The Miseducation of Natural Hair
Finding the confidence to embrace short curly hair can be a challenge for many of us.
In my own personal experience, I remember saying things like,
“When my hair grows more I’ll start wearing it natural.”
However, each time I removed my weave or braided extensions to “let my hair breathe,” I went to a stylist to have it straightened.
Every time I sat at the salon washbowl, my stylist would ask me, “why won’t you wear your hair curly?”
To which I always came up with the excuse of my hair being too much work or being unmanageable.
But the truth is, I just didn’t like how it looked when it dried and I had no idea what to do with it…
Your hair isn’t the only thing that transitions
Getting comfortable with your new natural hair takes time.
I thought it was too short and don’t let me get started on shrinkage.
It was also too puffy and dry.
This lack of confidence in my hair led to years of misguided choices and insecurity.
And looking back, I understand that a lot of those feelings arose due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of MY hair.
Do these feelings sound familiar to anyone?
If it does, then please feel confident in knowing that you are not alone.
And I wrote this to help shed some light on some of your natural hair concerns.
Too much Shrinkage
I want to start by informing you that shrinkage is actually a great thing!
Depending on your hair texture and/or your porosity level, your hair can shrink up to 90% once dry.
And although your hair may appear to have lost length due to shrinkage, keep in mind that you have now gained something.
Hydration & Moisture!
For curly hair, this is a key indicator that your curls and coils are healthy and strong.
“Natural hair that is properly hydrated and moisturized will shrink,” says Gabrielle Bone of Naturally Curly.
Gabrielle goes on to say that, “Shrinkage is also a sign of your hair’s elasticity and its resistance to breakage.”
Think about it this way, if you did hair did not lose length in order to curl, it would be straight, right?
We need shrinkage and though it may be frustrating it’s still necessary.
PRODUCTS ALONE CANNOT MOISTURIZE YOUR HAIR!
I don’t mean to yell, I just want to ensure that this is seen :)
The only thing that can moisturize your hair is WATER!
Therefore, you must add water to your hair first before adding any creams, oils, moisturizers etc.
You should NEVER style your hair without water!
This is important to understand because if your aim is to moisturize your hair using only a product, you are creating build-up.
And even though your hair may feel "soft and smooth,” you are suffocating the strand and blocking it from water absorption which will result in a flaky dry scalp, dry brittle hair and ultimately breakage.
To put it in perspective, think about it like this, when your throat is dry and you’re thirsty, you drink water.
Your hair is no different.
When it’s dry, it is thirsty, so listen to your hair and give it water!
When I expressed to my stylist that my hair was too much work and that it was unmanageable, what I didn’t know was part of the problem was damage.
No amount of water, gel, oils or creams would allow my hair to hold a Wash + Go style with elongated curls once it fully dried.
I honestly, assumed that my frizzy, undefined, ‘stuck to my head’ hair results, was my hair’s texture and there was nothing I could do about it.
It took some time for me to understand but I found that this was simply not true.
The truth is my hair was damaged.
But what is hair damage exactly?
“Hair damage is a disruption to any of the 3 hair layers, the cuticle, medulla, and cortex. Damaged hair can mean changes to your hair texture, porosity, density, length, and can negatively affect your hairstyles.”
- Kim Lewis CurlMix CEO & Co-Founder
Don’t believe the hype out there, products cannot reverse damage.
The truth is you will have to cut off the damaged hair to give your natural curls a chance to thrive.
Natural hair can be a delightful experience but when you aren’t able to understand your hair’s health and how it operates you will continue to experience challenges.
If you find understanding your natural hair on your own is too big of a challenge for you, speak with a licensed stylist who specializes in curly hair.
Don’t struggle alone and most importantly don’t give up on your hair, it’s uniquely yours and it is beautiful!
You’ve got this!
Leave a comment and let us know what some of your challenges are?
Is your hair curly when it is wet but frizzy when dry?
What were some misconceptions you had about your hair in the past?
Share it with us in the comments below!