The history of natural hair began before slavery, from the mid-1400s and back, and is constantly evolving and making its name to this day. But why is it called natural hair? Isn’t all hair natural? Your hair, no matter what you put in or do, comes naturally from your head. So, everyone’s hair is natural, right? Well, the word natural hair is actually less related to the way it grows, but more to the connotation behind your hair.
In recent years, natural hair has become more and more popular in the black community. For decades, many black women have sought harsh chemicals to straighten their hair. But now, more and more black women are omitting chemicals and turning to more natural hair care methods.
Generally speaking, being natural means that you do not use any chemicals to change the texture or natural curling pattern of your hair. This means that there is no relaxer, no perm to straighten hair naturally, and no texturizer to relax and tighten curly hair. Because hair dyes also contain chemicals, some women choose not to dye their hair.
DEFINITION OF NATURAL HAIR
As far as natural black hair is concerned, when it comes to texture and growth patterns, there is no one size suitable for everyone, but in general, natural black hair usually ranges from wavy to curly, and there are extensive variations between the two. (Yes, some black people also have natural straight hair. ) In fact, texture differences exist not only in families, including brothers and sisters, but even on the same hair. Generally speaking, black hair types tend to be:
- Drier than other hair textures
- Extremely sad conditioning
Natural hair looks very strong, but it is a very subtle texture that needs to be treated with tender care. This means frequent conditioning and moisturizing, with as few direct heat as possible to maintain optimal health.
According to a Quora contributor Rhonda Mitchell, “Black people, women more so than men, have a history of not wearing their hair in its natural state because the overarching aesthetic (read: white) has deemed Afro-textured hair in its natural state unprofessional, unkempt, un-clean or just plain un-presentable. EDIT: Wearing hair in its natural state, braided or loc’d or loose has impacted those with Afro-textured hair negatively, in terms of employment and promotion especially.
So, when Black women refer to their hair as natural hair, they’re providing a descriptor which refers to their choice to wear their hair in its natural state. Without applying heat or chemicals to alter its appearance so it resembles Caucasian hair”.
WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN TO GO NATURAL
Having decided to go natural, you have to decide which method of transition to adopt. There are two common ways to go natural:
- THE BIG CHOP: This requires chopping off most or all of your hair.
Relaxers, perms, and texturing agents can damage and weaken dry hair, which may be irreversible. Since chemically treated hair retains its changed appearance, many women choose to chop it all up instead of growing it out. This will help you avoid the mixture of natural roots and frayed, relaxing ends. But choosing to separate from your hair is a big deal.
Hair has historically been used to indicate women’s health and social status. Long hair is even related to youth. Cutting off your hair, even knowing that it may become healthier and stronger, will bring you some serious sadness. This is not an easy decision.
- THE TRANSITION USING PROTECTIVE STYLES: If the thought of ‘big chop’ intimidates you, you should know that it is not a mandatory successful transition. On the contrary, some women choose to wear their hair with a protective hairstyle while transitioning to natural hair. Protective styles are just like they sound-hairstyles that protect hair from damage. Protective styles can range from wigs to full-head braids with natural hair hidden to wearing boxed braids or twisting.
These types of protective hairstyles are helpful because they can reduce tangles, shedding, and even breakage. They can also protect your hair from you. When wearing a protective style, you will greatly reduce your chances of developing some serious bad habits, as pointed out by the ‘Naturall Club’. You know, it’s like over-combing, over-styling, or destroying your hair with heat. Although protective hairstyles may sound amazing, you must remember that they are not completely maintenance-free. The Nature Club recommends still allowing your hair to “breathe” while in a protective style. It is also necessary to avoid letting too much dirt and/or grease accumulate.