Category Archives: Going Natural

Top tips for going natural

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Going natural may not be a huge declaration or momentous occasion for some.  Perhaps you have taken your hair out of braids and want to delay using chemicals for a while. You may never look back.  Some may have experienced breakage due to relaxers and believe going chemical free is best.  Whatever your reasons for going natural, here are some tips to get you started on the right track.

1. Big chop boldly

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Decide whether you want to big chop or transition. The big chop is simply cutting all of the relaxed hair, right up to the new growth. For this, you must be willing to have short hair; a TWA (teeny weenie afro) or shorter.  You may have seen videos on YouTube of women drastically shaving their heads to big chop.  You do not have to do this.  The Amber Rose look isn’t for everyone! You can choose to wait until there is a sufficient amount of new growth to showcase a TWA. If you are only going to be comfortable with hair long enough to put back in a ponytail, perhaps transitioning is more suitable.

I have a round face, so I was hesitant about having short hair.  I never thought very short hair could look good with my face shape.  However, I found that afro textured hair framed my face well, better than a short straight cut would have.  I certainly didn’t’ shave my head, I wore braid outs with my relaxed hair to blend in the little new growth, until it grew out adequately.  For me personally, I knew playing around with two textures was not going to work.  So I big chopped soon after giving up the chemicals.

2. Transition with care

Transitioning is holding off on cutting the relaxed hair and growing your natural hair out gradually. This is done until you are happy with the length. For this, you have to be willing to care for two different hair textures at the same time.  If you decide to transition, you may want to wear braids, weaves or wigs in the meantime.  Be careful that these styles are not installed too tightly because your edges may thin or you may experience breakage in other areas.  This would be a terrible set back so soon into your journey.

When transitioning, avoid falling into the trap of using heat on your new growth, to blend the two textures.  A small amount of sweat on the scalp will cause your new growth to revert back to its natural state.  You may find yourself using heat daily as a result.  When it is time to big chop, you may be left with heat damaged hair.

For transitioning, start doing braid-outs and twist-outs to get the feel of curly or kinky textured hair, and to get out of the mindset of straight hair.  Check out styling tutorials on YouTube, such as FusionofCultures who transitioned for two years.  Roller sets, two strand twists, bantu knot-outs and flexi-rods can be used for styling your transitioning hair.

 3. Keep it simple with products

Keep your approach to products simple at this stage.  Perhaps it would be best to continue to use the products you are already familiar with, unless you found that they were damaging to your hair. Focus on getting familiar with styling and caring for your hair. It is your skills that make the difference, not the products. While styling and maintaining your hair, start to research natural shampoos and conditioners and the ingredients you should avoid.  Know the reasons why they should be avoided.  Educating yourself about ingredients will ensure you choose the best products for your hair.

Don’t fall for marketing ploys. Products that claim to give you a certain curl pattern or accelerated growth for instance, or products that claim to be natural but aren’t.  I see too many naturals become super focused on product brands, expecting a product to ‘fix’ their hair, while failing to learn good hair care practices.  Most of these products do not do anything that water, natural oils and butters don’t do, unless they contain chemicals or unnatural ingredients.

You may not be too concerned about using products that are 100% natural, do what is best for you. As long as you have the sufficient knowledge, you can make an informed decision. The most important thing you can do for your hair is learn how to take care of it: how to comb it correctly, how to finger detangle, how to deal with shrinkage, when to use protein treatments, when to trim, to name a few. You don’t need to invest your time trying every product on the market and over spending as a result.  The reason we used relaxers was for them to ‘fix our hair’, do not have the same attitude towards products.

 4. Keep the use of heat to a minimum when dealing with shrinkage

Shrinkage is one of the main challenges for any new natural who has passed the TWA stage. Remember that shrinkage is a good thing; it shows you that your hair is healthy and simply reverting back to its natural curl pattern when wet. However, if you have very kinky hair, it may be best to keep it stretched out as much as possible, especially for styling. Check out my posts on this and practice techniques that ensure you do not have to rely on blow dryers and flat irons. Frequent use of heat can create dryness, breakage and heat damage. Heat damage is when your hair doesn’t revert back to its natural curl pattern and you are left with straight strands, in some sections. If you develop good habits in the early stages of your hair journey, you will continue this good practice for years to come. Unfortunately, bad habits are hard to break.  Besides, the longer your hair gets, the less problematic shrinkage becomes. If you invest in good hair care practices now, you will reap the benefits later.

