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Curly Nikki

Natural Hair Styling- The Process

By January 27th, 202125 Comments
Sunday’s Best

by Chai of Back to Curly

Natural Hair Styling- The ProcessEach Sunday for the past couple of months, I’ve set aside a block of time devoted solely to get my hair did. The actual time varies each week depending on the errands I have to run in the morning or the afternoon, but nonetheless it’s come to mean ‘me time.’ On any given Sunday I seriously prep my place for “The Process,” map out my strategy as far as cleansing, conditioning and styling go, put on some music to ease the inevitable frustrations and settle in for the long haul. It’d be a stretch to say I look forward to this part of the week, in all honesty I don’t. But ironically I do get full satisfaction seeing the fruits of my labor. Plain and simple…I enjoy doing my own hair!

My mother has even come to poke fun at me. When I do call the fam on Sundays, I’m usually on the last leg of the process, either air drying my hair or twisting my last twist…I think the urge comes from wanting to share my triumph with someone, yet my triumph just usually ends up with my mother breathing sighs of disbelief at the amount of time I spend doting on each strand. It’s really come to be our thing in a way…I call..she berates a bit…and I quickly remind her how much I used to spend in salons every other week to get the hair coiffed. Our conversations usually end with her words of encouragement, and a reminder not to stay up too late drying my hair.

On a few occasions I do run into obstacles…my hair is far from dry and a friend calls wanting to have dinner/movies/last minute drinks before the start of the work week. A scramble usually ensues…me trying to find an appropriate hat to cover up, yet not mess up all the work I’d done…my mother’s voice in my head warning me of my fate of catching pneumonia if I go out with my hair damp.

Eh…these are little things. Funny things that I look back on and smile…the lengths I’ve gone through to keep the do in check as a natural are somewhat the same lengths I used to go through when I wore my hair relaxed. I’m by no means scared of the rain… ha! These days what I’m more fearful of is forgetting to seal my ends and misplacing my satin scarf/pillowcase.

Things that I don’t miss… the fearful look on stylists face as I walked through their door with a head full of natural hair. I’d often walk up to a stylist and timidly ask, “how much to wash and two-strand twist?” Their eyes…my god their eyes would seriously hover over my matted, dry hair, quietly assess the situation…perhaps knowing that my head of hair would take up the remainder of their afternoon…. and quote me a RIDICULOUS amount. Essentially, I’d always end up paying for their own frustrations in dealing with my own hair!

Since becoming natural over ten years ago, never have I paid less than $50 to wash, condition and twist my hair. To deep condition, well… I’d have to cough up an extra 25 bucks, and usually it was just plain ‘ol conditioner while under the dryer for 20 min. Forget going to an actual salon that caters to women with natural hair. After getting over the initial high of finally finding a salon to cater to my fro-ness, I’d cringe at the prices! Here in BK, an average style can run you $80 and up. Granted though, I do think these salons are good starting points during the beginning stages of transitioning and going natural, I visited a handful after the first few weeks of my first BC…ended up broke in the long run, but it was an experience much needed at the time when the natural hair community that we see today was still a burgeoning novelty.

If you do go to these salons, please go prepared. Do your homework, know what products are being put in your hair, know if you’re getting your money’s worth. Do not be afraid to ask questions, but also expect some answers! Understanding natural hair doesn’t begin with a visit to the salon, it starts with you…facing the mirror and determining for the first time your own realistic expectations of what you can and cannot do with your hair. The good news is probably…a lot! Natural hair offers such crazy versatility…but only if you equip yourself with that knowledge. You may not know how to flat twist, corn-row, two- strand twist, bantu-knot, micro-braid…etc., but it’s important to know when and if your hair needs a trim, can your hair/wallet withstand a deep condition, is your hair healthy enough to withstand a color treatment…or even the basics, what is your hair texture?

