2. Dryness – It’s just a fact of life if you’re a curly girl, you’re going to probably have to deal with hair dryness. Why? Naturally curly hair is prone to dryness simply due to how the hair is structured. The natural oils produced by your scalp have a really hard time travelling down the hair shaft due to all those twists and turns of your luscious curls. What can you do…..drink lots of water, use moisturizing shampoos, use water-based leaving in conditioners and don’t forget the oil infused misters. Our hair loves water.
3. Single-Strand Knots – Single strand what?!?!? These are itty, bitty knots that occur on individual strands of hair. For a lot of women they are a non issue, but for others…the knots can drive you crazy especially as your hair gets longer. Other hair strands may get caught in the knot creating tangles. Sadly the only way to get rid of the “fairy knots” is to go snip, snip, snip.
4. The Big Chop Phase – Okay….so you’ve been YouTubing like a crazy person to see what other sistah’s are looking like as they transition from their relaxed hair to the natural. You say to yourself when you see their not cute anymore, stringy relaxed ends being chopped off. She looks so cool and liberated. “I want that!!” That’s it…I’m cutting this stuff off. I’m tired of dealing with the two different textures. Fast forward to the next day when you’ve awaken to this stranger in the mirror that you don’t recognize. Oh and don’t forget about challenge #1 Shrinkage. Oh my, it really is a teeny, weeny afro. Patience again, groomed eyebrows and earrings. Very, very important to handling this phase like a boss.
5. Growth Rate – “It is going to take forever for my hair to grow. I look like a boy.” As I mentioned in an earlier post, shrinkage can be really deceiving here. I personally call it my “Florida Evans” phase (a nod to Good Times), this is usually when I start craving a new cut. Keep in mind hair grows about ½ inch per month. This is mainly dependent on genetics. Now our challenge when dealing with curly hair…..is again the shrinkage. Curly hair often does not appear to be growing at all, but please trust. It IS growing. But right now…it is the preverbal “watched pot” There are suggestions to use 2 indicators for growth. 1 is when it’s stretched and second when it’s curled. And once again…Patience.
6. Not understanding YOUR hair texture…. Celebrity stylist Andre Walker developed this system and shared in his book “Andre Talks Hair” published in 1998. Not everyone is on the same page with how he typed hair but the concept was born with him. The important thing to know is that everyone’s hair is different and you can have multiple textures throughout your head of hair. You can certainly start with what you see someone others doing that has a “similar” curl pattern as your, but your hair may still respond differently. You may find yourself turning into a “product junkie” I suggest joining natural hair communities in your town. They’re everyone now and great for participating in product swaps. This will be easier on your wallet and take up less space in your bathroom.
7. Shampoo Days….”What you doing girl? I’ve got to wash my hair; this is going to take all day. Ugh!” If you have gotten to the point where your curly hair has grown out quite a bit or you’re in transition still, this can be a major Broadway show. LOL! You’ll probably have to divide your hair into sections, thin out your shampoo. It will be much easier to rinse out. Condition, Deep Condition, Detangle, Detangle and Detangle so more and do this by section. This is usually what takes the most time. Please don’t let your hair dry without detangling first. I used to get my hair pressed when I was a child and Miss Hallie did not comb you out until you were dry. It was one of the most painful experiences of my childhood. Trust me. Detangle while wet and with a wide tooth comb. Be Encouraged though it ain't over. Check out the video for some encouragement.
8. What used to work, don't work no more. What????? – So you’ve been using your favorite leave-in conditioner and your curls are really popping and of course whatever you were using when you were relaxed has zero impact. So, try the product swap, stay on the lookout for product samples. Check out the natural hair care blogs and You Tube to see what the other Happy Naturals are using.
9. Finding a Natural Hair Care Stylist – When I first went natural, this was practically non-existent. Traditional stylists were only working with chemically treated hair, so your next best option was the barber. And you like your TWA, but you may not want to rock it forever. You want to nurture in some long, lovely unprocessed locs. Here’s where networking and natural hair meetups can be a good resource in your local area. Let’s face it. There is nothing like someone else shampooing your hair for you. It’s the ultimate in pampering. I’m in St. Louis and I’m excited to see many natural hair care salons thriving in our city. So check around. You’ll find one. Word of mouth and the Internet can be really helpful in finding a natural hair stylist.
10. Time – So you thought when you went natural that your hair would be easier to take care of huh. Well, this really only rings true if you’re sporting a wash and go type of style. I.e., the TWA or precision fro. But for many naturals, you ultimately want to grow your hair out. Well it’s going to take time doing twists outs and braid outs, coils etc. The key here will be in trying to preserve the style for as long as you can. Invest in a silk pillow case or bonnet. You should already have one of these or take advantage of a protective style. I used Tree Braids and great wigs to get through the Florida Evans stages.
So ladies, those are some of the challenges I experienced with my natural hair but thankfully, my hair has become my best friend and I really know it like the back of my hand and you will learn yours as well. Also, when I'm rocking my fro I really feel as though I'm being my authentic self living my truth. ;)
Are there any other challenges that you’ve faced since you stopped relaxing?
Remember, you're only just beginning,
Peace, Love and Happy Hair.
Hey! Nice To Meet You!
I'm Marsha: former corporate manger and now semi full-time blogger. I'm single and I live in St. Louis. Favorite things include my 2008 VW EOS Convertible, Tall Mocha Lattes and the color blue.