5. Go natural for you, not for others

Personally, I couldn’t care less what men on YouTube say about women with natural hair, whether positive or negative.  I choose not to pay attention to general opinions about natural hair. Whether men, other women, people of other races or even employers like natural hair; I had to decide to embrace my natural hair regardless.  Anyone who says they don’t like natural Afro textured hair, I put in the same category as those who say they don’t like dark skin; ignorant and not worth arguing or wasting my time with. Positive attitudes are great and welcomed, but these can change like the wind. So be secure with your natural beauty, such security must come from within and not be based on the opinions of others or on trends.

What advice would you give to anyone who is considering going natural?

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How to stretch your hair without using heat (updated).

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Shrinkage is no fun when hair becomes unmanageable, knotted and prone to breakage. Stretched hair is more pliable and easier to manage, plus, you get to show off more length.  When I first went natural I thought my only option was to blow dry my hair out, after every wash. Too much heat led to dry hair and slight heat damage. There are many methods of stretching the hair without having to rely on heat. Here are some old ideas revisited plus some new ones.

Shrinkage

Shrinkage

Braids and Twists

This is the most common method. Hair is put into medium to large braids or twists to wear in a stretched out style, such as a braid out or twist out.  If this is done after washing, larger twists or braids can be done and kept in overnight; this will be a quick way to stretch the hair for easier styling the next day.  If you do braids or twists on dry hair (other than a light spray of water), this will stretch the hair out even more.

Bandingbands

Purchase a packet of hair bands, preferably the seamless, snag proof ones.  After washing, divide hair into medium-sized sections (usually 8-10).  Then band each section, working from the roots to tips. Each band should be an inch or so apart. Here is a good tutorial on banding.

 I enjoyed this method but it was a little time-consuming. I have only tried it once.  It’s good for achieving a heatless blowout.  I found that it took a while to dry, especially the sections of hair covered by the bands.  Covering your head with a satin scarf will delay the drying further.  Leave your head uncovered and sleep on a  satin pillow case,  or cover your pillow with your satin scarf.

 Buns

After I take my hair down from a bun, it is always stretched out.  My hair is most stretched after being in a low bun.  I put my hair in a low ponytail, then  braid the ponytail and tuck it under into a bun.  This can be tricky with thick hair, so you can do two or three large braids to make it easier.  After taking down the bun and finger combing my hair slightly, my hair looks like a blowout.

You can also put your hair into two low buns after washing, and leave it overnight. This will stretch it out for the next day. Top knots, high buns and doughnut buns also work well for stretching the hair.

 Roller sets

Putting your hair in large rollers and sitting under a hooded dryer  (or air drying), leaves the hair stretched.  It may even look like it has been straightened or at least blown out.  Again, this may be time-consuming, but should leave you with stretched out hair for a week or even longer.

 Roll tuck and pin

A quick and convenient protective style, that can be done after washing.  If done after washing, your hair will be stretched when it is dry.  This can work with shorter hair as well, but it may require the use of more pins.  Invest in some strong hair pins!

Kimmaytube has a great tutorial on this.

 French braids

It is best to do this on damp hair that is more pliable.  If done on dry hair there may be too much manipulation involved, especially if your hair is in a shrunken state.  After taking your hair down from a French braid, it will be wavy and elongated, with a flat twist out appearance. You could do two French braids on either side, one large braid down the middle, or a bohemian braid around your head to frame your face.

french braid hair

 Heatless blowout

This can be achieved by finger combing your hair or gently using a wide tooth comb, after it has been in an old twist out or braid out. Or after it has been in curlformers, rollers or flexi rods. Before washing your hair you can wear it in as a blown out style without the use of heat.

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My heatless blowout

Stretching out your hair leads to greater manageability and less breakage when styling. The kinkier your hair is, the more you will benefit from wearing stretched out styles. It can also help to reduce single strand knots and  tangling.  How do you stretch out your hair? Share your ideas below.

Combating dry natural hair

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Dealing with dry hair can be very frustrating and often feels like a losing battle.  Dry hair is harder to style and more prone to breakage.  It can also cause you to feel self-conscious. So how do we keep our hair moisturized and feeling soft and manageable?

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Know the nature of afro-textured hair.

