Natural Hair 101: The Beginners Guide to Natural Hair

Natural HairIn order to have a successful natural hair journey, you must first understand exactly what the term natural hair really means.

There are several different definitions of the term, but below I’ve provided the most common definition for natural hair, and the one that we will talk about most often on Curl Centric.

The term natural hair is defined as relaxer-free hair, which is different from chemical-free hair. Chemicals, on the surface, are often considered dangerous, but this is often times not the case at all. Most chemicals that you encounter on a daily basis are perfectly safe and harmless. For example, water or H2O is a safe chemical.

Getting Started on Your Natural Hair Journey

Black natural hair (i.e., african american natural hair) is sometimes labeled as nappy hair that needs to be corrected by a relaxer. We’ve heard of situations where women have been discriminated against in the workplace due to having natural hairstyles, which are deemed unprofessional by some employers. Others have been denied jobs or promotions because of their natural hair. Natural hair has also caused relationship issues for many couples.

Curl Centric is about helping you understand your natural hair and providing you with information and resources to naturally achieve healthy natural hair. We often interview other naturals on the blog because we want to give everyone the opportunity to share their experiences with natural hair. We often learn the most by reading and analyzing other people’s experiences. It’s also encouraging when you see pictures of other women with natural hair and hear them speak positively about their natural hair journey. These stories often serve as proof that your journey can be just as successful if you’re willing to invest the time and energy into learning to care for your natural hair properly.

The Real Reason You’re Struggling on Your Natural Hair Journey (if applicable)

Going NaturalThere are problems with some of the advice that’s typically given out online. Some natural hair advisors or product manufacturers will tell you that you need to find the perfect products (sometimes called holy grail products) or simply master a specific technique, like protective styling or the baggy method, to have a successful natural hair journey.

If you’ve tried some of these techniques and haven’t found the success that you’re aiming for, you probably know by now that you need more than generic recycled advice. That’s one of the main reasons that we built Curl Centric.

Our hair care method is based on a comprehensive blueprint for building a successful natural hair journey. It’s not designed to only provide short-term results for you, but to also build a robust foundation that will lead to a lifetime of success on your natural hair journey.

Natural Hair Blueprint: Foundation, Products, Styling and Maintenance

The Natural Hair Blueprint will be your guide throughout the course of building a successful natural hair journey. The blueprint is based on everything that we have learned over the years reading cosmetology books, scientific periodicals, performing research and by working with naturals around the world and watching their natural hair improve.

The blueprint is divided into three pillars: (1) foundation, (2) products, and (3) styling and maintenance. Each of these pillars work to help you improve your natural hair journey. This blueprint is intended to be balanced, however depending on your strengths – you may need to spend more time on certain areas of the blueprint to see real improvements in your natural hair.

Actionable Opportunities

We like to focus on taking action during your natural hair journey. You have to implement the things that we discuss to really see improvements in your hair. Taking action is the best way to receive benefit from Curl Centric. We try to thoroughly explain concepts and give you very specific ways to take action. We also encourage you to leave comments on articles and respond to comments and questions from other naturals.

Understanding Your Hair Type

We tend not to focus on hair types in our articles for one very specific reason. Regardless of hair type – there are several common things that are often overlooked that everyone needs to do in order to have healthy natural hair. At times we will write articles for specific types of hair, but keep this simple point in mind – you must drink plenty of water, reduce stress, wear protective styles, limit the amount of heat you put on your hair, wash your hair regularly and more regardless of your hair type. In addition, many people have multiple hair types or categorizations on their head, so we tend to focus on those types of things here instead of your hair type.

Advice That Will Help You Start Your Natural Hair Journey

There is no right or wrong way to go natural; the important thing is that you are going natural. If you decide to transition to natural hair it’s important to know that the line of demarcation is where your natural hair and relaxed hair intersect. You’ll definitely notice a difference in the texture of your natural hair and your relaxed hair. Relaxers weaken your hair, leaving it dull and damaged over time. So, the difference should be fairly obvious.

You’ll learn that your hair will tell you what it needs and it’s critical that you pay attention to what it is telling you. Selecting your initial set of natural hair products is important and many naturals spend quite a bit of time trying new products in an attempt to find the perfect products (i.e., holy grail products) for their hair. You must get to know your hair to understand which products will work best for you.

My advice to you: Start a natural hair journal and begin documenting everything that you do to your hair. This will help you understand over a period of time what works and what doesn’t work for your hair. The key is to focus on what works for your hair and start to eliminate the things that don’t work. This process will help you select the right hair products and finalize your natural hair regimen.

The Truth about Hair Shedding

Some experts estimate that shedding more than 100 hairs per day is perfectly normal. About 10% of the hairs on your head are in a resting phase (telogen) and those hairs shed (exogen) after a period if time (generally 2 or 3 months). The other 90% (roughly) of your hairs are growing at any given time.

Hair growth occurs in cycles consisting of four phases: Anagen (growth phase), Catagen (transitional phase), Telogen (resting phase) and Exogen (shedding phase). Hair grows at different rates for different people; the average rate is around one-half inch per month. Due to a short active growth phase, some people have difficulty growing their hair beyond a certain length.

My advice to you: Don’t worry too much about your hair shedding unless it seems truly excessive. If your hair shedding does seem excessive, you should start by investigating the following areas: tight hairstyles, diet and nutrition, current medications, stress, illnesses, nervous habits, Alopecia Areata and hormonal changes. Several of these issues may require the professional diagnoses of a medical doctor to determine the root cause of the hair shedding.

Prevent Breakage and Split-ends

Your hair is dead material, which is the reason why you can treat it with strong chemicals, cut it with scissors or apply heat to it without feeling a thing. The only problem with that is – since your hair is not alive, it cannot repair itself. Damage to the hair must be trimmed away or grown out. For example, there is not a permanent cure for split-ends. There are some conditioners that can essentially patch split-ends and make them less visible, but over a period of time those split-ends will reappear. The only way to permanently get rid of your split-ends is to trim them away. You should absolutely never burn away your split-ends.

