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Curly Nikki

What’s A Natural To Do?

By January 27th, 202124 Comments

What’s A Natural To Do?

 Tammy Goodson of CurlyChics

So you’ve made the leap over to naturalism and what a leap it was! After holding your tresses captive by relaxers most of your life, you had finally had enough, it was over. It was bitter sweet initially because after all, there was a history there that you couldn’t help but respect. A bond was formed as you sat in that salon chair every 4-6 weeks, or whenever your edges sternly reminded you that it was time. As you watched your stylist get out that bowl of white stuff and her plastic gloves, you envisioned super straight edges and hair you could easily run your fingers through. Yeah it may burn for a minute but it was a necessary evil. Beauty knows no pain, right? Who can blame you for missing it every now and then, especially on those rough days. We all have those days where we want to take what is seemingly the easier route and that which is familiar. But you’re here now, finally relaxer free! You’ve transitioned your way to the top, endured the struggle of maintaining two textures and trying to look good while doing so. All the while telling yourself and your coif, “if we can just make it through, it will all be worth it”. Nothing ventured nothing gained right? Only now, it seems like it was all for nothing. Three years later and what a disappointment! Your hair won’t grow, in fact, it appears to be breaking, these straight pieces keep popping up all random and what not, even though you say you trim a few inches every other month! Not to mention, it always looks like ish! What happened to the rainbow at the end of the tunnel? Wasn’t it supposed to look like the beautiful girls in the You Tube videos? Who wants to walk around looking busted. Might as well go back to the relaxer! What’s a natural to do? Sound familiar?

Before you flip out and decide to undo three years worth of progress and efforts, let’s be rational here.

1. First things first – assess your situation
Identify the source of your panic by doing some brainstorming. What are the issues surrounding your panic?

  • My hair won’t grow
    This is a chief complaint amongst naturals who are experiencing hair challenges. With the exception of medical issues or permanent damage, it is doubtful that your hair is simply not growing. Hair grows approximately ½ inch per month. What your issue may be is that you are not retaining the length, particularly if you trim a few inches every other month. You are in turn cutting the hair growth progress you’ve made. 
  • It appears to be breaking
    If you are experiencing breakage, this is also related to length retention. What products are you using? Does your shampoo contain sulphates which strip hair of moisture thus leading to breakage? Are you providing your hair with the added moisture needed? Do you seal your ends to lock in that moisture? Do you protect your hair at night while sleeping? Perhaps a protein treatment is in order or maybe you are experiencing protein overload. How you style your hair can also cause breakage. Styles that require the hair be pulled tightly can cause breakage. 
  • These straight pieces keep popping up
    If you are noticing random straight pieces throughout your hair, it could be a result of heat damage. How often do you expose your hair to heat? Is heat a consistent part of your regimen? This could possibly lead to loss of curl pattern. 
  • It always looks like ish
    How your hair appears is a direct reflection of the health of your hair. Once the health issue is addressed, so will the appearance. Deep conditioning and using oils such as coconut which helps seal the cuticle and is packed with protein is a great start towards restoring your hair back to health. 

2. Don’t make an emotional decision – this is a decision that requires a certain degree of logic and emotions can hinder the process.

 3. Document your hair experiences (when you notice certain things are occurring, how often you are using heat, which products render certain results, etc.) Having a written record will assist with identifying patterns.

 4. Acknowledge that there is no easy fix. Think of it as a trip to your physician’s office when you aren’t feeling well. You give him or her the rundown of things that are occurring, her or she will ask a few questions based on what you’ve explained and then start to do a process of elimination. i.e., let’s try this solution, check back in a few weeks and see what we are left with. If that doesn’t work, we’ll move on to solutions B & C and if necessary D & E until a resolution is reached.

 5. Consider cutting it all off and starting over on a fresh head of hair. This is a last resort for some but no big deal to others. Some naturals big chop every few years. You will still need to follow a consistent hair care regimen, but this gives you the opportunity to start with a clean slate.
If after all of this you still decide natural is not for you, at least you can say you put in 110% to live the lifestyle.

Have you gone the distance only to figure out, it’s not all what you thought it would be? 

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

24 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    I have been natural for 2 1/2 yrs and I totally agree with this article. I liked my hair better when it was shorter (TWA) and when I was transitioning. The styles I tried then looked great but now on natural hair the styles look like garbage. I was told to keep trying…so I did. I have tried different products and different methods and I can't seem to master anything except a puff. I miss the days when my hair moved when I moved. I eat as healthy as possible, take vitamins, use no heat, and trim on a regular basis. I have a nice length but can't style it. I did better when I had a relaxer.

    Kesha

  • Davea says:

    I have been experiencing some breakage myself and it is so frustrating. I have come to the conclusion that it is a combination of environmental wear and tear, hard water and two times I got my hair blow dried by a person who knew nothing about not damaging her clients hair. I have to take responsibility cuz I should have been stricter because now I'm left with split ends and breakage. I have decided to not straighten my hair for a long long long time. It just isn't worth it. I have also been moisturizing more. I use koils by nature and oyin handmade for my hair and they both make it so soft and nice. I also wash and deep condition weekly. I am over due for a protein treatment, does anyone have any recommendations? I'm also looking for a water based moisturizer. Thanks!!