This may be the last thing you want to hear, but afro- textured hair is prone to dryness by nature. Every kink or curl makes it harder for our scalp’s natural oils to travel  down the hair strands.   Having dry hair from time to time is inevitable.  Therefore don’t be stressed about something that cannot be completely avoided. Accept that dry hair may only be minimized.  Just because you experience dry hair occasionally, this doesn’t mean your hair cannot thrive. A little dryness isn’t going to lead to permanently damaged hair, so try not to worry about it. Stress alone is can affect the health of our hair.

Understand that water is moisture

Most of us who have been natural for while are aware of this. However, it is important to mention this again, as it is fundamental to the health of afro- textured hair. Rather than products that are full of petroleum or mineral oil, purchase leave in conditioners that are water based.  This means water or aqua is the first or second ingredient on the list. For those who like to keep it simple (like myself)  spraying your hair lightly with water is just as effective. Remember moisturized hair doesn’t necessarily mean wet hair, so you don’t have to completely drench your hair in water. Usually it is not getting moisture into our hair that is the problem, it is retaining moisture that is the real challenge. 

Retain moisture

One of the most effective ways to lock in moisture is to seal with an oil or butter. Examples of which include: avocado oil, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil and Shea butter. Each have different benefits but achieve the same goal of sealing in moisture. Oil by itself is not sufficient to provide moisture to the hair; it simply works by sealing in the water that would simply evaporate quickly without it. However some oils work by penetrating the hair and thus have moisturizing properties; avocado oil and coconut oil do this for instance. Even so, water should be the main source of moisture.

If you have looser type 3 curls or fine hair, you may find oil too heavy for sealing. aloe vera juice can also be used to seal in moisture without weighing down your hair.

natural hair needs water

 

Use products that contain humectants

Humectants attract moisture from the air to moisturize the hair. Products that contain humectants usually keep the hair moist and gradually provide moisture throughout the day. Glycerin is a popular humectant found in many products. Other humectants include aloe vera gel and honey. Products that contain a lot of glycerin may not be suitable for styling twist outs or braid outs, where definition is important. They may cause frizz, especially if you live in an area with high humidity.  When my hair was shorter, I used to spray it with water and glycerin.  One night, I thought this would be suitable for styling my hair in a twist out.  The next morning, while getting ready for work I took the twists out and thought it looked good. However as the day progressed my hair became more frizzy and puffy. By the afternoon, I had more of a textured afro (which can look great but that wasn’t the look I had planned).  Working as a school teacher, some of the kids ‘politely’ told me my hairstyle reminded them of Sideshow Bob, from The Simpsons. I learned the hard way that glycerin and twist outs do not go together.

However when styling your hair in two strand twists or another protective style,  products with glycerin work very well.  You may even find that you don’t have to reapply any more product for a few days.  Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie contains glycerin and works as an excellent moisturizer for protective styles, buns or puffs. I use it to moisturize my ends when my hair is in a puff and it also helps with manageability before styling.

Shea_Moisture_Curl_Enhancing_Smoothie_12oz__93906.1360707649.1280.1280Use plastic caps

Plastic caps ensure a little moisture goes a long way.  Spray your hair with some water; cover your head with a plastic cap, then wear your satin scarf as normal. Leave it in overnight and you should wake up with moist, manageable hair.  The plastic cap will use your body heat to create more moisture from your scalp.  Even better, saturate your hair with conditioner as well and do the same before a detangling session.  It should make detangling your hair a lot easier.  Regular deep conditioning is essential to maintain the moisture level of your hair. If you don’t have a steamer or hooded dryer, simply covering your head with a plastic cap can be effective.  Wrapping your head with a warm towel over the plastic cap, will provide more heat.

Hydrate from within

Hair is one-quarter water, so water is essential for the health of your hair. Water also carries essential vitamins to the hair root to hydrate the entire strand from the inside. Water provides energy for the hair cells that promote growth and flushes out pollutants, which are the main causes of hair loss. If you don’t drink enough water, both your hair and skin will feel dry. It is recommended that we drink 8-10 glasses of water a day and more when exercising.

water

 

Protective styles

When your hair is worn in a protective style, less moisture is lost. So bear this in mind when deciding how to style your hair. Protective styles include; two strand twists, buns, braids and various updos. The benefit of protective styles are evident but it may not be for everyone. Many prefer to wear their hair out and enjoy versatility. However you have to weigh the pros and cons of this and decide what is best for your hair. There are many beautiful and versatile protective styles to try, that can be done without weaves or extensions.

