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Curly Nikki

What Does it Mean to Be Natural?

By January 27th, 202178 Comments

What Does it Mean to Be Natural?

Obsessed with hair manipulation…am I truly a natural?

I’ve been pondering this for a while now. What does it mean to be natural? If I dye my hair and constantly manipulate my hair texture, can I still claim to be a natural gal? I started thinking about ‘going natural’ in late 2004 during my last year of college. I think it started with a hair cut. I wanted a bob-like cut where it was short in the back and longer in the front and sides. I ended up having to go the salon about four times before she got it like I wanted it. The first few times, it was too long in the back. To the point where my hair didn’t just lay down, it kind of hung in space. I always hated how my relaxed hair just sort of defied gravity. It would take excessive heat and extra manipulation to lie down nicely. After getting my hair exactly how I wanted it, I started to wonder if my hair would ever grow back. My hair seemed to be stuck when it came to length. I felt like I had the same hair length since high school, which is what propelled the hair cut in the first place. But now since I had inches removed, I wondered if I would ever get those inches back?

Then I started to wonder why my hair had not grown much during my four years of college. All
the white girls I knew didn’t seem to have a problem with length. Surely length wasn’t a ‘white
thing’. Then I realized that they also weren’t “relaxing” their hair religiously every 4-6 weeks like I did since I was 9 years old. I thought to myself, ‘if I pour bleach on grass every month, it would probably struggle with growth too’. So I started researching hair without relaxers (I had no idea about ‘going natural at the time’). One of the first websites I found was Jenteel’s fotki
(which doesn’t seem to have any more photos on it). OH MY GOSH! I was flabbergasted!
Her hair was gorgeous. I saw how fabulous her straightened yet un-relaxed hair was, and I decided that I could pull that off.

So I transitioned with braids for a while and then cut off my relaxed hair on May 15th, 2005. I continued to wear braids until September, when I moved to DC for grad school and had no hair contacts near by. I thought, well I’ll go buy a hot comb and I’ll just straighten it out, no biggie. I found a beauty-supply store, bought a hot comb and a wig, just in case. I took my braids out and was stunned with my natural hair. I hated it and it seemed to not grow much despite the months of braids. So I heated up the trusty hot-comb I had just purchased and to my disappointment, it didn’t go to well. Perhaps my hair was too short or I didn’t know what I was doing. So I tried on the wig and decided it was entirely too hot to sport that thing everyday. So finally, I decided to wear my TWA as is. I went back to the beauty-supply store, bought some twist gel and spent an entire day twisting my hair. I hated the look at first, but after a month and some growth, I started to like it. Since it was so short, I decided to try and spice it up a bit with some hair dye. Four boxes and several split ends later, you could only see a slight red highlight when I was in the sun. Over the next few months, as my hair grew, I stuck with the same routine- – wash and twist every Sunday. I began to grow tired of this routine, especially as my hair grew longer, so I looked into locking my hair. I had my first set of locs installed in 2007. After eight months, I hated how bulky they became so I combed them out and had sisterlocks installed in 2008. After a year, I hated how dirty my sisterlocks were despite all of my attempts to keep them clean. After three months of combing them out, I became a loose natural again on January 24, 2010 (the day before my birthday- I had to look right for my day).

Here we are in July 2010. As I look back through all of my five short years of being natural, I’ve
come to realize how hard I’ve worked to avoid dealing with my natural hair. I rarely wear my
hair in its completely natural state (fro or wash in go). I am constantly twisting and unraveling
twists or buying rollers to give my hair bigger curls. I have been a proud natural for over five
years but now I’m starting to wonder if I can truly claim to be a part of this community if I’m
constantly manipulating my hair. So what does it mean to be natural?

What does it mean to you?


  • HappiNess says:

    I think many people go natural to "embrace what god gave them" or "get back to their roots" but not everyone does. After just a year of perms i went natural just because i liked the curly look and honestly i never wear my hair in its natural state. I am committed to braid outs and twists because they work better for my routine and i like the look of bigger curls. I don't think i am opressing my texture but i am just going for a different look. For months i have wondered if i am a true natural because of my choice of style but now i realize i am because i have kinky curly hair with no perm what so ever in it and i think that is what it means to natural. I am so glad you bought up this question.

  • Mauve_Avenger says:

    personally, i feel that it's every woman's natural born right to change her look. what i love about being natural is not just my kinks and curls (which i LOVE, btw) but also the freedom i have to mess around with it. i love wash and gos and twist outs, and finding new ways to style my curls. i also love getting my hair straightened at the hair salon every so often so i can try out even more hair styles (and check the length). want to get my hair streaked and high lighted,but i only want it done professionally, and i can't afford that. for me being natural means embracing my hair the way God made it and still being able to have fun with it. it means taking care of it and doing what's best for it and the rest of my body. and it especially means being comfortable with my hair through good and bad.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have recently asked the same question

    And Im still looking for an answer… But for now, when it comes down to it, I think you must choose your own definition.

    When I had a perm/relaxer, my dad used to always tell me he loved my natural hair. Because to him natural meant no weave. Even though Ive long since stopped the creamy crack, I'm still inclined to agree with him. I call myself natural because I have no perm, but if I rocked the hair God gave me chemically straightened I probably would still say "this is natural"… Is that wrong… IDK, but its my definition.