Hair breakage is the most common cause of hair loss. Tight hairstyles (ex. tight ponytails and braids) can break off the hair and damage the hair follicle. If your hair constantly breaks you will need to identify exactly what’s causing the breakage and eliminate the culprit to prevent further breakage. The most common causes of breakage are heat, harsh chemicals, tight hairstyles and rough treatment.

My advice to you: Hot appliances, like flat irons, curling irons and pressing combs, are popular, but often lead to serious hair damage because their high temperatures can result in brittle, dry hair that breaks easily – especially when they’re overused. If you decide to use heat, then you should use measures to minimize the likelihood of irreparable heat damage. However, it’s important to understand that it’s impossible to completely protect the hair from heat damage. If an appliance is hot enough to burn your skin, then there is a legitimate chance that the appliance will cause significant damage your hair.

Make sure that your hairstyles aren’t overly tight, stay away from chemical processes that change the structure of your hair, and handle your hair with care. Too-frequent manipulation (combing, brushing, tugging, pulling, etc.) can lead to increased breakage.

Health, Nutrition, Hair Vitamins and Supplements

Generally speaking, the same nutritious foods that are good for your body also promote stronger, healthier hair. If you don’t eat a healthy diet, your hair could suffer. It’s important to mention that your hair doesn’t contain vitamins – it is not a living structure. If you’re eating a balanced, nutritious diet there is very little benefit gained from taking hair vitamins and supplements. If you simply concentrate on eating low-fat proteins, dairy products, fruits, vegetables and whole grains you can help your hair reach its full potential without supplements.

The United States Department of Agriculture have established dietary guidelines for Americans (Chapter 1). Although, according to most surveys, the average American isn’t familiar with the guidelines and doesn’t manage their dietary intake accordingly. For those who aren’t eating a well balanced, nutritious diet, or have a medical condition or imbalance, you might need vitamins and supplements to help your hair reach its full potential. You should consult your doctor to determine if a multivitamin is right for you.

My advice to you: Eat a healthy, well-balanced, nutritious diet and save your money on hair vitamins and supplements unless you have a medical condition or imbalance.

Exercise

There is no evidence that exercise has any direct benefit on the health of your hair. However, there are many other benefits of exercise including weight control, mitigating health conditions, and boosting your energy among other things.

My advice to you: Exercise regularly because it reduces stress and promotes general health – which indirectly can have substantive impacts on the success of your natural hair. Kira and I are huge fans of the Insanity Workout (pictured below).

Click here for more information about the Insanity Workout Program

Shampooing

The most often purchased natural hair product is shampoo. The main problem that I see with shampoos is that there are so many different types; one for every type of hair and/or scalp condition. It’s easy to get confused when choosing a product as simple as shampoo.

My advice to you: Choose products that are designed to be gentle on your hair. Also, many hair care experts recommend a pH-balanced shampoo to prevent excessive dryness and hair damage during the shampooing process.

Natural Hair Shampoos

Product ImageDescription
As I Am Coconut Cowash Cleansing ConditionerIf you prefer to co-wash, we like As I Am Coconut Cowash Cleansing Conditioner. For the natural newbies, co-washing is a process of washing your hair with a conditioner, instead of using a traditional shampoo. Many naturals also rave about how great this product smells.
Click here for more information
Tropic Isle Jamaican Black Castor Oil ShampooThis shampoo is formulated with shea butter, contains only 100% natural ingredients, and doesn't include sulfates or alcohol. The ingredients are Jamaican Black Castor Oil, Essential Oils Of Pimento, Lavender And Lemon, Aloe Vera, Rosemary Extracts, Organic Saponified, Organic Coconut Oil, Olive And Jojoba Oils, Vegetable Gum/Glycerin Extract.
Click here for more information
Shea Moisture Raw Shea Restorative ShampooThis product is an organic raw shea butter moisture retention shampoo that is sulfate-free and includes the following ingredients: Water, Decyl Glucoside (Sugar beets), Shea Butter, Aloe Vera juice, Argan oil, Panthenol (Pro-vitamin B-5), Rosemary extract, Sea Kelp extract, Vitamin E, Honeysuckle flower & Japanese Honeysuckle.
Click here for more information

How often should you wash your hair?

Each head of hair is different, so there is really no correct answer. However, you can tell when you’re washing your hair too much if it starts to get dull, which means it’s time to scale back on the shampooing. By over-washing your hair, you can wash away your hair’s natural moisture which helps your hair look healthy. If you’re not washing your hair often enough, you can have product build-up which could negatively impact your hair.

My advice to you: When washing use lukewarm water, because hot water can strip the scalp of sebum, which is the protective oil that acts as a natural conditioner and gives your hair its shine. When you create your initial natural hair regimen, begin by washing your hair once per week. Record how your hair responds for a few weeks, in your natural hair journal, and make adjustments to your regimen as necessary.

Conditioning

Conditioners are intended to deposit protein or moisture into the hair strand to restore the hair’s strength, give your hair body and to protect your hair against possible breakage. The effects of conditioners are only temporary. The term conditioner is often used to describe many different things. For example, there are finishing rinses, cream rinses, protein conditioners, hot oil treatments, deep conditioning treatments and leave-in conditioners – and I’ve only named a few.

My advice to you: Start by regularly conditioning your hair after shampooing and having a deep-penetrating conditioner every month. You should document how your hair responds in a hair journal and make adjustments as needed. Also, buying really expensive products isn’t necessary, but you should beware of products that are extremely inexpensive relative to the competition.

Natural Hair Conditioners

Product ImageDescription
Elucence Moisture Balance ConditionerElucence Moisture Balance Conditioner, which contains olive oil and coconut, is designed to condition your hair without being heavy on the strands. The conditioner is also glycerin free, silicone free, and sulfate free. It can be used in various ways, including for co-washing and as a leave-in conditioner.
Click here for more information
Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative ConditionerShea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner with Sea Kelp, Argon Oil, and Shea Butter was formulated for dry, damaged hair. It's important to note that this product contains natural ingredients which often vary in color and consistency.

