When I first big chopped at the end of 2009, I was so excited about my hair. I had never known how to care for my hair before (I never even knew that I COULD learn about the science of hair) and I soaked up any bit of information that was available to me.
I asked a lot of questions. I mean a LOT of questions. Since that time, I’ve read a multitude of books about hair (including cosmetology chemistry books) and have learned a lot through my own experiences. However, one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is that no regimen is one size fits all. But there are still some tips that I would like to share with you that may help you on your natural hair journey:
1. The only person who needs to like your natural hair is you.
Throughout my natural hair journey, people have always had something negative to say — your hair is too short, too long, the color is too dark/light, the shape is off, etc. So, I decided to stop focusing on what other people think and love my hair for what it is,and how I want it to be. I think that because natural hair is still not mainstream, everyone has their own idea of what it should be and it differs depending on whom you ask. The most logical solution is to ignore their opinions and ensure that you are happy with YOUR hair. Otherwise, you may be calling the creamy crack sooner that you’d think.
2. Health over length.
Before my hair reached shoulder-length, I never trimmed my hair. I didn’t really think it was a big deal. I also didn’t want to cut off my ends prematurely if I wasn’t having issues with split ends or knots, because it was going to hinder my length journey. However, once my hair started rubbing and getting caught on everything under the sun, trims became imperative to my journey. The ends of your hair get more flack than any other part and they are the oldest part, so it’s important to trim them every few months or so to keep them thick and healthy. No longer do I look at long hair with thin ends reaching the person’s hips and hope that my hair could do that. That stringy piece of hair is overrated.
3. Curl pattern is not the end all be all of natural hair.
I still find it interesting that lots of women focus on curl pattern for the main source of comparison throughout their hair journeys. To me, curl pattern is nothing more than a loose description of how the hair may look and I certainly don’t base my regimen off of my curl pattern (which has been thoroughly debated to the point where I don’t even know what it is anymore). You might have a tight curl pattern, but if you have fine hair, heavier products will only weigh your hair down. In a similar sense, your curl pattern may not be as tight but you have high porosity hair, so you need thicker moisturizers to prevent your hair from getting dry. Furthermore, a lot of women with loose patterns (like 3a‑b) actually have coarse hair, when you think it may be fine. I’ve found that focusing more on my texture and porosity are more helpful in finding products that work for my hair.
4. No two heads of natural hair are identical.
Just because someone’s hair looks like yours, doesn’t mean that you should care for your hair in the same way. You may live in different climates or their true texture could be different from yours. It’s important to listen to others, but ultimately listen to your own hair to decide what’s best for you. I could never copy someone else’s regimen or holy grail product list without running into trouble and being confused as to why it didn’t work for me. You are your own hair expert.
5. Topical growth aides are more trouble than they are worth.
If you’re still on the length bandwagon, it might be more beneficial to concentrate on internal nutrition rather than apply sulfur mix to your hair or depend on Monistat to grow your hair, especially if you want multi-day hair. Many of these so-called solutions require you to wash your hair in the morning and you certainly aren’t guaranteed results. I’ve tried it all — Mane Tail Groom, Megatek, Sulfur mixes, etc…and all of them were annoying because I had to apply them daily then wash my hair…seriously, who wants to smell like that all day (MTG smells like old bacon)? I’ll stick to a multivitamin and veggies, thanks.
6. Color won’t kill you.
After you finally realize how healthy your hair can be without relaxers, it’s difficult to jeopardize those results. Even though I had been dyeing my hair since I was 12, I was reluctant to dye my natural hair because I was scared that I would no longer be natural or I would loosen my curl pattern. Well, depending on how you use dye, you should be okay. I’m not telling you to bleach your hair white blonde every month, but a semi-permanent rinse or even periodic demi-permanent color won’t kill your curls. However, if you have fine hair, make sure you take that into consideration before taking the color plunge, as it is thinner and more susceptible to color damage.
7. Cut newbies and those around you some slack.
After you’ve been natural for x amount of years and have heard it all when it comes to hair care, it may be annoying when every other person in the hair forum is asking what their curl pattern is. But it’s important to remember that you’ve been there and rather than lecture people, it’s more valuable if you educate them while still answering their question. Everyone isn’t at the same place in their journeys and it’s important to remember that we all have different goals and have started at different places within our journey.
Cheers to five years of dealing with this mane and I wish you all the best on your hair journeys!
How long have you been natural? Do you have any advice other naturalistas?