  • Anonymous says:

    I consider natural all chemical free. Locs to me are natural. Some naturals' hair would NATURALLY loc if they didn't have a comb, my mother's hair locs very easily. She has thick, long 4b hair. It's gonna loc eventually if she doesn't comb it for awhile. Same with my sister, she is 6 and has never had a relaxer, and she has thick long 4a/4b hair. It has loc'd on her too. My hair isn't as thick or long (yet) 4a hair, and it has never loc'd. But my hair is just as natural as their's. Hair is going to do what it wants. And since loc'ing is what some people's hair does naturally, that is natural too.

  • Jessica says:

    I believe being natural is about giving up putting relaxers on your hair and embracing your hair's natural texture. I think coloring your hair is fine along as it is done in moderation, looks natural ( sorry not all can do blonde, krayola red and purple is kinda wacky) and is done by a professional. Changing hairstyles or manipulating your hair into different styles is natural. Honestly, I say as long you are happy, experiment and have fun with it. Hair is just hair and it does not define who you are. It's what's on the inside that counts and how you feel about yourself .

  • Anonymous says:

    to me, natural means that your texture hasn't been altered by chemicals. i don't feel that twist-outs are any more evil than, say, a white chick who puts rollers in her hair. i think we badger ourselves about things and over-think things that other people do every day; things which are never looked at as unusual.

    for me, a big kinky 'fro will lead to tangles and unhealthy hair, and twists are my favorite low-manipulation style. it's better for my hair to be in them most of the time, than to be out and about, getting knotted up and beat up by wind/sun/pollution, etc.

    it's just a hairstyle; no more unnatural than a bowl cut. i don't think of it as trying to avoid my hair texture, but as a method for a look that i like that also protects my hair.

    as far as hair color; people have been coloring their hair for bajillions of years. Masai warriors cover their hair in red clay. People have used plant pigments and things like henna since who knows when. Changing the color seems minor to me. I think there's a difference between natural(ly textured) hair, and living an all-natural lifestyle — THAT would cut out chemical dyes, but certainly not plant dyes.

  • Charley says:

    Being natural means not having chemicals. I feel you are free to dye your hair as you please and you are free to try as many styles as you please. There are days you want to sport an up do, have your hair in a ponytail, braid it for awhile. It belongs to you to manipulate as much or as little. It's what you prefer

  • Unknown says:

    I define the word natural as "having no chemicals, or any longterm alterations of the hair that is caused my relaxers, texturizers, or over straightening, yes over straightening aka heat training aka heat damage. A little color is fun I wouldn't just banish you for getting color, I'm not the natural hair police, but any chemical or long term alteration that manipulates how your hair grows out of the scalp is not natural. I've have experienced all of the following: relaxers, texturizers, (spray color lol) and yes the controversial heat training aka heat damage. But I have decided to push back from the flat iron it will be 4 months since February, but I have been chemical free for six years. But I am now embracing the natural curls out of my head and protecting them with twist outs, braid outs, protective styles to grow out my hair that is shoulder length. This was just a personal choice since I've already accomplished bsl with my natural hair being straightened regularly. There's nothing wrong with protective styles or twistouts your still natural, bc when you wash it and comb it out at the end of the day, that is how your hairs is growing out of your head unlike excessive heat use, and chemical use.

  • michele says:

    ive been natural for almost 10 months now and i love it! but it seems like EVERYONE in the natural hair community is mistaken about hair types or im crazy. after reading how hair types work on naturally curly-i learned that it has more to do with the size of the curl rather than the texture of the hair. they mention the size and the circumference of the curl as opposed to it's texture. take for instance chime (haircrush), whose hair i love btw, is more like a 2c rather than a 4c cuz she has like no shrinkage right? if i misinterpreted it please feel free to clarify. also its regimen-not regime! it just drives me crazy when i see that!! lol

  • Anonymous says:

    I had been natural for 14 years. When I was in college I started perming my hair and ended up with my hair falling out. I had a curl, then press and curl, then braids. Finally for 9 years of twisting my hair. When I broke my wrist out of frustration I did the Big Wack. Cut it completely off. I rock that for about 3 years.

    Now I have locs. This is going on 16 months. I love natural hair. I do not need to have "straight" hair to be viewed as a professional. My style runs from corporate to "mother earth".

    When I was in grad school I had a professor, black female, tell me I need to cut those "ropes" out my head if I wanted to get a job. I am glad to tell you I have had no problems getting jobs. I carry myself professionally and I am always neat and clean. My skills speak for themselves. I am a nubian queen and straight hair does not work for me. I feel we need to be true to ourselves. Whether it is natural or not.

  • Anonymous says:

    I type way too fast

  • Anonymous says:

    Nicole@dec 14
    Did u really just use the "n" word. Take ur perm self hating ass off this forum. U stupid BET watching junkie. I refuse to believe ur a natural. If anything your threatened by natural hair. Why else would you comment like that. Jealous, tired of weave, want some volume, going bald. Dont worry ma just do u. Slap some more perm on it , you'll be just fine. "Who cares" I do. Thats why I came here. Since I bc'd I wanna read as much as I can about being natural. Also about how others feel and their experiences. U are ignorant and stupid as hell for leaving that comment. U come off as a fool that cant read, u where suppossed to answer the post. I can see u have (NO EDUCATION). Hair is not a first priority. But it is an extension of the self. Its a part of u. Every kind of woman talks about her hair sometimes. Not everybody wants to buy it. I get to bad talk weave/perm because I used to be addictive to it. Its like a drug. Nothings wrong with a form like this.

