Natural Hair Begginers Guide
The journey back to natural can be both fulfilling and frustrating at times. With so many products and styling methods it can be a bit overwhelming and getting accustomed to your new look can be intimidating as well. Take a deep breath and relax because we have you covered with the basics to help you on your journey to Black Girl Magic.
To chop or not to chop
This is probably one of the hardest decisions to make as you begin your journey to natural hair. You can transition slowing by growing out your relaxed or heat damaged ends and clipping them once reaching your desired length.
Transitioning can have its challenges as you are working with two different hair textures at the root and the ends. This can cause more tangling at the straighter ends and makes certain styles impossible because of the variance in texture. If you decide to transition you will find that twist outs, braid outs, and heatless roller sets will blend the textures seamlessly.Here are a few styles that help camouflage your textures and keep you looking cute. Alternatively, you can chop all your hair off in one swoop which is called The Big Chop. To Big Chop means to cut off all of your relaxed or heat damaged tresses and grow your natural mane from scratch. Fearless divas everywhere slay this look to the fullest with a super close crew cut or a chic and flirty TWA.
Which brings me to my next subject, natural hair acronyms. There are a lot of acronyms to become familiar with as you research natural hair articles online. Here are few of the most common.
Omg! Can I tell you my own personal experience with this one? I decided to Big Chop September 2012. I researched online and browsed natural hair blogs for help to style my new short cut. I admittedly felt like Michael Jackson on the Off the Wall album cover but I was determined to love my hair for what it was and not what I wanted it to be. It was a short little fro that I didn't feel so cute and chic in but I figured it had to grow on me or else I could just wear a wig. I searched online for short natural cuts and I kept seeing TWA everywhere and had no idea what it meant. Teeny Weenie Afro, or TWA, is a short cut of an Afro and due to its short lengthit's name fits perfectly.
This is another that had me stumped in the beginning but most commonly comes up once you pass the TWA stage in your growth journey. A Single Strand Knot, SSK, is when your curls coil back against and up a hair strand and knots itself. They are also called fairy knots because the knots are so small since they are on one strand and seem to magically appear. These knots occur on a single strand of hair and can be cut out. If your hair is prone to SSKs it's easiest to avoid SSK's by keeping your split ends at bay, curls moisturized or stretched by two strand twisting, banding or braid outs. Here are some other tips for managing SSKs.
An easy way to keep track of your hair care routine is the L.O.C. Method. L.O.C. stands for Liquid, Oil, Cream. By applying your hair products in this order, you can retain moisture better by sealing in the moisture (liquid) using the oil and following up with a styling cream. I've used this method and had great results. It also simplified my daily hair routine and promoted length retention because my hair maintained hydration. You can give this quick one step cocktail a try for easy get up and go styling.
Getting the right styling tools is important to maintaining healthy hair. Combing tools are used to create volume and detangle your curls. For detangling, you can opt to use a finger detailing method, a modified Denman brush, shower comb, or detangling brush. An Afro Pick is a must have for lifting your hair at the roots to get the most volume for your fro. Also, a Boar Bristle brush is good for smoothing the sides of a high puff, afro puffs, or fro hawk. To secure your style you will need metal-free elastic bands or ribbon ties and bobby pins to keep you looking fresh and your hair healthy.
A few go to styles to get you started are two strand twist outs, braid outs, high puffs and the Wash n’ Go. Your hair will be stretched to a longer length when using twist out or braid outs. Using your Afro Pick will lift and separate these curls to give you more volume and thicker hair. High puffs are perfect when you want to add some sass to your look or if your attempt to mimic your favorite YouTubers is a fail, it happens. Wash N’ Gos are great for showing off your curl pattern and once you master this it can be am easy go to on wash day. Remember, since every curly girl is different your Wash N’ Go will look differently from what you see online. Try not to compare your hair to others but learn how your own hair responds to products, styling method and the climate.
Your hair will behave differently and need specific nourishmentdepending on the time of year. In the cold and drier months of Fall and Winter you will need more moisture and protection. This is a good time to try different protective styles like Crochet Braids, Wigs, or Braided styles where your ends are safely tucked away. As the temperatures climb and the air becomes more humid, moisture will be easier to retain. In this case you can opt for stylers with more hold and antihumectants to keep moisture out and help you fight reversion, keeping your styles longer.
This journey you started is so worth it. It’s liberating to be able to rock your own hair and feel proud. In addition to the tips shared here the most important thing to remember is to be patient with your hair and love it. Your hair deserves your respect and TLC. Don’t make comparisons, embrace your texture and be fearless with your style.
Article by Tina McEachin
Cover photo source here