This post is one that I hope most naturals can relate to, but especially those of you who recently started wearing your hair naturally. When I big chopped 9 years ago I didn’t have access to the resources I now take for granted. I was so accustomed to caring and styling my relaxed hair that when I looked in the mirror I sometimes…wait for it…wasn’t too thrilled with what I saw. It wasn’t that I didn’t like my hair or that I didn’t like how I now looked. I just was not used to seeing myself with short coily hair. I had no bangs to hide behind and as a result my forehead seemed extra round and my face seemed especially long. Even as my hair grew longer and I adjusted to my hair I realized something I was loathe admitting to others: I actually missed some aspects of my relaxed hair. I didn’t care for the chemically processed hair, nor did I even really enjoy the texture. I did however, sometimes find myself recalling how I looked wearing a favorite style and how I would never be able to recapture that look. If this is something you’ve experienced, be encouraged, you are not the only person to struggle with post natural nostalgia.
I found that there were certain styles that I missed more than other because my hair framed my face differently. The solution was not to relax or even straighten my hair (although there’s nothing wrong with wrong a mean press n’curl when the mood takes you). Rather, I focused on ways to accentuate my features using natural hairstyles.
The difference between your natural and relaxed hair is most pronounced at the TWA stage
Let me give it to you straight, no chaser. Yes, some will tell you about braid outs and twist outs as a means to elongate your TWA, but at this length the hair will stick up rather than hang down and some women simply don’t feel comfortable with that. If you are struggling with this stage I will offer you a word of encouragement: You have a limited window in which your hair will have the characteristics it has now. Trust me. I missed my bangs but I also learned to appreciate the curves and contours of my face. Once you get to about 7 or 8 inches (less than 2 years if you shaved your hair bald) your twist out will frame your face. If you truly don’t feel comfortable with how your hair looks short, I recommend either transitioning for a longer period of style or wearing extensions that do NOT put pressure on your edges while you grow your hair out. I would, however, encourage you to wear your hair at this length even it means going outside of your comfort zone.
Re-creating relaxed hair looks with medium length natural hair
At this length you have more control over the length of your hair based on how you choose to manipulate it.
Face Framing Style with Medium Length Hair
I can offer you concrete ways to capture attributes about your relaxed hair that you enjoyed while embracing your natural texture.
1. Parting: This may seem simple but it took me a little while to learn that until my hair reached a certain length the way I parted my hair made a difference in how it framed my face and the extent to which it would “hang”. A small part in the middle ensured that my hair didn’t stick up in the front and that the layers that were growing out didn’t look awkward.
2. Strategic Manipulation: Always twist/braid the hair in the front smaller if you are pressed for time. The smaller the section, the more “hang time” you will get with your hair. If you plan to only section your hair into 12 or 15 braids place at least 4–6 smaller ones in the front.
3. Focus on the front. You will want to focus on smaller sections of twist or braids in the front of your hair if your goal is framing your face and pin the back half of your hair up in a puff or a bun. I found that wearing my hair in a puff day in and day out put stress on my hair line and did not allow me to frame my face.
Sometimes the issues we view as huge obstacles in our hair journey really only involve a change in perspective and creativity. The sooner we accept the things we enjoyed about what our hair was and are realistic about what our hair will be, the sooner we can embrace the beauty of what our hair is.
Ladies, did you missed relaxed hair styles after going natural? How did you adjust, styling wise?