    And since I have a post secondary education and I can read, I just wanted to say that I think hair is natural if it has not been chemically changed. styling is fine. the same thing everyday is boring. We need more options than just a fro. Twist outs are lovely and i can't wait for my hair to grow so i can try it!

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow, I'm shocked to see such a post as Ms Anonymous on Dec. 14th.
    This is probably not the forum for you.
    First off, it's about hair and that's what you'd expect everyone to be writing about.
    Next, if you don't like what you're reading you are free to go elsewhere.
    The negative comments were not warranted.

  • Anonymous says:

    What an idiot you are!! You did all that writing about your hair. WHO CARES!!!!!!!!! Get a life or better yet an "education". You sound like one of those ignorant niggers who's hair and nails are their first priority.

  • Mahalia says:

    I feel that being natural is of course not having all the chemicals but its a little more than that. It has alot to do who you are as a women..but more importantly a woman of God. Whoever He has destined you to be IS YOUR NATURAL STATE. I find that we are caught up with the definition of the world and forget that no two women are the same.

    And so in so many long as your arent abusing your hair or who you are as a woman…only you can define YOUR natural.

  • Anonymous says:

    Natural to me means that you have decided not to chemically straighten your hair. As we who relax know, when you apply the relaxer cream, our hair becomes permanently straight. Then we have to go back for "re-touches" in subsequent months. I haven't relaxed my hair since March. While I enjoy the natural curl, I'm still learning what works the best for my hair. I have a very tight curl and getting a comb through it after being in braids for a month reminds me of why my mother decided to relax it in the first place. It's difficult, but so far, I plan to continue and will re-learn techniques to take care of the curl God gave me. Yours…together in the struggle.

  • Monica says:

    I have not permed my hair for about 12 years. I started with cutting my hair short, then growing out the perm, then twist out, then dreadlocs for 8 years. This year I decided I wanted to see my hair out again. Now I am back to my twist out and I love it!!! And I consider my hair natural. It doesn't matter if we manipulate our hair to not just look like a fro, It only matters that we take care of the natural beautiful hair that God gave us sistahs!!!!! Peace!!!

  • Joanna says:

    Being natural means for moi means:
    1)Not altering my God given texture by perming or texturizing (i'm 7mths-post)
    2)Embracing my texture and loving its diversity
    3)Learning how to care for it even though its a lotta work n
    4)Teaching my daugher how to care for hair when she is older and to accept her natural curls
    5)Developing good hair practices so i can retain length
    Natural doesn't not mean wearing your hair one way as styles are personal and everyone has different hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    Natural for me means no relaxers, no chemical hair dye, no weaves, no heat. Just like when we were three years old.

  • Anonymous says:

    I would say that you are natural as long as you are not altering the chemical compound of your hair and maybe with the dyes you were applying you were. As long as what your placing on your hair keeps you in good health that is what really matters. We all have our styles that seem to work with us. I love the two stranded twist outs. As my hair grows out more I am going to where the twists for a couple of days before I take them out as twists outs. I don't look at them like oh they make my hair look less African twists are more of a protective style and if we are wearing our hair out whether in a afro or curly afro after a while our hair will need protective styles.

  • Anonymous says:

    This is such an interesting topic. The funny thing is I don't feel like white women (women from India, East Asia, etc for that matter) have such an issue. If they wear their hair straight (or even if it's naturally wavy and they wear it that way) it's not called "natural"…it's just their hair. They style it, dye it or don't…but there doesn't seem to be a concern at all about how to define it.

    I love that so many black women are opting out of chemical (molecular) alteration and we are now learning to styling our hair, like so many other women in the world, the way it grows out of our head. Still, why even be bothered getting caught up with the word "natural," all it's assigned meanings and who can really claim to be or not. I might even venture to argue that since I stopped chemically straightening my hair, my hair is more "relaxed" than it's ever been LOL…heck at least I'm more relaxed…;)

    Whether I'm wearing twist outs, braid outs or roller sets, coloring my hair I know two things 1) My hair grows out my head in small curls 2) I don't have a chemical relaxer…call it (or don't call it) what you want.

  • Anonymous says:

    As a 57 year-old, I saw the majority of my peers with serious baldness, thinning, and breakage caused by years of physical and chemical abuse. I realized that this is where I was headed. I decided that I didn't want to spend the rest of my life in a wig. So I decided to go natural.

    I was also nervous about cutting my relaxed hair, but the day I did the BC I felt so relieved. I struggled to learn how to take care of my hair. I had to re-think everything I had been taught about hair since most of what I knew was how to take care of caucasian hair.

    All I can say now is that it's going on two years as a natural woman, and I no longer have a budding bald spot in my crown, and I have hair at my temple areas and finally it's down to my shoulders. I don't relax, and I stay away from heat. I use color and manipulate my hair when I feel like it, or wear it as is when I don't. That said, I've often wondered what was wrong with me tht I didn't go natural years earlier. I have never felt more myself, more confident, more beautiful than now, rocking my natural hair.

