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Curly Nikki

I Thought My Natural Hair Would Be Stronger…

By January 27th, 202123 Comments

Colleen writes:

I love, love, love, your site! I have a question as a new natural. On many of the blogs and forums, I see talk of being careful with your curls- – low manipulation and the like, because they are so fragile. It makes me feel like it’s dainty fine china and I’m almost afraid to touch it. I thought that my hair would be stronger and more resilient than when I had a relaxer, am I wrong for thinking this?

CN says:

Our hair, in its natural, highly textured state, is fragile. Each bend along the strand creates a point of potential breakage. To be honest, I felt like it was easier to retain length when I was getting my hair pressed bi-weekly or monthly. The heat was killing it in the long run, which is why I now opt for sets. My fine strands fair better when the curl is stretched a bit. I do, however, feel that my hair is more resilient post heat abuse, as do many naturals who left the relaxers behind. The heat and relaxers are no longer breaking down our strands and we have a little wiggle room and can enjoy a variety of styling options and the opportunity to experiment with products and even color.

I think the focus on treating our hair like ‘delicate lace’ comes from our re-education. After some thought, we decide to transition from relaxed to natural hair, as a healthier alternative. We get on the web and research, and take care to purchase the right tools, the right products, and explore our styling options. We develop goals for full, healthy, natural hair and do our best to achieve it. We join communities with other transitioners and naturals, and meet up in real life to share tips and provide encouragement. I believe that all of the time and energy we put into our ‘new hair’ makes us more likely to treat it better overall. We’re much more mindful than when we frequented the salon and let Donna wash and set our hair. So yeah, I think it’s a residual effect, ’cause all highly textured hair (whether it’s relaxed, heat styled, or in it’s curly state) is delicate, and should be treated as such.

What do you think?


  • Vjjones123 says:

    I think we should be careful with our hair…but by all means…we should be able to touch it! Whats the point of having beautiful hair if you don't have fun with it sometimes?? (different styles or maybe some color)

  • SwanLakeLibra says:

    @Jay-Jay 1:52pm – I'm protein sensitive as well and I can not use products that have protein in them unless they are at the very bottom of the ingredients with the exception of oils (Coconut & Avocado oils) but they must be organic extra virgin. Also, these oils are mixed with others like castor and EVOO then I'm okay.

    I get my strengthening treatment from Henna and I do it once a month. I use CN method and it does not dry my hair out. I moisturize my hair daily (Kimmaytube leave-in/spritz) and seal with sheabutter mix.

    But most importantly, my protein comes from my diet, which is consist of a lot of chicken, fish, eggs and milk so I think that is why I do not need add protein products in my hair because it gets so much from my diet. With my hair being a little porous, it does carve more moisture/water based products. If I try to do a protein treatment like others do on this blog, it will be like straw and break off, no matter how much I moisturize afterwards; it does not like protein.

    You might want to consider Henna as an option and/or take a look at your diet and vitamin supplements to increase the strengthening of your hair.

    Don't give up, it has take me a full 22 months and 3 BC's later to learn and perfect what my hair needs/wants. My hair is at its healthiest and now I see the light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Unknown says:

    Thanks Nikki and everyone for the answers. I'm such a newbie and if it wasn't for this blog, I would have even less of a clue than I already do. I've fallen in love with my hair even though it seems to hate me most days. 🙂 I want it to be healthy, but I think sometimes all of my researching, reading and youtube watching makes me over react sometimes. I see two strands on the shower floor and I am instantly freaking out that I need a tangle teezer (I only have about 3 inches of hair), I must have high porosity and I'm protein sensitive. I don't think I even know what those things mean.

    When I was relaxed, I washed, conditioned and flat ironed with one of those wet 2 straight flat irons. I didn't even put anything in my hair because products made it limp and it wouldn't do anything if I did. It was seemingly healthy and about bra strap length.

    I don't want to go back to relaxing at all. For over a year I have been living a healthier lifestyle and that is now extended to my hair. I just wish it would stop laughing at me.

  • Anonymous says:

    What I meant to say was that I don't believe my hair type was meant to be long in its shrunken, unstretched state. If you have to spend tons of extra time detangling and then trying not to let it tangle back up while you're detangling, that's a sign you need to either cut it or figure out a way to stretch it out.

  • Anonymous says:

    As fine as my strands are, they are a LOT stronger than they were with a relaxer. Like someone posted above, I had no business relaxing every 6 weeks, nor did I have any business relaxing bone-straight. My hair couldn't handle it and proved it by breaking off on a regular basis. It was a miracle I retained any length, much less the SL I did get.

    Because I have to really baby my natural strands once they get past a certain length, I firmly believe that my hair type (very small 4a coils) wasn't meant to be long, at least not in its natural state. (I know that's controversial to say on these blogs…!) I agree that stretching it after a certain length makes more sense BUT I still have to be careful HOW I stretch it as well as HOW OFTEN. Strengthening treatments do help…I'm considering trying cassia (I don't want the red that comes with henna) to see what that will do.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head and your explanation was exemplary.