Click here for more information
Aussie Moist 3 Minute Miracle Moist Deeeeep Liquid ConditionerThis product, which contains mostly natural ingredients of Australia like aloe and jojoba, consistently receives rave reviews from women with natural hair. It also has a coconut like smell, which most women seem to really like. The product is called the "3 minute miracle", because it's designed to work in minutes.
Click here for more information

Styling Your Hair

Protective styling is critical to the success of your natural hair journey. When we use the term protective styling on the Curl Centric blog, we’re referring to incorporating more “protection” into your overall natural hair regimen. The lack of focusing on protecting the hair is often the reason that several women suffer from excessive breakage and fail to grow their hair to their desired length.

One way to incorporate more protection in your natural hair journey is to utilize protective hairstyles. A protective hairstyle generally requires minimal upkeep, gives you the opportunity to moisturize as needed, and it keeps the ends of your hair safe and tucked away – protected. You can successfully grow your hair quite long with the appropriate selection of products, proper styling techniques, and general handling/maintenance.

My advice to you: Look for ways to incorporate more protection into your natural hair regimen. Be sure that you’re being gentle with your hair at all times. I also recommend finding a few protective hairstyles that you like and frequently incorporate them into your natural hair regimen, so you can protect the ends of your hair. A significant component to growing long hair (or more accurately retaining what you’ve already grown) is mitigating hair breakage to retain the hair that you currently have and protective styling improves your ability to accomplish this goal.

Troubleshooting

During your natural hair journey, there are many different things that you might have to correct: dry hair, product build-up and dandruff are just a few.

Generally speaking you should refer to your natural hair journal when you’re experiencing a problem with your hair. It’s the primary guide to correcting your hair problems. You should begin asking yourself questions until you determine the potential root cause of the problem.

For example, have you changed anything about your regimen recently? Are you shampooing more often? What about taking a new medication? Did you recently start a stressful job? When was the last time you applied heat to your hair?

Use a root cause approach to correcting the issues that you identify. This troubleshooting technique is based on the premise that you can solve many problems that you’re having with your hair by addressing (correcting or eliminating) the potential root causes, as opposed to only addressing the symptoms.

For example, dry hair can be caused by external factors like harsh shampoo, chlorine, applying heat to the hair, too much sun or wind exposure and hard shower water to name a few. On the other hand, dry hair can also be caused by internal factors such as medications, nutritional deficiency or medical illnesses.

My advice to you: Identify the root cause of your “hair problem” and address the root cause.

And finally, we’re here for you as you progress through your natural hair journey. Feel free to leave a comment or let us know if you have any questions.

Comments

    • theresa jackson says

      This is my 2nd time reading this..I actually just printed this out to keep in my bag (in the case I’m too darn lazy to just simply go to this webpage and view it from there). Truly helpful and important information…love it!!

  1. Tash says

    Thank you for this article. It has calmed my nerves about hair lossand other things. I also have learned that I knew a few things that I didn’t know I knew. If that makes sense. In other words this article confirmed a lot of things for me. Again, thanks.

  2. Aliyah says

    Very, Very informative. Great information and by far, the best site for a natural hair jounry that I’ve come across. 5 *****

    • says

      Those are very kind words and I hope that the community continues to be an asset for you. Please continue reading articles, making friends, and giving us your feedback. If you would like to see more or less of something, just let us know.

    • says

      Aliyah – Wow! That made me smile. We really want people to enjoy this site, so definitely take Jael’s advice regarding providing your input on where we go next with the site. We love to hear feedback on what you would like to see more or less of in the future. This is your community.

      Kenneth

  3. says

    I have been natural for about a year now. I have really I mean really thick hair. It’s not nappy, but its very thirsty!!! I’m frustrated and two seconds away from putting a relaxer back in. Tired of spending money on products expensive and inexpensive and nothing seems to work. HELP!!!

    Well laid out format!!!! An easy read, which is always a plus!!!!

    Tanisha

    • says

      Hi Tanisha – I hope you’re doing well today. I can definitely understand being frustrated with your hair. I hope things have gotten better for you. Can you explain what your current natural hair regimen is?

  4. Teflon Mom says

    Great article, very informative. I’m pretty new on my hair journey (only been transitioning for about 2 1/2 months) and I have a pretty specific question.

    Due to some rather unfortunate salon perms I got in the past, my edges are weak. If I pull my hair back for more than a few days I notice thinning. Most of the protective styles that I see involve having the hair pulled back/up. This is great for protecting ends, but is there a protective style to protect edges? Right now I have my hair in twists and loose.

    • says

      Hi Teflon Mom, this is a great question and I would suggest a two things: When you twist your hair, instead of twisting them to the back or side, twist them so they will hang in the front, then connect them creating swish effect. If you are able to flat twist, flat twist the front part of your hair, ever so loosely to not put stress on your hairline. Is it your entire hairline across the front or certain sections that are delicate? Also, you may want to refrain from excessive combing and not brushing this area- only do so when absolutely needed. Keep me updated on what worked or hasn’t worked for you.

      • Teflon Mom says

        Thanks Jael – it’s really just the temples that are weak, and one side more than the other. I don’t know how to flat twist just yet so for now I’ll try the individual twists in a sweep and see how that works.

  5. Denise says

    Outstanding article. It is good to be able to finally find excellent natural hair information and feel like I’m able to trust the text as well as respect the individual which posted it.

    Awesome article. Thanks Kenneth.

  6. Petula Wright says

    I’m beginning my natural hair journey again (was natural for about 13 years now starting over) and I’m glad I’ve come across this site and information (thanks for introducing me via Twitter). The information I learn here and my renewed sense of purpose will be helpful in my journey as well as that of my daughters. Thanks.

