So you’ve reached The Point–that is, you’ve seen a few natural haired beauties out and about, or your best friend has gone natural, or you came across some throwback pictures and realised just how limp and lank your hair is now… And your internal voice keeps whispering “Why not try it?”
Your internal voice makes a valid point. Why not go natural? After all, there are tons of benefits. It’s better for you and your hair; it’s fun and exciting; it’s embracing the real you; it’s giving the middle finger to societal beauty standards; it’s cool, stylish, and in my opinion, gorgeous!
If you’re really thinking about going natural, then congratulations–you’ve stumbled upon the perfect post. Going natural may seem overwhelming, but when you break things down and look at it logically, it’s much easier to handle. And if you’ve already gone natural, but are kind of… stuck? Check this out.
I’ve created a step-by-step guide on how to go natural, because my love of lists can no longer be contained to the weekly food shop. Enjoy!
- Decolonise your mind… or something.
If you haven’t seen your real hair texture for a while, chances are you’ll be surprised when it does appear–and maybe a little bit unhappy with how it looks. Studies show that the more we see something, the more attractive we find it–even subconsciously. This info, + the flowing, silky-straight locks the media loves to thrust in our faces = a recipe for insecurity.
To combat society’s obsession with straight hair, create a visual space for yourself that normalises, promotes and uplifts natural hair of all textures. Instagram is great for this. You can follow accounts like @naturalhairdaily, @4chairchicks, @kinky_chicks1, @berrycurly, and of course, me (@naturallytiss); then sit back, scroll, and fill your mind with natural hair beauty. A few weeks of this, and your mind will be detoxed of Eurocentric beauty standards. Plus, when you do go natural, you’ll have a great resource for inspiration and advice!
2. Knowledge is Power
Many people think about going natural, but never make the leap. Others bite the bullet… but three months later, they’re back to their old ways. Why do these things happen? Most often, it’s due to a lack of hair care knowledge. After all, if someone gives you some wood and nails you’re not going to say “Great! Thanks!” and start building a bookcase. Unless, y’know, you’re a carpenter or something. But chances are you’re not, and similarly, chances are that you don’t know much about caring for your natural hair.
In this, as in most things, Google is your friend. Use the internet to educate yourself; especially blogs and Youtube vlogs, sites like naturallycurly.com, and even good old Instagram. (I plan on making The Newly Natural Diaries one such resource, so follow this blog to keep up-to-date and access tips and tutorials!) Search for sources that work for you, and that you find trustworthy; the more you learn, the more things you can figure out for yourself.
Key info includes: your hair type (and no, I don’t just mean your curl pattern!); whether you should big chop or transition; what products are available to you, and which are needed for the styles you like.
3. Trial and Error
No matter how many videos you watch or blogs you read, you will not become an expert on your hair overnight. No two heads of hair are the same, and what works for your favourite naturalista may not work for you–which is fine! Tweak things, experiment, and get to know your hair: this is all about you.
4. Remember your options
If you big chop and you absolutely hate it–guess what? Doesn’t matter.
Okay, well, yeah, it does–but don’t slap me just yet. What I mean is, it’s not the end of the world: you have options. One of the amazing things about natural hair is its versatility. Natural hair can do anything! And that includes growing like a demon while tucked away into protective styles.
Once you have two inches of hair–which might be instantly, depending on how your roots are looking–you can install braids or twists like those I wore last summer. Fancy long box braids a la Janet Jackson? Or maybe shorter braids like 1990s Brandy? Maybe you’re feeling Marley or Havana twists. These styles all look gorgeous, help your natural hair to flourish, and save you effort and stress.
For an even more versatile option, check out wigs. I love them. Of course, to really reap the benefits of protective styles, you will have to wear your hair out sometimes to give your edges and scalp a break–but that’s okay. Throw on some statement earrings and bright lipstick, and talk yourself into confidence. Check out my #ShineSchool tag on Instagram if you need a little positivity! The time will fly by and you’ll be loving your hair in no time.
5. Maintain perspective
Afro hair is so heavily politicised and stigmatised that sometimes it’s hard to remember that it’s just hair. It’s yours. It belongs to you. It grows from your scalp. If someone made an issue out of your natural skin colour, would you bleach it? Or would you tell them to do one and write them off as an anti-black dips*#@t? I’m hoping it’s the latter–so why should your natural hair be any different? It’s only hair in the end, just like your skin is only skin.
The natural hair community can also blow things out of proportion. One blog will dictate what is and isn’t really natural; another will give natural hair rules that are more like Biblical commandments, and excommunicate you if you break them. Those are the blogs and sites that you need to stay clear of. Remember, just because some people like to pretend that black girls have ‘bad’ hair, doesn’t mean you have to look like a Shea Moisture advert 24/7 to prove them wrong.
People with straight or wavy hair will get whatever cut and colour they want, try out new products, and just generally get on with life–hair care included. Why should it be any different for you? The answer is that it shouldn’t–and if natural hair starts to feel like a chore, you’re doing it wrong. Take a step back, take a few deep breaths, and figure out what you need to make things fun again. Once you’ve found the answer, hold onto it and follow your joy.
And that’s that–How To Go Natural Part One. What’s Part Two, you ask? Well, if this post is a foundation, think of Part Two as a mansion filled with natural haired human embodiments of awesomeness. Or, if you don’t like people, imagine a really awesome contour and highlight. Yeah? Yeah.
Best wishes for your natural journey!