5 Things I’ve Learned About Having Natural Hair

Me last winter on one of my wilder hair days, lol

As I’m nearing two years with natural hair (don’t ask me the exact date, I don’t have a clue, lol), it has occured to me that I’ve not chatted a whole lot about my natural hair experiences on this blog. Sure, I’ve shared product recommendations and reviews, but I’ve never talked about my “journey”, so to speak. But now that we’ve got a moment, allow me to share with you the 5 things I’ve learned about natural hair over the last two years. Read on!

1.) This ish ain’t easy. The first time I went natural (more on this in a moment) I thought it would be a piece of cake. I was sick of dealing with and paying for relaxers, and I figured going natural would eliminate hours in the salon chair. Well, instead of spending hours sitting under the dryer or flat ironing my hair, I now spent hours detangling and two-strand twisting.

I don’t say this to make natural hair sound difficult, but rather to make the point that ALL hair requires a certain degree of work in order for it to look it’s best. Any woman of any race or hair texture will tell you that when it comes to her hair, she puts in some work. Natural hair is no exception.

2.) You must be ready to go natural. As I mentioned above, this isn’t my first time going natural. The first time, back in ’09, I big chopped but ended up relaxing my hair again in less than a year. Not only was I not prepared to do the work my hair required as it grew out (the grow-out phase sucks no matter what your hair is like), but I hadn’t anticipated the learning curve I’d experience caring for my new hair. Basically, I’d underestimated the whole experience, so I went back to what was familiar.

The second time I big chopped in 2010, I was much more prepared. I’d done my research about products and techniques and was completely looking forward to it. In fact, I grabbed a pair of scissors and big chopped myself in my bathroom mirror. That’s how ready I was. For some, going natural is a piece of cake. For others, seeing and embracing a hair texture you haven’t seen in decades can be a bit of a shock. The lesson? Do things at your own pace and in your own time. As with most things in life, you’ll enjoy the experience more when you’re comfortable and confident in your decision.

3.) Don’t take all natural hair advice as gospel. With more and more women going natural everyday, it seems that every natural hair blog, YouTube channel, hairstylist and woman on the street has THE best tip/trick/product/advice to achieving the “perfect” curl. Don’t get me wrong, the natural hair community is a great resource for learning to care for your hair. Many a new natural (myself included) would have been lost without it! But at some point, you must begin to be selective about what advice you choose to put into practice.

Over time you will become familiar with YOUR hair and will learn what works and doesn’t work for YOU. Just because a product or technique works miracles for one girl, doesn’t automatically mean that it will work the same magic for you. By all means, experiment. Try new things. If something works, add it to your arsenal. If it doesn’t, keep it moving. Your curls, kinks and coils are unique to you and over time you’ll be your own expert!

Me, a week or so after big chopping for the second time in 2010.

4.) You don’t need every natural hair care product in the world, and expensive and all-natural products aren’t automatically better. While I’ve always been an equal opportunity product junkie, I must admit that high-end products have always given me an extra thrill. Even as a teenager I enjoyed saving my pennies to splurge on the beauty products at Saks or Nordstrom. But don’t get it twisted, I’m no beauty snob. I have no problem hitting up the beauty aisle at Walgreen’s and whipping out a coupon to save a few extra bucks. But when you first go natural, it’s easy to be sucked in by all of the glossy ads promising curl definition, 2nd day hair, deep moisture and easy detangling.

But all those pretty ads and slick websites cost money, and the products they’re selling don’t come cheap. Before you know it, you can easily drop $20 here and $30 there, and all of that can add up. Fast. My advice? Assess what you already have. Your old staples like shampoo, conditioner and daily moisturizers can often be used on your natural hair, too. Also, it isn’t always necessary to buy everysingleproduct a brand makes. Although some of the products that have worked well for my hair may be on the pricier side, I also use products from the drugstore, neighborhood beauty supply and health food store with success, too.

Same goes for all-natural products. There’s no denying the benefits of natural oils and butters on natural hair. Some women are personally oppossed to synthetic ingredients like mineral oil or silicones in all areas of their lives, or have found that their hair doesn’t respond well to them. But if you really don’t care either way and your hair doesn’t seem to either, don’t automatically count “bad” products out of the equation. That product just may give you the results you desire and will save you some cash in the process.