  7. Nomvula says

    Hie guys! I have been natural for a year or so my hair is very thick and thirsty.How do you guys manage to make your hair soft and manageable?I am in SouthAfrica,thanks in advance.I need hair products for the most kinkiest african hair,pliz don’t say oil,no oil works on my dry hair.

    • says

      Hi Nomvula!
      If your hair is dry, my 1st question is why?
      If you have hard water, you can start with purchasing a water softening system to combat the water issue.
      Also, you may want to read our articles on porosity.
      If you find that your hair is “gets wet” really easily and dries extremly fast- try clarifying with Giovanni Triple Treat Tea Tree shampoo (also on our resouce page), condition as you normally do and as a final rinse, mix 1 tbsp OR 1 cap full of apple cider vinegar and 2 cups of water in a bowl and pour it over your head.
      You mentioned that oils do not work for you, have you tried shea butter? You will use the shea butter as a sealer to keep the moisture trapped in your strands.
      Is your hair dry from root to tip or just at the tip?

  8. priscilla says

    Thank you for all this useful information. i just started my natural hair journey and i really need all this information.

  9. Nomvula says

    Hie Jael,thanks for the tips.my hair its just thirsty I don’t know why.but usually at the ends.I have thick/bushy or a lot of hair.I have not tried shear butter I can’t find it anywhere I am in Joburg,I even got tired of looking for it.where can I get the shampoo you mentioned above?

    • says

      Hi Nomvula! You are welcome for the tips. If you are not wearing protective styles and keeping your ends tucked away, you should start. You are probably experiencing high porosity on your ends. If you are interested, email me what products you are looking for and I can price them here and ship them to you. Email me for details . Put Product Shipment in the subject line.

  10. PrettyBrownEyes says

    I really appreciate this site…you have a lot of great info. Currently, I have ended my transition a couple of weeks ago when I cut off the remaining relaxed ends. I transitioned for 14 months. I thought my transition was over…think I was wrong. Half of my hair is nice and curly (right side). The ends are curly…it’s just beautiful! And then on my left side..I don’t know what happened. It’s slightly wavy but the ends are straight! I just want to find out where it all went wrong and what I failed to do. I thought it might be heat damaged but wouldn’t that be visible on both sides? Will it all eventually be the same? It was heart breaking to have made this discovery bc I desperately wanted to do the WnG’s or at least have my hair roughly in a uniform curl pattern. Plz help!

    • says

      Hi PrettyBrownEyes,
      First, I want to say congrats on your big chop!

      However, the difference in texture can be a from a number of things.

      For starters, you mention heat damage- it is possible to have heat damage in one area and not another. Heat damage does not have to be uniformed, it can be in random places on the strand.

      Another explanation is curl pattern and texture. I personally have at least 3 that I can identify… lol My front is straight on the ends and the longer it goes, the straighter it gets. I cut a few inches about 3 years ago because I thought it was heat damaged, but it wasn’t. It is still strand in the front. I just accept the straightness and work with it. Now my crown area has a coarser texture, the most shrinkage and the tightest curls.

      You may not have done anything wrong, give yourself time to adjust to the big chop and experiment with what your hair can do.

      Will it ever be the same, probably not but if that is how your hair grows (meaning no heat damage) I wouldn’t expect it to change.

      To wear a wash and go, you can coax a curl using clips. Swirl the hair like you would do a pin curl and clip it in place with a mental clip. I use this method for my front straight parts. Also, I would put on my satin cap as to give it shape.

      I honestly don’t know many naturals who have a uniform curl pattern.
      I say give it time and work with what you have.
      Keep me posted on your progress!

      Jael

  11. Demetria says

    I’m in love with natural hair. I wear lots of twist styles and fro’s but have been thinking about locs. Is that smart for someone with delicate edges.

  12. Temi says

    I cut my hair last fall to go natural and i have been keeping it covered with weaves and braids. now i want to start taking care of my hair, I need help

    • Kenneth says

      @temi This article is really the best place to start. Do you have any more specific questions that we may be able to help you with?

  13. Natural-E Fab says

    I transitioned for 7 months and then I BC’d on my own…big mistake. My hair was a mess. My only option at 10 pm was to relax it…couldn’t go to work with my hair such a mess. Before I transitioned I wondered what people would think of my natural hair, but quickly came to embrace it and not care what others thought. After I relaxed it, I wondered what people would say about my relaxed hair…I’m more ashamed of this straight crap than I ever felt about my natural hair. I MISS MY FRO!!! Never again will I relax…never!

    • Kenneth says

      Hi Natural E-Fab – Thanks for sharing your story. I would love to know more about the specifics of what went wrong when you big chopped. Lets chat when you have a chance.

      Thanks
      Kenneth

    • Kenneth says

      Hi Missqeetee – On average, it is estimated that hair grows about 1/2 inch per month. This means that (if you’re the average person) your will have the possibly of 1/2 inch of growth per month that will be natural hair. It really depends on how long your hair is to determine how long it will take to grow out the relaxer (along with the growth rate). Take your current length and divide it by 1/2. This will give you a good estimate. This doesn’t account for the amount of length actually retained, which could be less than 1/2 inch per month.

      Kenneth

  14. missqeetee says

    im goin natural and my hair is very nappy i wash it atleast 3 times a week. Its that too much?
    &&& thank u @kenneth

    • Kenneth says

      Generally speaking, we recommend washing your hair once per week. Then, you should begin to adjust depending on what your hair needs. You will ultimately find the sweet spot for your hair. I can’t definitively say that washing three times per week is too often for your hair, because each head of hair is different. However, if it’s not working, then I do recommend making some changes. I also caution you to review your entire regimen, not only how often your washing your hair. Make sure you understand the hair care practices that you’re using (including products, heat and various techniques). Finally, it’s often beneficial for new naturals to start a natural hair journal. You can begin documenting how products/techniques work for you.

  15. MyNewHair says

    What is natural hair?
    I stopped perming my hair more then a year ago.

