I still get knots, just not as much. So I’m going only leave hair styles in for a month- busy college life — to help calm down the knots. Are there other things I can do to decrease the amount of knots.

Candy
Candy
7 years ago

Daily conditioning works well for eliminating breakage caused by knots. Make your own leave-in conditioner and spritz hair with the mixture to keep hair moist and conditioned daily. Here is an infographic with steps on how to make your own. https://www.exoticallure.com/blog/How-to-Make–Your-Own-Leave-In-Conditioner.htm

Mary
6 years ago

I agree in some of the comments here to first moisturize before detangling to prevent knots. Statement number 5, figuring out “Protein/Moisture” balance is a big help! Thanks!

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