Why Black Women Should Go Natural At Least Once In Their Adult Lives

September 19, 2012  |  



I’m all for women wearing their hair in the way that makes them feel their most beautiful and confident (well, at least in theory, tacky lace fronts and shellacked hair excluded). And as the internecine battle conversation about natural v. chemically processed hair continues, I think India Arie’s song “I Am Not My Hair,” is more relevant than ever.

However, in my own hair journey, and as I read about other women’s hair stories, I am convinced that every Black woman should go natural at least once in her adult life. Here’s why:

Caring for Natural Hair Makes You Focus on Yourself More.

In our hectic lives, between juggling professional, familial and other obligations, often the first thing that falls off of our to-do list is making time for ourselves. Taking care of natural hair often requires setting aside time to properly maintain our tresses, and an added benefit is that it really is time that we spend looking inward and being nurturing and loving to ourselves.

Learning About Natural Haircare Teaches Us So Much About Other Aspects of Our Health.

I’m sure that many women would agree that in learning about caring for natural hair, they’ve gained knowledge about healthy living – eating clean organic foods, avoiding certain chemical ingredients, getting proper rest and exercise, drinking LOTS more water. I never realized just how important eating sulfur rich foods help, not just my hair, but my overall physical well-being. The same goes for minerals such as silica.

Caring for Natural Hair Expands Our Notions of What is Beautiful.

Whether you spent a year or more transitioning, or did the “big chop,” moving into uncharted waters with your hair can be uncomfortable and even scary. The good news is that growth and evolution occurs outside of our comfort zone. Growing hair out from a “TWA” can present challenges, especially if we tended to “hide” behind our hair in the past, it can feel naked and vulnerable. Coaxing out our true texture, experimenting with different makeup choices and accessorizing with earrings and other embellishments that we normally wouldn’t wear as we embrace our new and changing looks and style possibilities can be life-affirming.

Most Women Need to Learn What Their Natural Hair is Even Capable Of Achieving.

Since we were young girls, too many of us have been indoctrinated to believe that our hair is something to be conquered. Even the slightest little kink of new growth would have many of us running out to slap some relaxer in our hair. Well that mentality had us killing our hair, leaving it ravaged and over-processed. Going natural forces us to confront our own texture, and remarkably, many women find that their hair is not nearly as unmanageable as they believed it was, and the majority find that their hair can grow longer than they even realized it could. The psychic benefits of this is tremendous because it’s almost impossible to grown healthy hair if you have such negative self-talk about your hair in the first place.

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  • I wore my hair natural until I was 18 and then by my own decision decided to start relaxing it. This does not mean that I do not care for my hair. I relax it when I want to and I am glad that life has given me these choices. I bond with ‘sistas’ as you call it because I want to and not because we have suddenly found this amazing bond. I find many of these presumptions ridiculous at best. I think that this natural vs relaxed hair thing has become a new way for black women to be divided and articles that claim to be in everyone’s best interests but are slanted to one direction do not help.

  • Dichu eba realy lub mehSteebie

    I agree that eveyrone should go natural atleast once in their life for the experience. I have been naural for a little over a year and I loved it. My afro is huge, strong, and thiick. SUPER thick. So thick that I am going back to a relaxer because it takes waaaay too long to style and I can barely comb through it. It takes an hour to detangle and i have to damp it with water because if its dry, i can forget it. I wanted dreads but right now they would be chin length and short hair makes me look older. I cant afford dread extensions so back the creamy crack until i decide to BC again. Dont get me wrong, it was a great experience. I learned how to take care of my hair, what products work best, and how to style without heat. Now that I am going back to relaxers, i definately feel that I can take better of my hair in that state and make wiser hair choices. To each his own

  • TatumPascal

    I went natural a few days before September 11, 2001, and don’t see myself ever going back to relaxers. For those who are relaxed or natural and sick of reading “propoganda” for the other side of the aisle- so to speak, then don’t read the articles or thier comments that sound as if they are going to be pro one hair choice or the other…. Save yourself the agrivation.