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How do you keep your hair moisturized? Share your ideas below…….

Natural Hair On A Budget

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Having natural hair doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of money on products. Many of the styles demonstrated on YouTube are not just achieved with the product brands featured in the videos.  These companies sponsor a lot of the natural hair videos.  Some would have you believe that such products are essential for managing and styling your hair effectively.  This is not the case and you will find plenty of YouTube vloggers that use simple, natural ingredients. Most of these natural ingredients are probably already in your kitchen cupboards.  They work well, if not better, than many product brands.

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Here are a few basic ingredients and tips you can apply

Shea Butter

Curly puddings are great but some of them can be quite pricey.  Miss Jessie’s curly pudding for example, is $38 for a 16 oz container.  Shea butter can be obtained online from sites such as eBay.com, Amazon.com or, online health food stores. One Kilo of Shea Butter really goes a long way and can last for many months. It is also relatively inexpensive. You can also mix it with your favourite oils to soften the texture.  In my experience, it works well for styling twist-outs, braid-outs and most curl manipulating styles that require a little hold.  I also use it for putting my hair in two strand twists and, it can be used as a sealant.

Check out Naptural85’s Shea Butter mix

Natural oils

Extra Virgin olive oil is likely to already be in your cupboard and can easily be purchased from your local supermarket.  Other oils available at the supermarket include coconut oil, avocado oil and Grapeseed oil.  I do not use a leave in conditioner. Spraying my hair with water and sealing in the moisture, with natural oils, works well for me.  This is a simple and effective method of moisturising Afro-textured hair. Some oils actually penetrate the hair shaft and have moisturising properties as well. These include: avocado oil and coconut oil.

avocado oil

Smoothing down edges with water

Gels can be annoying because they may flake, harden the hair or contain alcohol, which dries the hair.  Some of the pomades or styling glazes on the market may be quite pricey, especially if the quantities are small.  These products may  not be accessible in your area too. Living in Australia, I would have to purchase most of the popular products online. This would result in expensive shipping costs.  The good news is, plain old water and your satin scarf may be all you need to smooth down your edges.  Style your hair as normal, then lightly spray your edges with water.  Smooth your edges gently with your hands, and put on your satin scarf, to hold the hair down in place.  Leave it for ten minutes or so (put your makeup on, or whatever else you do to get ready), when you take your scarf off, your edges should be smooth and pressed down.

Make your own deep conditioner

I absolutely love Shea Moisture’s deep conditioner. However, since moving to Australia, I am no longer able to obtain it.  Also, I would run out of it too frequently, as I have a lot of hair.  You can make your own deep conditioner, that doesn’t require blending ingredients or melting butter and creams on the stove.

Ingredients:

-¼ cup of honey

½ cup of extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup of glycerin

½ cup Greek yogurt (optional, for added protein)

Adjust the ingredients according to the amount required.  To make it into a protein treatment, you can add an egg to the mixture. Whisk the ingredients together and it will be ready to use.

homemade

Water for defining twist-outs

Twist-outs done on freshly washed hair, are likely to be more defined and last longer.  This is regardless of whether you used a product brand or simply Shea Butter.  It’s the water that makes the difference. As Afro textured hair dries after washing, it forms the shape it was manipulated into.  Twist-outs done on dry hair, simply sprayed with water, may result in a more stretched out style.  However, it may not be as defined.

In Australia? Check out www.n-essentials.com.au for natural ingredients, such as Shea butter and natural oils.

Enjoy your hair, with no fuss :-)

Enjoy your hair, with no fuss 🙂

If you like trying out different products, that’s fine but, this information may be helpful to you, when you need to go back to basics.  Do you prefer basic ingredients or products brands. How do you save money with your hair care?

I Am Natural! (Underneath)

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Although wigs and weaves can be great protective styles, isn’t it time you revealed your real hair.
Weave and wigs can work great as protective styles.  They allow you to leave your hair natural and enjoy the convenience of straight hair. No shrinkage to contend with, less detangling, protection from the weather and versatility. However, for some women it may be time to let their natural hair out, to shine in all its glory. Here are some benefits to doing this. Hopefully this will encourage you to take the next step and come away from being reliant on weaves and wigs.

So what are the benefits of ditching the weave and letting your hair out more often?