    However, I straighten it right after I wash and let it dry naturally.

    Is that the same?

    • Kenneth says

      MyNewHair – Yes, we typically define natural hair as relaxer free hair, so using that definition you definitely have natural hair.

  16. Chyta says

    Hello, I am transitioning and I really do not want to do a big chop, I have had chemicals in my hair for well over half of my life, while I know and understand this will not be an easy journey, is there anything you could give me advice wise that will shed some light while on this journey. I have seen people natural and its pretty, but most times they tell me that they have big chopped, I have a really nice length of hair and I do clip my ends often, but is there anything else that you could recommend that will help me along the way. My hair is a good mix of wiry and spongy if that makes sense, my mom has natural hair that is a little thick and curly and my dad has really fine curly hair and I guess I am the one in between with the spongy wiry combination. HELPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Kenneth says

      Hi Chyta –

      Congrats on your decision to go natural. Since you’re newly natural, this article is definitely the best place to start. As far as going natural, you can do that a couple of different ways: big chop or transition. Now you have already made the decision to transition – which is perfectly fine. Many women decide to transition and go on to have very successful natural journeys, so please don’t think that you have to big chop (in the traditional sense) to have pretty natural hair.

      I would recommend that you read our How to Go Natural guide, there is a link in the right sidebar. It will show you how to start a regimen, create a journal, and much more. You can also review the resource page (see the navigation menu) to select a set of starter products. After you read through those resources, please us know if you have anymore questions. Finally, good luck. I’m really happy for you and I’m sure you’ll enjoy your natural hair. Take care.

      Kenneth

  17. Shameka Nicole says

    Nice article! :) I have a comment/question… So I recently did the big chop and I read in the article that I should protect my ends. The only problem I have with that is my hair is short and I don’t like updo hair styles while my hair is so short. I don’t think they fit my face. I been wearing a faux hawk and a curly fro. Is this bad for my hair since I’m not doing anything to protect my ends?

  18. TC says

    I really like the article could you put in some protective hairstyles that are authorized by the military? The reason alot of women serving in the military don’t go natural and suffer breakage from constantly wearing braids and weaves is because we think we have no choice. Yet our hair must be off the collar and can’t be viewed by superiors to be bulky or unkempt. ANy help you can lend to this would be appreciated.

    • Kenneth says

      We’re working on building a style section for the site, but it’s not quite ready yet. I would suggest that you try wearing updos for your military duty. @Jael spent quite a few years in the Navy and can speak directly to some styles that may be acceptable by military standards.

    • says

      Hi TC,
      When I was in the military, I was relaxed. However, my hair was quite long and I kept it in a sock bun, flat bun and I wore braids. it was definitely something that was friendly to wearing my cover. However, I would definitely suggest taking a look at women who have longer and shorter hair and observe how their hair is kept/styled. Be sure to look at all races, not just one.
      Another option is to definitely consider having a longer transition period until you are comfortable with styling your hair per the military rules and regs. Have you tried curly styles? To me, curly styles are easier to maintain and they are PT friendly :)
      You mentioned breakage. Aside from the breakage from weaves and braids, they are probably experiencing breakage at the line of demarcation (were the relaxer meets the natural hair). This is definitely one of the weakest points of the hair during transitioning. If this is the case, I would definitely suggest deciding whether you prefer to wear your hair straight or wear it curly. This will help minimize the stress that is put on maintaining more than one type of hair on the head. Also, keep the hair conditioned as much as possible.
      I would love to speak with you more and want to stay updated on what styles you come up with.
      So, keep me posted.

      Jael

  19. ladyd says

    Hi i am a newbie, i started my jouney in Janurary,and my hair is doing some strange things. i dont really understand it, my hair is very dry from scap to the end. I went on youtube acouple of days ago and there is so much info out there. What is the deal with the ECO style gel and the kinky curl gel. Help please. Thanks

    • Kenneth says

      Hi Ladyd – I hope you’re doing well today. What do you mean you you what is the deal with ECO style gel and kinky curl gel? Can you add more context to your question?

  20. Rosa Combs says

    Hello all. I am planning for a very large Natural Hair event in Washington DC and am looking for community support of Naturals and Natural supporters. I can give more information if anyone is interested. Please email me. God Bless. I too have a few questions, but will save them for later, I am still trying to see how this forum stuff works, lol.

  21. Tina says

    Greetings Everyone,
    This site is very detailed & so I must say thank you! I’ve been chemical free since Feb. 2011 and I did the BC on Oct 2011 n now I’m loving my natural 2 the fullest! I have my good & bad hair days but with trial & errors and the advice from this lovely website, I’m sure that I’m going to be alright! lol.. Being a military spouse & a mother of 3 (my schedule is so busy 2 where I don’t have hrs 2 do my hair like I use 2) with my natural I can do quick hair styles & be on the go within minutes!!! My 4 yr old daughter is natural & her thick hair is half way down her back! I’m aiming to get back there one day & with patience & great care of my hair & body, I shall get there! I look forward from hearing from others! :) I will post my natural fro soon! :)

    • Kenneth says

      Tina – Thanks for sharing. I’m very glad that you find the site useful. Something to consider for you is to create a natural hair journal. I don’t talk about it much in this article, but having a journal can be very beneficial in the beginning as you learn more about your hair.

    • says

      Hi Tina,
      If you were able to care for your daughters hair and it has grown down her back, surely you can apply the same techniques to your hair as well and have great results. :)

      Thank you for the wonderful compliment and we hope that you continue to find the information useful. If you have any questions, please let us know.

      Jael

      • Tina Abel says

        N~ Jael you are absolutely right!!!! The time & care that I put into my daughters hair, I must def can put that into my hair & more! :) N~ thx u guys 4 being so friendly & responding back so quickly(that’s always a plus in my book)

  22. Wanda says

    Greetings, great site, very informative and detailed. I did the BC
    Sept 2011 and I am loving being natural and relaxer free. I have my natural hair notebook of how to do, what to us, products I’ve used of what works best for me and what doesn’t. Thanks for such a great site.