    I think people have the right to do their own thing with their hair, which includes braids,weaves, wigs, press n curls, and yes, even relaxer. But now, when I see a woman routinely wearing something other than her own natural hair, it makes me feel like she's damping down her real beauty.

    In our world, expedience and the need to conform can be the difference between making it or not. I don't judge. But all I know is I feel so good when I look at my natural-haired self in the mirror. I feel wholy powerful because I'm wholy me. I'm not hiding what I am or what I have. I frankly don't care what folks think about my hair anymore. I care about how I think about my hair. I now know it is beautiful just as God made it. Maybe it's an age thing too, but being natural is POWERFUL. you can't know why or how much unless you do it. I hope you beautiful, fierce black women have all your own hair like our grandmothers had. That's really what it's all about in my opinion.

  • ajiotal says:

    just do you…do what ever you feel makes you happy..who cares about if you manipulate or u

  • Anonymous says:

    Natural to means to me NO CHEMICALS; I am chemical free for over 5 years AND I religiously slick my hair to the right side (always)! I rarely wear my hair "out"…for many reasons I suppose, but I am learning that being natural is half the battle; the other half comes into the perception(s) we attach to the state of our hair and who we are when operating out of the "norm". Establishing NEW norms for my natural hair is my goal!!!

  • Doc says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Kearea' says:

    being natural is very subjective. some say relaxer-free, others say chemical-free, heat-free, etc. technically, i think few wear their hair in its natural state- manipulating your hair even a little to make it softer, shinier, or stretched all involves abandoning your natural curl pattern to a degree. our tap water has chemicals in it, so even if youre just adding water to your hair, you are not chemical-free.

    when i use the word "natural" to describe hair. i simply mean relaxer-free and texturizer-free.

  • Anonymous says:

    One last comment… EVERY hair texture of women manipulate their hair. I don't know anyone who doesn't do a little "tweaking" to obtain a desired outcome. That is apart of being a woman. Women with straight hair blow dry their hair and put product in it to make it flow the way they want OR curl their hair to get a desired look. Women with curly hair twist, braid, curl, or straighten their hair to obtain a desired look. Natural means you work with the texture Father God has given you…no matter how you choose to work it. JUST WORK IT (snaps for the kids)!! LOL!

  • Anonymous says:

    Hey Ladies. I recently went natural and pondered this for a very short while. After moving to Arizona about three years ago, I decided to stop relaxing and start nurturing and caring for my natural hair. When I first BC'd I did twist outs, braid outs, etc. and people would always comment on my "curls". I wondered if they could truly be called "curls" if they weren't wash n' go. But as I continue to travel along this journey, I realize that our ability to "manipulate" our hair is the beauty of being natural. We can rock a fro', rock curls, rock wet sets, do whatever we want and change our look as often as we'd like. My definition of being natural is having the ability to enjoy our hair and have healthy hair without being in bondage; meaning we don't feel "ugly" if we don't have chemicals in our hair. I believe the important thing is to also not let our natural hair become bondage. To ensure that we feel beautiful and know we are beautiful no matter how we rock it. To not feel that we HAVE to straighten our natural hair, or wear a twist out to look good. Anything that restricts us from enjoying who and what we are we should reject. So, in short ;o), if you have healthy hair that you are not bond to, that you feel good about, that you take care of… that is naturally you.

  • Unknown says:

    I just wanted to say that you're a really great writer.

  • Anonymous says:

    I feel like this all of the time! My hair is kind of short but it looks cute in a puff. I used to wear twist outs all the time when my hair wasnt in kinky twists but now i mainly wear twists with my own hair or yarn twists to keep me from messing with my hair. Im trying to grow my hair to WL so protective styles seem to be the only way to go for me to retain length. Also I try avoid wash and gos becuase I dont really like walking around with wet hair, I CANNOT sleep with wet hair thats not set in braids or twists due to tangles and knots, and wearing a wash n go would make me care too much about curl definition which is something I dont really want to focus on until my hair gets longer.

  • Jennifer says:

    I don't think it is a matter of if doing hairstyles are "natural" or not. Everyone is going to have their own opinion on what is considered natural to them.

    I think the issue is when we use hair styles as a crutch. When we only are doing twists/twist outs and braids/braid outs, etc. to achieve a certain texture, I feel like that is when an issue can arise. Is the person not comfortable rocking their own texture? Once you manipulate it, you take away from the "uniqueness" (lol) of your hair. Doing different hair styles is fun and great, but if you are stressing out twisting your hair up all the time to achieve a certain look/texture all the time, then I feel we defeated the purpose of going natural. Some of our freedom is taken.

    It all depends on why you went natural in the first place though. If you went natural to be the authentic you and have your own hair texture, then by doing styles all the time to alter the texture counteracts the main purpose of going natural for you.

    But whatever makes one happy in the end of the day is all that matters. It is your hair. : ) Just my takes on this post. See ya!

  • MsAnkh says:

    At the end of the day natural is no chemicals. If you are a closet natural or not doesnt really matter because you have no chemicals. Every woman may not be into the fro or locs or wash and go. Some women like to have straight hair but they also dont like chemicals. So they straighten it with a hot-comb or flat-iron. I have a good friend who is natural and unless you talked to her you would never know it. I am the fro wearing queen and she is the flat-ironing wearing queen, but at the end of the day we are both NATURAL QUEENS, and so are you. You may not like your hair like mine and I may not like my hair like yours but you still belong to this community.