    I AM SO CONFUSED, why is it that when women want to proudly embrace their natural hair texture and inform others on it create so much backlash? Why are people so mad? No one is telling you to go natural, you can rock your relaxed hair forever nobody cares, do you! Relaxed hair has had the spotlight forever and natural hair is not trying to take it, it is simply another approach that many people didn’t know they had the option of taking. YES I am so much happier that I have natural hair, no I don’t give a flying…….what another woman does with her hair UNLESS it is someone I care about and I feel it would benefit them. I talk to my mom about going natural because I love and care about her not because I feel I’m better than her etc and she ALWAYS has the option to say no that’s not for me, I wouldn’t tell some random person to go natural. However I will not apologize for exuding such confidence and happiness that it makes you question yourself and your straight hair, yes i’m proud that I sport what God gave me, I didn’t choose to relax in the first place so hell yeah I’m ecstatic that I did something for me that actually does feel like ME. We know relaxed hair can grow etc but more times than none what have we seen, lets be honest. This article was not about that, it was about an experience that you can try whenever you feel like it, you can ALWAYS relax your hair back but nooooo people want to make it more than what it was. Natural hair doesn’t cause division, it’s the hair that grows out of your scalp, unprocessed..if anything it’s the introduction of relaxers into our culture that has created the division, I just don’t understand how if someone keeps informing you on the negative effects of something why you would keep playing with that fire…of course you have to do it a certain way etc but it’s simply not worth it, theres no negative warning to natural hair and yes you can still straighten it if you choose…I just don’t understand. I have relaxed friends, they do them and I do me, naturally.


  • SharStar82

    I agree with this article. Well written and clear. I too am natural for 2 years & will never go back to chemical relaxers. Every woman has a right to wear her hair in a way that adds to the confidence & self esteem that is hopefully in her character and not on her head. In my version of a perfect world, every woman would be natural & we would have no need for chemical crack. I hate what chemical relaxers did to my hair & scalp. But it is not my world & every one did not have my experience. I respect people’s interpretations of style. I share my hair experiences only when asked. Now if only I can get people to stop sharing their creamy crack nightmares with me, then things would be good!

  • monitorette

    Congrats for this simple, clear and well written article! On one hand you have very good points and on the other you have the talent to sharing them to others.

  • Indigo

    This article is great! It’s not bashing sistas who have relaxers at all. All that it’s saying is give your natural hair a try. I stopped relaxing my hair 5 years ago and transitioned; it doesn’t necessarily take MORE work to deal with my natural hair, I just have to approach it a different way. A lot of women say they get relaxers because it’s easier. If you’ve had a relaxer in your hair since childhood (like many black women that I know have), how can you really know how manageable or unmanageable your hair is? Once you educate yourself on how to deal with your texture, which doesn’t take much work, you can manage it just as easily as relaxed hair.

    There is nothing wrong with wanting a different look. Heck, I’m natural and I’ll straighten, weave, and cut my hair on occasion for a different look if I desire it. But I’ve learned that I (or any other black woman) don’t NEED a relaxer in my hair in order for it to look good. I think that was the point.

  • For me, “going natural” wasn’t me jumping on the bandwagon. My hair had broken off from relaxers when I was twelve so I had decided to keep my hair in braids until I was a freshman in high school and then I decided to start relaxing my hair again, but then a year and a half later, it broke off again. I had my hair in braids the rest of the time that I was in high school and into college, but a year ago (I’m a senior in college), I took my braids out and decided to just wear my hair out. I am really starting to learn how to take care of my hair and I realized that the reason why my hair was breaking off when I had relaxers was because I was not combing my hair properly and I was putting relaxers in my hair too often.
    I think that the point of the article was exactly my experience with my hair and I don’t think that the author meant that you had to “go natural” in order to learn about your hair and yourself, but that “going natural” could be a choice for some women to help them learn how to better care for their hair.

  • I went natural earlier this year. My life hasn’t changed. I haven’t all of a sudden become superwoman. My intellect is still in tact. I’m still loved, honored, and cherished by my man and those who love me.

    All this, ‘I went natural” and the sky opened up and my world got better is a bunch of dog manure. Life has its ups and downs. It has NOTHING to so with someone’s hair.

    Go natural or don’t go natural. It’s a choice. The last time I checked, we are all entitled to it. Get off the bandwagon and live and let live.

    That’s all I’m going to say about that. This “go natural” stuff is the latest craze that will soon fall off like the ones before it. If natural made a person become more intelligent as certain people are alluding to on this thread, their comment DOES NOT prove their point.

    • mac


  • Cadence

    Wow…sistas sure get sensitive when you talk about wearing your natural hair. If you were truly comfortable with your perms and weaves you wouldn’t care. I know I didn’t when I was relaxed. lol However, instead of getting defensive I took the time to actually listen and reflect on why going natural should be an option. All I can say is it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made. The most gratifying thing became that when I started seeing myself differently…I also began to see black women’s natural beauty like never before. It was like a blindfold was taken off. Anyway, I will never relax my hair again but I may straighten once in a blue moon out of sheer boredom. But straightening has definitly become the exception and not the rule. Excellent article!