Tamar has said she has natural hair

Tamar claims to have natural hair

You will become better at managing your natural hair
As with most things practice makes perfect. The more you leave your hair out the more practice you get at managing it. You will learn the best techniques for maintaining it on a daily basis. This includes forming a hair regimen that suits your routine and lifestyle. You will also have the opportunity to eliminate products and techniques that do not work well on your hair. If your hair is packed away under the weave or wig cap every month, you many only see it once in a while. Some people only take their hair out of the weave to wash it, then they reinstall it all over again. If you wear your hair out regularly you will become familiar with it and learn the best techniques managing it.

You will be in a better position to assess the health of your hair
Detangling my hair this week made me realized it was definitely time for a protein treatment. Because I am familiar with my hair I noticed there was more shedding than usual. I was able to rectify this straightaway because I had access to my hair. When your hair is weaved you don’t have immediate access to it. If there is a problem you will not know until you take the weave out. By this time more damage may have occurred that could have been avoided. When your hair is out you can assess it regularly and decide what action to take, such as: a trim, a wash, a treatment or a moisturizing boost.

Janelle monroe

Janelle Monae

It is easier to moisturize
Many of us know that we should moisturize our real hair regularly when it is in a weave. How many of us actually do this though? I certainly didn’t.  It seemed too complicated at the time and out sight out of mind. I spent more time grooming the weave because it was the weave that was visible to everyone. I would take the time to style it with curling tongs or a flat-iron, moisturize it and blend it with my real hair so it would look its best. I would usually forget about my real hair underneath. If your hair is out more often you will know immediately when it becomes dry and be in a better position to moisturize it. You are also more likely to moisturize it on a regular basis and prevent it from drying out in the first place.  When it is hidden away under the weave, it’s easy to forget about it.

Others will become use to your natural hair
If you are concerned about the reaction friends, family and work colleagues will have to your natural hair remember that the sooner they see it the sooner they will get use to it. If people see you with your hair out all the time it really doesn’t become that much of a big deal after some time.  They also get to see how beautiful it is natural.  You may have to deal with comments and questions, some may be negative but you will be better equipped to deal with them after some time. Some people may not admit that they feel more comfortable with you when you wear your weave. The sooner they realized that you are not going to hide your hair away for their benefit the better.

There is also that dreaded feeling you get when you have to take your weave out and don’t have an appointment to get it reinstalled straightaway. You kind of feel naked or may not be sure how to style your natural hair in between weaves. If we are honest some of us dread bumping into people that are used to seeing us with our weaves. If you wear your hair out you will no longer have to deal with the dreaded ‘in between weaves feeling’. What you see is what you get with natural hair.

Liya Kebede

Liya Kebede

You will become a hair styling queen
Styling your natural hair will become second nature to you. It’s like learning to play the guitar. If you never take it out of the case how will you ever learn to play it? Your natural hair is like a blank canvas, there are endless styling tutorials on YouTube and you may also surprise yourself  by inventing some styles and techniques of your own. The more you leave your hair out the more of an expert you will become about styling and managing it. Weaves and wigs are great protective styles but there are numerous protective styles you can try with your own hair that are elegant and appropriate for all occasions. These include: two strand twists, buns, roll tuck and pins, French braids and various updos. Check out CharyJay’s and Fusion of Cultures’  YouTube channels.  They are protective style queens. If their styles seem too complicated, you can  adapt them to suit you personally. These tutorials should provide you with inspiration; you don’t have to follow them exactly.  Remember natural hair is very versatile so there is no reason to get bored or run out of styling options. Check out the series: The Versatility of Natural Hair.

Charyjay

Charyjay

Fusion of Cultures

Fusion of Cultures

You will not have to worry about the negative aspects of weaves, wigs and hair extensions
Many of us gasped in shock when we saw the first photos of Naomi Campbell’s receding hairline. The damage to her hairline was believed to have been caused by years of wearing weaves or hair extensions. In an industry that promotes a certain standard of beauty you can imagine the pressure she was under as a black model to look a certain way. Over the years more photos of her have come out highlighting the same problem that only appears to be getting worse. It is as if the fake hair on her head is taken care of more than her real hair underneath. Traction alopecia can occur if your hairline is constantly put under pressure through sewing, braiding, glues and tight comb attachments.

