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7 Things to Remember when Dealing With Natural Hair Gets Tough

• Aug 21, 2012

The ease of your natural hair journey depends on a lot of things: the strength of your hair, your styling ability, your access to products and information, etc. For some women things align perfectly, and their transitioning/natural journey goes off without a hitch. For others it might feel like a start‐and‐stop, two‐steps‐forward‐one‐step‐back process.

However challenging the journey is we believe that it’s ALWAYS worth it. Here are 7 things to remember when you’re struggling with your hair:

1. You are learning a new skill that can take years to master

After years of being relaxed, you are turning a corner and learning an ENTIRELY new approach to hair care and inevitably, for some women, this will be a long process. We live in a world of instant beauty, but learning a new approach to hair maintenance takes time. That is why keeping a hair journal can be a great tool for struggling naturals. Keep track every month of what’s working for your hair and what isn’t, and make the modest goal of improving your hair care skills incrementally, one month at a time.

2. You’re a natural girl in a straight hair world, and the resources geared towards you are still somewhat scarce

A black woman with a relaxer or weave can walk into 80% of salons and encounter 5 or 6 stylists who know how to style and care for her hair. Natural women do not have that luxury. And while there has been an upstart in companies providing products for natural hair, there still is a deficit of solid hair care and styling information. Realize that your personal struggle with figuring out your hair is part of a larger trend, and reflects the times we live in. And feel proud of yourself for going against the grain.

3. Natural hair is always the healthier choice

Every woman has her reasons for why she styles her hair the way she does. But when it comes to the healthiest approach, natural hair always wins. As a natural, you are not compromising the strength or health of your strands with chemicals, or the weight of a weave. And you have the freedom to moisturize your strands on a daily basis, a luxury that chemicals and weaves do not afford.

4. You are setting an example for your present/future daughters and nieces

Next time you are in front of the mirror struggling to figure your hair out, remember that everything you are experiencing now is knowledge that you will hand down to the next generation. Just think of how incredible the next generation of naturals will be when, as 3, 4 and 5 year‐olds they’re introduced to the concepts of co‐washing, pre‐pooing and finger detangling!

5. Your beauty is unique — and that includes your hair texture

For a long time black women have viewed natural hair as defective, something that must be “fixed” so that a woman can look presentable. That notion is inaccurate and deeply damaging. Recognize that your hair texture and color are a unique part of your beauty and embrace them as such. And while there’s nothing wrong with experimenting with straight hair or color (it’s part of the fun of being a woman!), don’t forget that your natural hair complements you perfectly.

6. There’s no shame in reaching out for professional help

The online natural hair community is very “do‐it‐yourself”, and while that ca be a good thing, it’s important to remember that not everyone is capable of it. Some women will be able to manage on their own, while others will need the help and guidance of stylists. For the past three years BGLH has been collecting a list of stylists who are patient and knowledgeable about natural hair, and come highly recommended by readers. Find one in your area if you need help along your journey.

7. Mastering your hair is an amazing feeling!

Just like losing 20 pounds or learning how to eat healthy, achieving a hair health or length goal brings a great sense of satisfaction. Gain inspiration from naturals who have ‘crossed the finish line’ and can share wisdom about their journey.

Ladies, how do you stay encouraged when the hair journey gets tough? Share your thoughts below!

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Sunshine
Guest
Sunshine

I am this close to just relax my hair! this shit is hard! this is my 6th month transitioning and i just cannot find a style i like to work with the two textures! arghhhhhhhhh

lovelylauz02
Guest
lovelylauz02

If you made it 6 months, you can go for more. Have you considered doing an early BC? I know it might sound like something you don’t want to do or think you won’t look good with it… But, your hair WILL grow, and you never know, you might like short hair on you. Otherwise, I would suggest braid outs and roller sets. No one said transitioning is the easiest thing to do. Trust me. I got frustrated in my 7th month and went to the barbershop and told him to cut the mess off my head! I couldn’t take… Read more »

Inf
Guest
Inf

I co‐sign everything that lovelylauz02 said and I would like to add curlformers. They are complicated to begin with, a little costly at first, but were the only method I could use to blend the two textures. Curls come out uniform and after a few tries it’s like second nature. When the summer hit I did braids (w/added hair) and then big chopped at 6 months instead of the year like I planned. I absolutely love it!!! I think the length of hair you have is what makes it harder. Medium length doesn’t give you as much versitility as long… Read more »

Sunshine
Guest
Sunshine

Hey thanks for the replies, but i have a question:
i have 4a/4b type of hair and previously i used relaxers to make it type 3c/4a hair. I used the olive‐oil relaxers for like 10mins maximum hence it was not really processed and in the end my hair actually looked natural but with less curls hence easier to maintain. Is this bad?

