Coming from someone who has been embraced naturally kinky hair for several years, managing natural hair is often a hassle. Of course, many in the natural hair community would love new naturals to believe that going natural is some enlightening, magical journey filled with perfect curls and well-defined twist-outs. It’s not. For many of us, going natural only reminds us why our mothers relaxed, pressed and braided our hair when we were children. I’m at a point in my natural hair journey where I’m completely over it, but unsure what to do next. Whether you’re an old natural experiencing the “seven-year itch,” or a new natural looking for some ideas to get through that awkward phase, you do have options.
Rock a TWA. Growing long hair isn’t every natural’s main focus. Wearing your hair short allows you to get comfortable with your hair’s texture. Short hair also tends to be less prone to tangles and requires less products and maintenance. Even celebrities like Solange Knowles and Viola Davis have recently embraced the beauty of short natural hair.
Braid it up. Braids have long been a go-to style for women who desire a low-maintenance hairstyle. Whether cornrows or single braids, each protective style gives you a break from styling your natural hair. Cornrows offer a wide variety of design options, while single braids allow you to style your hair differently as often as you want. If your hair is shorter than two inches, consider using human or synthetic braiding hair to create your braids.
Get Twisted. Two-strand twists are commonly worn by naturals. Like single braids, twists are extremely versatile and easy to create on hair of all lengths. They can be worn as a hairstyle or taken out to create a twist-out.
Weaves and Wigs. Naturals are increasingly turning to weaves and wigs for protective styling. Because both allow you to experiment with different colors, lengths, styles and textures of hair, they’re a great option for women who get bored easily with their natural hair. Both weaves and wigs are available in synthetic and human-hair styles. Synthetic hair is generally cheaper than human-hair, but the versatility of human-hair is unmatched, as it can be washed, styled, dyed and cut just like your own hair.
Wrap it up. Gone are the days of relying on a baseball cap, bandana or do-rag to get you through a bad hair day. Stylish hats and print scarves offer naturals a variety of ways to cope with uncooperative locks. Use a large scarf to create a turban-style head covering (think June Ambrose), or a skinny scarf to create a headband for puffs and twist-outs.
Many naturals also turn to blow-dryers and flatirons to achieve more manageable hair. The topic of straightening natural hair is a hotly debated one that comes down to preference. Many naturals fear that applying heat to natural hair can cause breakage and damage. Trust me, this fear is justified. Applying heat to natural hair regularly or without a high-quality heat protectant can also damage your natural hair pattern, as was my experience. If you think managing natural hair is tough, try managing natural hair once it’s been damaged. Because some portions of your hair may revert more than others, the different textures may remind you of the transitioning stage, where part of your hair is natural and part is relaxed.
Being natural is wonderful, but it’s not for everyone. Keep in mind that your natural hair journey is just that — your journey. Spend time learning how to care for your hair texture and don’t be afraid to try different things that your hair may like. Finally, don’t make the mistake of comparing your hair growth or journey to another woman’s, as hair growth is influenced by many things.