In no way are we implying it takes only a few steps to going natural with black hair, but there are vital steps to get the natural hair ball rolling. Going natural should and can be a freeing and positive experience but many women have serious questions. How do I go natural? Is going natural hard? Can just anybody go natural? Unfortunately, there are few how-tos that give step by step directions on how to care for natural black hair and the reason many think going natural is hard because it is the direct opposite of being relaxed.
Going natural is something new and that can be quite scary. Yes, many of us were natural as little girls but we weren’t caring for our own hair and there were few products that actually nurtured our curls, coils and kinks. Times have changed and there is support and a ton of products out here now.
So, how do you go natural? Here’s a quick how-to that will ease your mind as you take the amazing leap and care for your natural tresses.
Picking Between The Big Chop Or Long-Term Transitioning
Once you’ve made the choice to go natural, you have two options to choose from – The Big Chop or Transitioning. This needs to be the very first step in going natural with black hair. This step will determine what type of products to use, whether or not to cut your hair and how your journey will transpire. Let’s find out what is expected from you for both paths.
The Big Chop For Black Hair
The Big Chop is a term that is used in the natural hair community to describe the act of cutting off all chemically processed hair. After The Big Chop most women are left with a short Afro, or TWA (teeny, weeny Afro). A sexy look and drastic, this look is a favorite style of new and veteran naturals.
If you’re eager to go natural, then this method is for you. With The Big Chop, you’re immediately natural. You don’t have to wait for your natural hair to grow out or have trouble styling two completely different hair textures. Even though you are only dealing with one texture it does not mean your path will be easier necessarily. It just means you will be dealing only with one texture of beautiful black hair.
Transitioning is the term used to describe the act of allowing natural hair to grow out over time. With this method, chemically treated hair is left intact and trimmed off gradually as your hair grows. Many women prefer to transition for a while before doing The Big Chop. This gives them a chance to play around with their natural hair texture before making The Big Chop commitment.
Those of you who don’t feel comfortable rocking a short Afro may also find transitioning a better approach to going natural. Transitioning doesn’t come without setbacks. Women who transition to natural using this approach often experience split ends, knots and breakage.
Steer Clear Of Heat for Natural Black Hair!
When going natural your hair may be delicate going from relaxed to natural and as you remove dangerous chemicals from your routine, adding heat can only cause more harm than good. Direct heat (flat irons, curling irons, straightening combs, blow dryers -without diffusers) dry out and damage curly, coily and kinky hair.
HERE ARE 5 COMMON MISTAKES WOMEN MAKE WHEN THEY GO NATURAL
No one is saying to leave it alone forever but give your hair a fighting chance as you go natural and care for it. Natural hair needs a ton of moisture, I mean a ton! You also can get heat damage with one application of direct heat and heat damage is irreversible. Here’s an explanation below:
“If you heat keratin (hair protein) to around 215-235°C (419-455F) the alpha helix starts to melt. This is a physical change and it is irreversible, your hair will retain the shape of the melted keratin at a molecular level. Your hair shows you this molecular damage by not getting back into its natural curl or wave and staying straighter.” The Natural Haven
Indirect heat like heating caps, blow dryers with diffusers and on low heat or cool are the ideal ways to apply heat to your hair to stave off heat damage and dryness.
Gotta Get The Right Tools For Black Hair
Once you’ve decided on an approach to going natural, you must then equip yourself with the right styling tools and products. Before you begin buying new products, you must first get rid of all relaxers and chemical treatments from your home. If you decide to keep them, you may be tempted to use them further down the line.
List of Most Needed Tools For Black Hair
- Wide-tooth comb
- Moisturizing conditioner
- processing caps (cheap plastic caps)
- Satin sleeping bonnet and/or satin pillowcase
- Clarifying Shampoo
- Cowashing conditioner
- Deep conditioner
- Leave-in conditioner
- Styling gel and/or styling cream
You may also want to experiment with different essential natural oils, sulfate-free shampoos or deep conditioning treatments to see which work best on your hair texture. It may be hard to find out what works initially so try a few popular brands that are easy to find and not that expensive like Mielle Organics, SheaMoisture, Curls, or even Eden BodyWorks.
If you have decided to go with the Big Chop, chances are you’ve never had any experience styling your natural hair texture. You may want to take this time to test out different products on your hair, such as styling gels and curl activators.
For those of you who decide to transition, you will have more styling options, which may require purchasing several different hair care products. If transitioning, you should invest Magnetic Rollers / Perm Rods Or Flexi Rods. Wearing roller sets is an excellent way to disguise the difference in hair textures that comes with transitioning.
This is an extensive list and we are not saying you will need all the items mentioned. This is simply a guide for natural black hair maintenance.
Remember, This Is A Journey & Not A Race
One of the most important steps to going natural with your beautiful black hair is realizing that this is not a race but rather a lifestyle change and mastering going natural overnight is not realistic. I am STILL learning and I’ve been natural going on 12 years! As we age our hair needs change along with hair due to hormonal, medical, and even geographical changes.
You may have forgotten but you didn’t master relaxed hair overnight so please expect to do it with natural black hair. Enlist patience, acceptance (of one’s natural texture), and failures while you learn how to care for natural tresses. There are many wins when going natural but just like life, there is a lot of trial and error. If you don’t want to be one that goes natural several times, take your time, learn from your mistakes and be patient with your hair and yourself.
If you want a positive outcome and healthy natural hair, then following these first steps will get you there. I love being natural and I know you will too, so stay positive, open-minded and enjoy your natural hair journey once you choose to take the right steps to get you there!