5.) Define natural hair for yourself. The world is run-over with Natural Hair Police, telling people what they should and shouldn’t do with their natural hair, and what is and isn’t natural. Puh-leaze. I used to get really annoyed whenever I would read or hear someone say a person is no longer natural if they get a blow out, rock a weave, get hair color/dye, grow locs, get braids, use heat tools, wear polka dots on Thursdays or whatever other foolishness they’ve mandated to be the benchmark for natural hair.

Back then my initial reaction was to tell these people to have two seats (one for themselves and one for their natural hair sheriff badge), but now I just smile politely and hope that they’ll find a hobby or something else more important to do in life than worry about what other grown folks are doing with their hair. To each her own, I say! I firmly believe that part of the beauty of natural hair is it’s chameleon-like ability to be styled to suit whatever mood a woman chooses. So, do you!

There you have it, the top 5 things I’ve learned about having natural hair. Share your thoughts or lessons you’ve learned in the comments!

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  • Prettyminime

    Some naturals are very pompous. So I appreciate this post ! Lol

  • http://twitter.com/MsMal82 Mal

    Love this post Amber!! I’m still learning, but my biggest lesson has been to do what works for me, my hair, and my budget!  I’ve developed my own routines, while not totally dismissing any new ideas.  Having an open mind, and knowing what works for you makes this transition and journey fun and exciting! :-) 

  • http://www.Brownbombshellbeauty.com/ Amber

    Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  • http://www.Brownbombshellbeauty.com/ Amber

    Hey, Mallorie! I couldn’t agree more! Thanks for sharing :)

  • Number1armydiva

    Great blog post Amber. You really touched on some good advice. Yes it is a long trying journey at times, but the diversity of styles are what make the journey do fun. As yes, I totally agree the Hair sheriffs need to sit down.

  • http://twitter.com/ByondBlckBeauty Rashidah Ferguson

    Hey Amber — nice post. I am completely natural. I rock a weave in the summers and flat iron my natural hair in the cooler months. I also wear a sassy afro on the weekend. I love how versitale my natural hair is.

    xoxo,
    beyondblackbeauty.com

  • http://www.Brownbombshellbeauty.com/ Amber

    Thanks, Rashida :) I’m all about the versatility. I’m working on a summer hairstyle right now, lol!

  • http://www.Brownbombshellbeauty.com/ Amber

    Thanks so much for your comment! And I agree, switching things up does make the journey fun. Enjoy the ride, I say! lol

  • JDonnielle

    Great post!!!  I think if I’m counting correctly, this is my 3rd time going natural since 2005.  After 3 years, the longest stretch to date, in Dec. 2011 I decided to cut all my hair off and get a relaxer! Big mistake, bc I don’t do short hair.  Either way, I’m “team natural” bc my hair grows faster, stronger and longer!!!  I love to rock my flat ironed wraps with super puffy roots as well as color across the rainbow. It always amazes me when chics act as if my natural is superficial!!!  Do whats best for you!!! Whether it’s natural kinky or straight, relaxed every 6-8 weeks or twice a year!!!

  • http://www.Brownbombshellbeauty.com/ Amber

    Hey, JDonnielle! I love how you switch it up, thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/asimone78 Ashley Brazwell

    Hey Amber,
    Great post and I totally agree with you. I use to be natural and I found that #1, having natural hair was not easy to take care of. As you mentioned, hair is hair no matter how you rock it. It takes time and patience to maintain. #2, by using the hair products I used on my hair when I had a relaxer, I not only saved money but they worked well with my natural texture. I absolutely loved my natural hair until it became to long and unmanageable for me. :-(

  • http://www.Brownbombshellbeauty.com/ Amber

    Hey, Ashley! I feel you on the length thing…that’s a whole other situation. Hence the braids I’m rocking now. I needed a break, lol. Thanks for stopping by and commenting! :)

  • Margo

    So glad I read this post. In October, It’ll be 3 years since I big chopped. I have my day of “I love my curls” and others when I feel like I can’t control my hair and I want to relax it. I’m hanging in there and this post made me want to hold on a little longer to reap the benefits of my natural hair journey!

  • http://www.Brownbombshellbeauty.com/ Amber

    Hey, Margo! It’ll be two years for me this month, and I have some of those days, too. You’re so right, it’s worth it to hang in there! I’m glad you enjoyed the post, thanks for sharing! :)