I say all that to say…’the process,’ for me is never ending, and in a odd way I’m glad. It’s been dubbed the ‘natural journey,’ for some time because it’s all one colossal learning curve that has enough dips and turns to make you sometimes doubt your own commitment. But, I do hope to be on this journey for the long haul…PJism and all, I’m beyond thrilled each week to wake up on Sunday mornings knowing I control this…I got this.

Can you relate? Do you have a “process”? Do you ever dread it?

25 Comments

  • Melinda says:

    I use to HATE the detangeling portion of the process the most. I love love loved the washing part (and still do) as I now have sisterlocks but am now a "slave" to someone else "doing" my retightenings every 6-8 weeks but other than that I love the free-dom!!

  • curlykinkynfrizzy? says:

    I love doing my hair! And I too, used to have my "hair day" every Sunday. I'm actually thining of revisiting that esp now that I will be taking swimming lessons.

  • Levone says:

    This was a great read! I love doing hair, but unfortunately for me I wait until late hours, hence I rush. I'm trying to break this bad habit so that I can slow down/relax during my process.

  • tish says:

    "I’m by no means scared of the rain… ha! These days what I’m more fearful of is forgetting to seal my ends and misplacing my satin scarf/pillowcase."

    i love it!

  • modest-goddess says:

    @ Cree
    It takes me about an hour to do twist/braid outs.

    My detangle/wash/condition routine takes another hour because I twist my hair before washing.

    Then I take out those bigger twists, seperate them into smaller sections, add leave in, detangle and do my final braid/twist.

  • Yvette says:

    Oh man! The process is beyond necessary for me. I dropped it during summer because school had me busy beyond belief and my hair paid for it. Never again will I let the go to the wayside. Pre-pooing, washing, conditioning, deep conditioning, and sealing in everything with water, butter, and oil is a must!

  • JAS says:

    I love this post. My days are either Saturday or Sunday, it just depends on what I have planned for the weekend. I was laughing when you mentioned friends calling wanting to go out and panic ensues,that is so true. I like you, enjoy doing my own hair! The money I save and the just the me time is so significant. I used to dread doing my hair and sometimes I still do, but in the end you can not beat that feeling of satisfaction. Pssst…my secret weapon is DCing on dry hair…the BIZ!

  • Carolynn says:

    It's so funny to read this post because I got so tired of styling my hair after deep conditoning and washing that I started a loose hair challenge and it really helped me to learn a lot about my hair. I thought that I might loose hair but my hair actually grew!! I thought I wasn't going to be able to moisturize properly but that didn't happen either!! Good times:)I'll be done with this challenge at the end of the month but it is a time I will reflect back on fondly and my arms will thank me for the break 🙂

  • Unknown says:

    Love this post and I agree with you completely that the natural hair care journey is a process. I thank God everyday for the following:
    – online community that helps everyone learn how to care for their natural hair.
    – Curly Nikki and MopTopMaven's blogs have truly helped me make my routine manageable, for there was a time when I thought I bit off more than I could chew.
    – Chicoro's book and bi-weekly tips are also a blessing.
    – Kinky Kurly Queen's Cassia Obovata recipe and info
    – Extremely thankful for Desuandrea's info on natural preservatives and shealoe butter so I don't have to make products everyday or every other day
    – Also thankful for pH strips from Kimmaytube for my homemade products and info
    The three things that truly require a significant amount of my time are my Cassia Obovata treatments, making organic homemade hair care products, and setting aside 3 to 4 days for braiding my own head in individuals. Besides that, practice makes progress and my skills are gradually improving over time.
    Live, Love, Peace. ~Sweetsop

  • Unknown says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have a process every Sunday or Saturday night into Sunday afternoon for henna, and there are times when I do not feel like doing my hair but it has to get done, the end result makes it all worth it I am noticing more length in my hair and just seeing the spiral effect with shine and my hair is getting darker due to the henna (i love dark hair) so it's worth it. I do have those days where I wish my hair was arm pit length so I could just put the hair back in a pony tail or bun.

  • Sway says:

    I can definitely relate to this great post and I'm still transitioning!

