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Being Natural In College

In the comfort of your home, you may have a kitchen sink to wash your hair in, a mother who understands what a bonnet means, a mirror you can use all night while you’re twisting your hair or a bathroom where you can put your hair products on the counter.  But what about living with random roommates, having no kitchen in your dorm, or having to carry all of your hair products to and from the bathroom?  Maintaining natural hair in college is a little more challenging than you’d think especially if you live in a dorm.  How do you maintain your mane while away from home?

Let your roommates know!
The first step when managing your natural hair is to let your roommates know in advance about your hair routine.  They will become more understanding and you guys can work out a schedule or make compromises around it.

Get a shower caddy
A shower caddy should be something that you invest in anyways while going to college.  But what should you put in there?  At most, it should be shampoo, conditioner, a wide tooth comb, a hair clip, and a shower cap.  Try not to bring any other styling products with you – it will mean you’re spending more time in the shower and people may be waiting on you to get out.  Bottom line is – shower caddies are helpful.

Washing your hair
If you are a Freshman, most likely you will NOT get a kitchen in your own dorm.  Check your housing assignment online to confirm.  However, there will most likely be a community kitchen that the whole building can use.  I would suggest this will be your first resort as a location to washing your hair.  I would only suggest shampooing at this sink and doing the conditioning in your room – that way you can take time to really saturate your hair with the conditioner and detangle.  If there is no sink available to you, you will have to take a longer route – the shower.  Before showering, I would part the hair in four sections to make the washing process easier.  While in the shower,  wash and condition your hair in those four sections, throw a cap on your head, wash your body, then rinse out everything.

No last minutes, no new styles
In college, although there may not be a bell system, professors can still mark you tardy.  No need to lose points on  your grade because you thought that trying a new hairstyle the day of class would be a good idea.  Also, try not to wash or style your hair right before class either.  It always takes longer than you think.  Just do it after class.  There’s no one in class to impress but your professors with your grades.  Now when I say “no new styles” don’t freak out.  Please experiment!  But don’t experiment when you need to leave your room in 15 minutes.

Keep beanie caps and hair pins handy!
Maybe you had twists in the night before but woke up too late to take them out.  Maybe you wore a braid out but it started raining unexpectedly.  You always want to be able to keep something with you that can help save your style when it’s just not cooperating.

Don’t let your hair stop you
In college, you never know what your next move is going to be.  You could go to class, sit in the Student Union, then next thing you know you’re at friend’s dorm and then… they ask you to go to Zumba class.  Please do not be the friend that’s all “I just did my hair”.  Keep your hair minimal.  Hair is just hair.  Don’t let your hair stop you from forming memories  you’ll probably never forget.  The experience is more important than what you look like.

Styling
Get a full sized mirror for your dorm room, a spray bottle, and a hand towel.  Most dorm rooms come with a desk chair that you can sit in.  You can bring your styling process into your room to free up the sink area for your roommates.  It may feel odd at first but you’ll become used to doing your hair in your room.

Try to avoid direct heat!
I am not saying this because it will damage your hair (it will), I am saying this because fire alarms in dorm rooms are extremely sensitive!  I myself have set off a fire alarm from simply blow drying my hair.  This will be a good time to challenge yourself to no heat!  If you absolutely must use heat on your head, use a heat protector but nothing else.  Even steam can set off these alarms.

Be Clean
If you clean the bathroom counters, get the hairs off the shower walls, vacuum or sweep floors after you’re done, then your roommates will NOT mind if you do your hair.  However, let you start leaving hair everywhere and sticky counter tops and your roommates will not be very happy.  At most you should be doing your hair once a week so cleaning up after yourself is nothing and should be done anyways.

Stay motivated
Let me tell you first hand – there are going to be nights when you’re 80 videos deep in Youtube looking at girls with cute, short hairstyles.  Or you’re gonna see a girl on campus who dyed her hair a beautiful red.  Or this other girl who just straightened her hair and is whipping it around like no one’s business.  All I could say is to stay motivated on YOUR journey.  Dyes, hair cutting, and heat are all setbacks that you will later regret.  Dye makes your hair dry, heat can ruin your natural pattern, after a haircut, you always want it to grow back out.  If it’s something you realllyyy want to do, do it.  But do not let others influence you.  “Friends” are too quick to say “you should do it!” rather than really thinking about what’s best for you.

Most of all just enjoy your time in college.  You cannot get undergrad back and it only lasts 4-6 years.  You will miss it.  Hair should be the least of your worries.  Your main goal in college is to come out with a degree.

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