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5 Tips for Managing Natural Hair in College

Avatar • Aug 28, 2012

By Geniece of Beautifully Made

It’s that time of year of again. The rush of term papers, Friday and Saturday night social events, all‐nighters: Yup, back to school. If you will be going away to college for the first time, you will soon discover that hair care will often fall low on your priority list as you juggle a new and exciting academic and social life. Before I went away to college my mother was a ready and available hair care lay‐expert and I had a number of hair salons within walking distance from my house. Going to college in a not so diverse town in upstate New York was not only a culture shock but taught me that I would have to learn how to care for my hair. If you are natural you’re already ahead of the curve because when I went away to college I was still relaxed, which meant maintaining my hair required using a harsh chemical that could have spelled disaster in the hands of an unskilled teenager. This is not to say that it will be a cake walk if you’re natural but you can certainly manage your hair on a weekly basis without causing damage. Here are a few hair care tips that you may want to take into consideration.

1. Stock up on products before you head to school

If your school is located in an area in which “ethnic” hair care products are not easily available please consider stocking up before you board the plane or drive miles away. Two or three bottles of shampoo and conditioner, your favorite leave in and styler should keep you until Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday. Even if there aren’t any beauty supply stores in your neighborhood consider checking out the availability of products at CVS, Walgreens and similar stores, which have several options available. While ordering online is always an option, you will probably want to save your money for book shipping costs or for what my younger sister called “emergency outfits” for social events.

2. Keep your styles simple

There will be weeks when you have NO TIME for anything not related to studying for an exam or writing a paper. As such you will need to identify a go to, easy hairstyle so that you can walk around campus looking presentable. While I have seen my fair share of brightly colored head wraps and du‐rags in the library during midterms and finals, it is possible to keep it classy while prepping to ace your economics final. If you choose to keep your hair in a simple bun, be sure to moisturize it every two days. When your hairstyle becomes frizzy simply mist it with water and tie it down with a scarf. You may even find that this unintentional protective style actually holds benefits for your hair.

3. Watch out for cigarette smoke/party smells

I wasn’t much into parties in college but living in a dorm I became familiar with party smells. That’s right, smells. Parties held off campus will possibly have the aroma of cigarette smoke. This smell will cling to your perfectly fluffed fro.  There’s not much to do to get rid of the smell but to wash it out so be prepared to possibly reserve Sundays for your hair washing day.

4. Find a “campus stylist”

Instead of doling out money to go to get your hair braided or twisted at a local salon identify the campus stylists. I’m a big fan of do‐it‐yourself hair care but I have yet to master cornrowing and even if I did there may be times when I’d be too lazy to style my hair. If you can find the individuals on campus who can braid you will be able to get your hair styled for a fraction of the cost of a salon. If you’re a freshman ask upperclassmen to point you in the direction of the best campus hair stylists.

5. Have fun!

College was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. While there are seasons of busyness, don’t allow the drama of others to dampen your experience or stress you out. I have seen the effects of unnecessary drama on one’s physical appearance, including hair. Enjoy this special time in your life, make friends and wear your beautiful ‚natural hair proudly.

Ladies, what tips can you give to college naturals?

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Mel
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Mel

Thanks for the tips! I was waiting for an article like this to appear! :). I am currently a freshman in college (in a not at all diverse town) and I have been sticking mostly to twist outs and the “high puff.” I hope you plan on publishing more articles on how to handle natural hair in college!

Britt
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Britt

I Have a good natural hair college tips http://youtu.be/1dZQyvA395A

nappy headed black girl
Guest

Number 4 is the truth. I used to have a local high school girl hook me up. Especially if you go to a black school, you’ll find a ton of “kitchen beauticians”

Natalee
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Natalee

I transitioned in my sophomore year and chopped off the straight ends while writing a paper one night during my junior. I’ve finally mastered my hair in my senior year and #2 is KEY! Those twists and braids are a lifesaver during finals or for those that like to roll right from the bed to class. Unfortunately I didn’t have a campus stylist that could help me and I had to learn to braid on my own, but the internet is the next best thing!

Damola Aluko
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Damola Aluko

Howard University is possibly the best school to have natural hair at. 2 out of 3 girls are relaxer free. and 1 out of 3 girls actually showcase their natural hair!! It’s amazing inspiration, and we have a natural hair club:tangles
[img]https://bglh-marketplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/TANGLES.jpg[/img]

Jasmine
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Jasmine

I found that making friends with other naturals is helpful cause when I run out of products I know where I can get some for free lol!

Jane
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Jane

The phrasing of the third sentence in #2 makes it seems as if the writer is suggesting head wraps are not classy. Interesting point of view.

Dana
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Dana

I don’t think she was talking about decorative head wraps. I think she was talking about walking to class or the library in the scarf (and du‐rags) you wear when you go to bed. That is not classy. But if anything that was a tell tale sign that the writer goes/went to an HBCU…lol.