  • MsJisola says:

    I am currently experiencing breakage, split ends and plenty of single strand knots. To combat the issue, I am finger detangling and while I do that, I cut off the ssk and if can see them, split ends. I have also returned to my routine of washing my detangled hair in twists in sections to cut down further detangling. I pray these minor tweaks will get my hair back on track.

  • Elaine D. says:

    Soooo there right now. My hair has been stuck for a while now. I am gentle and yet when styling I am definitely seeing more than just the hairs with a bulb when detangling or styling. I am being VERY gentle too…just don't get it. No way am I BC'ing though…really didn't do anything that could have caused damage. Only blow dried ONCE all year…and once last year. Keeping pressing is the name of the game I guess…

  • Jess says:

    This was a great article but looking at my journey ( almost a yr since I big chopped) I can honestly say I haven't had those moments yet. We will see what yr 2 brings.

  • DecemberPumpkin says:

    great information so true

  • LuvNthisJourney says:

    Good info. Helped me to be aware of potential problems b4 I BC

  • gblogger says:

    I think that the process of growing out my hair has caused me to deeply process and think through hair issues that every girl deals with growing up. It has been quite a learning experience.

  • Anonymous says:

    WELL LADIES, I'M AN OLDER(53YEAH,I SAID IT!) WOMAN AND IT WASN'T EASY NOT TO GO BACK. BUT I HAVE A SOLUTION MOST DON'T HAVE. MY DAUGHTER HAS BEEN NATURAL FOR SEVERAL YEARS. SO I HELPED HER WITH HER JOURNEY WITH BOTH EPIC FAILURES AS WELL AS SUCCESSES.THEN ONE DAY I MADE UP MY MIND. I'M NOW SULFATE FREE,ORGANIC,NO HEAT ,CAN MIX UP MY OWN PRODUCT WOMAN & GETTING THE HANG OF STYLING MY NAURAL HAIR. I HAD FORGOTTEN HOW PRETTY MY CURLS WERE.

  • Jax says:

    @hyspin:

    I've never used Avocado oil but regularly use EVOO for pre-pooing (best oil for this purpose in my personal experience). I have not found coconut oil to seal my hair effectively but it does help to combat frizz and smooth my hair. The best coconut oil that I have used so far is Darbur Vatika blend (with Ayurvedic herbs).

    For softening your ends, I unreservedly recommend camellia oil – because my ends have not felt jagged or rough since I started using it.

  • Anonymous says:

    LBell…this is Anon 1:31pm, my hair is growing, you must of misread my post.
    I stated I will never BC (8 mths post relaxer) 'cause I dont want to lose my length just to be 100% natural. I dont want a TWA I cant imagine cutting all my hair off and start over…unless its for medical purposes it-aint-gonnna happen! Those who do good 4 them, its not 4 me!

  • LBell says:

    To Anon 1:31 pm:

    I have BC'd five times in my natural life (only two of those times were due to damage) and EVERY SINGLE TIME my hair has grown back. And I have 4b hair that grows (as best I can figure) at just below the 1/2"-per-month average. In almost every case, the less I did to my hair, the faster I saw length and the more length I accumulated. So I learned that for length retention my hair does best with as little manipulation as I can get away with.

    Unless a DOCTOR (not a stylist, not your mama, not your b***hy co-worker) says your hair's not growing, assume it's growing. The challenge is ALWAYS about how much of that hair you can keep on your head and that's the only thing you have any real control over. Happily there's a LOT of information out here to help.

  • MrsDjRass says:

    *SIGH* This article comes down to just knowing your hair and the author is so right.

    Everyone says treat your hair like it's natural at the start of your transition. Unfortunately, I ignored the idea that their natural is not my natural. Twist/braid outs did nothing to combat the major shrinkage of my new growth. Add that with sweating from exercising, and I had locks every wash day. My hair loves to wrap itself around itself.

    I started incorporating curlformers, not for the style, but to stretch those roots. Since then, *fingers crossed* things have been better. I'm at 11-months post relaxer and who knows how my hair will change and react as this "journey" continues.

  • Katrina A says:

    I'm still very new to the natural game and so far I'm enjoying learning my hair and watching it grow.

  • Anonymous says:

    I'm too scared to go back to relaxers.

    My hair is so tight on my head, with very kinky 4c coils.

    I'm gonna leave it as it is though, because it's how it grows out of my head.

  • KJ says:

    YES!!! I stopped relaxing my hair January 2010 when I became pregnant. I transitioned for about a year and a half. Then the moment of truth, all of my "natural" hair was heat damaged. So that just started the process all over again. I finally chopped out the last of the heat damage in February 2012. If I knew then what I know now…….that's all I can say. But this has been such an awesome journey. I am loving every bit of it (well at least on the good hair days, definitely not the bad).

