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Curly Nikki

Natural Hair is Getting the Best of Me!

By January 27th, 202134 Comments

Adrienne (not pictured above) writes;

I am a 4a/4b extremely dense natural just over 2 yrs now. I have an infant and time is not my friend. Finally I am reaching the point where I realize your hair when you first go natural is not the head of hair you end up with years down the road. Is there anyone else out there whose length and density has been getting the best of them? Are your staple styles no longer achievable due to length and ability to manipulate your tresses? Are you finding yourself revisiting the emotions you felt when you first transitioned or big chopped?

Don’t get me wrong I love my fro, and am happy not to have my thinning relaxed hair, but lately I’m getting discouraged at the thought of being stuck with just a couple of options. Styling soaking wet, sectioning, finger combing, night time routine set, and still I have trouble. In the name of less breakage I realized twist-outs should be given a break, however, I am stuck with a head band or couple of bobby pins. I can’t remember the blog, but I saw a woman comment on the subject, I’m paraphrasing, ” Some textures should just realize that certain things are not achievable and they’d be happier with their hair”. Keep in mind I’m a simple girl. All I ask is for the ability to just pull off a puffy ponytail, lol! Isn’t that the goal when you first decide to ditch the relaxer? Having versatility and spending less time fighting your hair, and more time enjoying your hair. Any thoughts/comments from the 4yr and beyond veterans out there?


  • Anonymous says:

    I def know what its like to be a new mother & not having time for your hair. When I used to flat-iron my hair it stayed wrapped under a scarf for months after I had my baby. It was plain, boring & stayed in a ponytail.
    I think the same goes for natural hair, if your time is at a minimum. You can go to a salon that specializes in natural hair for some pampering, braid it, weave it, or cut it. Its your choice but at least you have one. People with thin, unhealthy hair don't have much choices.
    Having the same hairstyle with a new baby is realistic relaxed or natural.
    Have you ever tried using a knee-hi stocking to make a puff ponytail.

  • Reaction Designer Jewelry + Accessories says:

    Oh My goodness! Now I don't feel so alone! I thought I was the only one having these issues, but I guess not. I have been natural for about 7 years this time around and when I did the big chop, I had a neat fade. I could wash and go and put a little something in it and be done, now that it is down my back I get mad about the shrinkage, mad about it not looking like the girl on "Half&Half"… lol, just frustrated. There are no natural hair salons around here and I have to get all of my info online. I have been doing it myself all of this time and I have to use a ton of product, no matter what I use. so all I have are twists, twist out, wash and go (and wash and go's are really not my friend)and I am 3c,3b and 3a and those types are not in the parts of my head I want them to be. I hate to complain, because, I love my hair, thank God for it, but it is a LOT of work. I have not had heat on my hair at all in 2 years, but I am about to look for an old school presser or a barber. Thanks guys for all of the great posts.

  • Freddye G. says:

    I am natural 5 years now, and I'm starting to question why I did this is the first place. When my hair was very, very short, it was soooo easy. For some reason I decided to let it grow out. I have a head full of hair that NEVER looks like I want it to. I didn't know others had the same issue. I guess I never thought about it! I am a disabled person and doing my hair is getting the best of me and I have no idea what to do about it. Thoughts of pressing combs are starting to run through my head!

  • sk8queen says:

    People assumed that when I did the big chop, I would allow my hair to grow back…NOT! I don't want twists, locs, a puff or any style that requires work. I keep a VERY low TWA. I like it very low. I want the air to hit my scalp and feel the sun on it as well. In winter I wear a lycra skull cap under my hat for warmth. I don't have any emotions because I don't have any hair. My hair didn't hold or do well with a perm for the 36 years I had one and it is the same now that I don't have a perm. I got tired and cut it off. I regret I didn't do this 5 years ago when I first contemplated it. It curls up on it's own and stays that way ALL day. I did grow it a little to see what would happen and didn't like it. Oh? Did I mention that I can now go swimming without having to consider my hair schedule. I do a deep condition, sit in the steam room for about 15 minutes, wash and go.

