I’ve posted a few times with tips for natural hair, so I thought I’d go a step further and give you guys the Glitter Brains Guide To Going Natural. Think of this as a crash course in natural hair care. I realize that I still have much more to learn when it comes to natural hair care, but I’ve picked up some valuable tips over the last couple of years that I want to share with you guys. I hope this will be helpful to those of you who may be interested in going natural and have no idea where or how to start your transition. These are the basics, but most of all please remember that this is just a guide! What may work wonders for my hair may not yield the results you’re looking for. I encourage you to experiment until you find the right care routine for your hair.
OK, so this is an important one because I think that half of any battle is being able to recognize that you have a problem in the first place. I had known about the natural hair movement long before I tried it out for myself because I hadn’t taken it seriously or even thought of my hair as damaged. In my case, I didn’t realize how bad my hair had gotten until the day I let my hair air dry out of the shower and it remained bone straight.
When you’re used to damaging your hair constantly — be it through using heat, relaxers or hair dyes — you begin to take it for granted that your hair is seriously stressed out. You might stop noticing red alarms like split ends that go for days and dry, dull hair that doesn’t curl on its own anymore. Eek! Other symptoms of heat damage are a significant amount of breakage and rough, easily tangled hair. It wasn’t until I saw how heat damaged my hair had become that I felt the need to fully commit to finding a natural hair care routine that worked for me. (For more on my personal decision to go natural, read this.)
Prior to beginning my transition to natural hair, I had been used to a really deplorable hair routine. I would go weeks without even getting my hair wet and on top of that, I would use heat several times a day. If you are anything like I was, then it’s going to be a long, hard road to a stable routine. Going natural may be a split decision for some people (like it was for me), but it does require planning at some point. If you want to see results and catch up to your hair crush, then you need to dedicate yourself and get to it by doing your research and making changes to your morning and nighttime routines. Instead of letting dirt and oil and products build up in your hair for weeks at a time, you’re going to need to show a little love to your hair at least once a day.
If that’s a complete turnaround from what you’re used to, motivation will be needed in abundance on those late nights when you put off starting your hair just a little too much and now somehow it’s midnight and it takes you at least an hour to twist your hair and you absolutely need to do it tonight…Those nights. Take pictures of your progress along the way, rejoice in new growth and healthier locks, tape pictures of your hair crushes in your locker or on your laptop or whatever. Just don’t lose hope!
If you take absolutely nothing else away from this guide, then let it be the importance of moisturizing and sealing your natural curls. Curly hair is naturally more dry — and therefore more fragile — than other types of hair. This means it needs extra love in the form of moisture. Leave-in conditioners, oils and hair butters are all ways to make sure that your natural hair is healthy and growing. If you’ve never paid much attention to, say, how often you deep condition — I promise you will be pleasantly surprised at how much softer your hair is.
Each person eventually develops their own regimen depending on personal preferences, but I think the basics are:
- Deep condition — I deep condition every 1-2 weeks
- Co-wash or clarify/shampoo and condition — I wash my hair with shampoo every 1-2 weeks
- Leave-in conditioner or products — I’m partial to the SheaMoisture Organic Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie. I use this right out of the shower, or to fix my hair in the morning if I’ve slept on it.
- Seal with an oil — I use coconut oil, but I want to try out jajoba oil.
It seems like a lot when it’s written out like that, but I promise it all becomes worth it when your detangling time is cut in half.
I hate to break it to you, but there is no substantial way to bounce back from heat damage other than to chop it all off and start over. You can try your hardest to remind your hair how to curl itself with styles like bantu knots, twists and braids, but it will never fully remember its former glory. Embrace protective styling as an opportunity to play with your natural hair while caring for it. There is an infinite amount of ways you can style your hair.
I have to admit that in this case, I need to follow my own advice more! I’m apt to just wash my hair and go most of the time, but lately I’ve tried to do more bantu knot outs and braid styles. My hair is still recovering from heat damage, and I have noticed that my hair is just so much softer and bouncier with the help of consistent protective styling. It’s not my natural curl pattern, but it’s something to work with.
The one thing about transitioning that I didn’t anticipate being hard was knowing how to love what I have. One of the biggest crimes you can commit while transitioning to natural hair is to compare yourself to others. Everyone has their own texture and is on their own scale of progress. It’s easy to see pictures on Instagram of women with long, beautiful locks that make your damaged hair look like limp noodles in comparison and get intimidated, but don’t let that stand in the way. Always be sure to look at the positives when dealing with your hair. Instead of being disappointed at how short your hair is, focus on how strong it and soft it has become.
Do your research! Immerse yourself into the world of natural hair. Get familiar with the terminology and find out what you think may be the best products for your hair. Figure out what your goals are. Do you want hair down to your butt cheeks? Do you want to see less breakage when you detangle? Do you want to regain curl? Once you know what you want to do, it will be much easier to figure out how to do it. Use google to search out the best blogs, youtube channels and forums to help you along the way. Trade tips with other naturals.
Here are a few places to start:
- Natural Notts | I Want To Go Natural — Where Do I Start?
- Treasured Locks | How To Transition To Natural Hair
- HairCrush | Transitioners: Q & A Part I/Part II
- As I Am Naturally | Glossary Of Natural Hair Care Terms
So those are the basics, that I can think of. I hope you found this post helpful and that video ^^^^ funny! In the future I’ll be posting articles on the specifics, like how I like to do a bantu knot-out or how I de-tangle. For any questions, don’t be afraid to stop by my ask box on Tumblr.