It doesn’t have to be difficult to go to natural hair. It’s simple in 5 steps: Living Kit

Angie Pham/NPR, image 1 Angie Pham/NPR image Since I can recall, the Black ladies in my family have always straightened their hair. I only knew straight hair because of this. I rarely felt beautiful or confident without it.

I eventually grew tired of being told to maintain my straight hair. I was interested in discovering how to accept and cherish the hair I was born with. I have made the decision to stop using hot tools in 2019 and choose to wearing my hair natural only.

The procedure was frustrating. I wasn’t sure I was employing the proper methods. Even which goods to utilize was beyond my knowledge. After two years, I at last understood it. However, I regretted not consulting experts sooner. I wrote this natural hair care guide to make the path for others easier, which is why I did it.

I talked to tight curl experts Aisha Strickland and Aeleise Ollarvia who founded Black Curl Magic , a media firm that provides natural hair education for consumers and professionals, as well as hair and scalp researcher Isfahan Chambers-Harris who owns the natural hair care brand Alodia.

They explain all you need to know about growing out your natural hair, including how to wash, style, and ultimately enjoy it.

OFFSET DAMAGED HAIR If you recently went natural, your hair may be dry, brittle, and prone to breaking. That may be the result of years of damage from the heat or chemicals used to style your hair, a lack of adequate hydration, or overuse of products that can dry out your hair.

According to Chambers-Harris, you might be tempted to undergo “the big chop,” in which you visit a salon and have all of your damaged hair chopped off. By doing this, you would be able to start the process of developing healthy hair faster and with a lower risk of subsequent damage.

But for a lot of people, like me, sporting short hair is a daring look. Therefore, many prefer to maintain their present hairdo and gradually remove the damaged hair as the new, natural hair fills in. According to Chambers-Harris, this is what is described as a “long transition.”

She continues, “If you do this, you’ll notice something referred to as the “the “line of demarcation.” It is the point where the “damaged” hair meets the natural hair. The hair that grows naturally from the roots is far healthier and more durable than hair that has been damaged for a long time.”

Maintaining this damaged hair is necessary. To prevent it from “weighing down” on that freshly produced, healthy, natural hair, Chambers-Harris advises gradually trimming off those ends every few months. Weight gain may result in the natural hair falling out. You may do this yourself at home because damaged hair clearly differs from new, natural hair.

Depending on the hairstyle, after the damage has been gradually removed and your natural hair has grown to the length you like, a process that can take several weeks to years, keep the style by getting frequent haircuts to get rid of naturally occurring split ends and breaking. Every 12 to 16 weeks, Ollarvia advises getting your hair cut, preferably by a professional who can help you mold your hair into the desired style.


Aeleise Ollarvia, one of the creators of Black Curl Magic , argues that understanding the specific characteristics of your hair, such as its texture, surface texture, hair density, porosity, and curl pattern, will help you explain your needs to a hairstylist and better understand your natural hair type.

switch to caption Nabu Pickett/ Monday’s are Beautiful

You can better understand your natural hair type and express your desires to a hairstylist by learning about the distinctive characteristics of your hair, according to Aeleise Ollarvia, one of the founders of Black Curl Magic .

Nabu Pickett/ Monday’s are Beautiful When I went natural, I used the hair in the images of other people as a benchmark for my own goals. I had the impression that healthy, natural hair needed to be really thick and smooth. My hair, however, is fine and tangled. I had to come to terms with the fact that everyone has different hair types and that mine is quite normal after a while.

According to Ollarvia, being aware of the characteristics of your hair can help you better understand your natural hair type and express your needs to a hairstylist. Additionally, it can stop you from comparing your hair to other people’s.

These are the 5 qualities you need to be aware of.

Texture: According to Ollarvia, “Texture is the diameter of your hair strand,” which is to say, the thickness or width. People can have hair that is extremely fine or extremely coarse.

Compare a strand of your hair with a common piece of thread to determine the texture of your hair. To see them clearly, hold them both up to a white piece of paper. You probably have finer hair if the strand is thinner than the string, and thicker hair if it is wider.

Surface texture: The outside layer of the hair’s appearance and feel are described by surface texture. The outer layer of some people’s “hair strands” is rougher and bumpier, according to Ollarvia. “Some layers are silkier and smoother. Your position on that spectrum will impact how much light your hair reflects.”

Gently run your fingertips along a few strands of hair to evaluate the surface texture of your hair. You have a rougher surface texture if they feel particularly bumpy along a section where there are no obvious knots. This hair absorbs more light and has a more matte appearance. Smoother-textured hair has a flatter feeling, is shinier, and reflects more light.

Don’t instinctively think that matte or dull hair is unhealthy because, according to Ollarvia, the quantity of light your hair reflects does not indicate its hydration. (By feeling your hair, you may determine whether it is moisturized. Soft, not stiff or dry, is how hydrated hair should feel.

Hair density: “You’re born with either a lot, around average, or less hair follicles on your head,” explains Chambers-Harris.

She advises pulling your hair back into a ponytail to get an idea of how numerous your hair follicles are. “You have more hair on your head if it’s difficult for you to “wrap” your thumb and index finger around the ponytail’s perimeter. It’s “probable” that you have a lesser density if it’s a very small ponytail “she claims, are follicles.