    Happy to be nappy with a TWA!

  • Renee1970 says:

    I am about ready to throw in the towel! I understand what you are going thru! My hair doesn't hold moisture and looks like a bird nest on my head! Braidouts have played out with my hair(lol)! My hair doesnn't "crinkle" in the back. I cut off the relaxed ends hoping for a different affect, but not so much! Just going to wear braids, braids and more braids!

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you to the 10yr vet, graduate student, and marathon runner. Big ups. And also Carla, who said "I learned that I can't always do what they can do". Amen. I have worn my hair in a french roll for the last 5mo, because after the first year post-chop I wore it straightened, and it broke off. And then I still tried to do all the styles I saw in the blogs and vlogs. So basically, I looked like every zombie in Mike Jackson’s Thiller video, on any given day. Not pretty. Not cute. Then I found the French Roll, took it back to the Supremes, yes I did! And you know what? My french roll has been my best friend and has given po’ ends time to heal. No, my hair ain’t all that long. Hits me way up high on the ears honey. But it used to be just long enough to curl with a grain of of rice (lol remember that one?). And boo, it certainly didn’t magically change textures, because I certainly don’t have big beautamous curls. Girl, I’m a dirt poor student with a job and half, still can't afford kids, or a salon, but I'm keepin' it real. Confidence in a woman begets a confident woman. By keepin' it real I have found confidence. I play with my hair and find styles that work for me. I don't have time to try to look like Beyonce (I see you girl). And math is so much in my current curriculum that I pay no mind to the hair type system. I’m trying get my BA so I ain’t got time to decipher the CBL and the APL, MSL, or OPP, or other hair abbreviations. And I cook way too seldom to get all the haircipes down. I applaud Curly Nik cause she has given a forum to those who can, and I certainly can’t front and say I haven’t learned a thing or two. But boo, you have to do you. Do what is and comes naturally to you. And be happy for the every kinky curly slap happy nap you got under ya cap. Because some people don’t have hair!….And that’s okay too.

  • Anonymous says:

    I feel you – I am about 2 1/2 years since my last relaxer and I have 4a/4b hair that is APL at its longest layer. I work FT, have two kids and my DH travels weekly for work leaving me little time to devote to hair care. I love my natural hair but I'm not in love with my hair right now. Right now I am so bored with the protective style I have been wearing (braids under halfwigs) even though I have gotten great retention. I agree with earlier post about missing the pampering of a trip to the salon but I have heard so many horror stories that I'm reluctant to put my hair in the hands of a stranger. Braids may be a good idea too to tuck it away for for a couple of months – long enough for me to miss it and fall back in love! Good luck!

  • Levone says:

    Great post and comments.

  • Jessica says:

    I can get frustrating at times. But I was one of those people whose hair was always breaking from the relaxer and not retaining lenght. Being natural with "longer" hair (its just past my shoulders in a twist out) is not easier than having a relaxer or keeping your natural short, but the benefits of actually having LENGTH is what I wanted and what I am acheving with natural hair. So I am reaching my goal and it is very much worth it.
    1. My hair is longer than its ever been since I stopped relaxing.
    2. No more little peices of hairs on my shirts.
    3. I can wear a white shirt without dusting it off every few hours.
    4. More versatility.
    5. Did I say it was longer? 🙂
    Some things you have to just work harder for! What I get with being natural is definitely worth the extra steps.

  • Carla says:

    8 + years natural and I learned I cant always do what "they" can do.

    Regular wash-n-gos just does not work for me due to the tangling and breakage issues. My hair is 4a, 3c and 3b and I need to keep it either in buns or twist-outs to keep my hair from getting caught on each other and tangled. A wash-n-go is a treat, but not the norm for me. If my hair was shorter, it would work.

    I cant go 3 weeks without washing. Because I work out most days of the week, I have to co-wash and shampoo at least weekly.

    I look like a kid in braids and twists.

    You will eventually learn what works for you and your hair.