  • Les says:

    My hair is natural because regardless of how I style it, I'm working with the curl that nature gave me. I don't think that we are hating our hair by styling it or by having bad hair days, it's normal. Everybody has wash & go days, but usually we are twisting, pressing, flat-ironing, perming it straight, perming it curly, coloring, curling, braiding, weaving, adding, subtracting, or decorating our hair.

    If manipulation is not natural, the whole world will soon have dreadlocs from not washing or touching our hair, lol.

  • Anonymous says:

    Natural hair to me means no chemicals and that would include color. Hair manipulation sounds like the definition of a hairstyle. I've had some horrible experiences with hair dye so no one could ever convince me that it's worth risking and undo-ing all the hard work it takes to grow healthy, natural hair. Henna and Indigo combinations can be used to change hair color but then again, to a color that is "natural" to our skin tones :) The only way you can get certain hair colors is by using chemicals….which is UN-natural….

  • Anonymous says:

    Rashea, first of all you are gorgeous! You are to be commended for sticking with your "naturalness". You are also to be commended for bringing up such a fundamental issue. There are probably thousands of us clamoring on the boards and blogs using a word that we have yet to define for ourselves. Judging by the prolific responses seen here that will soon be in the making.

    Natty explained it well, and I think most of us agree that being natural does include being without chemicals in your hair. The biggest discrepancy seems to be whether coloring your hair is natural. I think henna is the most natural way to go, if you choose to color your hair. It is the most natural because it is derived from a plant not from a test tube.

    To me hair styles are the fun part of our journey! You seem fretful about it. There's a sister (sorry, I forget her name) on the boards who says her hair is her hobby. Take it from me, I'm old enough to be your mother, as you climb the career ladder, find a life partner, then have children of your own, you'll have less time or energy for hair experimentation. Enjoy the moment, but also, as Tom Joyner puts it "put a purpose in the party", you should search for the styles that are the most complimentary to you and your future life-style.

  • Unknown says:

    I think we all have to accept the fact that natural hair care is a journey and to appreciate what we have learned along the way. It seems to me, we have all learned from our experiences and attempt to modify our routines based on the new information that we learn from each other. I realize I am in a better place now than I was 6 months ago and everyday I learn something new about my hair. Please note I wish I had learned this when I was a teenager, but I am not sure if I would have had the patience.
    My primary goal is to grow healthy natural hair with healthy products and love my hair. At this time in my life, I don't want to let go of my curlformers, flexirods, hair dryer, and other tools I use because it helps me continue my positive relationship with my hair. I am in the mind frame of using organic or products that pass my research test, and I am happy and confident where I am in my hair care journey. Everyone is in a different place in their hair care journey and what works for one curly head might not work for another. Do the best you can to do you and remember that practice makes progress. Live, Love, Peace. ~ Sweetsop

  • Doc says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • LBell says:

    My definition of natural is very simple: It's the hair that your follicles are programmed to produce.

    If you PERMANENTLY alter the hair's color or texture, then it's no longer natural. Everything else that's TEMPORARY — meaning that it washes out or frizzes out or fades away over time; it doesn't require growing out or cutting off — is simply an aspect of grooming and styling. It is utterly ridiculous to equate being natural with not doing anything at all to one's hair. Just about EVERYBODY, natural or not, styles their hair in some way so it can't and shouldn't be included in the definition of natural.

    Seriously, this is really not that complicated…but folks who are desperate to belong to something exclusive and special sure do like to make it out that way. In Rashea's case, I wonder if she's chasing the "good hair" dream and just hasn't learned to accept her hair yet…and IMO that's a different subject from "what is natural?"

  • Anya Posh says:

    Natural is what you make it. I deem my hair natural because the texture is not chemically altered. I think styling my hair is matter of being groomed and feminine. It doesn't matter if it's twists, braids, or plaits, as long as I can unravel to a natural state, that is NATURAL to me.

    With my 4B hair, to live my hair in a free form state without combing (which is manipulation by the way) will create an unkempt and untidy appearance. And we all know society functions based on appearances…

  • artsylee says:

    being natural to me means not permanently altering one's hair texture with products or heat. I find it hard to think someone is natural when they've altered their hair pattern with heat. I did this once after a week of flat ironing and was so displeased that i ended up cutting off all that hair and starting afresh 0_o

    Yes, I'm maniacal like that!