    I can honestly say that at this point I'm glad that no one is doing my hair but ME. Even though my wash days are getting harder and harder because of the detangling process, it's a trade off. I can spend much dinero and waste my time going to salons that may not know how to work with natural hair, and possibly damage my new growth, OR I can just experiment w/ prodcts and learn how to work with what I've got growing out my head. I'm going to have to do it eventually.

    I haven't gotten my hair done in a salon since my last relaxer in January (I didn't even tell my hairdresser because she didn't support the decision). But because my 2 textures have forced me to be creative with styling, I have learned so many ways to do my hair. I can't tell you how many compliments I get. It's refreshing to not DEPEND on someone else to maintain my hair, and to be able to do my hair the way I want it.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have a process on sundays too. And usually I do dread it, but im happy when im all finished. I dread it because I usually want to be doing something else but I know I have to give my hair the attention it needs so I do it.

  • Anonymous says:

    I henna-rinsed my hair Sunday while studying. I DT'd with a sample of Redken Smooth Down Butter treatment, and rod set with Aloe Vera gel. WASN'T MOISTURIZING ENOUGH – dry hair Monday morn. Went to nursing clinicals looking dry and crisp-ety!

    Went back to my old faithful Sheamoisture Monday evening and flat twisted it to air dry overnight. Woke up and STILL NOT MOISTURIZED, and my twistout was HARD AND DRY! Spritzed it with water and pulled back into a puff. The shrinkage was PHENOMENAL yall! Gave up and hurried out the door at 5:45am to not be late for clinicals.

    Note to self – no henna on Sunday!

  • Cree says:

    I think some of you guys are taking way too long to twist your hair for a twist out. Try just grabbing a section instead of parting, it should not take hours even with thick hair I don't understand how you go over 2.5 hours if you're just doing your hair without stopping. Shampoo, condition, rake product in or put product in twist by twist still shouldn't be that time consuming, unless you're doing micro twist and braids. I have thick hair and I don't understand, maybe it will get quicker once you get use to two strand twisting, once the hair goes past BSL then time will increase a bit but you can also increase the size of the twist.

    It should be a relaxing time with no stress of dread to deal with you hair, no one will give it the kind of attention you need and deserve 🙂

    I def

  • Anonymous says:

    COMPLETELY understand. I LOVE the look of twist outs but have only done them a handful of times because it takes FOREVER. I have maybe a fuller TA right now and I remember doing dry twists that took me a good 3 hours because my hair is so thick; takes longer when wet. I stick mostly to essentially a wash and go using Kinky Kurly products and even that takes forever to dry…don't know what I'm going to do when it gets longer.

  • Anonymous says:

    OMGGG this was me last night. I decided to try a new two strand twist updo and it didn't turn out good because my hair isn't long enough yet. I was annoyed and was just not feeling my hair at all. I'm still not feeling it today but hopefully it will get better tonight. Most times I look forward to doing my hair on Sunday nights but other times not so much. It is a process, and hopefully we will all have good days instead of bad 🙂

  • SPIRITUAL AWAKENING says:

    Yep I can relate. When I do my henna every month I make the batch on Friday right before I go to work around 6am.. then when I get home from work that night I sleep in the henna, then early Saturday morning around 5am, I rinse it out. I start my day around 8am on Saturdays so I usually do a wash n go and style it that night for church!

    When I do protective styling I block out an hour right after my daughter goes to bed to do my hair. When I'm on a schedule I can twist faster and not take my precious time.

    On the weekends I also do my wash and conditioning, along with my daughters hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    this was a cute piece!

    i do have a process, but it's not as long since i don't do protective styling. it takes about 3 hours, and 2 of those hours are for deep conditioning without heat. even though it's not as long, i still sort of dread it, mostly because i hate being wet and having to get in and out of the shower over and over. i'm really getting my deep condition game up for the winter though, since my hair is just now reacting from not being CG all summer and i have to keep it moisturized since i won't be protective styling.