  • JazBNatural says:

    I have been natural most of my life, and I havent had a relaxer in about 9 years. My hair is extremely thick, mixed textures and extremely dense almost tailbone length. I wear braids most of the time and find really cute/creative ways to wear them. One of the plus sides of length is more styling opportunities with protective styles. Yes, it takes longer to do than with short/thin/loosely coiled hair, but you can also get very creative. And many people with thin natural hair complain about it too, how all their styles are ruined because of it, or they cant do protective styles because of it. Every hair type has their own struggles. For me, I have finally found a happy balance with my thick/long hair. I wear braids most of the time (im a college student, i dont have time just like everyone else!), i take them out once every 2 months and then put new ones back in, except when its a special occasion when I wear my hair in an "out" style.
    View my fotki or Beads Braids and Beyond for some creative ideas for protective styles. They really can be fun if you make them. Whether you have thick, thin, tightly coiled, loose, long or short hair, view it as a blessing because someone else would kill to make your hair into a nice lace-front weave.

  • Debbie says:

    I can't lie though, people having these sorts of issues with natural hair bums me out and doesn't make me super excited about the future of my hair. I know longer hair is work but with our natural hair it seems to be extra, extra work. *sigh*

  • Debbie says:

    When my mother was younger she was natural and had thick, long 4b hair so did almost everyone around her and she said they almost always kept their hair braided up (their own hair) and would wear it out once in awhile. You could braid it for lengths at a time, wear it out when you want to and do twists when you have the time.

    Or just cut it to a length that is manageable for you. I did the same thing with relaxed hair, I know I would not hesitate to do the same with my natural hair!

  • Anonymous says:

    The only advantage to having 4C hair at my length (about 6 inches straight, just over two inches with shrinkage) is the sheer versatility. Sometimes I just wash it, and then tease it with a comb to make the top neater and do a faux TWA. Other times, I wear a scarf across the front and push the fro further back. Other times, I pull it into a ponytail, neaten the sides with a brush and then either put a ponytail, scarf or an alice band across the front to "tame" the volume in the front. Then, either have the back in a puff or in a single plait (add a flower/some cool earrings to accentuate). Twist outs are definitely a weekend thing, but if you've cleared out 3 hours to wash and deep condition, you may as well add the extra hour/two hours to do the twists, wear the hair in twists the next day and then do the twist out on the third day, then pull it into a single braid on the fourth, and have it in a pony tail the fifth and sixth. It probably seems hard because you're so used to "quick" low maintenance hairstyles like braids,relaxers or weaves but having lived with mostly white and asian women the last 5 years, let me reassure you that there's no other race of women that has it that easy. We've been socialised to believe that if it takes you more than 10 minutes to sort your hair in the morning then it's your hair that's the problem. Well, think of it this way, if your skin is dry, you make time to moisturise it, right? If your lips are dry you put on some lip balm. So why is it such a hassle to deal with your hair when it's calling out for some love?

    Also, with regards to the pony tail, don't try and "pull your hair" into the ponytail – use a brush or gently scrape the hair back with the edges of a rattail comb (i.e. like you're going to comb it but letting the hair rest on the hair rather than penetrate it). Put what goes comfortably into the pony tail in, and then flatten the rest with an alice band or some bobby pins. Even with my big ol' head and my mega shrinkage, I find that I can pull this off, provided I've had the hair in 4 plaits or 2 cornrows the night before. Hope it helps!

  • naturallyneosoul says:

    well i think this speaks volumes about where I am right now. I am definitely having a struggle getting my twist-outs to work for me the way that I want them to. I do have longer hair now but I must say that I'm truly taking it one day at a time. I do believe that it's time for me to go see a stylist though, definitely need a little pampering and even thinking about putting it up for a while…i'm loving my journey more and more everyday but it's not without frustrating moments.

  • Pinup girl 07 says:

    The salon, suggestion was an excellent one. I can't say how hard I'm laughing at the "Just hide it girl" suggestion. A weave or braids may just be in order even though I hate both.:)I suppose I am seeing a pattern with those of you who are bra strap length and beyond. I don't feel so bad knowing everyone else had to take different routes or just plain tied it up, once they reached a certain point. I transitioned for well over a year so even though I've been natural for a couple yrs, my hair is rapidly reaching bsl. I should be happy. yikes!