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Naomi Cambell

Naomi Campbell

The problems associated with weaves are unlikely to affect women who simply use them once in a while for diversity. They are going to have more of an impact on those women who rely on weaves for everyday use. Another negative aspect is that sometimes weaves look awkward, we have come a long way in ‘weave technology’ but it still isn’t perfect. Sometimes you see people’s tracts showing, your hair doesn’t blend well, or you have hair that sheds like crazy. I don’t consider any of this easier than having my natural hair out. You will also save a lot of money. We seem to be the only race that wears hair texture that doesn’t match our natural hair. Some of us don’t even wear weaves that match our natural afro texture when it is straightened (Yaki).  The silky textures seemed to be preferred.  I’m glad to see more black owned companies introducing afro-textured weaves that compliment our natural hair.

Even Beyoncé has experienced downside of lace front wigs

Even Beyoncé has experienced the downside of lace front wigs

Natural hair only gets better with time
The more you learn about managing your natural hair the more it will thrive. Most of us had to deal with negative comments from family members when we first went natural. However, the more time that passes the fewer and far between these comments become and we even start hearing more compliments from the same people. Carefully managing your natural hair will result in growth, better styling techniques and overall healthy hair. It is because of this that natural hair is like wine, it only gets better with time. Don’t hide away behind fake hair, week in, week out. This is choosing second best when you have the best on your head already.

Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding

“No one should feel that they have to wear a weave to have presentable hair; a weave should be a conscious styling choice, not a crutch”

~ Audrey Davis-Sivasothy~

Do you prefer weaves to wearing your hair out? Share your thoughts below

Just Juices and Berries

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olive-oil

I am not writing this to bash ‘product junkies’. I  like trying out new things and for some people that could be hair care products. However, I am noticing a lot more emphasis being placed on products, in the natural hair community. On forums, blogs, YouTube and social networking sites, I am seeing different women post questions about what products to use to address certain hair ‘problems’.  For example: what product can I use to stretch out my hair? What product can I use to soften my hair? What product can I use to make my hair grow? I am thinking about going natural, what products should I be using?

I can’t help but believe that we are reverting back to the old mindset, that we simply need a magical product to make our hair perfect! This is opposed to simply learning how to manage our hair properly. Isn’t that how relaxers were presented to the black community, for decades? Relaxers, perms and texturizers were supposed to be magical products that would ‘fix’ our hair and take away all our hair problems.

This quick fix mindset is based on an unwillingness to do research and educate ourselves about our hair. It is quite concerning to see some women obsessing about products before they have even gone natural. This makes going natural a lot harder than it needs to be and I can imagine why some women find the concept quite daunting. When I first went natural I was living in the UK and most of the products mentioned on the internet were only available in the US. So I didn’t have access to a great number of products. To be honest the last thing I was thinking about was products because 99% of products in my local beauty supply contained harmful ingredients. I had learned about them through doing my research. I came to realize that most of the products I used when my hair was relaxed had sulphates, petroleum, silicones, alcohol, harsh perfumes parabens and other chemicals that I couldn’t even pronounce. It’s funny to see that those same black hair companies are now jumping on the natural bandwagon and releasing natural product ranges, to cater to the natural hair community. It’s good to see that they are taking notice and shows that we have a powerful voice.

productjunkie

However, due to the lack of quality hair care products at the time, I was only concerned about the benefits of natural ingredients. I learned about Shea butter, the benefits of plain water, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and aloe vera juice. This made my life a lot simpler and I wasn’t bombarded with the many products that are on the market today. I was able to focus on learning to manage my hair, and to this day I personally haven’t found a product that holds my twist outs as well as pure Shea butter does.  I haven’t found a product that moisturizes my hair as well as water does and I stretch my hair out by simply braiding or twisting it. A product by itself will not make your hair grow any faster or longer. Protective styling, moisturizing and being gentle with your hair will help you to retain length.

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Of course I enjoy trying out new products from time to time and learning about different products can be part of your natural hair journey. However, when all else fails, I go back to my simple usage of water for moisturizing, oil for sealing in the moisture and my Shea butter for styling.  I’m not against products and I’m happy to see many black owned companies becoming successful. However, there is no product out there that will magically ‘fix’ your hair. You simply need to learn how to manage it properly. Some of us need to learn how to manage our hair with simple ‘juices and berries’ instead of looking for a magical product that simply doesn’t exist. We also need to consider being healthy overall; diet, exercise and water consumption can also affect our hair. Products can only enhance your hair, not make it into something it is not. ALL  hair  textures are beautiful, with or without the use of different products. Keep it simple when going natural and learn the important basics that will benefit you well into the future.