Beatrice
Guest
Beatrice

It depends on what is considered bad or not. The thing is, your hair cannot be considered natural if any form of relaxer or texturiser has been applied on it. If you noticed, your curls are no longer the same and will never exactly revert back to what they were before. If you want to be texturised, it is ok but if you were planning to be natural then maybe not. A relaxer is always a relaxer.

Sunshine
Guest
Sunshine

my concern is more on the health. Can i have the same level of health when i have minimal relaxed hair compared to when its 100% natural (considering i maintain it equally in both cases)? And another thing, i have noticed my “partly” relaxed hair holds my braids‐out/twist‐out more than the natural hair. Is this normal?

amber
Guest
amber

just go on ahead and get a relaxer.…

tinabobina
Guest
tinabobina

Probably not the “same” level of health, considering you had to break protein bonds to get that curl pattern, but you can still have lovely hair with controlled breakage if you make sure that you ensure a good protein and moisture balance in your hair.

If you are not experiencing scalp problems or you weren’t experiencing excessive breakage when you had your texturizing relaxer, then I don’t see why you shouldn’t go back, if that is what you really want.

As for your other question (why your partly relaxed hair holds braid outs better)…I have no idea.

Stephie Camp
Guest
Stephie Camp

What is an early BC?

Inf
Guest
Inf

Early big chop‐ normally transitioners have an amount of time set in their head that they plan to wait until they fully chop off their relaxed ends. If you go before that date…early big chop.

Stephie Camp
Guest
Stephie Camp

Awesome! Thx for explaining that! 😉

Steph...In Motion
Guest

Like everybody else said, roller sets/straw sets work well for transitioners. And if you’re feeling frustrated, give yourself a break with a protective style like some kinky twists or braids.

merry
Guest
merry

a lot of people like those twists/mini twists.

but maybe you should relax and try not to fight your hair.

there’s a youtuber laila with a channel called fushionofcultures. she transitioned two years i think. you should watch her videos. i think she was also a style icon too. she’s got beautiful hair.

you should also search transition natural hair, etc on youtube for other people.

Vanessa
Guest

Excellent reasoning. #1 and #4 hit close to home for me.It can certainly be a difficult journey for many, especially if those around you such as family and friends are not natural or may not be supporting/understanding. There’s a learning curve involved if you have not had to “deal with” your natural hair for sometime if ever.

At the end of the day it’s a great feeling to come to the realization that you are TOTALLY comfortable with your natural beauty. That is something I think young black women NEED.

Joama
Guest
Joama

I enjoyed this article and agreed with all the points.I am contemplating coloring my hair and will not try to DIY it! LOL I have emailed the salon and looke forward to it.

What helps me is to braid or twist my own hair for a break ‚this helps me to be focused and no make rash decisions based on how i feel that day.Another is reading about my fustration and knowing i am not the ONLY one experiencing this. 🙂

Stephie Camp
Guest
Stephie Camp

#1 & 5 are my favorites. I get so frustrated that I’m ready to shave my head at times, but this really helps me to realize that I need to have patience and know that I am not the only one struggling with these same issues. I am so looking forward to #7! I may throw myself a party when I finally master this mane of mine! Thanks for this article!

J.Nicole
Guest

Number 4 is my favorite. I used to cringe every time my nieces or younger girls I knew would play in my ‘straight’ hair in aww as I’m trying to tell them to be natural and not damage their hair with perms. I transitioned long‐term, and have always been good with doing (my own) hair, so any aggravation I came across was at my own fault. I noticed when I was having bad hair days & sick of dealing with it, it was usually because I wasn’t drinking enough water and not really treating my hair with the attention it… Read more »

Lele
Guest
Lele

I took #6 (about no shame in going to a professional)to heart. I feel so crappy when I try to cornrow my hair or copy a YouTube vlogger and the style looks like bad. Well, after years of swearing off salons, I have finally found a braider who knows how not to tear out the hair, doesn’t braid too tight, who is natural herself, and is gentle. I’m going to put my pride aside and visit her every 4–8 weeks for a new style.