  • Pinup girl 07 says:

    Perhaps if I give someone a curly visual so they understand what I mean when I say dense. Cipriana of My hair isn't exactly her density, but close. Twist outs take a lot longer than 2hrs not including wash and detangle time. Ponytail holders either pop or are one time use only after I get through trying to pull all my hair through. lol Not that I need my hair to look neat like (anonymous)said. Its just that with shrinkage, wash n goes are dangerous at rewash time. My hair requires frequent washing as well.

    To answer one question,"when you first go natural" I meant curl pattern, strand thickness, or many curl patterns on one head of hair. It's not that I'm bored with a couple options, it's the lack of time. I tried locs for 4mnths until I realized my hair was too fragile and breaking.

    Thanks Ladies


  • Anonymous says:

    I'm three yrs in with type 4 hair and evryone can't do evrythang. My hair is dense but fine so ssks are a constant issue. As its become longer I can't do twist outs like before. I don't look cute with pinned up twists (tried it for months) plus it caused tangling and knots. Bottom line: OP I feel ur pain. Hide ur hair. Give urself a break. When its longer u may find something that works for u. Just hide it girl. Its like a kid, u love them but occasionally u need a break.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think that what we need to do, in addition to what has already been said here, is remember that 95% of the women of the world don't have personal stylists or hair dressers at their beck and call and wear the same hairstyle every day. I mean EVERY day. I know a lot of elderly Caucasian women who have had the same hairstyle since the 30's. Think of Indian women with all of that hair- most of them simply keep it in a simple ponytail. The trick is to find a look that works for you and keep working it. Of course it's understandable to mix it up once in a while for special occasions, but let's not get trapped into demanding more of our hair and of ourselves than is logically possible. The real heroes of this world, the moms who keep us fed, clothed in school and on time recognise that having a functional/practical hairstyle is often more important than having a new "cute" look every other day.

    I'm a 4c/b (finer at the back) and I've been natural for 10 years. I'd say 8 of those years have been in braids, and now I'm rocking a twist out. I'm not a mom, but I am a graduate student and a freelance journalist, not to mention I'm in training for a half marathon next month (eep!). I noticed that as long as I was comfortable, people around me were comfortable, and it didn't much matter what I did with my hair that day. Take heart ladies!

  • Anonymous says:

    How about a cute half faux-hawk? It would look like the le coil pic above, minus the braids in the back. You could pin it up, leave the top out- maybe even do a twist out just on the top part. At night, just spray a mist on it, cover and sleep.

    That would be cute AND easy.

  • Kalena Michele says:

    I've been natural for 10 years and, personally, I learn something brand new about my hair every year. For instance, I'm JUSt learning about the finger combing, and wet styling and such. Sometimes I can dry style. IDK. I love my natural hair, it's still teaching me things, and I have a new goal to look forward to all the time. I can't relate to what you're going through, however, I can understand how you came to feel that way.

  • Butterfly3000 says:

    Anon 3:55….I got mines did Saturday and its still in good shape! She did a cute little flat twist and rod set style and I probably wont have to touch it up til tomorrow night with some big 2-strand twists b4 bed. This will definitely be squeezed into my budget every now and then. Although I still think I'm the best at caring for my hair, I'll take a back seat for a break.

  • Anonymous says:

    maybe a splurge to a natural hair salon is in order. Sometimes us natural girls need a little pampering from someone else. natural stylist are more abundant now, and they can give lots of tips on how to style your hair. As natural hair becomes more mainstream, training within cosmetology has become more diverse. Stylist are now more experienced in doing our hair. So maybe splurge every couple of weeks for a trip to the salon.