  • growingintome says:

    You know ladies, I have really been thinking about this very subject. You know I look at all of the videos and stories of ladies that have done the BC and state how they are so happy and feel free(for a lack of a better word). The women state that they "change" after cutting off their relaxed ends. You know I am so nervous about my BC. I have had every style known to black women. I have been super long and Tony Braxton short so I was trying to understand why I am so nervous about going natural. I have been transitioning for 9mos and have about 4-5in of new growth. It is not like my hair will be really short after the BC.
    Girls I really had to think about this one. I really think (my opinion) that the reason why I am so nervous is because when you have a relaxer or doing other styles to your hair you create the look. With being natural you learn to embrace what you have and work with it. You can't alter your natural curl pattern with chemicals if you are truly natural. YOU WORK WITH WHAT YOU HAVE AND LEARN TO LOVE IT. I also think that this is why the BC is such an emotional thing. It is us as women accepting what we have. In this day and age it is hard for a woman to really accept herself and all of her flaws without trying to change them in some sort of way.
    When I do the big chop I am telling myself that I am beautiful AS I AM. Without chemicals or a magic potion to make me fit in with the norm of what is beautiful. This is where the emotions come in. This is where we can EXHALE and say I AM BEAUTIFUL NO MATTER WHAT OTHERS SAY OR EXPECT OF US. This is where the inner peace comes from!!!!
    I guess this is what being natural means to me. That inner peace of beauty. This is something that you can't put in a jar or sell. Only you control that reins on this one!!!! Man life is ever evolving and I AM PUTTING ON MY SEAT BELT BECAUSE I HAVE A FEELING I AM NOT DONE RIDING THIS RIDE OF LIFE YET!!!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    Also, natural, to me, means no direct heat applied with metal instruments.

  • Anonymous says:

    For me, being "natural" means not coloring my hair with chemical dyes. I stopped relaxing my hair five years ago when I got a thermal perm (aka "Japanese perm")thinking I would be able to wash my hair and it would dry like, well, Japanese hair. It looked just like a regular chemical perm. However, I still dyed my hair every due to all the white (aka gray). Now that I use henna – I feel natural except that I have hair at BSL and I don't want to BC it.

  • AGirlNamedGoys says:

    Just had this discussion yesterday. Natural doesnt mean without styling. Natural means, not in a state of molecular alteration. With perms- molecular alteration. With press- less severe, but neverthelesss real alteration. Weaves= a cover up, so it doesnt matter what youre like underneath. Before colonizatipon/ imperialization we styled our hair. So there is nothing wrong with trying styles. I think the avoidance of wash and go's is as a result of not knowing how, at least for me. That is why I am here, to learn. And Grad school in DC? HU? is so, woop woop! ;-D

  • Jai says:

    Natural to me means no chemicals(no perm, no texturizer and no hair dye). Twisting, curling, braiding and defining the curls you have is styling in my opinion.

    Everyone may not agree but what matters is what it means to YOU, it's your hair. :)

  • Anonymous says:

    Hum well I have tried to convince myself that its just hair, but apparently I don't believe that because if I did I would not be so obsessed with my
    hair :)

  • Anonymous says:

    I think it means how we want to define natural. We are mixing the slang term natural with the real definition of natural. In our natural hair care world, the main meaning of the word natural has always meant hair that is unrelaxed. We have accepted all forms of styling or coloring as long as hair was unrelaxed (or texturized). We have even accepted heat-trained hair as natural hair. We have the power to make our own definition of it.

    One of the real definitions of natural is…

    1 existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind.

    This definition buts a new spin on things. One can be drastic and say any sort of styling or manipulation is unnatural because it is caused by humans. Or others can loosely interpret this to mean using human made substances to permanently change hair.

    I mean its up to us to define the word.

  • taraji says:

    Greetings Sistren,
    According to, "existing in or formed by nature."

    With that said, I can relate to all the personal perceptions of natural because it is a personal journey and I have experienced all. I relaxed my hair from age 18 to 2004.

    I loc'd my hair from 2004 until 2009, during this time I thought i was natural until I thought about the chemical dyes I used to manipulate my birth hair color.

    In my opinion, locs are FAR from unnatural and probably as close to natural as possible. I say this because the hair grows the way hair grows. It sheds and bonds with the living and naturally evolves into being what is – hair.

    No loc journey is the same, just as no natural journey is the same, just as no two heads of hair are the same.

    I un-loc'd, not cut off my locs and have been a loose natural since. In essence I understand and respect each perception of "natural" but I agree 100% with natty.

  • Anonymous says:

    I don't know exactly how henna works. I do know it coats your hair. I know that permanent hair color goes beneath the cuticle and actually lifts color out of your hair. I know that in the hair industry when hair is dyed it is no longer virgin. I don't know if henna is considered part of that. Maybe it is. So I don't know what henna falls under. Henna doesn't work the same way permanent hair color works.

    I do however believe permanent hair color using peroxide or any lifting agent that goes beneath the hair cuticle to change color is unnatural. As is a relaxer which does the same thing i.e. changing the chemical composition beneath the cuticle.

  • LittleOne says:

    The way we use the word "natural" really frustrates me. It has so many connotations! Hair is hair. It is either chemically treated or it's not. It's either naturally curly or naturally straight. It's either fine or thick, etc. I think it is divisive to define our hair (or ourselves) beyond those simple, objective characteristics.

    Both women and men may start to color their hair as they get older to hide grays. So, at that point, are they not considered "naturals"? My friend has a massive amount of thick BSL hair. Is she "unnatural" for texlaxing bc it makes her weekly hair routine faster/easier? I used henna to loosen my curl, and my hair is easier to manage now. Am I not a "natural"?

    The answers to those questions open the door to disagreements and judgments among us. Is that what we really want to do to each other?

    I'd rather people do what they want with their hair so that they are happy with the way they look and feel…inside and out.

  • honeybrown1976 says:

    As long as you don't use relaxers or texturizers, you are natural. Color, styles, and other methods of styling your hair doesn't make you unnatural.

