Tag Archive | natural

Can You Achieve Healthy, Relaxed Hair?

Girls who relax their hair will occasionally get the dreaded question: “Have you ever thought about going natural?”  Why is there a push or lean for women who relax to go natural?  The most common answer to that is that relaxers are damaging… or are they?

Opinion
The idea that relaxers aren’t good for your hair honestly depends on what your version of “good” means.  To say that a chemical relaxer “damages” hair is an opinion.  Do not forget that hair is dead – that’s why it doesn’t hurt when you cut it.  The only thing that you can do to your hair is … preserve the dead state.  It’s almost like taking a junk car (hair) and smashing it (applying a relaxer) and saying that it’s damaging to the car.  The car already doesn’t work.  So if your hair is already dead when a relaxer is applied… is it really damaging the hair?  Preserving dead hair is all what being natural means.  After all, a single strand of hair only has a life of about 7 years before it sheds.

Relaxed hair doesn’t grow long
Yes and no.  Again this depends.  When girls relax their hair, it is usually also blow dried and straightened.  It might even be bleached for color.  Those three processes alone can “damage” the hair even on natural/preserved hair.

You’re trying to meet European standards of beauty
No no and nope.  Do not believe for a second that anyone relaxes their hair and thinks “boy, I sure do hope I look whiter today!” People do not understand and underestimate the difficulty and time spent on natural hair.  It is not in everyone’s desire to spend hours detangling, washing, twisting, or deep conditioning every week.  The texture of natural hair can also be extremely difficult to manage especially if we haven’t been used to it.  Hair is hair.  It is there to be manipulated.

So with that being said, is it possible?
It all depends on what you think is healthy.  Hair is dead.  Whatever changes happens to your hair just depends on how much you value hair being preserved.  Why do you think our common hair products have those weird, periodic table ingredients in them?  They’re essentially… preservatives.  So why the push for natural ingredients?  Natural ingredients cause less “damage” to the hair as they don’t create buildup or further, slight chemical changes.  So it’s all an opinion.  If you choose to relax, let people know that all hair is dead.

 

Pretoria Girls High Says No to Natural Hair

 

As some may have seen on the news or social media, Pretoria High School is an all girls school in South Africa that has been in the hot seat for not allowing fros or natural hair.  Look at this statement copied and pasted verbatim from their website:

The school was founded in the earnest hope that here girls of different races and different denominations might meet in that commonwealth of letters which gave Erasmus and Shakespeare to the world. – Edith Aitken.

Interesting isn’t it?  So as you can imagine, we now have protesters made of high school girls wanting to wear their natural hair without having to straighten or conform to their standard of “acceptable” hair.

Here’s also a screenshot from their code of conduct where it talks about their general appearance:
code of conduct

Although natural afros or natural hair textures isn’t exactly mentioned, there is definitely a strict policy on hair.  One interesting thing I noticed about the code of conduct is that the first paragraph seems to address the white students and the third paragraph seems to address the black students.  Black girls seem to be limited to boring braids/cornrows, skinny dreads, or straight hair since hair must be brushed, kept in a TIGHT bun, or ponytail not visible from the front.

Several students have been told to straighten their hair, that they look like monkeys, or that their hair looks like nests.  This is strictly racism and ignorance.  Pretoria Girls High was and is predominately a white institution.

It truly saddens me as a person who is natural and wears their hair around the workplace and school proudly, that there are young girls out there who are being ridiculed for doing the same thing.

Also, if you feel that you are being attacked about your appearance, please protest and raise awareness!  Get people to know about the issue and you’d be surprised at how quickly things can get resolved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO TAKE ACTION, PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION DOWN BELOW TO STOP THE RACISM:

Stop Racism at Pretoria Girls High

Natural Hair IS Professional

I am sure we have come across numerous articles making the statement that natural hair in the workplace is seen as unprofessional.  What I find funny is that these articles are usually written by other black women.  Where are the actual sources and evidence from our counterparts that also agree?

You type in “unprofessional hair” in Google and our beautiful natural hair pops up.  Do you know why?  Because when black women write an article about how unprofessional our hair is, they use images of our natural hair over and over again, polluting the search results which in a weird way is brainwashing ourselves!

I wear my natural hair proudly around the workplace and I get nothing but compliments about it both from black and white people.  I do not believe for a second anyone is looking at me thinking I am unprofessional.  As long as you’re dressed well and you look groomed, you are professional.

Do not fall into the idea created by ourselves that your natural hair is not professional.  That may have been true generations ago but it is not today.  Any hairstyle can honestly look unprofessional if not done right.  If someone at the workplace tells you to change your hair, please consult HR or a manager immediately!

I am absolutely pro-black but I do not believe that the “man” is after us all the time.  If you get denied from work places, please do not think about your name, race, or the way you look.  Someone could have just been honestly more qualified than you.  Or someone could have been best friends with the hiring manager – you never know the reasoning.  If you believe that someone did not hire you because of the previous reasons, please consult their manager or corporate if you have proof.

But back to our beautiful natural locks – it is professional.  It’s just all about the way you present it and maintain it.

However – I am aware of those cases where little girls are being sent home from school because their hair is “too distracting” or women are being asked to take out their braids for work, or how the military is just recently allowing us to wear braids and twists.  This is definitely discrimination against hair types.  All I could say that to that is keep promoting the idea that natural hair is normal and well… natural.  Eventually, society will make accommodations for us as they see it as a normal thing (as you saw with the military).  We have spent too many years trying to straighten our hair or wear weave that “they” figured that majority of our population wears our hair straight.  This is why I am advocating for natural hair – the more women wear their hair natural, the more changes you will see in society’s attitudes towards our hair type.

