Natural Hair Myths

By . - Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Via - Daily Nation
There are countless things peddled around about what you can do with your hair as a natural, and the problem is, we tend to believe a lot of it. The thing is, there are a few myths you need to discount if you are a natural who is possibly getting frustrated with her hair for not doing what countless magazines have promised it would.
1. Your hair is versatile
That sounds like a great idea. In fact, if there ever was a reason to immediately get the Big Chop, that would be it, right? But hold on a minute. Versatility is relative.
As a natural who has experienced serious hair envy and felt compelled to rush to the nearest salon to texturise/relax/dreadlock my hair, I have learnt that versatility is almost always about other people’s experience of their own hair.
You only know what your hair can do once you have tried it. For instance, my textured ‘fro in reality only has one texture — kinks. Anyone else trying to recreate it would have to have my exact hair.
The same goes for those magnificent ‘fros in magazines and blogs with countless, perfect curls. Some, I have since learnt, are human-hair wigs. Case in point – Jill Scott.
To attain that texture, I’ve had to endure a straw set and hood dryer, eliminating a total of four productive hours of my life. It looked beautiful. But it wouldn’t last beyond two or three days tops. Sure you can straighten, but you need to keep that to a minimum.
Creative hair styling is limited, too. Local salons do not exactly boast an overwhelming repertoire of naturalists (natural hair stylists who know precisely what to do with your hair and can make recommendations). It is up to you to learn the limits of your hair and then play with or work around it.
2. Your hair is thick
The truth is that it possibly isn’t. When we hear of fine hair, we immediately think thin, straight strands, mostly Caucasian and blonde. Unless that’s just me. And, because black, natural hair is big, wide and voluminous, it is very easy, and in fact, almost natural, to presume that it’s got volume.
The side-effect of presuming our hair is thick lies in the handling. Because our hair is more manageable wet and/or straight, we forget it could also be coarse, leading to manhandling and loss of hair. Big does not equal thick.
If your volume is spirited away in water, chances are you have less volume than you imagined.
While we’re at it, your hair is very fragile. Think soft, baby cashmere as opposed to steel wool!
Thickness is a natural phenomenon, by the way. Just like you are genetically designed to be black, you can’t change it. Learn it.
3. Your hair is low-maintenance
Natural hair is mistakenly presumed to be a breeze to take care of. Anyone who thinks that clearly lies on the short end of the hair spectrum.
When your hair is short enough for a wash and go and it still looks great and healthy, then yes, it would be low-maintenance. But with the realisation that natural hair can actually grow to great lengths, more and more naturals are putting in the extra effort — and it is a whole lot of it.
You need to find the right product, which mostly happens through trial and error. You can’t use a lot of heat a lot of the time, you can’t pull it too tight, you need to learn protective styling, you have to figure out how to wear natural hair in a corporate setting and look professional, you need to rethink colour and how your hair reacts to products generally and colour specifically and you must understand your kink and texture.There is nothing quick and easy about a good, healthy head of natural hair. You need to commit. It is a love affair like no other. Here is the clincher. You will spend a lot of money the first few years of going natural, mostly because you’ll be fumbling and experimenting a lot.
4. Your hair is like everyone else’s
It really isn’t. Just because a natural hair icon from uses coconut oil to pre-treat and Miss Jessie’s conditioner to co-wash doesn’t mean that these products will work for you.
Also, if your hair is about six inches long, your routine is very different from a natural with 12 inches. When your hair is below six inches, detangling is not a dilemma for you, and you can easily wing it on a short crop or a wash-and-go lifestyle if you don’t mind shrinkage.
When your hair is mid-length, protective styling is your greatest friend. Primarily because your greatest desire is to get length, but you’ll likely cheat a lot by using heat, which damages your hair at the most critical phase of growth. You also need to learn to detangle.
It is how you treat your hair in this phase that determines how enjoyable the next phase of longer hair is.
And in this next phase, slow, painstaking care is required. Washing, conditioning and detangling take hours, elbow grease and a fine understanding of what works for your hair. This is the advanced class.
5. You will be confused
Natural hair is a baffling universe. The language, texture, lifestyle, products and people are all different. If you don’t find a mentor or friend, you will easily get lost in the maze. There are also plenty of opinions and advice, tips, dos and don’ts given.
Of course, there is the aspect of making friends with fellow naturals as you learn your hair, find out what works, what it looks like under various circumstances and finding the right salon/stylist/friend/blog/website/Facebook page to help you take care of it.
Finally, there is the little fact that most big-name companies sell natural hair products through salons and at a professional’s recommendation because how else would you know what exists out there; and the small ones like Miss Jessie’s and Carol’s Daughter are practically inaccessible. You need an insider and an induction just to get into the club!
This is not to discourage you, but to clarify one simple point: natural hair does not mean something left in its original state.

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