The best thing a girl can do is learn how to love and appreciate herself just the way she is. I think a big part of that is loving your natural hair, no matter what race or ethnicity you are, and being able to take care of it. From my own experiences and from those of my friends I have learned a lot about this natural world and I just want to share with you the basics.
The BasicsThere can be a lot of confusion if you are searching for answers on how to take care of your hair, especially if you are newly natural or trying to go natural. What is the LOC method? What is Co-washing? Am I a 4B or a 4C and what does that mean exactly? What is a Cocoon twist? Should I get Biotin or Hairfinity? and many more questions. Honestly, time is the only thing you will need because eventually you will learn how to navigate the natural lingo, techniques & products but I find that a lack of knowledge of the basics can hinder healthy hair growth and make your hair journey a lot harder than it needs to be.
If you have never received a perm or used any other chemical to alter your hair you are classified as a natural girl. However, this does not mean that your hair is healthy & growing as fast or as long as it could. Many people do not realize that there is more than one factor that contributes to unhealthy hair, not just relaxing. Applying heat too often to your hair can cause breakage and damage to your hair that can result in your hair being short, dry & thin, just a like a perm can. Not caring for colored hair properly can also have this effect. But even if you are not applying heat or permanent color your natural hair can still be damaged without proper day to day care. Finger combing to prevent matting is a big help. Along with applying creams, water or other product before combing to make your hair easier to style. Without carefully finger detangling or applying product to dry hair you risk breaking or pulling out your natural hair.
Minimize heat usage - Heat damage vs Heat trained
A lot of women approach me when they see my Afro and ask "How do you get your hair to do that?" My first thought is always that they are asking how I get a certain curl pattern but lately the real concern is that they cant get their hair to curl at all. This has to do with 1. your natural curl pattern and 2. the amount of heat you are applying.
I am not against blow drying or straightening, as I have done this to my hair, but you have to seriously limit the frequency and the level of heat used. You can't expect to have tight ringlets if you flat iron your hair 3 times a week, every week. Your hair can be healthy with occasional flat ironing but even this can result in having heat trained hair. Excessive use of heat can result in heat damaged hair. The concept of heat trained vs damage has been controversial in the Natural Hair Community but basically both will change your curl pattern. Heat training is flat ironing occasionally which can result in looser curls or straighter hair overall. Heat damage however, is the result of over use of heat which will cause your hair to be mostly straight, dull and prone to breakage/split ends.
Whether you use heat or not, or have gone natural it is important to know that not everyone will have super thick, curly hair. Many people think just because they are black that this will be the case. You can have fine natural hair or natural hair that is more wavy than coily and it is perfectly normal. Your personal grade of hair will determine what styles, products and length would best suit you. We are all different which is why it is important to pay attention to what you hair responds to and follow it, not what other naturals on YouTube/ Instagram are doing. Trying to force your hair to look at certain way will only cause you more time styling, more money on products and just an overall headache. So just go with the flow and let your hair do what it wants to do.
Get your ends clipped
When I had relaxed hair I hated getting my ends clipped but it was mostly because I didn't understand the point of it. It feels like it is eliminating progress in your hair growth but it is so important to know that this hair is damaged and it will only get worse! I know a lot of naturals clip their own ends by using a search and destroy method. I wouldn't advise this simply because I don't do it, but you can do whatever you like. I would suggest going to a professional a few times a year to get this done. I usually get mine clipped when I get my hair straightened. So around 3 times a year. With proper hair care you won't have to do this as often and the length loss won't be dramatic at all.
Lastly, It is very important to remember that you don't have to stick to labels or classifications in order to be considered a 'natural' or to have healthy hair. For example, many people don't consider you 'natural' if you wear weaves or wigs, whether you have natural hair braided underneath or not. I really don't go by this logic because I know that weaves can be amazing protective styles, which can do wonders for your hair growth. Some people also are strongly against hair dye or the use of heat. In my opinion, as long as your hair is healthy you are fine. The whole point of the natural movement is self love, acceptance and a healthy life style, not to label and exclude people.
I hope this was helpful and uplifting. Much love and hair growth to you all!