Why I Am Choosing Long, Natural Hair

What baffled me the most was when I wore a relaxer and people would comment on how “long” my hair was when it just fell down to my shoulders…I know what long hair looks like.  Long hair to me is mid-back length and below.  So why is it that when a black woman has hair down to her shoulders, it’s considered long?

Yes, this is me around 2008

Compared to this?!

I tell people all the time – as of right now, my hair is NOT long.  I really want to break the stereotype that black women cannot grow hair past their collar bone.  Hair has always been a hot topic among our community.  I see being natural as an outlet to have our hair grow and flourish to it’s full potential.  With proper care, the first thing girls notice when they go natural is how fast their natural hair catches up to their previous relaxed hair length.  It really only takes 2 years to go from bald to shoulder length.  Why is it that we speak about how long our hair used to be as a child but can’t seem to achieve the same lengths today?

Anyone can wake up and decide to cut their hair.  Short hair is easy.  Short hair is achievable by anyone who can grow hair.  But what about long, healthy hair?  It takes years, care, and patience to be able to achieve that.  There is nothing wrong with short hair but it becomes a problem when people are shocked that a black woman’s hair comes past her collar bone.  We.Are.The.Only.Race.With.This.Issue

One thing though that bothers me about hair is the division that happens among black women.   In the process of looking at other girls’ hair, black women start to compare and down themselves:  “My hair won’t do that.  My hair ain’t like hers.  My hair this.  My hair that.”  Or let’s not forget that dreaded comment: “She has good hair!”  I have numerous accounts with black women who will give me a compliment then proceed to tell me how they can’t get their like mine or how their hair is too nappy to leave out.  Honestly, these comments are sickening.  I believe all black women should be proud of what they have BEFORE they proudly rock inches that are not theirs.

Urban Bush Babes

Whitney (Naptural85)

We as a whole need to do better to break this stereotype.  I understand that however you wear your hair is a choice but it shouldn’t be at a point where short hair is the norm for us.  It shouldn’t be at a point where long hair on black women is thought to be fake before it’s even believed to be real.  It shouldn’t be at a point where women ask me where I’m buying my hair from or trying to dig their fingers in my scalp to feel for tracks.  It should not be this much of an issue.  Look at the shelves in the beauty supply stores.  Why are there so many products that promise hair growth?  Companies are preying on our stereotype to make money off us.  I repeat:

We.Are.The.Only.Race.With.This.Issue


Side Note:  I am aware of the health issues and genetics that can play a role in hair growth and I am excusing those cases.  

“My natural hair isn’t curling up!”

Yes – I am talking about frizzy, limp, undefined curls.  Every natural’s worst nightmare.  First, let me knock out the two bad habits that may be the reason for the lack of definition.

  1. Heat – When women go natural, they think their hair is stronger than ever and nothing can stop it.  WRONG!  Heat is a natural hair girl’s worst enemy.  It’s so notorious for damage that Youtubers make “Watch My Hair Revert” videos to show users that their hair either did or did not get heat damage while going from straight to curly.  Heat damage is caused in many different ways from blow-drying to just being out in the sun.  Heat damage is irreversible.  There is no special conditioner that will make your curls revert.  Heat-damaged curls hang limper and straighter which can be an eye-sore in a head full of curly hair.  The only way to get rid of it – cut the damaged part out.
  2. Bleach – Whenever you dye your hair a lighter color, you are using bleach.  Even if it’s an at-home box dye, there’s bleach in the product.  Bleach will make your hair dryer as it strips the outer layers of the hair – essentially leaving less pockets that moisture can sink into.  Bleach is permanent and cannot be fixed.  If you put black hair dye over bleached hair, eventually the black will fade and the brown/blonde color will show through.  The only way to get rid of it – cut the bleached part out.

Now that we have that out the way, let’s assume you have NO heat damage and your hair is not dyed to a lighter color.  You essentially have virgin, natural hair.  What else can you do?

  • Water – water is the best moisturizer for your hair.  If your hair feels dry, do not use “moisturizers” or oils.  Use water first THEN put those products in to seal in the water.
  • Gel/Thick Creams – If you want your hair defined, then you’ll need something with good hold.  If you use light-weight products then your hair will dry frizzier and bigger (which may not be a bad thing to some).  Find out what gels and creams work best for your hair type.
  • Deep Condition – Curls do not come out if they are not moisturized.  Deep conditioners soften curls and holds water in for longer as it leaves an oily coating on the hair.
  • Work with smaller sections – depending on the length and thickness of your hair, it may not good to work with all of your hair at once.  Part your hair in at least 4 sections and work with those sections individually.  Apply water through a spray bottle and while your hair is wet, apply the gels or creams of your choice.
  • Detangle, detangle, detangle – I can’t stress this enough!  Use a brush or wide tooth comb and really take time to get out all of the knots.  There’s no point in trying to define something that is tangled.  Make sure to detangle from the tip first then work your way up.
  • Trim – If you see some potential in your hair but it gets fuzzy towards the ends, it may be time for a trim.  Trim at least twice a year and only less than a half inch at a time.  Eliminating split-ends can make your hair look healthier.
  • Wash your hair – Eventually with all the product build up, your hair will actually get weighed down which can affect your curl pattern.  Lift the grease and dirt away with a clarifying shampoo, deep condition, and start over.

NEWS FLASH: YOU MAY NOT HAVE CURLY HAIR

If you have been chasing curly hair ever since you have been natural with no results, your hair may not be curly.  Not everyone’s hair has a curl.  Some may be on the wavy side while others may have a zig-zag pattern.  Some may have all of the above!  Embrace what you have.  However, it is possible to define whatever you have still following the tips above.  Curls are not natural for everyone.  “Natural hair” does not mean “curly hair”.