You’ve been natural for [fill in the blank] years and though you “love it” (or maybe you want to love it), you’ve found yourself fraught with frustration and anxiety over the fact that your hair is just not where you want it to be. Or is it?
Knowing and understanding your natural hair is important, and accepting what it can and cannot do is equally important. We often get emails from reader with subject lines like, “I’m so frustrated with my natural hair!” and we can sympathize. It’s no fun being in constant torment over your hair, so it’s time to stop having unrealistic expectations about your natural hair and and tackle your frustrations over you hair and start to love your hair for what it is right now – at this moment in time. And if you need to readjust how you take care of your hair based off of your unrealistic expectations, we have the expert-backed tips just for you.
UNREALISTIC EXPECTATION/FRUSTRATION 1 – MY NATURAL HAIR IS NOT GROWING
Actually, unless you have a diagnosed medical condition that’s inhibiting your hair growth, your hair is growing between 4-6 inches a year or a little more. It’s not unrealistic to think you hair can and will grow, it’s unrealistic to think that you don’t have to help facilitate this growth with deep conditioning regularly (or using products with deep conditioning properties on a regular basis–hello coconut oil), not using too much heat and using heat properly, knowing your hair’s limits (that wash and go could be breaking your hair off) and comparing your growth to other’s people hair. To understand what hair growth means for you, read Hair Growth and Dreadloc Growth.
UNREALISTIC EXPECTATION/FRUSTRATION 2 – MY CURLS AREN?T POPPING
Firstly, do you even have curls? We hate to burst your bubble but it’s time to put on your big girl drawers. Not every natural haired woman has curls. You know, I know it, it’s time you accept it. Stop buying jars of puddings, gels, butter and anything else hoping to change your DNA. The genes your mom and dad passed to you are perfect as is and it has the last say in what your hair looks like–not a jar full of curl dreams. So, you have pretty zigzags and anything else but fluffy curls. Pour out some likka for your imaginary beautiful, Cree Summer bounce, start imagining you being an empowered woman with a Grace Jones type crown and own that ish. And while you’re at it, just because you don’t have curls does not mean that you can’t enhance your coily texture so check out how to Texturize Natural Hair Without Chemicals. Curl envy is so yesterday.
UNREALISTIC EXPECTATION/FRUSTRATION 3 – I LOVE DOING MY HAIR…KINDA…NOT REALLY
Girl, no you don’t. You don’t sleep with a scarf or on a satin pillow case because you think it’s pointless and not to mention hot as all get out and you don’t even know the last time you trimmed your ends. You went natural and thought you’d be different than how you were before (read: nonchalant) but it’s all still the same. What’s the saying? Oh, yeah, a tiger does not change its stripes. It sounds good to tell yourself and other people this so that you don’t seem like a “natural hair traitor” but it’s okay that you don’t like doing your hair. You’re a lazy natural. Say it with me – “I’m kinda lazy with my natural hair.” Own it and while you’re owning it, learn how to give your hair excellent care in as little time as possible by reading The Lazy Natural?s Guide to Healthy Hair Pt. I and The Lazy Natural?s Guide to Healthy Hair Pt. II–yes it’s possible.
UNREALISTIC EXPECTATION/FRUSTRATION 4 – MY SCALP ISSUES AREN’T GOING AWAY
Scalp issues are truly not fun to deal with. As someone who’s been there, I can honestly say I feel you. The dandruff I had with a relaxer followed me into natural-hood and it wasn’t until I dealt with my scalp that I cured the condition. Though my relaxer exacerbated the issue with dandruff, it wasn’t the cause. Once I figured out the cause and made appropriate changes, my scalp calmed down and the dandruff went away. Your shea butter shampoo is great for your hair, but if it’s not treating the issue, it’s just (doing a poor job of) covering it up. To tackle your scalp issues and make sure you’re using the right products for your scalp issues be sure to read Scalp Health: Dandruff, Eczema And Dry Scalp, Scalp Health: Psoriasis, Seborrhea And Lichen Planus and 10 Effective Ways To Manage & Prevent Scalp Flare Ups.
UNREALISTIC EXPECTATION/FRUSTRATION 5 – PROTECTIVE STYLING IS NOT WORKING FOR ME
This is a very common misconception. Too heavy braids or twist extensions, dry, neglected hair underneath braids and wigs that have been on too long. tension from wearing the same style over and over. If the whole point is to give your hair a break but you find that your edges are thinning and that you’re loosing lots of hair after you take down your style, your doing more damage than helping your hair. Remember the first expectation above? We want you to keep the hair that you are growing, so to protective style smartly, check out our expert tips for protective styling in 3 Steps To Effectively Wear Braid Extensions Without Damaging Your Natural Hair, Tips For Choosing A Licensed Hair Stylist To Braid Or Twist Your Hair and Transitioning With A Sew In.
UNREALISTIC EXPECTATION/FRUSTRATION 6 – MY HAIR CAN TAKE THE HEAT!
After protective styling damage, this may be the second most common way to loose your natural hair that we’re sent request for help with. More often than not, the damage is gradual. Sometimes it can be a year from the start of using heat that the damage becomes noticeable to your eyes and by that time it’s too late. It will creep up on you like Tate in a latex suit from American Horror Story and before you know it your hair is a goner. Let us avoid this horrifying hair death, shall we?
There are a few things to note. Yes, your hair will be stronger if it’s not processed from any sort of treatment–keratin, relaxer, perm, etc. however, even though your virgin natural hair is stronger that does not mean you should beat it up like a championship boxer who’s bloody but still standing in the 10th round. To wear your natural hair straight there are healthy ways to use use heat so be smart and check out our expert tips including How To Properly Blow Dry Your Hair and Scared Of The Heat, and if your are transitioning and are already on heat overload, be sure to read Dealing With Heat Damaged Hair Without Big Chopping.
There is nothing wrong with setting goals for your hair but it makes no sense to do so if they are unrealistic. Be smart with your hair care. Accept and love your hair for what it can and cannot do and you and your hair will be better off for it.