When I first went natural there was not as much information online as there is today. Now there are endless numbers of blogs and video tutorials to help you on your journey. There are also numerous products on the market to choose from. All you have to do is Google what you are looking for and you will find a wealth of information from various sources, on natural hair. As much as this is a blessing there is also a downside, information overload!
One of the problems new naturals experience, is the complexity of everything now. When I first went natural, things were simpler. Most of the videos on YouTube were from vloggers who were just starting out on their journey, or only a couple of years ahead of me. Now, these same vloggers have been natural for 5 to 8 years and have waist to hip length hair. Their tutorials have become much more advanced and professional. They work with various cosmetics companies and are always introducing new products. It can all be too much to keep up with. So, here are a few ideas to help you along your way as a new natural to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
1. Start off with the basics when it comes to products
Stick with what you are familiar with, unless it is particularly harmful. You do not necessarily have to throw out your product collection straight away. Many of us were still using products with petroleum and mineral oil during the early stages of going natural. As your knowledge increases about natural products and ingredients you can gradually eliminate the bad stuff. Also, if you purchase some shea butter or coconut oil, you are halfway there. When I had a TWA (teeny-weeny afro), I simply sprayed my hair with water and glycerine to moisturize and bring out my natural curl pattern. That was all I needed, as well as a little oil or shea butter for sealing or smoothing my edges.
2. Focus on developing good techniques
I always stress; it is not the products that bring out the best in your hair but your techniques. Find the best hair regimen for you, which will include: washing, detangling, moisturizing, deep conditioning and styling. If you have a TWA, detangling will not take long at all. As your hair grows you will need to find a technique that suits your hair type and lifestyle. Finger detangling is considered gentler on the hair, especially if you have a kinky hair texture. You can detangle in the shower on wet hair, or on dry hair, using a little oil. Detangling in the shower on wet hair is usually quicker. You will gradually do what comes natural to you. Do not try to follow your favourite hair vlogger’s regimen to the letter, instead take some ideas and adapt them for your hair.
3. Adapt hair tutorials to suit your hair length
If your favourite vloggers have waist length hair don’t be discouraged. They are simply showing you what you have to look forward to. It is still possible to adapt their styles to suit your hair length though. You may need to braid or twist your hair in more sections and use a lot more pins, but it may still be possible to achieve your own version of the style. Take inspiration from them but don’t be down on yourself for not being at the same stage as them. Remember they were once newly natural too, with a TWA or short to medium length hair.
4. Don’t compare yourselves to others
If you have been natural for a year or two you may notice that some naturals have hair that grows at an alarming rate, or their hair may seem easier to manage. Afro textured hair is the most unique hair in the world and is extremely diverse. Without the regular use of harsh chemicals, your hair is likely to reach new lengths, never experienced before. Remember that most people’s hair grows between 2 to 6 years before the strands fall out and begin a new cycle. Even with the shortest growth cycle, the hair can still reach 12 inches, which is usually bra strap length. Hair care experts believe there is no reason why a person should not reach at least armpit length, with good hair care practices. So you may not have waist length hair in 3 years but you may reach the longest length your hair has ever been.
5. Find vloggers who have a similar hair type to your own
It’s great to watch a variety of hair vloggers, whatever their hair type you can find inspiration. However, also include those whose hair is similar to your own. It is quite encouraging to see them demonstrate styles that are likely to work well on your hair and also to share the struggles that you face with your hair type. No two people’s hair is exactly the same but seeing a vlogger with a similar hair type to your own may help you learn more.
6. Go through the archives
Many of the popular YouTube channels and natural hair blogs have been running for years now. Gone are the webcam videos, poor lighting and little to no editing. Now the same channels have become glossier, and the skills demonstrated by such vloggers are a lot more advanced. However, for a newly natural, such videos may seem too complicated for a beginner. Simply click on the YouTube channel and go to the videos or uploads section, click oldest to newest and it will flip their videos around to the very first ones. You will see vloggers with waist length hair back when they had a simple TWA, shea butter and a spray bottle of water. These are the videos that will teach you the basics. Do the same with hair blogs, click on the old articles from the very beginning or search for specific topics using the search tool on their page.
7. Watch flat twisting, two strand twists and cornrow tutorials
Knowing how to cornrow or flat twist is invaluable for women with natural hair. You can get as creative as you want or simply put your hair into a basic protective style any time. There are plenty of tutorials on this. Before you know it you could be helping your friends and relatives do their hair or even make some extra money from doing it. Most importantly you will have even more styling options and enjoy more versatility with your natural hair. I learned how to cornrow my own hair by simply watching styling tutorials for children’s’ hair.
Check out the series: The Versatility of Natural Hair for styling ideas. Find styles that are attainable with your hair length or adaptable to your hair. Roll tuck and pins are simple protective styles that are easy to do. Whenever I’m in doubt, I simply put my hair in a puff. When your hair is short it can be simple to style, especially if you embrace your natural curl pattern. Simply spray your hair with water and glycerine, or water and aloe vera for shine and moisture. Some people like to do twist outs, braid outs, flat twists and coil outs on short to medium length hair. These styles can be time consuming on short hair but you may prefer to do them for versatility. Play around with accessories as well. A sparkly head band may be all you need to dress up a TWA.
9. Stay natural
In time you will reap the benefits of looking after your hair. Avoid using texturisers in an attempt to ‘soften your hair’. These are no different from relaxers. If you stay natural you will find that it was well worth it. Your natural hair simply displays more of your natural beauty. You can’t put a price on that!
What advice would you give to new naturals? If you have any specific questions as a new natural, please ask below?