A.J.
Guest
A.J.

Number 1 was a light bulb for me. Even with my relaxed hair I wasn’t a master stylist and now transitioning (in my 5 month) I realize that this will not come over night. I spent years learning how to do my hair when it was relaxed (all i did was round brush blow dry) and it will not come over night how to do my natural hair. I couldn’t even remember how my natural hair look let alone how to care for it. But I am learning. That’s the main part and I found that the simplest styles are… Read more »

Zenith
Guest
Zenith

Just remember how terrible relaxer smells (even days after getting one) and that should be enough to keep you natural. 🙂

nikki
Guest
nikki

I grew my hair out to a little past shoulder length, but the weekly wash & detangling sessions were literally taking up my entire weekend. I got my hair cut back to about 5 inches this past weekend and I’m feeling like I just got out of jail! I’m staying natural, no thoughts of going back to the creamy crack, but loose longer hair is just not going to work for me and my texture. Enjoying the shorter length right now and planning on sisterlocks it next year. =)

Natalie
Guest
Natalie

Hi Nikki, I completely understand your feelings about long hair. When I see black women on YouTube with butt length hair I cringe at the thought of taking care of it and the cost of products. My goal is collarbone length hair but I’m not hung up on it and am taking my time. It’s really refreshing to read about another natural who doesn’t want long long hair. BTW I used to have locs, the first time I started them myself (I was living in Japan, no blacks) and the second I went to a hairdresser. I really loved locs… Read more »

df
Guest
df

i’m planning to keep my natural hair at a certain length (not twa though) because I already knew the longer it is, the more work it is! I’ve been through it before. If i want “long” hair I can just blow it out because I know my shrinkage is something fierce.

Nana
Guest
Nana

This is soooo true!!!I am 12 years natural and I am JUST NOW finding a perfect combination of products, and styling that are helping me retain the lenghth I want. Thank you BGLH for all the education!!! God bless <3

Jax
Guest
Jax

Hey Sunshine, for me, months 4 though 8 were the most challenging, and I can’t tell you how many times I went to Sally’s to buy some relaxer but held off due to some YT transitioners who inspired me to stay the course (ninapruitt, alodia80, fusionofcultures, and more). Sometimes watching TY long term transitioners isn’t enough, so I opted for a (realistic looking) wig and that made all the difference. I was able to put my hair in 8 braids, slap that wig on and still care for my hair underneath. Did wonders! Once I reached 8 months, I noticed… Read more »

Naeema
Guest
Naeema

I SO needed to read this today. I’ve been natural for two years and have much hair growth and really enjoyed the journey. HOWEVER, there are moments (sometimes weeks!) when my 4c hair just give me the BLUES! One wrong move or experimental step (like product) gone wrong and its knot, knot city! ! I really just have to put my hair in twist, pull it back and not think about it (other than moisterizing) for a good week or two then try again when I’m less frustrated. I LOVE LOVE my hair but some folks make it seem so… Read more »

tinabobina
Guest
tinabobina

Lol, I know how you feel! It’s not easy, especially if you are like me and had no idea how to take care of hair (relaxed or natural) at all before starting the journey. Sometimes I get frustrated at my detangling sessions (they take forever! why???), and just let me try one product or style my hair doesn’t like…oh, man!

My hair is a diva, doesn’t like many products or hairstyles, but I am slowly coming around to doing what it wants to do. Slowly but surely. Haha.

