Natural Hair Care Society
Being a “natural” seems to be a loaded statement these days. Watching the natural game evolve and progress over the last 13 years, I’ve noticed lots of changes. You would think that after a decade using natural hair care products on one’s natural hair, that you’d be a bit of a guru. The truth of the matter is, that the “naturalistas” are just as intimidating to me now as they were back in 05. I remember surfing the web for different blogs and pictures as I decided to go natural and seeing terms like TWA and shrinkage, wondering what that meant exactly. I still thought moisture meant hair grease and was convinced I would not be able to accomplish any style other than an afro puff. I made the decision that if I was going to go natural, I was just going to have to get locks, because the process of keeping up natural hair was obviously too much for me.
Still, I bravely decided to take a full year so that I can see what my natural hair actually looked like. I mean, we hadn’t seen each other since I was about 9 and it would be nice to meet her again. So, I went about the task of tackling the world of twist outs, braid outs, and bra-strap headbands. I didn’t know what I was doing, and most of the time I looked a hot mess, but I LOVED my hair. Especially once I realized that I could press it out and it look just like it did when I permed it. So, I ditched the idea of locs, and just rocked with my natural.
What I didn’t anticipate was not being considered a “real natural” because I started to keep my hair straight 75% of the time. Apparently, I wasn’t in the natural club any more since I altered the texture of my hair. I felt like I was a reject from a sorority. It’s like I went through the pledging period, but these bitches just wouldn’t let me cross. That didn’t’ matter to me though. I still kept up my regular press and curls, because between kids and the office, that’s what worked for me. All the while I was watching the natural market become bigger and bigger from the proverbial sideline. Now, there are countless blogs, well promoted hair conventions, and an entire Youtubeiverse dedicated to natural hair care. I went from going to herbal stores and niche boutiques to find Carol’s Daughter and Taliyah Waajid (the only products I could find geared towards us at the time) to now having shelves and aisles at every Walmart dedicated to our curls.
Today, by all standards, I’m a truly curly girl. Without the hinderance of a 9-5, I rock my curly fro all year round. Unfortunately, even as a dues paying member of Natural Sigma Curls Inc., it has not changed the intimidation factor. In fact, it’s worse. Now I have all these crazy terms to learn like 3a vs 4c curls, coils, kinks and z patterns. There’s the LOC process, not to be confused with the LCO process; which is technically the same process, just in slightly different order(that only took me 2 years to figure out). You have the green housing method, raking vs. shingling method, steam cleaning….I literally, can’t keep up. There are thousands of brands bombarding my IG feeds, with specific lines for specific curl types within each brand. There’s also kryptonite that we must stay away from as curly girls. We aren’t supposed to put sulfates or parabens in our hair, or alcohol or any products that contains “ate” or ends in the letter “s”. Reading the ingredient list in the aisle of Walgreens becomes futile for me, since chemistry almost sabotaged my GPA junior year. It has become information OVERLOAD at this point.
So, I take a step back. I review the last 13 years of my natural life and I determine that these are the things that I absolutely, unequivocally know.
- I’m natural got dammit! I have been since I decided to stop using the creamy crack. Kinky, curly, straight or wavy, I do not chemically alter the way my hair grows out my head, so I am a NATURAL SISTA!
- I went natural for one reason and one reason only, I hate perms. I hate the scabs I have in my head after I have them. I hate not being able to scratch my head. I hate the stabbing pain of SeaBreeze after having a perm put on. I hate the way perms smell. I HATE PERMS! There’s no way anything that I loathe so passionately could be healthy for my hair or my body.
- I know MY HAIR!! I’ve learned over the years what works for me. It may work for others, it may not. But I have finally figured out what my hair likes and needs. Now I can play around without being confused or intimidated. Creams and Oils are a definite and Apple Cider Vinegar is my friend! If it’s a gel and it’s not going on these baby hairs… I’m giving it the side eye and must proceed with caution. I got the basics down.
- My hair is fun as fuck!! There is SOOOOOOOOOO much that we can do with our strands as naturals. I can straighten my hair and accomplish any style I had with a perm. I can do an Angela Davis kinky curly fro. I can do puffs, I can do curls, my hair can, literally, defy gravity. So, I can stop being such a controlling Virgo and have fun with it. When all else fails, if something doesn’t work…spray the shit with water, gel down the edges and put it in a bun!
Being a natural is a process and a very individual journey. Don’t let what other people put on their head stress you out about what you put on yours. There’s lots of info out there, but let that be encouraging, not intimidating. You’ve got lots of people, myself included, who’ve done the trial and error for you. Glean from that. OH! And get you a good stylist who will help you keep your hair healthy. That way, if you fuck up too much, you got someone who can fix it! (shout out to @chocolategurlonhair)
Happy Styling My fellow sorrors of Curly Gamma Naps!