  • Anonymous says:


    I think some people take this natural thing too far.

    A person can never be truly natural according to some of the points above. Combing and styling your hair does not make you unnatural… it makes you well groomed! To me, it falls under the same umbrella as shampooing and conditioning your hair….

    Some times I wonder if those people who are against putting any kind of product in their hair at ALL use soap, toothpaste or deodorant… afterall, those products are UNNATURAL!!!!

  • Anonymous says:


    So if a person decides to use "henna" on their hair for a deep conditioner, does it mean they are no longer natural??

    Henna also changes the color and texture of hair….

  • Anonymous says:

    i personally think if wearing a twist out or whatever makes you not natural, then so does wearing an afro because you have to pick it out/detangle it which stretches out the curls atleast slightly…if you left it completely unmanipulated as it grew out of your scalp and didnt comb it or anything it would be a tangled and matted mess and probably damaged…natural to me is not applying chemicals to your hair with the intent of permanently changing its structure/texture …color can alter curl pattern,but its not like ppl say "oh i'm going to color my hair so my hair will loosen" they use color to enhance/accessorize like we wear different color hats or clothes…so although it might not be their natural color, i think women without relaxers who color their hair are still natural.

  • Anonymous says:

    Relaxers and hair coloring make hair unnatural. Your hair is no longer virgin hair. In my opinion natural hair is VIRGIN hair. I don't believe it is unnatural to style your hair. If so picking out a fro and greasing the scalp would be unnatural too. Anything that permanently changes your hair from what your genetic makeup dictates is unnatural.

    AGAIN color and relaxers are unnatural both damage your hair. Don't lie to yourselves.

  • A_curly_Diva says:

    I think natural is to not permanently alter your hair. Meaning that when you wash it, it goes right back to its natural state. Dyeing your hair might change your natural hair texture for good, so you just have to be careful.

    On a side note, I would like to see a tutorial on the above pic. Her hair looks awesome!

  • Anonymous says:

    Natural to me means to not putting relaxers or texturizers in your. nasically to be chemically free. Colors dont count to me just like they wouldnt count if you colored the tips of dreads, they're still locked…I love waking up in the morning and all i need is my goodys headband, Eco Styler and my brush and im good to go. No hairsprays, grease,wrap lotion, scalp burns..etc lol

  • Bush Baby says:

    baby girl… its all good… ntural to me means that you do not use a relaxer… that's it… if you want different color or cut or crimp and curls… its all good because… in the end… without the relaxer you will still have some hair left at the end of the day… it is hard to b a full on natural when your favorite style are silky smooth… i am okay in knowing my hair will never be silky silky smooth, but it will be soft!!! People have been altering their hair texture and shape since the beginning of time… besides women LOVE options… short/long/straight/twist/twirls/curls/waves/wigs/whatever… as long as you are true to yourself… go crazy!!! =)

  • Anonymous says:

    imho not altering chemically is being natural.

  • Lala says:

    I think manipulating your hair texture w/ anything that can loosen/straignten your hair is different…your almost on the darkside (jk)lol.

    I have highly textured kinky curly hair naturally, but for me to get big curls–I would have to roller set, put rods, bantu knot, etc …but I dont have the time for that lol.

    I accept my tiny curls, because its mines and when I pick my hair… the fro it becomes is mines too;)

    Do I feel I'm more natural than you? Nope! To each his own…is that how the saying goes?lol

  • Anonymous says:

    You're just styling (twist, braids) your natural hair just like other races braids theres, flatiron it, curl it, wear it up, down, in a bun etc.

  • Matice says:

    People with relaxed hair are still relaxed even though they style it differently. So, people with natural hair are still natural even if they style it differently. As long as you don't used anything that changes the chemical structure/texture of your hair, you're natural. Some people think coloring hair means your hair isn't natural, but I don't agree. You hair is still in the same condition it was before just a different color, just like a relaxed head. You can always get technical and over-analyze everything but it's actually quite simple.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Natty: Well said.

  • JustTrena says:

    Bottom line up front: I think we put way too much importance on labels. It's like the "snitches" and "sneetches”…why the labels? It’s hair…let it do what it do! lol
    If I had to define “Natural hair”, it’s the unprocessed hair that grows out of your scalp before any chemical alterations. Styling your hair, which may include the use of styling aids, doesn’t make you unnatural, it makes you groomed.

  • Anonymous says:

    I feel natural is not chemically altering your hair and texture. Relaxers and coloring included. Does that mean I think that if you are relaxer free but have color you aren't as good as the next woman with none of that?? No, you took the step and stop relaxing (and believe me it's a step,lol)It's just my simple opinion.

    Beautiful hairstyle in the pic.

    Naturally Zee

  • WH says:

    I always thought natural hair simply meant that you didn't chemically relax it. I hear what you are saying about the manipulation however, I honestly don't think it makes you any less natural than the person who wears an afro every single day. To me, manipulation (ex. braids/twist outs) is just a daily or weekly style. Most women who have naturally straight/wavy/loose curly hair style their hair each day as well. Maybe they part on the left side on Tuesdays & Wednesdays while parting it on the right on Friday, perhaps they put it up in a bun for church on Sunday…some straight haired women do twists and spritz with salty water to get that just came back from the beach loose wavy look. Just hairstyles.

