I have been lye free for over 15 years, but this is my second time at bat. The first time I went “natural” had nothing to do with trying to be healthy– I hadn’t read up on how detrimental the chemicals were, nor was I making any “pro-black” statements—I’d dyed my hair strawberry blond during on night with my friends and it made my hair fall out in patches. That was reason enough.
That was pre incessant Internet (at least for me) and subsequently, pre YouTube, so I had absolutely no clue what to do with my new “natural” hair. I wore head wraps a lot, or I’d wear finger coils, but that was basically the extent. Eventually, after becoming discouraged with the upkeep and lack of support, I convinced myself that I needed straight hair to get a man, and returned to the “creamy crack”. My hair was one again “poppin” and I admit, it felt good!
Then I met a man, we fell in love, and he encouraged me to go back to my natural hair; not only was he very into health, he’d seen pictures of me with natural hair and always remarked how beautiful I looked. So, I decided for the second time, to let the lye go, only this time I wanted to do “natural” better than I had done it before.
During both of my natural phases there were certainly times where I felt insecure or unattractive wearing my natural hair. Over the years, however, I’ve learned how to make my hair work for me—below, I’ll share my top 7 with you.
#7—Make-up/Accessories: These can either add some polish to an already great hair-do, or completely salvage what might have otherwise been a hair and subsequent total look fail. Accessories and make-up don’t have to be over the top to still add much to your look.
#6—Weight: Just like with number 7, you may be wondering what weight has to do with natural hair? Well, here is the skinny—I’ve found that I just look better overall when I’m within a healthy weight range. In turn, it makes it easier to wear pretty much any hairstyle when I already look good!
#5—Products: I put this pretty low on the scale because I think many naturals obsess in this area. Granted, products are important and definitely affect the final outcome of a hairstyle, still, at most you only need about three: a hydrating shampoo and conditioner are essential, a moisturizing leave-in conditioner (this is optional, but a staple for me), and a styler (this is essential). I have a brand I use that is amazing, but needs to be ordered and shipped, and brand that I can buy in most drug-stores for the periods in-between. Remember, products don’t need to cost a lot, or be marketed for natural hair to work.
#4—Tools: Having the right tools can make doing your hair a breeze, however, having the wrong ones can cause damage like breakage and also make it the process of achieving a hairstyle more difficult. Here again, I like to keep things simple—A detangling comb is a must-have, I actually like to use a pick. A detangling brush—this is optional—but helps in achieving a sleek look for braid outs and twist outs and for adding curl definition to the hair. Bobby pins and straight pins—learn the difference—both are lifesavers. Banana clips and hair ties—crucial for low maintenance days, and a medium to hard bristle brush—again, optional, but great for sleek updo’s and for taming edges.
#3—Technique: It’s possible to have both the right products and tools and still bomb at doing your hair if you don’t know what you’re doing. The Internet is ripe with tutorials from women with every texture and length of hair imaginable. I learned how to do my hair by not only watching videos like these, but also practicing on the weekends and on days when I didn’t have anywhere to go. That way, if the hairstyle turned out to be a dud, no one would see it but me—absolutely no pressure! Also, the more I actually worked with my hair, the better I understood what it was capable of doing and what styles I could realistically achieve.
#2—Adjust: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done my hair in a certain way, only to leave out of the house with it in another. Natural hair can be temperamental at times, styles don’t always turn out the way we anticipated, and sometimes we just aren’t feeling the initial look. It’s okay—put that failed twist out in a bun, spray some water on that old afro and make it a puff, and when all else fails, throw on some make-up and earrings and put on a scarf or a hat (beanie’s and head wraps were made for days like these)! Just know bad hair days will come, just be ready when they do!
#1—Confidence—I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hated my hair, then walked out of the house and receive dozens of compliments—on my hair! It never fails. Beauty is mostly in the mind: it’s how we feel about and carry ourselves, the way we present when we enter the room, the energy we exude. I had to learn to accept myself and the way I looked, without expecting anyone else to agree; that way, when I step out of the house and into any room, I already know I look good, because I’ve gotten the approval from the only person that matters—me!
Don’t be shy– Tell us what you do to feel beautiful with your natural hair!