by Tammy Goodson of CurlyChics

In the natural community, we have many things we agree on, such as natural hair is the healthier option, and natural hair is beautiful. While we all share a sisterhood of sorts on these issues, there are a few talking points surrounding the lifestyle.

Curl definition
For some, curl definition is the ultimate goal. We twist and braid, we scrunch and plop, all in effort to create the perfect coil formation. We hunt endlessly for the cream or butter that will produce the perfect “S”. Products that promise to “define your curls” take advantage of our desire to achieve certain results, only to leave us with the disappointing realization that they merely enhance existing curl patterns.

For others, curl definition is nice but is not the end all be all of being natural. Why not embrace what your hair “naturally” wants to do. Every mane is different, some with more coils than curls and some with more texture and density, all of which is beautiful. Embrace your texture, whatever that is.

Mineral oil (grease, mineral)
Mineral oil has been at the top of the DO NOT USE list for many naturals partly because of the old school mentality that is usually associated with its use but mostly because it is can clog pores and attract dirt. This makes it difficult to absorb water and slows the ability to eliminate toxins. However, there are some naturals who have started to make peace with the grease, so to speak. with the latest revelation from Curly Nikki on her experience.

Silicones, silicones…these sneaky little ingredients have naturals up in arms. While they do help with frizz, combat humidity, and provide slip making for a much smoother detangling session, they also give a false sense of moisture. They leave hair feeling uber soft and give it shine; however, these results are only temporary. The other concern with silicones is that they leave build up on the hair. This is typically a concern for naturals who do not regularly use sulphate shampoos, which are the only sure fire way to eliminate the build up and leads me to the next talking point.

Sulfates (sodium laureth sulfate and ammonium laureth sulfate), which are the agents that provide the lather and suds some people love, have a tendency to dry out hair and strip it of its natural oils. The squeaky clean feeling you get and can sometimes hear, is a clear indicator that something is missing, besides dirt. Those naturals who regularly use sulfate cleansers do not disagree that it strips the hair of its natural oils but respond by following up with a great conditioner to replenish those lost oils.

Another concern is the potential carcinogenic link. Although the link has not been proven in experimental studies, it has been proven to cause significant epidermal changes when applied. According to Beauty Brains…sulphates “will not strip your hair of oil any worse than other surfactant bases. All shampoos strip your hair of natural oil. That’s how they clean.”

Definition of natural
What is natural? “existing in or formed by nature (opposed to artificial): a natural bridge.
based on the state of things in nature; constituted by nature: Growth is a natural process.
of or pertaining to nature or the universe: natural beauty.
of, pertaining to, or occupied with the study of natural science: conducting natural experiments. in a state of nature; uncultivated”
This is the text book definition of the term natural. Seems cut and dry right? Wrong. There are several definitions of what it means to be natural depending on who you ask. Does it refer to a specific hair style? Does it refer to texture or color?

Some believe if you chose to color your hair, you are not natural because:
• any type of chemical on your hair automatically removes you from the “natural” category and color is a chemical
• color CAN change your curl pattern which removes you from the natural bucket

Others say that natural simply means being relaxer free and has nothing to do with color application.

You will often hear chants of “heat is the devil” from naturals when it comes to straightening your hair. Not just because of the heat damage involved but because it temporarily alters the curl pattern.

  • you are only considered natural if you wear your hair in its textured, tightly coiled state.
  • heat CAN change your curl pattern which removes you from the natural bucket

Others say that having natural hair is about versatility and having the option to change the look from curly to straight is one of the greatest benefits of being natural.

Using all natural products
Sometimes wearing your hair natural leads you to examine other areas of your life that may benefit from a change. Eating organic foods and becoming physically fit are both examples of this. Choosing to use products only containing natural ingredients is a conceivable next step, particularly if living a green lifestyle is important to you. The use of natural products limits exposure to toxins and harsh chemicals which can be damaging to the hair.

Does larger expense equal better results? Some would say no and that it is not necessary to use all natural ingredients because the associated costs is too high and not worth the expense when you can achieve the same results with non natural or organic products. It is a fact that synthetic chemicals are cheaper than high-quality, natural products, however, the fillers used in many of these products have potential health ramifications.

Sharing hairstories and life experiences from a curl’s perspective. Find Tammy at her blog, Curlychics, on Twitter, and Facebook.

Where do you fall on these issues?
What steps will we need to take to bridge the gap in our community?