According to Chambers-Harris, porosity describes how well your hair can absorb moisture from water or hair products.

It’s quite difficult for hair to absorb moisture if it has little porosity, she continues. With high porosity, your hair can absorb moisture rapidly but can also lose it just as quickly.

Put a strand of your hair in a glass of water to determine the porosity of your hair, advises Chambers-Harris. Generally speaking, if your hair sinks to the bottom right away, it is exceedingly porous. It is in the range of medium to normal porosity if it floats in the middle. It has minimal porosity if it lies on top.

You can determine what products to use and how frequently you should moisten your hair by measuring how porous it is. More porous hair needs lightweight products, like mousse, and more frequent moisturizing, whereas less porous hair needs deep conditioning products and less frequent hydrating.

Curl pattern: According to Chambers-Harris, “You can either have a straighter hair type, a wavy hair type, a curly hair type, or a very coily hair type.” “It’s crucial to realize this because curlier hair tends to be dryer. Additionally, if it’s dry, you’ll need additional hydration, both from water and treatments that maintain moisture, like hair cream. Straight is oilier than curly. Consequently, you use fewer oils and “oil-based hair” products.”

For advice on products and a consultation on your hair, think about speaking with an professional stylist . Additionally, have a look at the charity Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database , which rates the safety of various hair products and provides thorough ingredient breakdowns.

Aisha Strickland and Aeleise Ollarvia contend that wash day doesn’t have to be challenging. Cleanse, condition, detangle, style, and set are all that are required to maintain healthy, clean natural hair. NPR’s Angie Pham hide caption

switch to caption Make washing days a habit, Angie Pham/NPR Natural hair need extra moisture because it is typically drier. And the best approach to add moisture to it is to wash it with water rather than using heavy raw oils and butters, which can dry out the hair by coating the scalp and hair with a waterproof film.

Your hair is cleansed and moisturized by water, and it also enhances the effectiveness of other hair products. Wash your hair first, advises Ollarvia. She and Strickland wrote the digital textbook Wash Your Damn Hair since they are so serious about this idea.

Depending on your lifestyle, how busy you are, the temperature where you live, and the style you want, Strickland and Ollarvia advise washing your natural hair every four to ten days. You might want to wash your hair more frequently if you sweat a lot due to regular exercise or because you reside in a warm region of the country, for instance.

They claim that wash day doesn’t have to be challenging. You only need to follow these easy instructions to maintain the health and cleanliness of your natural hair.

Basically, Strickland advises using shampoo to clean. “Condition and detangle your hair” after that.

After shampooing, style your hair using a hold-enhancing product like gel. Finally, she advises setting the hairdo by air drying it or using a hair dryer or diffuser (more on that below).

CARE FOR YOUR HAIR BY SETTING AND STYLING IT You should set your hair after washing it, advises Ollarvia. The hair is “fixed” into the desired pattern or form by using a product like gel or mousse on wet hair and drying it afterwards. The item maintains your hair hydrated and groomed between washings by locking in moisture and setting it. Setting is also practical because it eliminates the need to repeatedly wet your hair only to style it.

Your hair can be set using a variety of methods. Ollarvia suggests experimenting with simpler setting techniques like wash and go, twist-out, braid-out, or bantu knots if you’re new to natural hair. Avoid attempting a complex style like cornrows if you’ve never braided or twisted natural hair before.

Choose a “style” that you are most adept at using, advises Ollarvia. If you’re a beginner, this will make the styling process simpler and faster.

When your hair is completely dried and set, you can experiment with the style until your next wash day by removing twists or braids, adding volume with a pick, or changing the way the style is parted. For instance, if I styled my hair in twists on wash day, I would Isfahan Chambers-Harris 0 and split my hair to the side the next day. I would alter my appearance in the days that followed by separating some of the twists to make them less distinct, changing my part to the middle, or spreading my hair in front of my forehead to make bangs.

SEEK TO DO “INNER WORK” I felt completely different once I had my natural hair look in place.

According to Isfahan Chambers-Harris 1, a journalist and coauthor of Isfahan Chambers-Harris 2, many Black women who go through the transition share that sentiment. When you see yourself with your hair acting naturally, unprocessed, and unstraightened after knowing yourself with straight hair, it’s as if you are seeing yourself for the first time.

It requires inner work to learn how to not only style natural hair but to love the hair and love yourself in a world that does not value Black natural hair, she continues.

Consider the purpose behind your efforts as you make the shift to natural hair to perform that “inner work.” In my opinion, it was essential for Black people to break free from a tradition of adhering to Eurocentric aesthetic standards in order to be accepted.

Going natural is merely a matter of convenience for others. Ollarvia turned natural to help her endure the heat in Florida. Strickland was just interested in trying something new. Speaking with them made me realize that the most important factor in making a decision is not your hairstyle.

With engineering assistance from Maggie Luthar, 2021–2022 Kroc Fellow Michelle Aslam produced the audio component of this episode. Malaka Gharib altered the digital narrative. Please get in touch with us. Call 202-216-9823 and leave a message for us, or send us an email at.

You can subscribe to our Isfahan Chambers-Harris 5 or listen to Life Kit on Isfahan Chambers-Harris 3 and Isfahan Chambers-Harris 4.

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