ILLUSTRATED BY Brittany Holloway-Brown

We live in such a superficial society that is ruled by the beauty of the month and even if you fall into that particular beauty category today, there is no guarantee it will be still coveted tomorrow.  Airbrushed models in magazines and online get exposed on national news but it continues to happen even after the outcry from activist groups demand for it to stop.  Daily we see in the news how all this beauty hype is affecting our young daughters and as we struggle to keep them feeling as self-confident as they should we can fall victim to the same insecurities. Yea, beauty is big business and despite the fickleness of the industry a woman must be able to feel beautiful inside and out and when you are newly natural and you don’t like your hair that’s a bigger feat than some can master.

Do you have to like your natural hair?  Well, I’ll tell you this much…it certainly helps!  For a newly natural there is an abundance of knowledge that is accessible through blogs, vlogs, books and magazines.  It’s no shortage of how tos, how nots and products that will sell you the world in a bottle, but some things can’t be bought or learned like learning to love your own tresses.  I can sit here all day and try to force you to accept your texture or look but if you truly don’t care for it my words will fall on deaf ears.  It’s not the end of the world because there are ways to learn to love your tresses or at least like them and even if you feel much better covering them up make sure you know what’s going on with your mane and maybe it will change your way of thinking.

Knowledge is power!
A newly natural may be concerned with curl definition, growth and styles but what they need to be concerned with is porosity, scab hair, line of demarcation and moisture retention.  The basics of healthy hair care is knowledge and many newly naturals are unaware of the importance of the terms mentioned above.  The more you know about your tresses the more you can achieve healthy hair and become happier with your hair.

Porosity – Your hair’s ability to soak up moisture.  There are low, normal and high porosity hair types and they all mean just how porous a strand of hair is and the ability for those strands to absorb water into the cuticle.  There are tests to determine your hair’s porosity level that will aid in finding the right products and routines to keep your hair moisturized.

Scab hair – Not a scientific term but describes the newly grown hair that comes in after you have stopped perming your hair.  It’s dry, wiry and unruly.  Your hair’s follicles may have damage from relaxers and will take some time before they are repaired.  Using protein treatments and being gentle with your strands are necessary and this hair is not representative of your hair’s natural texture.

Line of Demarcation – The hair or the point of hair that separates your two textures. (Your relaxed hair and natural or scab hair growing in) This hair is extremely weak and prone to breakage so using the correct tools (wide tooth combs, Denman brush, or your fingers and throw out that rat tailed comb) are great tools to use on your hair.

Moisture retention – Crucial component of healthy hair.  Your hair needs to retain moisture to stay flexible or elastic the older hairs need extra attention (your ends) because they can become easily damage if not properly moisturized and well-cared for.  Hair grows but it needs to retain moisture to retain length.

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  • First step to going natural has to be a mental one. Marcus Garvey said it best:

    “Don’t remove the kinks from your HAIR.

    Remove them from your BRAIN.”

    – The Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey [1887-1940]

    It isn’t really our fault but at this point we can do better. Take your time, don’t give up. Learning your hair is just like learning any new skill; there will be a learning curve.

    • KamJos

      It’s just frustrating to watch these women and girls struggle with their hair when you know the problem is mental not physical. And you can’t say nothing because then you’re a “Natural Nazi”.

  • Mary Burrell

    One must be mentally prepared for this. I just had to surrender because hair weaves were just too expensive and going to the salon was expensive. It is just cheaper. And I am glad i did. I am getting to see my true hair. This is not for everyone. I don’t believe in shaming the sisters with chemically relaxed hair. Every woman must do what right for her.

    • While everything you said is true, I often wonder what people mean when they say, natural hair isn’t for everyone. If what you are naturally isn’t for you, then what is? I don’t get it; are they talking about maintenance? When compared to the money I spent maintaining my relaxed hair, the time I spend maintaining my hair balances things out. Not only that but the moment I wasn’t able to go to a professional to have my relaxed hair done, it’s health faltered and it fell out. I’m much more empowered as a result of having natural hair bc I had to learn my hair. I’m in a position now to where I don’t require professional help to maintain my hair and that’s priceless!
      I don’t judge folks for their personal choices regarding their hair but I do believe that if you’ve never even seen your natural hair, your true hair it’s really worth trying out…maybe in your own time, under your own circumstances, but do it! It’s tragic that some women have been forced to go natural only after having severe issues (esp balding) bc of relaxers and weaves.

    • KamJos

      I don’t get it either. How is natural hair not for everyone who naturally has that hair texture?

    • Mary Burrell

      @KnottyNatural: When I said “Natural Hair is not for everyone” I meant everybody can’t embrace natural hair. I know tons of people who hate this style of hair. And prefer to straighten their hair. I was one of them. When i saw Viola Davis and Iyanla Van Zant becauce i was at the end of my rope. I didn’t know what i was going to do. I went to my stylist and showed her the picture of Iyanla and Viola and she said, ” That is not becoming on you” “There are other hairstyles for black women.” “That’s not even cute. I had a former friend say everyone doesn’t look attractive with those natural hair styles. One must have soft attractive features for that. And my co-worker is now natural who i followed her lead and we are just happy to be natural. Her husband hates it and says “It’s so nappy” People have a problem with the hair if it isn’t what they call the soft good indian hair. I think you know where i am coming from. This is a mental thing. It takes a minuet to get used to. One of my friends asked me so when are you going to get a relaxer? This is what i am talking about.

    • Sounds like you’re saying based on other people’s acceptance for natural hair, folks can’t accept it? That’s just silly! Every person you mentioned was projecting their own low self esteem on to others. I realized my mother did this to me as a child, which is why I never considered stopping relaxers until a few years ago. It gets to a point where you have to say eff what other people think and set the standard for your own beauty and lifestyle.

  • Mary Burrell

    I was addicted to my wigs and weaves. I never thought i would be doing this with my hair. Summers are just too hot for wigs. My head is so much cooler.

  • SimplePseudonym

    Also, you’ll get used to it.

    For me, texture wasn’t a problem, but I had never had hair above my shoulders for more than 20 years (i.e. my entire life since I was 2), so having no hair was a bit jarring for the first couple days.

    • Kema

      That was the issue I had with keeping my hair natural. I felt like I looked like a little boy after taking a pair of scissors to my hair. I don’t think I ever wore as much makeup as I started to once I had a twa.

  • Mary Burrell

    Lots of people hate the natural texture of their hair. i was one of them This is a mental thing. But i love the way it kinks and coils when i use the brush and curl cream. I now own an assortment of earrings and accessories. I have my hair the color of Iyanla Van Zant’s same cut and everything and it’s cheaper. I saw Viola Davis and i love that. I am doing the damn thing these days. I am a queen.

    • Mary, I don’t meant to pick a fight, but your comment ” But i love the way it kinks and coils when i use the brush and curl cream” is disturbing to me bc if all the curl cream in the world were gone, it seems as though you wouldn’t see yourself as a queen. I just feel like those mental barriers, those kinks in some men and women’s brains don’t even straighten out when they do go natural. I hope that in the future, you, your hair dresser, your former friend, your co-worker’s husband fully accept you, as is!