  • Alex says:

    I've been natural for over three years now and I too am getting frustrated. I work a full-time job and am going to Grad School simultaneously. Other people can prioritize their time well and can do a million and one things. I cannot. My time is very limited and my hair gets in the way. My routine since I've been natural has been wash and go's. I love them. Their easy and more often than not, my hair looks cute. The problem that I am having is that I now have too much hair. I don't know how to handle this much. I completely can relate to the quote you posted, "… your hair when you first go natural is not the head of hair you end up with years down the road." At first it was easy. Now, not so much. I have no patience for twists, braiding, any of that. So, just like you, I'm thinking, what to do? Some one once wrote, "mo' hair, mo' problems." They weren't kidding! I'm thinking about chopping mine off!
    Good luck with your hair. Although it's frustrating, natural hair is beautiful!

  • Anonymous says:

    Okay, maybe I am a little dense today, but what did she mean by "… your hair when you first go natural is not the head of hair you end up with years down the road." Is she talking about length, texture, what?

  • simplifry says:

    @2:11pm, when I say my hair is "textbook" 4a, I meant that it matches the description given by Andre Walker in his book. I have found that there's no real credence to the hair-typing. Sorry if that was confusing.

  • Anonymous says:

    Can someone provide a picture of what "textbook" 4a hair looks like?

  • La Cienega says:

    I've reached that same plateau. I don't have any children, but I do have a full-time gig. Therefore, I want to be able to do the simplest styles that require little maintenance during the week. My hair is a fine texture and can look really "scalpy" depending upon if I try to wear certain styles (hence the reason I never wear twists or braids outside of the house). I've been natural for over 3 years now and my hair is about shoulder length when straightened. still, when curly, it barely reaches past my ears because of shrinkage. Most times I love the texture, but lately I've hit a brick wall. I even thought about doing a big chop and starting over. Alas, rationalization returned, but I'm still frustrated with it. Twist-outs and puffs got boring, so I've had it straightened a couple of times in the past month for something different. However, since summer's approaching and my hair sucks up moisture, I guess wash-n-go's, twist-outs, and puffs will be my staples again. :-/

  • Anonymous says:

    I've been feeling like this a lot lately. I am so tempted to go and find a weave or get it pressed. It's really frustrating I like to look neat but I swear I always end up with a bun and small one at that and a headband.. I can totally relate to how you are feeling.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have some of the same issues sometimes, but I SO love my hair. Sometimes I wish I could just put my hair up into a messy bun and still look cute. (Yeah, not so much.)I have been natural for about 6 years and I have FINALLY gotten to the point where I understand how to care for my beautiful kinky hair. I don't go by the hair typing system, but I have learned to love what's growing out of my head. Hang in there, girl!! For me it was more about the Journey than the styling. This is the time where I have really found out who I am as a person with all that I have gone through emotionally, physically and spiritually. Who knew that hair could really cause a person to experience so much in life?

  • Anonymous says:

    In the name of time I stretch my hair with box braids on wash night, take them down in the morning when they're dry and wear a bun all week until it's time to wash again. I'm 4a/b/c (dunno) and this works. When I want to do a special twist-out during the week, my hair is already stretched so I just twist it up for a dry twist-out the night before.

  • simplifry says:

    Sorry, I forgot to answer the question (I blame mommy-brain). I don't revisit those old emotions because I'm happier where I am now. But, I did have to change styles and realize that, for me, wearing my hair out is a special occasion (read: time-consuming)ordeal. I can't wear twist-outs and pony-puffs and not deal with tangles (hundreds of thousands of tiny little strands love to twist around each other when set free).

  • simplifry says:

    "Some textures should just realize that certain things are not achievable and they'd be happier with their hair." This. As someone with extremely dense, fine, tiny coiled hair, I was extremely frustrated in my early days as a natural when I tried to emulate the things that other supposed 4a's were doing. My hair is textbook 4a but looks nothing like a lot of the other self-professed 4a's. But, no matter, I found staple styles once my hair got longer and found abbreviated staple styles once my munchkin was born (she's 6 months old now). Once I accepted that my hair wasn't going to look like CN's or HeatherNicole's or [insert name here], it got a lot easier. Maybe I still haven't mastered how to get my hair to look its best, but I can get it be consistent, and with an infant, that matters the most. HTH.

  • Anonymous says:


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