    • Cadence, I think you’ve missed the point. Many are sensitive because many who wear their hair natural seem to think they have arrived. They tend to look down on those who choose to not wear their hair natural.

      It’s the best decision you made. Good for you. I went “natural” earlier this year, and it hasn’t change my perception about who I was. I could be bald, but I always knew how I was. I never tried to be like anyone else, desire to be like anyone else, or look like anyone else.

      Your change came through your hair. Wonderful. But it’s just not that serious to others. IT’S HAIR.

      No shade, just sharing my POV.

      • Cadence

        No, I think most of the people responding to this article have missed the point and instead responded in defensiveness and THAT was what I was responding to. I understand what you are saying about people looking down and whatnot however that was not the tone of the article AT ALL. As far as your personal experience, congratulations on being so secure with your image…but let’s keep it 100 all of us are not. MANY of us feel like we are not beautiful if our hair is not straightened and that is problematic. Whether you want to admit it or not it is a residual effect of white supremacy. If it’s “just hair” then no one would have gotten in their feelings about an article simply highlighting the benefits to going natural. If it’s “just hair” cut the ish off and let them naps show for a month…lol. I agree that everyone is entitled to do what they want but let’s be honest with ourselves and actually THINK about the underlying issues that influence MOST our decisions regarding hair. That’s all I ask.

        • kat

          I think your absolutely right Candence.

        • MLS2698

          LOL @ if it’s just hair cut the ish off and let dem naps show for a month. I’m natural, but I don’t look down at other women who perm. Love being natural.

      • peaceful solutions

        Hair is extremely important to women and you are ignoring the sensitivity of the issue. Your “its just hair” statements is completely full of holes otherwise women of all races wouldn’t be so sensitive about it. But I agree that their are always going to be people who think they are superior because of a life choice, but no one is addressing the people who are relaxed and consider themselves above the natural community. Bias argument is the only recurring pattern that I see in these comments from both sides. People just make sure you address both sides of the argument and keep an open mind for BOTH sides because hair while its important doesn’t make a person’s personality or soul.

  • angel

    OMG! MN let it go already!!! Enough! People have the right to wear their hair as they please. If one woman decides to go relax her hair, than good for her. Same for a woman who goes natural. I am natural and I never try to convince another woman to go natural. The reasons: 1) it’s her choice 2) she would respond negatively like some of these comments below 3) WHO CARES!!! I don’t!

  • rozzjack

    Some of the responses here are so negative. Just because the article is suggesting that black women try natural it doesn’t mean it’s an attack on women with straight hair. It seems like some of the people’s responses (the negative ones) are a reflection on what they REALLY feel about natural hair. If you don’t want to go natural, fine, that’s your business. But, don’t try to devalue this article when it clearly states that black women are free to do what they want with their hair. Now, if this article was about where you can get the best, straightest, silkiest weave/relaxer, there would be more high-fiving going on.

    • Exactly! Some people just totally missed the point of the article. It’s ridiculous.

  • realadulttalk

    Another article on natural hair??? Seriously, we did the hair revolution back in th 70’s…can ya’ll let this go??

  • I relax my hair and my hair is HEALTHY. Its growing, its shiny, its moisturised, and so on. If you like ur hair natural then go for it. If you like it relaxed then relax it. Most of the so called “natural” ppl arent even natural. How is your hair in its natural state if you dye it, use curling creams, and so on?? Doesnt now 100% natural at all to me

    • realadulttalk

      As anyone’s can be if properly maintained. And I’ve seen way too many women with “natural” hair that really just looks a mess.

    • Dee

      I see some of my friends that went natural with weaves. If you are so proud of being natural, why are you wearing weaves? I’m not saying there is anything wrong with weaves, but these were the same people that thought they were way better than people that were still using relaxers.


      ….if your hair is in a fro it could be pink, it’s still your natural hair texture that is growing out of your scalp, you could always go back to your natural hair color but going back to your natural texture isn’t as simple for most.


        Oh and a curling cream can’t curl anything that doesn’t naturally curl…you don’t much about natural hair but then again you are relaxed…youtube will help.

  • Hello_Kitty81

    When I got pregnant with my daughter 6 years ago, I stop relaxing my hair, did the big chop and have been wearing dreads ever since. I do not plan to put the creamy crack in my hair, my hair is thicker and grows faster and when I workout I don’t have to worry about messing up my hair or even sweating out my relaxer. I’m staying natural for life. Hair doesn’t define who you are as a person, every woman has a personal choice on how she should wear her hair and it’s no one’s business. Like the song from India. Arie “I am Not My Hair”.

