Natural Hair Mistakes

My natural hair journey began on the 4th of December 2014. At bra strap length, my relaxed hair was thinning and damaged beyond repair. It was time to say goodbye and let it go! I grabbed a pair of scissors and got snipping. Despite feeling a little distraught at the time (this was the first time I had seen myself without hair), I do not regret my decision. This was something I had to do, physically as well as mentally. The journey has not been easy but as someone who is finally at a place of serenity (yes, it has taken almost four years), I feel compelled to share my experience. Sharing is vital as someone is always in need of such knowledge and support. I also wish I had access to such advice and tips. Consider this a light-hearted comprehensive guide to natural hair. I hope this is of help. Enjoy!

Natural Hair Mistake 1: The Pursuit of Straight Hair
All hair types are prone to heat damage but this is often hard to assess on relaxed hair. As we fail to notice it, we don’t acknowledge it. New to natural hair and filled with curiosity, I made the mistake of straightening my hair. I am not condemning straightening natural hair but I now know it is not an option for everyone. Prior to straightening my curls, I deep conditioned using a silicone-laden treatment then I applied a heat protectant liberally. I did everything advised by fellow naturals, “gurus” and specialists. I even blow-dried my hair straight before using the lowest setting on my flat iron. I was initially impressed with the final result but things quickly went south when it was time to wash my hair. After shampooing, I noticed the front of my hair was straight and a little wavy in some areas.

Baffled, I searched the internet for answers and quickly discovered I had heat damage. How? I took extra precaution! At the time, I had no idea that my hair was extremely sensitive to heat. I have 4A kinky curly, fine, high porosity hair. My strands never stood a chance! Unfortunately (and in my defence), you can only learn this the hard way. Devastated, on the 16th of April 2015, I did my second “Big Chop” (or shall I call it a “Mini Chop” as I only cut off my heat damaged strands). Although my experience was horrible, I cannot condemn straightening natural hair. Many use flat irons without any issues. Sadly, I cannot. Learning from my mistake, I invested in several straight wigs, which I wear whenever I desire a break from my curls.

Natural Hair Mistake 2: Not so Protective Styling
From box braids to Senegalese twists, my natural hair thrives in protective hairstyles. However, a protective hairstyle only works if the application is correct and if it is utilised occasionally. For example, tiny or tight box braids will break your hair. Furthermore, we all need a break from protective styling every now and then (yes, I know this is hard to hear). Protective styling back to back doesn’t give you the time needed to get to know your hair. It will also lead to you neglecting your hair. If your hair is damaged whilst in a protective hairstyle, you won’t be able to retain length and see growth. Protective styling is great when executed right. Experiment with a variety of protective hairstyles and find what works best for your natural hair. Develop a routine that will allow you to treat your hair most effectively. Consistency is fundamental.

Natural Hair Mistake 3: Caught up in Curl Definition
My decision to go natural was not based on a desire for defined curls. My relaxed hair was damaged and I was over it. I simply craved what I was naturally blessed with. I shaved off all of my relaxed hair with no knowledge of hair types or curl patterns. I now know I have 4A kinky curly, fine, high porosity hair. Do I feel superior, better than those with “less desirable” hair? No, I believe in celebrating the diversity of our natural hair. Whilst I understand some individuals may want to define their curls, a lot of naturals often feel obliged to wear their hair in this artificial or enhanced state. They also feel the need to force others to do so. Many religiously “Wash & Go”, which I have always found hilarious as the name is suggesting something it certainly isn’t. The “Wash & Go” is not compulsory; we are not a cult! Don’t get caught up in curl definition, you will only end up damaging your beautiful natural hair.

Natural Hair Mistake 4: False Prophets
So, people like you? Yes, people like me. Many bloggers and YouTubers have developed a bad habit of delivering opinions as facts. It is up to you to determine who is full of shit and who is simply sharing sincere advice. When I first went natural, I based my hair care routine on the teachings of any woman with long thick natural hair. I tried water-only washing, which left my scalp dirty and my hair brittle. I tried co-washing and although my hair felt softer, it did not feel clean; I have since decided to only co-wash once a month. I tried going to war with silicones and discovered silicones had no negative impact on my hair. So the lesson is, don’t believe everything you see or read! Even experts get it wrong so to trust your natural hair with a self-proclaimed guru is pretty bizarre. Just because every blogger or YouTuber is doing it, doesn’t mean it is for you or a natural hair must do.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope to write about each mistake in greater detail in the future. Do you want to go natural? Are you struggling in your journey? If you have any questions, please feel free to ask and please feel free to share your experience.

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