  • Anonymous says:

    My hair is strong and coarse, when it gets to dry it's like brillo and will cut your hands. lol, j/k. But my hair has been known to break combs,brushses because it's so thick. I'm still babying her edges because of tension from locs being in my hair. Hopefully the hair will catch back up with the rest of my hair. I will need to up my Biotin vitamins in take. Also a fellow natural lady has a website that has some gorgeous natural ladies pictures "100" on it that you can look at and give some ideas on hairstyles.

  • Jessica says:

    My hair BROKE OFF like crazy when I was relaxed. Could never get past shoulder length nor would it just not even grow on the side that I sleep on. Sad times………
    But my hair is now long and beautiful. I never had a problem with thickness…it was always thick and coarse.

    Nikki, Love the tangle teaser…..where has this been all my life?! I plan to buy more just as a backup supply!

  • Anonymous says:

    I so agree with you B. my hair shed like CRAZY when I was relaxed! and forget about when the new growth came in!Ugh!!! I'de rather deal with the NATURAL shedding process, your scalp and hair are healthier for it.:)

  • b. says:

    My hair shed a LOT MORE when I was relaxed. Now I have hair that comes out but it's the shed hairs. That's gonna happen b/c that's what the body does…it sheds the old to make room for more.

    I like another comparison I heard (Little Golden Lamb): treat your hair like a cashmere sweater. Cashmere is soft and lasts a long time…but only when taken care of.

  • Anonymous says:

    OMG if I had known then what I know now about hair and relaxers in general I think my hair would have been much healthier. I would not have relaxed every 6 weeks, but would have relaxed every 8 – 12 weeks. I would have never insisted on a stylist getting my hair bone straight, but would have insisted only getting it about 75 – 80% straight. I would have insisted the stylist come up with a way to put the relaxer on without it touching my scalp. Im a shamed to admit it, but when I was relaxed I knew nothing about sulfate free shampoo, moisture, natural oils, protein vs moisture, – oh well time brings a change : ) Ignorance can some times be bliss.

  • CURLYNIKKI says:

    haha 'stonger' sorry guys. That's what happens when you blog at 3am. I was up pumping and thought I could kill two birds with one stone!

  • mangomadness says:

    My natural hair is stronger because heat and chemicals have not (and will not) take their toll on the structure of my strands.

    With that said, am not afarid of touching my hair and I don't think anyone should be. I use low manipulation because it fits my style, hair goals and lifestyle.

  • Anonymous says:


    I'm not Anon 12:14 but I have seen the curl formers and how they work. My roommate has fully natural hair abd used them. The instrument to grab the hair and pull it through the curl formers seem like it may put a little too much stress on your hair seeing as it isn't all 1 texture. If I were were you I'd wait until it was the same texture to try those.

  • Anonymous says:

    Lol what is stonger

  • Annie L. says:

    Hey Colleen! I agree w/CN that natural hair, prior to being stripped by chemicals, truly is stronger. I feel you though, sometimes I read about others lightly grazing their curly strands for hours, lol! I personally don't agree that natural curls are more damage-prone than straighter strands, but it's a personal assessment of the state of your hair. While I understand the logic behind ideas that bends and curls in hair weaken areas, for me hair science hasn't evaluated our hair well enough to find that hypothesis compelling.

    I feel hair is a natural component of the human body and the body adapts innumerable ways for its components to exist, stay strong, compensate for lack and be entirely variable.
    I love being carefree with my hair like my naturally straight and wavy haired friends (no scarf, air-dry, basic holistic products, no protective styling when I'm not weaved up like Diana Ross 🙂 so if that's more you, cool, but like CN said, observe how you heat style, how you grab, twist, roll your hair and especially how others may hamfist their way through your strands. My natural curl retracts 50%, so when pulled, washed, etc., yes, it may break but it's a trial and error process to figure out a tempo. I think simply being more "mindful" of your hair is a great guiding principal to handling your strands.

  • Jay-Jay says:

    I thought my hair would've been stronger also but my fine hair just laugh at me…..LOL!!! It's to the point that I don't want to deal with my hair because I don't want to see balls of hair in my hand. Plus I'm protein sensitive. So when I try to use the light protein products my hair gets very upset and mold together. Hopefully I'll find something to make it stronger.

  • Pecancurls says:

    I am still transitioning, so I don't have much to add. Just wanted to ask anon @12:14 how do you like your curlformers? My PJ-ism has been eyeing them. Are you using them on fully natural hair?

  • shamigreen says:

    Mine tangles a lot more often than it did when I had a relaxer… Like anonymous & CN said, it behaves much better when it's stretched out. When I compare pics of myself back then vs. now, I know my natural hair is stronger, healthier & definitley SEXIER… CURLS ROCK!!!

    The MAIN DIFFERENCE for me is my level of hair education. Now that I read hair blogs, research the ingredients in my products & learn new hair techniques, I'm aware of how my actions (or lack thereof) affect the look & health of my hair. We should have ALWAYS treated our hair like lace, we just didn't know any better before…

  • Anonymous says:

    I think natural newbies are often trying to grow their hair out and careful handling allows you to retain more growth.

  • Anonymous says:

    What's "STONGER"?!

  • Anonymous says:

    Like Nikki, my hair does better when stretched. This is why I do roller sets and curlformers pretty often. my hair is defintiely stronger than when it was relaxed.

  • sarah says:

    the Natural Haven blog has done several posts on the strength and resiliency of natural hair. check them out.

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