You’re not alone with natural hair problem!23.06.2022
It’s always interesting to me what my hair would look like without my grandmother pinning it when I was two years old. It would be thicker, longer, and healthier. I was frustrated growing up thinking about what ifs, and wishing that I could have seen my natural hair at its best. Eight years ago, I decided to go natural and cut all my permed hair. I have since learned why my grandmother did this. It’s hard to care for natural hair. It is a labor of love, emphasis on the labor. I have reached a point where I feel like I am not able to continue to take care of my natural hair.
Although this sounds like it was a dramatic conclusion, the process didn’t take place overnight. Many Black women find that becoming tired with their natural hair can sneak up on them, often leaving them feeling guilty. Black women are so proud of their natural hair, and rightfully so, that when we give up taking care of it, whether that be cutting it off, getting perms, or letting color damage linger, it is met with shame from many Black women.
These feelings are usually felt alone, but lately my outlook has been echoed across various internet sites, most notably TikTok. I found a TikTok that reflected exactly what I was feeling a few weeks back. Creator Sincerely Oghosa describes how she experienced heat damage after a recent sew-in. Many of her followers, particularly Black women, asked her if she was afraid. Oghosa replied that the front strands of the extensions were not left out to blend with the extensions. If hair falls out, it will fall out.
I have yet to hear more relatable words. I was subject to a severe silk press in October. This was followed by two different color treatment options and several protective styles. Now, I am right there with Oghosa — frustrated trying to maintain my hair’s health and not seeing the point.
After reading the TikTok comments, talking with a natural hair-care expert, and even having a chat with Oghosa along with some other Black women who felt similar, I have never felt more validated. This is a complicated topic for women, but it seems that there are three major issues that cause natural hair care fatigue.
Natural hair care can be expensive and difficult
After over 10 years of perming my hair, I felt like there was so much I could do with it. My thick, curly 4C hair is coily. It hates being combed and mattes easily. I am a new natural and was eager to try different styles such as twists outs, bantu knots, and wash-n’gos.
Despite the hard work I put into them, not all of them turned out as I expected. I had been looking forward to the strong hair care regimen naturalistas talked about: pre-poo, shampoo and deep conditioner. I also wanted to have a moisture mask, rice water rinses, hot oil treatments, and detangling. At the beginning of my natural haircare journey, I didn’t find it overwhelming or difficult. But after a while, I got tired of all the details and the thought of spending over four hours washing my hair makes my eyes water. I wish I could just hop in the shower and shampoo, condition, style and go. But that’s not how I live. I hate my hair for how hard it can be to maintain. My hair wash days include sections, detangling, deep conditioning, and a lot of energy.
Natural hair products can be expensive and not everyone has the means to afford them. Protective styles are another matter altogether.
It doesn’t matter what style or color you choose for your natural hair, it will cost you money. Natural hair services are also more expensive than ever. Simedar Jackson, a beauty editor and esthetician, lamented this over the phone. Jackson stated that braids can cost as much as $500. A nice weave can cost you $1000, which is a lot for an average person considering these rent prices.
There is a lot of information available about natural hair
Founder of Juices & natural hair care brand Whitney Eaddy, Botanics and “afro whisperer”, has spent her entire life working to help Black women understand the secrets to hair care. However, even she admits that sometimes it can be confusing. Eaddy says that everyone is going to have a different hair care regimen. In my conversation with the curl specialist, one of the main reasons Black women feel overwhelmed by hair care is that there is so much information about hair and it can be difficult to get it all. This can make wash days feel like a marathon of trial and error with more mistakes than anything else.
Eaddy says that the curl typing system is only a beginning point. After discovering I had 4C hair through a series Youtube videos, many products that I tried didn’t work. This was probably because I didn’t know anything about my hair porosity, hair density or the condition of my scalp. The average Black woman working full-time doesn’t have the time or the patience to study all the details about her hair and formulate the best hair care regimen.
Although natural hair information can be found online, it is difficult to find the right information for you. Every hair is unique, so the community of natural hair experts online can seem like a dead end. However, not everyone can access a hairstylist who is an expert in hair care.
The best part? Just when you think you have found the perfect hair care routine for you, the Internet’s natural hair experts have another piece of information that will negate what you already know works.
There are very few hairstyles that don’t cause damage
Even if you have all the protection in the world, even if your budget allows for it, there may be some damage. The name is misleading. Eaddy says that tension is required for many protective styles. Things like braids with extensions can cause more breakage than people realize. Heat styling is another easy way to cause damage.
As I was told by many, direct heat would cause heat damage to my hair and make it limp and lifeless when I started natural. I longed for a silk press, or at least a sew in with a leave out, for many years. I didn’t want to be restricted by my perm, as I was used to straight hair. I proudly told people that I was heat-free for over five years, even though deep down I desired a silk press with a middle section.
Natural hair conversations are almost always about health. It’s about maintaining healthy hair, growing it long and not compromising the curl pattern. However, this can be difficult when you only have a few styles to choose from. Lauren Brown, beauty content creator, gave up caring about her hair’s health a while back. Brown cut all of her damaged hair right before she started her social media career. Brown started experimenting with color two years ago. She hasn’t stopped since. Brown says that while people may say that you can bleach your hair and keep it healthy, I don’t believe that. “I have come to terms that when I’m done with dying my hair all the colors I like, I will cut it off and start over. Cool colors are my priority.
Oghosa, like me, loves to experiment with hairstyles and found it difficult to achieve most of the styles with natural hair. She explains that you either need to wash your hair more often because of the gel used to hold the style in place, or risk heat damage if the style is hot. She is a content creator and shares many of her hairstyles online. This often leads to Black women expressing concern about her hair’s health. “I got tired of all the policing and overprotectiveness that curls get. She says that this sometimes prevents us from enjoying the versatility of hair.
Oghosa’s words made me think deeper about why Black women are so protective over their hair. I don’t think there has ever been a time in my entire life when my hair wasn’t a central part of my identity or appearance. My height, weight and skin all play a role, but my hair seems to be the most important. This is definitely rooted, I believe, in subtly racist ideologies after speaking with all these women.
Natural Hair Community: A Different Kind
In essence, I believe that this is where the natural hair community should evolve. To a place where those of us who struggle with natural hair can have space. Sometimes I feel ashamed about the way my hair looks. Many women I see online embrace their curls in many styles. I wish I could relate to them. However, due to texturism and internalized racism as well as my insecurities, I don’t always feel comfortable with my natural hair. I would prefer a more understanding and compassionate response than one that is shamingful. I don’t want a solution-oriented answer on how to grow my hair.
I am so fed up with Black hair having a deeper meaning. I hear it all the time, but this Black woman wants it to be just her hair. Black women should be freed of any overpolitization of their hair. They should not have to follow certain rules or keep it long. We should also be free from the responsibility of maintaining it healthy and beautiful.