Natural hair has been the “It” girl in hair forums, on social media, and even on red carpets, with stars like Lupita Nyong’o, Kerry Washington, Solange, and Tracee Ellis Ross letting their curls flow freely, ultimately inspiring Instagram and YouTube tutorials. Companies have followed suit to cater to the demand for natural-hair-care products, as the shift to so many women “going natural” is starting to make relaxers a beauty-aisle pariah, according to market-research firm Mintel. Sales of what some call the “creamy crack” fell 18.6 percent from 2013 to 2015.
I’ve always understood natural hair to be whatever hair grows naturally from anyone‘s head (don’t kill me!), but with marketing machines and the historical implication of activist movements, it has become specifically synonymous with the kinky, coil-y, or silky-curled styles of women of African descent. Just Google “natural hair” for yourself and check out the coiled-haired beauties.
More stories on natural hair-care:
- Victoria’s Secret Models Embrace Their Natural Hair
- Selena Can Pull off Wearing Bangs
- Here’s Why Solange’s SNL Hair Took 50 Hours
I get it. But that’s not my story.
For me, going natural has never been a movement or even a decision I take seriously. My hair is like a loyal bestie who’s my plus one through life crises, travel adventures, or dating exploits. It transitions with me through career changes, new relationships, and those frivolous I-just-felt-like-doing-something-different-this-week impulses. I don’t like the term “going natural” because, to me, I am who I am—naturally—regardless of how I choose to wear my hair. Over the years, I’ve noticed an ugly, somewhat cliché side to categorizing natural hair that creates separation from women who choose to use chemicals on their hair. The separation isn’t a vehicle for empowerment, but something divisive—something that, in some circles, almost ostracizes another group based on what’s ideal. Don’t get me wrong: Being true to yourself and creatively showcasing elements of yourself that mainstream society has deemed ugly, unsuitable, or even illegal is awesome. I’m just pointing out another not-so-pretty but very real side of the natural-hair-movement coin.
Here’s my story: After going back to my favorite short, tapered cut a few months ago, I’m now growing out my relaxer because I simply want to. I’m loving the idea of curls I can wet, add product to, and go. (OK, maybe there’s a bit of air-drying in there as well, but you get the point.) I’ve enjoyed this almost carefree routine many times over the years. And no, I don’t believe in the 3c, 4a, insert-number-and-letter-combo-here curl-type hype. Who cares? It’s curly. It’s yours. Do you.
Typically, when I’m in grow-out mode, I keep the grooming and maintenance process very simple, and I rely on protective styles that satisfy the hair chameleon in me. I minimize the product use, combing, brushing, tugging, fussing, and heat application, and as a result, my hair is quite amenable.
Deep-conditioning treatments are also great, especially in colder months, so I use heftier products like Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque or a major dose of African Royale Hot Six Oil with a plastic cap under a hood dryer (at a medium setting) at least once a month to boost the moisture.
For daily grooming, I treat my scalp with the ORS HaiRepair Intense Moisture Crème and Antillean Coconut Oil (you can find it at your local beauty-supply store or online). The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil is great for keeping an itchy scalp at bay. And maybe the old wives’ tale that if your hair itches, it’s growing is true because my scalp itches like crazy during the first few weeks of growing out my relaxer. Who knew?
The bottom line is, I’m looking forward to switching things up a bit until I feel like changing my look again. At the end of the day, whether it’s kinky-curly, straight and Rapunzel-like, dyed blonde, red, or green, or shaved completely off, I’m still naturally me. Being a hair chameleon is natural for me.
Now learn how to keep your hair healthy: