How to Go Natural: The 7 Pillars of Relaxer-Free Hair Care
How to Go Natural: When Your Last Relaxer Was Your LAST Relaxer
So you’ve decided you might want to try this whole going natural thing, eh? Well good for you! It may seem a little daunting but the truth is that it’s not that complicated and it doesn’t have to be an uncomfortable process. You can actually have a lot of fun and feel more confident about yourself in general as you learn more about hair care and styling for natural hair. The first step to going natural is to make sure that your last relaxer was your LAST relaxer. The same goes for texturizers because they also make a permanent chemical change to the hair in the same way that relaxers do.
How to Go Natural: The Basics of Caring for Black Hair Without a Relaxer
Going natural is only complicated if you want it to be but it really doesn’t have to be. There are three basic things you’ll need to do to maintain a healthy head of natural hair, retain length and make styling easy (and turn out cute):
1. Give hair enough moisture and protein: When your hair feels dry, use water or a water-based moisturizer and seal in the moisture with a natural oil or a nut butter (such as shea butter). Also, don’t strip your hair of its protective oils with harsh cleansers. Learn about the 6 types of natural hair cleansers and also how often you can wash natural hair here. When your hair feels limp/weak, it needs protein.
If your hair is currently breaking, damaged or you’ve had trouble growing hair past a certain point then you’ve probably not been maintaining enough moisture, protein or both. Do weekly deep conditioning treatments with a moisture- or protein-rich mixture.
2. Protect hair from heat damage. If you plan to maintain relaxed and natural hair for any length of time, you should seriously consider eliminating direct heat from your styling regimen or drastically cutting back on it. Direct heat contributes to dryness and breakage which are harder to combat while you’re transitioning. The point where your natural hair meets your relaxed hair (the line of demarcation) is fragile and susceptible to breakage. Not to mention, you’ll be learning to detangle and style hair that’s much thicker than what you’re probably used to. It behooves you to give your hair a break from direct heat styling, at least in the first months of your transition. This step alone combined with weekly deep conditioning will drastically change the condition and appearance of your hair. Read these articles to learn how to straighten new growth without heat and blend your natural/relaxed textures:
3. Protect hair from physical damage caused by styling, maintenance and clothing/bedding. It’s an absolute MUST that you learn to wash, detangle and style natural hair gently so you don’t break it. The best way to do this is by detangling in sections, using your fingers to detangle before using a wide-tooth comb, starting at the bottom and working your way up to detangle, and detangling while hair is soaked with conditioner. If you’re seeing clumps of hair you’ll need to check to see if it’s shed hair (which is normal) or broken hair (caused by you- not normal).
At some point, you ‘ll need to decide whether you want to transition slowly and go natural without cutting your hair, cut off your relaxed hair all at once (do the “big chop”) or do a series of little chops over time. You don’t have to decide right away and there’s no right way to do it. It just depends on you and what you want/like.
How to Go Natural: Tools & Products You Need
You need products with natural ingredients and you need tools that won’t damage your hair. This article covers all you need to know about what types of products you need: Product Must-Haves for Transitioning and Natural Hair. In the beginning, the one essential tool you need is a wide-tooth shower comb for detangling. You should also stop using a brush through your transitioning hair if you can at all help it (remember the demarcation line!). Also, either sleep on a satin pillowcase or buy a satin sleeping bonnet to keep hair from drying out/breaking while you toss/turn on your cotton sheets.
How to Go Natural-What Now?
I did all seven of the things I listed in the picture above for one year straight. In that year I grew out 6 inches of healthy, shiny hair that I’m thoroughly pleased with. But I didn’t do it by following some fancy trick or top-secret information; I just followed the basics of Black hair care and how to go natural-you can, too.
Don’t be afraid. Be informed. You may have heard people gripe about going natural- and it’s true that all of us have had some not-so-fun days on the journy-but I only had those days when I didn’t ask for help. In every instance that I was frustrated or unhappy with something, I later figured out that I didn’t need to go through all the trouble I did. I just hadn’t found the information I needed yet. But I can promise you that if you follow the basic rules of healthy Black hair care-especially moisture/protein balance, minimal heat use/damage and gentle styling- your hair will be as HEALTHY AND BEAUTIFUL as you’ve ever seen it. That, you won’t regret.