What do you think? Is there an obsession with products? Share your thoughts and ideas below.

Going Natural

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The Big Chop or Transitioning?

A very small puff

A few months after my big chop

When contemplating going natural it is good to take advice from those who have already taken that step. You can learn from their experiences and the mistakes they made. Ultimately, it is up to you to take that information and decide what is best for you. You can either decide to do the big chop, which simply means to cut all your relaxed/permed hair off, down to your new growth. Or you can transition. This means to grow out your new growth to the point where you are comfortable with its length, before cutting your relaxed ends off completely. Transitioning involves managing two different hair textures for months and even years. Before I went natural I only knew one friend who was natural. She transitioned for over a year and gradually cut her relaxed hair off. She wore braids and weaves constantly so I didn’t even know she had gone natural until she told me. For her, it was not a big declaration to go natural, she simply was tired of the negative impact relaxers were having on her hair and knew it was in her best interest to avoid them.

So when I was considering going natural I did some research on the internet and realized that I would have to learn to manage my hair in a completely different way and I had to avoid products that exposed my hair to harmful ingredients and chemicals. I also came across a few ‘natural hair journey’ videos, showing women cutting their hair, down to their new growth. This had never occurred to me before and I never believed  short hair suited my round face shape. So I thought transitioning would be best for me.  To be honest, this did not last long. I didn’t have the time and money to be constantly putting my hair in braids or weaves and quite frankly I was unable to manage the two hair textures. Even with very little new growth, my relaxed hair would began to shed like crazy and it would feel dry. I became more and more interested in the big chop after a very short period of time. I enjoyed doing my braid outs because that gave my hair volume and blended in the two textures well. However, even with that style I still hated having different textures. Also, I was simply eager to be natural. I was so over my damaged, relaxed hair.

I decided to cut my straight hair off and once I made up my mind, that was it. I found that the short style suited me and it was so convenient. I literally could wash and go. I would spray my hair with water and glycerin and my curls popped! I was definitely experiencing the honeymoon stage of my natural hair journey. It was great seeing my natural curl pattern and I received many compliments. Of course I would get a few comments along the lines of ‘what happened’? Some people couldn’t understand why I would deliberately cut my hair. I also did braids once, just to feel some length again but I was surprised at how versatile my hair was despite it being so short.  It also seemed to grow back quickly. I think learning how to care for my hair properly and avoiding products with harmful ingredients helped to maintain my hair and I saw more length retention.

What to consider before deciding to transition or big chop
1. Are you someone who has to relax/perm their hair six to eight weeks on the dot without fail, or are you able to go a while without retouching. If you do not relax your hair as frequently as others you already have some experience at blending the two textures.

2. How would you feel about having very short hair? Do you care what other people think? You don’t exactly have to shave your head bald! You can wait until you have a good amount of new growth, so that you at least have a TWA (teeny-weeny afro) before doing the big chop.

3. Have you researched both options? There is a lot of information on the internet now, in the form of blogs, YouTube videos and even books on the subject.

4. Do you know friends or family members who have big chopped or transitioned? How can you learn from their experience?

5. Would you wear weaves and wigs while transitioning? Is this financially feasible?

6. Do you know some good hairstyles for transitioning (e.g. braid outs or roller sets)? Have you researched how to do these?

7. If considering the big chop, who would cut your hair? Or would you prefer to cut it yourself?

Nothing is full proof, if you don’t like transitioning you can cut your hair or trim more regularly to go natural sooner. If you big chop and you hate having short hair, you could simply put your hair in braids. Pick and drop is a great style for people with short hair because you can’t do it once you have medium to long afro-textured hair (as it will not blend). You could also experiment with wigs and weaves.  However, it is important to remember the reasons you want to go natural. One of the reasons may be to learn how to manage your hair in its natural texture. Weaves and braids do not allow you to learn this whereas having your hair out forces you to learn, and gives you valuable experience.

Pick n Drop Extensions

Pick n Drop Extensions

I personally found it quite liberating to have my TWA, it proved to me that I was not defined by the length of my hair. It was also super convenient. However, it is not for everyone and that’s alright. Read about my decision to go natural in the post: Why did I decide to chop my hair off?

A hairstyle for transitioners.

A big chop inspiration.

MahoganyCurls did the big chop.

MahoganyCurls did the big chop.


What did you do? The big chop or transition? How did you find the experience? Share your thoughts below.