  • Anonymous says:

    lol as i was reading this article i was nodding my head and laughing at the same time bc i too along with probably ever other natural out there has an entire process that consists of a entire day (or at least half a day) devoted to their hair.. mine is fridays and btwn getting in the shower to cowash, using my steamer for DC and then oiling my scalp and then getting back in the shower to rinse…trying my best to keep my hair detangled and the applying my leave-in sealing my ends etc!! ugh it seems like it takes forever and don't mention if the girls want to go out for drinks dinner etc…and my hair hasn't had time to dry!! which is exactly what happened last weekend!! I ended up with a cute outfit and a half dried puff that seemed to frizz and grow as the night went on!!! lmao but all in all i enjoy seeing my curls and this "process" beats paying an obscene amount at the salon (90 for a relaxer in dallas) and hours on a saturday usually 5 hours and not to mention it is soooo much healthier!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    Styling and detangling have definitely become a process the longer my hair has grown but the key is to not procrastinate (which I'm not good at when it comes to my hair lol). If I wait longer than a week to detangle (if it hasn't been styled in twists, etc.) it's going to be a pain. But like Chai said, I do enjoy the fruits of my labor. I like trying out a new style and seeing how nice it comes out. My process is to think of what style I'm going to do then wash, condition, detangle, seal (I've been using coconut oil), and style while watching tv (a long movie will work too). 🙂 ~KF519

  • Moni says:

    I love my process, though sometimes it's frustrating. I've recently modified it to where it's short enough to do on a "school night". The night before. I apply deep conditioner mixed with coconut or vatika oil to my hair in about 8-12 sections, detangling and braiding as I go. I leave those in overnight (bunning the next day if I have to go to work). Then I wash with the braids in with Renpure Organics My Pretty Hair is parched shampoo and conditioner (apply, then rinse out). I unbraid each braid individually then rebraid with leavein (always Giovanni Direct) and some type of moisturizer and sealant. Right now I'm loving Qhemets Biologics Burdock root butter cream with QB olive and honey hydrating balm on top. Smooth, shiny, moisturized beautiful hair! I usually watch tv during my process. As a working woman with a dvr, there's always something to keep me entertained for 2-3 hours.

    If it's not fully dry in the morning, I carefully unbraid each braid and then do NOT manipulate them in any way. By the time I finish getting dressed and then drive to work they have dried and set enough to lightly separate where needed.

  • JazBNatural says:

    For me, I always initially get excited about washing/conditioning/putting in a new style, and by the time I'm done I'm like "I can't keep doing this!"
    I'm still looking for a solid routine, because right now, it's not working out. And I'm starting to wonder if protective styles are worth it, because you get to avoid styling for a long time once you put them in, but the process is ridiculously LONG. I think this fall I might start doing quicker styles like twist/braid outs, and deep condition only once a month instead of every time I wash. Like I said, I have absolutely no solid routine, I don't think I will for about another year. Its a process.

  • b. says:

    Ah, YES! I just went through this day before yesterday (and yesterday). I lightly spritzed and put conditioner on my hair in sections and detangled/twisted into big twists. (My hair was not yet washed and not fully wet.) I didn't have time to wash, b/c I hadn't detangled in about two weeks and it was late. I pinned the fat twists back on each side of my head and got SO many compliments yesterday! Last night I washed (in twists), conditioned and combed through each twist. Since I detangled the first time, this second step was easy. (For the curious, 4b and then some, 10 inches.)

    Although I sometimes cringe a little with the process (especially when I am behind on maintenance), I LOVE the "me" time. It's so nice to pamper myself and play in my hair. If something unexpected comes up, I always just pin up the twists until I can get back to it.

  • CrystalJ says:

    I love my process and I love my results from it. Since it's getting cold I've gone into my winter routine so it takes a bit of adjustment to get used to it, but this passed weekend I got back into it and my hair has been hi-fiving me since, lol.

    I look at it as a time of meditation, a time where I get to totally pay attention to me….a spa day in essence, otherwise I'd be looking cross-eyed and crazy wondering what the hell, lol!

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