Naeema
Guest
Naeema

thats *coarse* lol

LBell
Guest
LBell

Thanks for this post. I just posted on another board about how, after almost 17 years of being natural, I’m STILL learning new stuff about how my hair works (#1). That’s not to say I’m struggling — I’m long past that point (#7) — it’s to say that my hair still surprises me at times with how it responds (or not) to different products and techniques. I’m also glad you had the guts to include #3. Nobody and nothing can make me believe that a relaxer will improve the health of natural hair. All a relaxer “improves” is your ability… Read more »

Denise
Guest
Denise

I am almost three years natural, however I have been wearing kinky twist every since. I decided no more and took them down this weekend. I am catching the blues with trying these techniques on Youtube. Twist outs, Puffs, (I’ve done about 10 puffs) wash and go, etc. No matter which one I try, it eventually ends up in a tight, drawn up fro! Since Friday I have purchased enough no slip grips, hair lotion, royal crown hair grease etc., to open a small booth at the flea market and my hair still looks the same way! I don’t even… Read more »

Miss T
Guest
Miss T

Conditioner is a natural’s best friend, washing with it and used as a leave in moisturizer is a must.

J
Guest
J

I feel ya,I can’t even do a frohawk lol! I used to get annoyed also so I don’t focus that.I have a few styles I can do which are braid outs,puffs,wash n FrO and when I need a break braids or twist.All my styles don’t require expertise which is why I like them. 🙂

tinabobina
Guest
tinabobina

I don’t know where you are, but perhaps it is the humidity. My styles hold best in late fall, winter, early spring. Summer I just wear braids or a puff.

Curly Queen
Guest

Great tips. Just like any goal this takes work but it’s worth it.

Natalie
Guest
Natalie

Great article, number 7 really struck me and I love that I never have to visit a hairdresser again if I don’t want to. The reason I went natural was to get away from hairdressers. I’ve been natural for years and only did 2 strand twists I just could not understand why my hair could not grow now I have all the knowledge I need to have great hair and retain length. I only wish I could do some fly styles like the YouTube ladies but I am happy to accept my limits and love my simple styles.

Sharon Robinson
Guest
Sharon Robinson

I stay encouraged by putting the right food in my body. Eating right stimulates hair growth. Keeping my thyroid healthy will assist in continued hair growth. Products that are natural in origin are important. I stay away from hair coloring. I find it changes the texture of my hair. I don’t want to buy into something that I have to maintain. Natural hair requires enough maintenance. Compliments on my hair are encouraging too.

df
Guest
df

i’m planning to keep my natural hair at a certain length (not twa though) because I already knew the longer it is, the more work it is! I’ve been through it before. If i want “long” hair I can just blow it out because I know my shrinkage is something fierce.

Nola
Guest
Nola

I may try to work with my hair a little bit longer because of this article. However, I’m giving my hair an ultimatum because I am tired of it. At this point in my natural hair journey I am very frustrated. I love everyone else’s natural hair BUT my own. I’m over the product search because nothing works for me. Watching videos doesn’t really help because no one has hair like mine. It is so difficult to manage and very unpredictable. I’m finding that I no longer like the way I look. Lately my bad hair days have outweighed the… Read more »

thegoodbadugly
Guest
thegoodbadugly

I agree with all of the above 7. I will add that your natural hair maintenance regimen will have to change as you age. 10 years ago, I used to just shampoo with Creme of Nature and style my two‐strand twists using Better Locks Beeswax — now that doesn’t work for me. I’ve been visiting BGLH via my many Internet sessions seeking that magical solution and developing PJism along the way. I decided to join BGLH today after seeing these comments — I was really feeling the frustration last night and thinking about BC’ing. I’ve shaved my head twice during… Read more »

thegoodbadugly
Guest
thegoodbadugly

Oops, forgot to answer the question. I stay encouraged by knowing that I’m doing the best for my hair. When it feels good, it looks good. I’ve had others convert to the natural hair regimen because they see that it is possible. I enjoy the versatility of styling options, just need to realize that I can’t wear it out all the time and that using natural/organic products do give me the best results. Being natural, I’m not suffering from absorption of any more chemicals that we’re routinely exposed on a daily basis thus it’s healthier. Finally I accept myself, as… Read more »

Karen
Guest
Karen

I stayed encourage because I always stayed with the belief that I was doing something healthy for my hair and my body. I literally had this mindset: When God created everything, He said that it was good. My hair is created by God. He said that it was good. I will never believe the lies that black women have been fed. We all have good hair because God called it good. It is the enemy that has me believing the lies. I have always tried to maintain good health in my life. Keeping my hair natural is apart of that… Read more »

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