    • Kenneth says

      Wnada – Very nice. Hope the natural hair journey is working well for you. Congrats on your BC.

      Take care.
      Kenneth

  23. Lydia R. says

    This is very informative…but I am brand new to this natural thing and all this looks foreign to me. I transitioned for about 4 months and I did my BC on 4/13 and my hair is dry and dull. I use the oil/water mixture everyday and still dry/dull hair. is there anything that I can do?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Kenneth says

      Lydia – Congrats on your BC. I hope your natural hair journey is going well. Sometimes it can take a little time to figure out exactly how to care for your hair. There are several things that could potentially cause dry/dull hair. Let’s talk specifically about your hair care routine. Which products are you using within your regimen? How are you caring for your hair?

  24. Tanisha says

    I just wanted to say that I love this article and that I am new to natural hair transition. I was always told that my hair was so beautiful and long and to never cut it but I was the only one who didn’t like my long hair. So after I went off to college I started transitioning for about 6 months(no perms or flat irons) and then got my hair cut in Feb 4,2012 . I did not get the big chop but I only have a little more to go(I have a good bit of hair left).I love my hair and love being different from people with the traditional straight hair. My mom hates my hair she says it “naturally nappy” but she doesn’t know any better. My question is my hair is somewhat curly but what are some products to really define my curls and not be frizzy. Some parts of my hair is really curly and then some of it doesnt curl like I want it to. What can I do?

    • Kenneth says

      Tanisha – Are you still in the process of transitioning from relaxed to natural hair? You mentioned that you didn’t big chop and still have some hair left, were you referring to relaxed hair (ends)? Just curious if you’re struggling to manage the multiple textures because you still have relaxed hair that hasn’t been chopped off or grown out. Let me know…thanks.

      Kenneth

  25. Missie says

    Good morning, your Natural Hair 101 was very encouraging and helpful.I’m really looking forward to starting my Natural hair journey. Thanks

  26. Benite says

    Hi, thank you so much for this article. I just did the big chop on Friday, and I’m very nervous and cautious because I want to do this right. So I’m very happy I found this website and this article.

    • says

      Hi Benite,

      You are very welcomed! Congrats on the big chop!!

      Keep in mind that starting any new adventure can cause nervousness; however, I want to encourage you to give yourself room to error and experiment to find what works for your hair. This is the beginning of a journey, enjoy it and have fun along as well.

      Stay encouraged!

      Jael

  27. Dominique Holland says

    Wonderful article Kenneth. Who would I contact about people who would be interested in participating in a Natural Hair Expo coming up in 2013. There is a panel discussion and we would love to include a variety of people.

    Thank you,
    Dominique

  28. Dana Williams says

    Thank you so much for this site I am new to going natural, the information is very powerful & inspiring. My daughter went natural last year, I was so impressed with her courage and strength at 19, where in NYC long hair (relaxed hair) seems to be a big thing, she gradually cut her long hair ( length was to her breast), and now its so beautiful, that I decided to do so and I really love it. I am so curious about my new texture, co-washing and various natural oils to use, I wish I had done this years ago. I’m in this for the long term can’t wait for my hair to grow out as long as it did when I had the relaxer. Keep writing and thanks again!!

    • says

      Hi Dana! Thank you for your kind words and we are happy that our information is helpful. Congrats on your journey and double congrats to your daughter – that is very inspirational. Continue to discover your hair and you will be amazed. I would love if you would keep us posted on your journey.

      Jael

  29. Pamela Clarke says

    Great article. Like most sites you say to use protective styles. With a twa this is not possible. My hair is grey and has multiple textures. I have gone through several products & have not found any that I love but are okay. Most of the curl puddings leave my hair crunchy, so those went out the window. I wash weekly and spritz with h2o, leave in conditioner and oil every day. Any suggestions?

    • says

      Hi Pamela!
      The great ability of a twa is that the style within itself is a protective style. The hairs are tightly together packed down and the hair is not brushing the shoulders. So in essence, a TWA is a protective style within itself. The idea is to be sure to protect your hair at night and keep it moisturized and supple and using protein when you need to. You didn’t mention protein. How are you incorporating protein into your regimen.

      I hope this helps,

      Jael

  30. Dee says

    Hi! I found this article to be very helpful. I’ve been thinking about going natural for awhile now but I have a few concerns because I’m on a few medications that affect hair growth. When I first began the medication my former stylist cut my hair (which was longer at the time) but ever since then my hair hasn’t been able to grow nearly as much. Do you think going natural would help?

    • says

      Hi Dee,
      I am excited that you found the information helpful and you are in the right place.
      I share that if you are taking medication that is affecting your strands, not relaxing your hair is definitely a benefit. I would definitely bing or google your medication to see what others experiences have been. Speak with your physician as well as they can offer a different perspective. I know that certain blood pressure meds can affect your hair but so can having a baby or anything that make your hormones increase or decrease.

      I hope this helps! Please let me know if you have anymore questions.

      Jael

  31. says

    Well, today is the BIG day, the BIG cut. Imwas going to transition, but I decided to go with the BIG cut after my hair on the right side kept breaking. I hear stories about employment, but I have been on my job for 30 years it would be crazy for them to mess with me.

    I am going to the shop to get it cut and trimmed. It happens at 3:30pm on May 30, 2013.

    I feel good going about what ia am about to do. I am going with the short cut…. I will post how I feel after the BIG cut happens.

    • Kenneth says

      Well, that means you’re getting very close to having it done….roughly one hour and 30 minutes away. You sound very excited, so we’re very excited for you. Please be sure to tell us how it goes. If you want to do a story with pictures and discuss your experience, we’d be happy to do that. Just let us know.

      Kenneth

      • says

        Kennneth,
        You took the words right out of my mouth… Marsha, be sure to take pics definitely a before and after.