Shay
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Shay

I think she just means that within the natural community it is assummed if you’re wearing a headwrap its probably because you didn’t have time to do your natural hair. At least that’s why I do it. Or I’m lazy.

Jula
Guest

I went natural while in college. I kept coloring my hair different colors with a RELAXER! Then my hair turned green and started shedding. At the time I had stopped going to the person who normally did my hair to save money.

So after that mishap, I went back to her and she told me that I would have to cut all my hair off. I did and it grew back fast. Since then I’ve never looked back.

I’ve been natural for 6 years.

DreamGirl
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DreamGirl

What I also do is get my hair braided before I go back to uni,my mom or sis pays for me to get it done,I get back looking good and gives me a few weeks of protection before I need to worry about my hair. My friends and I do each others hair for free so the only thing left for me to do is feed the product junkie within lol *hides*.

tapiwa
Guest

In college I learnt to do relaxer touch ups on my own. I’d do them every 6 weeks. Noticed my hair wasn’t growing all my four years of college. I had scalds from getting burnt by relaxer, with my dad prompting me to go natural, I ended up transitioning with braids which I taught my self to install saving me $20 each time

tapiwa
Guest

I’m working now but currently doin a post grad part time ;y

Jordan
Guest

I needed this article 2 years ago. Hating right now, BUT if I stop being lazy && apply to grad school it’ll be relevant again! I wish somebody would have told me to slow down && take your time. Make a schedule for your hair because I would get rushed thinking about everything that I needed to do and then my hair got neglected. I never found that balance until I gradated.

AC
Guest
AC

If you go to FAMU, join the facebook group “Orange, Green and Natural!” We have a HUGE natural community that would love to help anyone 🙂

At_Ease
Guest
At_Ease

Great tips! I don’t think there is anything wrong with headwraps it’s just good to switch up up sometimes for sure. I end up wearing a bun with the front of my hair in a flat twist almost all the time. That way everything is tucked away 🙂

CocoaNo5
Guest
CocoaNo5

The college that I go to, Temple University, has a natural hair community (B.A.N.T.U) on campus. We have seminars and receive discounts at local salons. It’s great to have a forum to express ourselves.

JenniD
Guest
JenniD

I just graduated in June of this year. I was a full time student and held down a full time job as an assistant manager( 40–45 hours per week. Talk about being busy and stressed! I still mainatained my hair though. What was helpful for me was to multi‐task and protective styling as I did my hair on the week end. I would also break up detangling and wash day. For example I would detangle on Friday evening and section my hair off to be washed the next morning. While I was detangling I had my books opened and studying… Read more »

LM
Guest
LM

I’ve tried to detangle, twist my hair while studying, but i am so style challenged that I just cannot concentrate on both. I end up ripping through my hair.

Aleia
Guest

Great article. I’ll be forwarding this on to my sister!

abhiola
Guest
abhiola

I cut my year first year of college and found it hard to follow the routines and regimines suggested by anyone online. I am a science student with lectures that begin at 8.30 in the morning and labs several times a week. my advice, come up with YOUR own routine. I know it sounds mind numbingly cliche but there’s so much truth to it. yes people online have the best intentions of helping their viewers and readers out but for some, their job is the internet, they have time to do different styles and play with their hair and use… Read more »

Chachamusicgirl
Guest

As someone who will be attending college next year I think the best way to manage your hair is to just use a simple haircare routine. Mine is shampoo and bun every other day. Hair shouldn’t take up your whole life. Also for number one, I don’t understand what is the big deal about using ethnic products. Your hair can’t tell the difference anyway. Being raised by an Indian mother I have never used ethnic products and my hair has been healthy and long as long as I stayed away from chemicals. Buns, ponytails and wash and gos are great… Read more »

mahlatse
Guest
mahlatse

hi. you are wrong. African hair can tel the difference between ethnic products and others. eg: Most shampoos rip african hair off its moisture because some manufacturers do not understand the science of black hair. im assuming you mixed race since u hv an indian mother so your hair may react differently because of its texture. lastly african ethnic products is more likely to work better on african hair because they have been used by africans for centuries. If something is raw and ‘fresh’ its likely to be more effective anyway

CurlyInCollege
Guest

Good advice, also make sure you join (or start!) a natural hair student organization on your campus. That way you can share information and get the lowdown on how to care for your hair in a new environment. Check out CurlyInCollege Campus Chapters for help with this — http://curlyincollege.com/campuschapters/

Brandi
Guest
Brandi

to get rid of smokey smell in hair use a few drops of vanilla extract in your hand and rub it into your hair.… it works!

Amani
Guest
Amani

very

Amani
Guest
Amani

Very helpful!

CurlyInCollege
Guest

Make sure you join (or start!) a natural hair student organization on your campus. That way you can share information and get the lowdown on how to care for your hair in a new environment. Check out CurlyInCollege Campus Chapters for help with this — http://curlyincollege.com/campuschapters/

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