    If we no longer relax our hair because it's safer and healthier not to relax then who cares if we do braid outs, twists outs, wash n go's or afros. They are all styles done on natural hair. I think the more important issue is whether or not it's healthy.

    I've been completely natural now for 4 1/2 years and during the work week I usually wear it back in a bun (basically the same style I wore when it was relaxed) because it's long (midback length) and because I think it looks nice that way. The sexy librarian look as a few gentlemen friends have called it. LOL!! Plus, I have a fairly high ranking position in a corporate office (mostly men) and I want them to focus on my work; not my hair. I take it out and wear it loose when I get home and the weekends are up for grabs (braid out, twist out, wash n go, etc…).

    The curly bun you have in the picture is beautiful. Enjoy the freedom and versatility of your gorgeous natural hair…and yes you are a proud member of the natural community!

    Just my humble opinion. :)

  • Kelem says:

    I don't think color takes us from the natural aisle, although some shades are so unnatural :-D

  • Unknown says:

    At the last meetup I hosted, one of the attendees mentioned that she is not a "natural hair purist." I think what she was referring to, are those who use all natural products, rarely dye or don't dye their hair at all, use heat to manipulate, etc. It was almost like putting that line in between being a "natural" and being a "natural hair purist" as you would being a vegan and a vegetarian. It's just one of those things we've got to be more free and open minded about and we wouldn't have to worry so much about constraints or definitions.

  • Anonymous says:

    To me, "natural" means no chemicals, period. That's it.

  • Anonymous says:

    being natural to me is no perms…color is fine.

    locking is not natural to me because that involves leaving hair on your head that has come out…you know like when your hair sheds…there is no way to get it out because it is locked in there…that is not natural to me…that is unnatural

    so natural is anything that hasn't been chemically altered by a perm

    that is MY belief

  • Unknown says:

    Good article. I think it's natural without chemicals to change the hair's base structure. And I think we all gravitate toward certain styling options. I wouldn't put any value judgments in that. It's a matter of personal preference and variety is the spice of life, so they say. If everyone's sense of style was the same, it'd be a pretty boring world to live in.

    I do think loving yourself is an entirely different issue. It's sort of an underlying theme here. It is it's own separate question. I can prefer twists to fro's, or twist outs to twists, or braids to twists, or even flat ironed to any of it if that is my choice. Not one of those styles makes me any more or less natural than the next. But I can love myself and accept myself, my choices and my appearance whether I'm twisted up, braided out, or fro'd. I think lots of folks wonder why black women go through this "journey" at all and why we always want to talk it up or document it or whatever. Unconditional love of self though is I think what most naturals find at the end of their natural journey and makes the whole journey so important to us. That's a worthy pursuit.

  • Ty Waller says:

    Being natural is truly based on that persons perception. Natural to me is just simply no longer perming my hair. Rather I blow dry my hair straight, do a twist out, wash n' go, or just wear my hair free form – as long as it's relaxer free I feel natural. Currently I'm still transitioning, at first I was attached to the length that I still had due to my relaxed ends, but the more and more growth I get I'm getting closer to that bc.

    Just because we manipulate our tresses, to me, doesn't take away the fact that we are naturals. I feel honored that we have such versitale hair that we can change it and do MANY things with it in it's natural state. I feel like with my natural hair I can do more things with it than I could with a full head of permed hair – yes it may take a little extra time to pull off some of these styles. But it's worth it when I see my beautiful tresses.

  • puff says:

    lol i like my nappy fuzz ball. as much as i like trying new things with my hair, it never feels quite as soft and healthy as when i just spritz a little water and oil on it and go.

    i think as long as your hair is chemical free, you have natural hair. everyone should define whatever that means for them as they see fit, whether it's wearing twist-outs, braids, or wash-and-goes.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think people get too caught up in words. Hair is an accessory. As long as you're not damaging it to get that 'perfect' style, I think you can call your hair natural.

    Natural for many people means (well for me it means) not putting a chemical burn on your hair every 6-8 weeks. White folks walk around with color, barrel-roller curls etc and they are still natural, right? So if we choose a hairstyle using our natural texture, that would mean we are natural.

    I really hate comparing what I (we) do to white folks, but its just an example. At the end of the day, women of every race struggle with their appearance and esteem issues that result from it.

    let's just say, 'Ay yes, I've gotten rid of the ritualistic chemical burning process' and move on with life.

  • alwaysbored411 says:

    Being natural to me means no longer using chemicals that alter your hair texture. I don't think that to be natural means you need to wear an afro because not everyone may like afros just like not everyone likes the way braid outs or twist outs look on them.

  • Tiffany says:

    I wish we could wear our hair really natural. Chances are if we did we would have a nappy fuzz ball on top of our heads I think using a little manipulation and some product is fine, as long as you are keep it real as you can.

    Peace, Love and Chocolate

  • Balls Of Beauty says:

    hey fellow aquarian (jan 26); it took me a minute to fully embrace my curls too so i definitely feel u.

  • Balls Of Beauty says:

    wow!! sounds like an inner me, lol. i can relate cuz ive been natural for 9 months and i JUST NOW came to the realization how much i loooove my tresses. i mean i guess before i just really "liked" bein natural til i learned to really LOVE it.

    oooh and happy bday fellow aquarian (jan 26th)

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