        Jael

  32. Lateasha says

    Just did my big chop two nights ago,so ready to start this natural hair journey!.This site is so far helpful in my time of need.

  33. Ninah says

    I have a concern, I swim often and I was wondering what I can do to reduce or stop the negative results of chlorine in my hair?
    Should I wash and deep condition after a swim?

  34. lorrinda says

    pls. thank you for adding me to your blog
    my hair is very hard and i find it difficult in combing it, my hair is not growing well as it should, and also can u teach what methods i can use for my hair to grow faster and longer. pls. can u help me out.
    thank you.

    • Kenneth says

      When you say that your hair is hard, can you provide more detail. Also, can you discuss which products you currently use on your hair? It is correct to assume that you’ve already gone natural?

  35. Eloya says

    Thank you so much! This articled was much more informative than the people I interviewed, especially since I have dandruff extremely bad. I was confused about what moisturizers to use. Again, thank you so much.

  36. Bettina says

    This information is so useful and I’m glad I accidentally found your website. I’m going to try the natural hair products you listed and see which one works best for me. My question is that–I’d like to know where I can go in Washington, DC to learn how to flat twist and two-strand twist my own hair? It cost $65 – $85 to get this done with just my own hair (with no extensions or added hair) at local natural hair salons. I read Dr. Phoenyx Austin’s book, If You Love It, It Will Grow and it seems that the key to our hair is to keep it moisturized because it is so dry.

  37. jamish says

    My hair is natural but I had been braiding it for over 5 years and it became very weak, light with lots of split ends and most of my hair on the hairline came out I cut it 2 months ago to the size of 1 inch. It is now grown to almost 2 inches and gaining body but quite soft. What can I do to make it harden abit. I hate it that soft.

    • says

      Hi Jamish!
      Your hair can definitely benefit from adding protein treatments to your regimen for strength and structure. Namely, Aphogee type products. If you decide to add protein, come back and let us know how it worked for you.

      Kira

  38. Shelby Reaves says

    Hi, this article was very helpful! I’ve never had a relaxer, but I’m wanting to get a new look with the curls. I’m confused on how to maintain the curls and keeping the moisturized daily. Do you moisturize your hair everyday or every other day? Does that depend on your hair? This is the part I’m stuck on.

    • says

      Hi Shelby,
      Thank you for your comment! Depending on the look you are going for, will greatly determine if you want to add a water base product or an oil base product to your hair. When my hair is in a wash & go type style, I can add water based products. However, when I am wearing a stretched style and I do not want shrinkage, I will use an oil based product, staying clear of wetness.

      I would love to know what you decided to do- Keep us posted,

      Kira

  39. Hazel Boomer says

    I’ve been natural for a few years, however, I’m having a hard time with it. First of all, I was never given the gift of doing hair lol. When I was younger, combing and brushing my hair was all I did so I wouldn’t know how to do any protective styles. Also, sadly, I’m still trying to develop a routine for my hair (trying to find the right products, hairstyles etc.) I NEED HELP!!!!

    • Hazel Boomer says

      Sorry I pressed the enter button by accident lol. But is there any advice you can give? I one shade away from perming my hair! thank you! :)

  40. says

    Hi Hazel- Oh my goodness… I think we are cut from the same cloth! Styling hair has never been my forte’. However, I have learned to do a few quick styles that I think are super. I think what has helped me with my natural texture is knowing how to braid, twist and using bobby pins.
    I have had several requests for styles and I am working on getting some together and posting.
    Kenneth wrote a great article about creating a regimens, check it out!

    http://www.curlcentric.com/natural-hair-products/

    Keep me posted on your progress and what you decide-

    Kira

  41. Senaya says

    Hello! I’ve been transitioning ever since December (2014). Well, that’s the last time I remember using heat. I don’t know when the last time I had a perm was, so I guess I’ll count this as my 2 months going on 3 transitioning. This has been very helpful on the shedding, moisturizing, and more! But I’m quite sure my relaxed hair is over-relaxed and heat damaged due to my mom not knowing much, lol. I’ve looked into the medicine and was a bit concerned. Some people say Biotin really doesn’t have an effect on them, and I’m scared to take Hair Infinity due to my young age. Any help, please?

    • says

      Hi Senaya-

      Thank you so much for commenting. Heat damage is havoc on natural hair. Depending on the severity of it. Now, there is no way to UN damage the strands at best you can strengthen them. Protein treatments like Aphogee 2 Step are best at stopping breakage in its tracks. As you continue to transition to your natural hair use heat less frequently so further heat damage isn’t caused. Learning to style your hair without using heat will be beneficial for you. Here is a link to the Aphogee Treatment: http://amzn.to/1F8BqQs

      I hope this information has been helpful!

      Kira

  42. Natlie says

    This article was very informative. However, I wish you would have wrote something about how often to clip/trim my ends. I am still new to being natural and am still learning EVERYTHING. I still have not figured out what type of hair I have. I learned of porosity through this article and I believe I have low porosity hair.

    What I have learned about my hair so far is that my hair NEEDS a lot of moisture. I tried a few products and have found that Shea Moisture makes my hair feel really dry and brittle like, Carol’s Daughter is ok, I thought it was great until I tried Cantu’s products. Cantu is WONDERFUL! Originally, the thought of not washing my hair and simply co-washing seemed nasty and unclean. Now, I LOVE to co-wash, especially with Cantu. I have also learned if I do not wash my hair at least once a week my hair will fall out VERY BADLY. When I say bad I mean it looks like I am standing on a hair rug in the shower. It is everywhere, on the walls, on the shower curtain, on my face, on my shoulders and other body parts, it is a mess. That is when I tried to co-wash and I washed my hair every 2-3 days and bam very very little shedding. I also use the leave in conditioner. I did not know that product is not supposed to remain white on your hair after application. This too let me know that I have low porosity hair. Side note: my hair is extremely thick, so the extreme shedding is not noticeable what-so-ever.

