It’s been two months since I did the big chop and I’ve been learning a lot about my hair and natural hair in general. I did my research beforehand but there is nothing like hands on experience. Here are some things I’ve learned about natural hair that’s been helping me along the way on my journey.
1. Learn to Love Your Hair
While preparing for my big chop I would browse the web for hours looking at pictures of teeny weeny afros, huge fros and all kinds of natural hairstyles to give me ideas and motivation. I found so many cute styles and thought to myself that my hair might look like this. The keyword being might as I had no idea what my natural hair would look like as I hadn’t seen it since I was a child, but figured it would be somewhere in the 4 category. I told myself then that I would love MY HAIR no matter what the texture, curl pattern etc. It turns out that my hair is exactly how I thought it would be and I can achieve the styles that I drew inspiration from. Still, my hair will never look exactly like anyone else’s because everyone’s hair is different. This is the most important thing that I’ve learned.
2. Water is a Naturals Best Friend
When my hair was relaxed water was like kryptonite. I absolutely would not be caught out in the rain without an umbrella, you would not catch me getting my hair wet at the pool or beach and my hair had to be covered tightly when bathing… especially my “kitchen.” My how things have changed. Water is now my best friend. It brings my hair back to life when it’s dry and thirsty and allows it to absorb my products. Water based moisturizers work best for my hair. I need my hair to be soaking wet to style it the way I want. I don’t cover my hair when bathing as the steam boosts my moisture and gives my hair extra bounce, and when there’s a light rain I embrace it. No more running for my umbrella. Water is not only your best friend externally but internally as well. I find myself drinking a lot more water than I used to as when I don’t my hair, skin and nails pay the price.
3. Oil is not a Moisturizer
When I was relaxed you couldn’t tell me that I wasn’t working wonders for my hair spraying it with oil sheen and rubbing oil blends in my hair. As a natural I now know better. If I rub some oil on my dry hair it will sit on top and give me temporary shine but my hair will still remain dry and thirsty. Oil locks in moisture and does not moisturize the hair. Coconut Oil is an exception but I find that your hair still needs to be wet for it to work, and alone it does not provide enough moisture for me. Using the L.O.C. Method (leave in, oil, cream) on top of deep conditioning regularly, my hair has been thriving and hasn’t been this moisturized ever. If I need to apply an oil when my hair is not freshly washed I spray my hair with water first to moisturize/activate moisturizers already in my hair and then apply the oil on top.
4. Less Manipulation equals Healthier Hair
I knew this when I was relaxed but I’ve learned this is even more true as a natural. When I first cut my hair I was washing/co-washing my hair 2-3 times a week, applying lots of products daily and constantly doing my brush coils which can be rough on the hair. I’ve since learned that all of this is not necessary. I wash, deep condition, detangle and apply my products once a week and either do my finger or brush coils. Every day after I spritz my hair with water to refresh, fluff with my hands and gel my edges. I add more leave in moisturizer mid week. My style lasts, my scalp is not dry, itchy and irritated and I’m not over-manipulating my hair.
5. Be creative
If you follow me on Social Media then you know that after I did the big chop I got a tapered cut and had the back and sides shaved down. It’s since grown back in and although it’s still tapered my twa is reaching that awkward length where you feel you can only wear it one way which can be boring. I plan to get through this stage with accessories like headbands and I’ll try a few different parts. My hair is just about long enough for a twist out so I’ll have a few more styling options, but the point is to be creative so I won’t get bored. When I need a break I’ll do a protective style for a few weeks, I do love me some box braids!
Feel free to share your tips that you’ve learned on your natural hair journey in the comments!