Along with the liberation that so many African American women and mixed chicks gain from ditching the relaxers and rocking our kinks, we sometimes face major issues with our hair, society, and other ladies who have gone natural.
Let’s talk about it!
- Lack of moisture. Because natural African American hair likes to coil around itself, natural oils from our scalp don’t travel all the way down the shaft, resulting in dry hair. This means that naturals have to find products and regimens that work specifically for our individual heads! It’s so tough sometimes. The LOC method (liquid, oil, cream) may help one girl out but another girl’s hair may not like oils at all. It’s trial and error and sometimes errors result in brittle hair that snaps and breaks while we try to retain length. I personally need real help in this area. My hair won’t stay moisturized for anything!
- Heat tools. If you’ve been natural for a long time, you may miss those days of straight, silky hair that just blows in the wind – ugh – I’m having flashbacks. You may get tempted to pick up heat tools, after all, it’s better than a chemical right? Not really. It may be okay for some natural women but not for all. Some ladies spend years growing out beautiful curls, straighten their hair for a special occasion, wash it two weeks later, and it doesn’t revert. This is so painful because generally, heat damaged hair has to be grown out. Oh what a set-back. Thank God for heat-protection sprays and such. Even with use of the most meticulous straightening practices, some naturals are never the same even after one tiny little pass of the flat iron. One day, I’ll talk about my issues with heat and what I do when I want straight hair.
- Being a product junkie. Some of us get excited every time a new hair product for naturals makes its debut. We buy it, try it, love it, then leave it, and it rarely becomes a staple in our hair care arsenal. Personally,
being a product junkie isn’t in my budget but some ladies try a bunch of different things that claim to add softness and definition without checking the ingredients first. Sometimes, new hair cremes, butters, milks, puddings, and other varieties have additives that dry out natural hair over time or cause build-up at the scalp. Ladies, you may even have a skin allergy without knowing it! Then a month will go by and you’ll wonder what’s happening to your hair! What’s with the thinning, breaking, and shedding. Perhaps it’s a new product that’s behind your hair set-back.
Laziness. I’m guilty. Natural hair is work. We have to make sure that our hair stays moist, create protective styles, babysit our ends, and be on the look out for those tiny single-strand monsters. I don’t know one person who actually has time for this but we do it. Some nights, however, I just go to sleep without a satin scarf or pillow. I’ve gone days without moisturizing.
I have used my finger nails to tear at single-strand knots instead of going to get scissors and my hair pays for it. Being lazy about hair care is definitely another set-back once you notice those frayed, dead ends.
Then we have to deal with society…
Just recently, a 7 year old girl was pulled out of school by her parents because of
the prejudiced school policy that targeted her natural hair. The child was told that her dread locks were unacceptable for school and do not meet the dress code. Afros are also banned in this institution of ignorance as it is classified as a distracting, faddish hairstyle. Right, so now the hair that God Almighty created for us is unacceptable and faddish? Oh but it’s perfectly alright to throw some dangerous chemicals into our hair and burn our skin with irons in order to meet a societal standard.
Pardon my sarcasm but society had better get a grip and whomever is making these rules can take them elsewhere. We wear our hair according to how it grows and according to the practices that we feel are healthy. Society will just have to get used to seeing more twists, braids, fros, locks, and kinks because we aren’t subjecting ourselves to the ideology that there’s just one path to pretty.
Perhaps the most annoying natural hair issue, or hair issue in general is facing the ridicule and criticism of a natural hair zealot. These are people who preach at other people who don’t embrace natural hair in the same exact way that they do. They bark at you: If you tex-lax, you’re not natural. If you straighten your hair with heat, you’re not natural. If you style your hair or use defining products, you’re not natural. If your hair products aren’t found in the earth or made from kitchen ingredients…not natural! And blah, blah, blah.
So you mean to tell me that black women and biracial women have found a way to free themselves from societal aesthetic pressures and other women of the same movement are trying to put those shackles back on again? The whole point is to be free from hair norms and discover the versatility of African-American hair. We have all agreed that no two hair textures or curl patterns are quite the same. Why are women slamming others for the way they do things?
Let me tell you this. If you want to straighten your hair with heat and it doesn’t hurt your curls, do it. If you get your protein from coating your strands in egg whites or if you use a store-bought treatment, who cares? If you want to define and stretch your curls rather than wear them tight and undefined, that’s your business. I’ve actually heard of women who have a problem with ladies who seek to define their curl pattern. They classify this as a form of self-hate and they tell people that they’re not truly embracing their natural hair if they aren’t happy with it in its fresh-from-the-scalp state. This is ridiculous. To each his own. Wear the hair that makes you feel comfortable.
Oh yeah, and if you wear a weave as your protective style, or just because you like it, do that too! It’s your head!
As for the controversial tex-lax process…
If you want to add chemicals to your hair to loosen up the curl pattern, do it. In my opinion, this isn’t “natural” but I believe that the natural hair movement is not only about rocking your God-given texture. It’s about the fact that we don’t have to do things according to social norms anymore. All hair is beautiful. So my over-the-top hair preachers must have a seat. Letting our hair grow the way it was always intended to is not another avenue for setting rules and shoving people into a new box.
So these are the most common issues that I see in the natural hair world. If you notice any others, feel free to comment. I plan to do some self-examinations to 1) Ensure that I’m not a radical naturalista and 2) Take better care of my hair. I also want to hear about other women’s hair resolutions, natural or not!