    I wear my hair in cornrows everyday with a wig on top. I will spray Carol’s Daughter hair milk refresher spray on my hair then apply any moisturizing creme I may have to give it moisture. Those cremes could be Cantu leave in conditioner, Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla hair sheen, Kera Care Butter Cream, or Cantu’s Tea Tree & Jojoba hair & scalp oil.

    I have yet to trim my ends since I did the big chop. I was trying to do the transition technique of simply growing my hair out. But that was horrible working with two different types of hair (permed and natural). So I went to a beautician and had her cut all my perm off. That was around May/June 2014, it is 8-10 months later. Now, that I am writing about it it seems like it is about time I get my ends trimmed.

    Also, my hair is around 5 inches long. I used my cell phone to measure my hair, lol, iPhone 5c. It is a finger nail length longer than the phone. I have not found any beautiful natural styles to try. All the beautiful styles are for long or very long natural hair. I do not care for an afro, ON ME. I have to be careful of looking too masculine that can be very easy for me. Right now and to me, I look a bit manly when I wear my afro. However, I do enjoy wearing my afro. But, I am married and that is not what my husband married. My hair is on my body and blah blah blah. But, that is changing things that attracted my husband to me. That is like my husband being attracted to very large Nicki Minaj like butts and I go get a butt reduction. So, going from straight relaxed (and unhealthy) hair to natural was a year long discussion/fight with my husband. But, he saw how passionate I was about going natural. So, I still need to keep it feminine and attractive all while being natural.

    Last thought, I have a very difficult time trusting people in my hair. When I was on the creme crack it was hard. I had a lot of HORRIBLE experiences. I do not want to go through this with my natural hair that I have been actually paying attention to and learning to love for almost a year now. I do not want someone to mess it up. I worked hard on these 5 inches. Also, I have dusty like brown hair. I want to color it wither a richer brown or maybe black. Is that a bad thing? My natural hair color makes my hair look as if it is dirty, dry, damaged and unhealthy. But, it is not, it just looks that way. It took me to go natural to realize that my hair is not damaged it is just an ugly brown. Can you suggest how to go about finding a naturalist beautician that doesn’t want you to pay with your arm and leg? I live in Anne Arundel County (Maryland near Baltimore).

    I hope I did not write too much. lol. Thanks for the article and website.

    • says

      OMG, Natalie, you are hilarious!!
      Thank you for your reply. No, it is definitely not to much- *wait
      til you read my reply*
      I appreciate your honest feedback and I love your story<3

      I’m humbled that Natural Hair 101 was helpful.

      I apologize that it didn’t include information on trimming.
      But I can give you some insight, right now.

      My thoughts on trimming…

      Trimming is one of those personal choices because the
      frequency can change depending on who you ask.
      There is the mind set of trimming on a frequent schedule,
      around every 6 weeks or so, or some predetermine criteria.
      This frequency is thought to prevent damage before it starts.
      The hair is trimmed even though there is no visible damage.
      But if growth is your goal trimming frequently feels counter-productive.
      However, if you wear your hair straight and need your hair to be even,
      trimming frequently is more ideal and appealing. If you are scissor happy,
      trimming often can result in taking off more than intended.

      On the other hand, trimming less often and when there is visible damage
      will allow you to trim damage that is seen and or felt. Particularly,
      single strand knots and split ends and cut right above it. If your hair isn’t worn
      in a straight style, then having an even hemline probably isn’t a big deal.
      If you have a length goal, trimming less frequent is more appealing
      because over time, you will actually see the progress. Hair that
      is kept mostly in protective styles would benefit from the occasional trim.

      Which method suits you best; trimming often or trimming on occasion?

      Coloring your hair darker is not bad. Generally, people run into problems
      they color it too light.

      I am very protective about my hair as well. I completely understand where
      you are coming from. You will find that no one knows your hair as well
      as you do. Basically, I suggest interviewing them. The key is to not need
      a stylist but to want one because you don’t want to do it yourself. However,
      if you need to, you will. Needing one creates a recipe for settling for less
      than what you generally would. Here is a blog post that is for looking for
      as stylist to big chop you and I think it is applicable when looking for a
      stylist in general. One thing that will never get old is a recommendation from
      a repeat customer that is satisfied. So talk to other naturals in your city
      who have color. They may recommend a stylist, then you can start the
      interview :-)

      I think I have answered your questions. If I didn’t, let me know and I will.

      I look forward to hearing more about your journey and the things you have
      encountered :-)

      Kira

  43. Phephe K says

    I find this article very helpful and informative. I’ve been thinking of going natural for awhile now but little scared because I have the most kinkiest thick hair. Too many relaxers and weaves is breaking off my hair. Do I get the big chop off? Thank you.

    • says

      Hi Phephe K!
      I completely understand your hesitation for starting your journey as you describe your hair as the most kinkiest. What you are feeling and experiencing is very real and honestly, it is very common.
      It is very simple for me to say, “Girl, accept your hair and it will all be better because all hair is good hair.”
      The thing is, your natural hair decisions and journey are going to be very personal and going forward, you have to start learning that whatever texture and curl patten you have, it is yours and there is nothing wrong with it.
      I would only suggest big chopping when you are ready and if you are ok with having short hair. However, if you decide that you are not ok with big chopping, you will need to transition to natural hair.
      Take a really good look at your hair, write down what is contributing to your hair breakage. What is it about the weave and relaxers that’s breaking your hair? What things can you change in how you handle your hair? Once you address these things, you can start doing them as you transition.
      Ultimately, the decision to big chop or to transition to natural hair is yours.

      Please keep us updated with what you decide!

      Kira

  44. Sugarpunk says

    Wow..I’ve been thinking of going natural for about 3 months now but I’m so afraid because my hair has a slow growth..any advice on what I should do ? I’ve been transitioning for about 3 months without any growth should I just do the big chop once and for all or is there a way I can grow my hair faster? Please help it will mean the world to me

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