I remember back in the early 2000s when I was in the process of going natural (wayyyy before it was a major industry or "hair cult" as my husband likes to call it). I was in high school and had no one else around me who was natural or even going natural to get advice or encouragement from. There was no Youtube to turn to for tutorials or inspiration, no Instagram, Pinterest, or any hair products that really catered to non-relaxed hair.
My Mom was my biggest supporter, though she wasn't natural, and if it weren't for her, I would have returned to a relaxer. Most of the people around me thought I was crazy for walking around with this "nappy head". I would often get discouraged and want to throw in the towel, but I decided to stay the course. And, I'm so glad I did!
So, for any of you naturalistas or those desiring or contemplating going natural, I wanted to offer some encouragement to you to help you along this natural journey that can be oh so difficult.
Here are several tips to encourage you...
1.) Love the hair God gave you!
-Listen, this is YOUR hair. Someone else's hair is their hair. Accept every kink, curl, nap, or wave that makes up your tresses. It wasn't until I stopped coveting other naturals' hair texture that I realized the beauty of my own hair. Don't get so caught up in what you see on Youtube, Instagram, or even in your everyday life. Your hair is gorgeous too!
2.) Your natural hair journey will get better.
-It may not seem like it, but this natural "thing" will get better. Just stay the course! I can't tell you how many times I wanted to just get a perm and be done with it. As I continued to nurture my hair and got to know what worked and didn't work for my texture, dealing with it didn't seem so bad. Just relax and have fun with your hair. Natural hair is supposed to be freeing and a way to appreciate your natural beauty. Don't let this journey weigh you down.
3.) Develop a regimen that works for you.
-I'm sure you, like me, have seen Youtube videos of hair regimens and wash day routines that are extensive. I mean wash days that take nearly 24 hrs and hair regimens that require a lot of different techniques, tools, products, and time. And for those women who put in all that work, I commend them. But, for someone like me, I ain't got the energy or time. Ummkay!? So, with that being said, develop a regimen and wash day routine that works for you! If you don't have a whole lot of time, develop a regimen that works with the amount of time you have. Just make sure that you include the main elements of a healthy hair regimen like washing, deep conditioning, and regular moisturizing.
4.) Trial and error is key.
-When it comes to finding the right products for your hair and styles that work for you, trial and error is key. Just as in life, in the natural hair game, sometimes you win some, sometimes you lose some. Not every hair product or hairstyle will work for you or turn out as planned. I've bought products that I've seen in the store or heard someone else suggest that just didn't work well for me. I've also done twist outs, braid outs, flat twists, roller sets, wash and go's, etc. etc. that turned out frizzy or extra shrunken or just plain ole not cute. So, I've gone back to the drawing board and made adjustments to either the process I used to do the style or to the products I chose. Just don't be afraid to try and then try again. Aaliyah said it best, "if at first you don't succeed, dust yourself off and try again." That's not just a song, that's natural hair wisdom, honey!
5.) Discover your go-to style.
-Every natural needs a go-to style; that style that never or hardly ever fails you. Mine is a puff. If I have nothing else to do with my hair or no other time to do much to my hair, I am rocking a puff. It NEVER fails me! It's easy and it's fail-proof. Find that style that's your easy go-to. It can be a puff or some other kind of up-do, twist out, wash and go, fro, whatever you like that makes you feel comfortable and confident as well as that's easy for you to accomplish. You'll especially need this style when your "trial and error style" ends up as an error.
6.) Don't be afraid to cut it.
-A lot of us would love to have long, flowing healthy hair. Well, that ain't a lot of our realities and may never be. If you know you don't have time or patience for a head full of hair, cut it! If you are finding yourself in a hair rut, you may need to cut it or if you have really damaged hair, girlfriend, do yourself a favor and cut it! Also, if your hair texture is really coarse and unruly, sometimes the best thing to do is to find a shorter, cute style that would look great on you and make your hair easier to manage. A haircut can change your life if you let it! It can also increase your confidence if it turns out well.
7.) Be confident, consistent, and patient.
-To rock natural hair, you have to be confident, especially during the difficult transition phase and the beginner teeny weeny afro (TWA) phase. Own whatever your texture is and whatever length of hair you possess. Also, consistency will go a long way in the natural hair game. The more you work with your hair, the more you train it on how to "behave" the way you want it to. For instance, I have been doing twist outs so much that my hair comes out well almost every single time. It's as if after washing my hair, my strands say to each other "okay ladies now let's get in formation" cause it knows that most of the time, a twist out is about to happen. Lastly, be patient with your hair. It takes time to get into a groove with this hair thing and to figure it out. Don't be discouraged, rather, be patient.
I really hope this helps one of you and also lets you know that you're not in the hair struggle alone. Feel free to leave your comments or questions, I'd love to hear from you and will be happy to respond.
Love, peace, and sole!