Natural Hair: A Love Story
Learning to love and care for your hair as a Black woman.
By Blessing Emole
Most Black girls growing up have the same story. If you don’t, you’re lucky you learned acceptance at a young age. How to accept your hair, your skin color, and your history. Black hair is something many people don’t understand. Words like nappy, curly, coily, and 4c are often used, but no know knows how to actually explain them or the history behind Black hair.
Hair is something I’ve struggled with for a long time. I cried about it for years. Often times I’ve held hatred towards my hair which stemmed from a deep place. People told me: “Oh, your hair is really…interesting,” “How do you deal with that,” “I’m happy I don’t have your hair,” “You look better with your hair straight.” These phrases were used for me to conform, change what’s natural about me. It was used to get me to fit Eurocentric beauty standards.
I’d ask my mum why my hair wasn’t straight like other girls in class. I’d force her to get my hair permanently straightened –or relaxed, at young age.
I knew that it wasn’t healthy, but in my mind it was the easiest option. I wish I realized sooner that I was making a mistake. You can hide your hair, but you can’t hide your identity. Especially when it’s something that showcases where you’re from and holds such richness.
Erasing and writing over the things that you hear when you’re a kid is really hard. You were forced to straighten your hair because it was neater and more organized. Your curly hair, the way it lies, the way it falls, the way it flows out of your head, is natural, neat, and organized because it’s you, and it should be loved.
My hair journey has not been easy. I was forced to learn that it’s mine and there is nothing I can do to change that and I shouldn’t want to.
Trying to be accepted in a world where you are so different is hard. But most times, you end up hurting yourself more than you think you are.
Black beauty is not something that you are taught to accept. Your parents can’t teach you, and you don’t learn it in school. It is something you have to consciously look out for. You don’t need to conform or adapt to the standards of beauty that are put in front of you. Your hair is part of your beauty, the longer it takes you to accept that, the longer it takes you to love yourself.
Even today, I have days where I don’t want to deal with my natural hair, and I don’t like the way it looks. But I have to reflect and think, do I not want to deal with my natural hair because I don’t have time, or because I don’t feel comfortable, confident or good about myself with it.
Being able to self-reflect and understand where that hate is coming from is important. Many Black women have a feeling of hate towards their natural hair. An easier way of helping you accept your hair and yourself for who you are is having people to look up to. Being able to look up to other women who are doing amazing things with their hair and say I want to be able to do that. These people can show you that natural hair is beautiful, something to look up to, and something to love.
In saying that, having natural hair is hard, but it’s definitely worth it. And there are ways to make it easier to manage and make the experience enjoyable. Natural hair has always been said to be expensive, but sometimes you have to spend money on the things you love.
The most important thing that your hair needs is water. A spray gun is going to be go-to. A quick spritz all around before you go outside or before you sleep. Don’t forget, always wet your hair before you start combing. It reduces shedding and is the best de-tangler; water makes your hair more elastic and easier to get through.
All I can say is curly hair has to be extremely moisturized for it to stay healthy and grow. Moisturizer can come in different forms: cream, gel, or mousse. You have to find what works best for your hair texture and curl pattern. Moisturizing your hair should become a part of your routine, at least a couple of times per week. Trust me, your hair will thank you.
A mixture of olive oil, jojoba oil, argan oil, and coconut oil are a great way to seal your hair, especially the ends which often get dried out. This concoction will be your saving grace and you will find yourself always reaching for it.
We all love laid back edges, but sometimes over gelling your hair can lead to breakage. To stop that, use a blend of castor oil and almond oil to stimulate your scalp. It will build strong follicles and allow you to still have something to sleek down.
Shampoo and Conditioner
There are many different varieties of products out there, and sometimes that can lead to confusion. But always make sure to find shampoos and conditioners that are sulfate free. They can be drying and cause frizzy hair. Also, leave in conditioner saves lives…think about investing.
We all dread cutting our natural hair especially when we had to wait years for it to grow. But trimming split ends enables your hair to grow better and even faster.
This is the most important step for maintaining natural hair. Remember to twist/braid your hair before going to bed. Use a satin pillowcase and bonnet to stop breakage and frizz. Always use a wide-tooth comb to limit hair loss. And in the cold, consider using protective styles like braids, faux locks, wigs, and headscarves. Avoid unnecessary heat to keep your hair healthy, so think about air drying your hair the next time you do a wash-n-go.
All-in-all, don’t compare your natural hair to others because you are unique. Just focus on yourself and don’t forget to experiment and have fun with your hair.