  • Anonymous says:

    I definately had the wrong Idea about going natural! lol I thought that it was going to solve ALL of my hair problems. For some reason I thought that my hair would be so STRONG that I could do anything to it! )i.e color,heat,tight pony's, etc.) It was a Rude awakening when I found out how much you have to put into it to maintain healthy hair.

    Don't get me wrong…it was still the BEST decision that I could have ever made for my hair. Now that I FINALLY have a good regimen down, the sky is the limit!:) And the oil that I'm most INLOVE WITH is Emu oil. This stuff is the BUSINESS!!!

  • hyspin says:

    @ Jax

    I have being doing some oil research and recently stumbled on the asian oil (aka, geisha and sumo hair oil) Camellia if you were to put up pound for pound against EVOO, Avocado oil and coconut oil. What would you say is its strengths and weakness.

  • Jax says:

    For two or three months, I have been struggling with what seems to be an accelerated level of breaking/shedding/non retention of length. This particular natural journey is approaching three years old, including transition time. I have done much experimenting with products and routines, and it seems that my hair used to look better earlier in the journey. I have diagnosed that my ends are exposed too much (not enough protective styling), I am too liberal with bristle brushes (in search of smooth, sleek edges for my buns and afro puffs)get too many single strand knots, and am forced to do too much trimming to get rid of SSKs and split ends (my hair is fine but dense 4A/B with a patch of 3C in the back). I say all this to say,that I've been addressing the perceived causative issues one by one, but stumvbled onto an oil for sealing which is now on par with my beloved Black Castor Oil….Camellia oil!! I ordered some because I've heared that it does an excellent job of keeping ends smooth which has recently become my holy grail. Camellia oil ROCKS….and then some. I've been using it religiously for two weeks now, and the shedding is almost non-existent; my ends are smooth, soft, hair is shiny. I could cry for joy…..

    Camellia oil has passed my tests with flying colours. To restore my hair to the appearance that I desire and expect, I am observing some basic hair care common sense:

    1. Curtail use of bristle brushes
    2. Henna at least once a month
    3. Deep condition once per week
    4. Protective Style for at least half of the week
    5. Seal with Camellia oil and remoisturize ends with camellia oil daily.
    6. Apply castor oil to roots to keep new growth soft

    I had started to wonder whether to cut my hair way back and apply the best information that is now at my disposal to my hair routine going forward…(my hair is collar bone length) but for now, I've decided to just do the things listed above and try to stay hydrated….hope I can avoid a big hair cut. 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    I have loved my 10 year journey. I think with anything you have your ups and downs. You just have to go with it and not give up. If need be try a different product, technique or style.
    Sugarberri

  • Anonymous says:

    I think another issue folks dont change mentally for natural hair.
    I stopped using all heat, no blow dryer or flat iron since I was 3 months post. My hair is growing like crazy.
    You have to start treating your hair like its natural as soon as your new growth start growing in…its a must!

  • Anonymous says:

    This article is one of the main reasons why I will NEVER BIG CHOP, slow or no growth!! I dont want to lose my length just to be natural, no way!

  • Anonymous says:

    I've gone the distance and found that I needed to do certain things to achieve the healthy hair I want to have. It has taken a minute to figure out what works for me and I hope this may help others.

    Some things that have seriously helpd me:
    1.Co-washing once a week and washing once a week. Hair specialists (trichologists) recommend washing once a week to maintain a clean hair and scalp. I work out (hard cardio 6 times a week) and think it important to get the salt from sweat out of my hair. On a few instances, I tried to go for a couple weeks without washing and my ends go so dry- even with layering on sealing product and moisturizing spritzes. I guess I could have simply decreased (or stopped) my workouts, but I won't sacrifice my health for my hair.

    2.Moisturizing hair on a regular basis is crucial. DC once a week (especially if hair is dry and/or you live in a dry climate). Using a leave-in conditioner after each washing/cowashing.

    3. Seal ends after each washing/co-washing.

    4. I trim 1/4 in. every 3 months. Since the amount is so small, I am able to see growth retention. 1/4 in every 3 months is minimal loss as compared to the 1.5 in. total growth attained over that period of time. Doing this has allowed me to prevent splits.

    5. I use no heat or tools (curlers curlformers, flexirods,etc). I'm too lazy and these things just add to manipulation of the ends which can conrtibute to breakage and splits. If the ends are trimmed appropriately, my hair will curl up on its own when twisted.

    6. Moisturizing spritz each morning.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have found that my hair is breaking a little more now that I've been natural for a couple of years. The culprit? Simple laziness. I have to remind myself constantly that natural hair is delicate and I can't just tug through it with a comb from the top down. Also I have to quit using the hairdryer. When I let my hair air dry, it grew like crazy. The heat, even modest heat, is murdering my ends! And most importantly, I have to STOP using sulfate shampoos every few days and go back to the weekly co-washes that kept my hair soft and less likely to tangle and break. Sometimes just revisiting the old routine works wonders and puts me back on the right track.

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