  • Reading Is Fundamental

    Can you comprehend what you read? The writer of this article prefaces the subject by saying everyone should wear their hair how ever they want to! if you’re happy with your harsh chemicals breaking your hair and damaging your scalp/hair follicles, by all means continue! All she is saying is that she thinks black women should at least consider trying their natural hair. Some of us haven’t seen our real texture since we were 9 years old (some as young as 3-5!). How would you know how manageable and beautiful your hair was if you’ve never tried?

    • get real

      Thank bucking you. Gosh. Blk women your hair will if you let it. See blk dudes with dreads and braids? Their hair is down their backs and all they use is beeswax to lock their hair.


      My comprehension skills are just fine darling. If the preface was the point, then that would be the end of the article, If your comprehension skills were on point you would see that in MY opinion this article comes off more as persuasion. I”m simply stating that issues like this continue to divide us as a community, as you proved to be right when you decided to hop on here and attack me and question my intelligence. Also how the hell would you know what kind of hair I have or if I have any at all??? I feel this passionately about all little things that seperate us as a people these days. Good hair vs bad hair, Lightskin vs darksin and so on. So maybe had you have taken the time to digest what I was saying, you would of thought twice about your approach. I never berated anyone for how they choose to wear their hair. I simply said live and let live, I think we have more pressing issues than women going natural. Let’s use the platform given to encourage all the perks stated in this article be an everyday way of thinking for people whether they have natural or relaxed hair. Comprende????

      • get real

        A blk woman telling another blk woman to stop frying her dam brains out is dividing the community??? Wow. On that Chris Rock movie they dropped a coke can into the main ingredient of relaxers and it dissolved the can. Ladies that’s what you are putting in your hair. That ish eventually gets to that bran of yours. I’ve noticed that natural women and women that fry their brians out are polar opposites. Mentally that is

        • Dee

          As scary as that coke can experiment seemed, it depends on the concentration of sodium hydroxide used and how long you leave it on your head. The chemist had different concentration and you saw the rate at which it dissolved. Also, sodium hydroxide is not the only chemical in relaxers, it will also be mixed with some acid to reduce the basicity of the relaxer. If you get a high concentration of NaOH on your skin, you will feel it peel, no chemist in their right mind would make a high conc. NaOH in relaxer!
          If you want to relax your hair, go ahead. If you want to go natural, go ahead. It irks me when ladies that go natural think they are better than women with relaxed hair and vice versa. It is not your job to try to make someone else feels bad about what is on their head. Do what suits you and mind your business.

          • Reading Is Fundamental

            That’s true Dee, however you have to also consider that the Coke didn’t receive relaxer treatments every month or every 6 wks, but some of our scalps do/did. There are enough chemicals in everything from the food we eat to the water we drink. Who knows, it could be the reason why cancer is so prevalent. Some things are hard to avoid. Getting a relaxer is the easiest thing to let go of.

            • Reading Is Fundamental

              Also, I’m all for live and let live, but I appreciate articles like this one, because if I had never read about it from sistas who’ve been there, I would’ve never decided to go natural.

          • peacefulsolutions

            I understand what your saying, but just compare it to a person A who doesn’t eat bread or refined sugar and someone who does, Person B. The person who eats the refine grains and crap views the person A with distaste along with others like them and as a result person A feels negativity toward person B. We should all try to understand where everyone is coming from. The natural people are more viscous sometimes like the relaxed people can be because of the resistance they have encountered from the majority of people around them.

      • ChattyPatty, some people have the desire to feel more superior to others. It’s like former smokers. They feel more superior now that they’ve quit than smokers. Former overweight people who have lost weight, now have their noses up in the air as if their sh*t doesn’t stink. Now we have many who are “natural,” now thinking those that aren’t are less than those who are. We are talking about some freaking HAIR.

        It never ceases to amaze me the level of superficiality that comes from people I encounter.

        • Reading Is Fundamental

          It’s funny, all the examples you gave actually involve people making healthier (hence better) lifestyle choices. Now I’m not for ppl thinking they’re better than anyone, but losing weight and stopping smoking are positive decisions that we should be praising. To a lesser extent, the same goes for leaving damaging chemicals out of your scalp. Whether or not we all agree that it’s the best choice FOR OURSELVES, it is clear that going natural is healthier.

      • Reading Is Fundamental

        #1 I didn’t “attack” you. I didn’t call you out. I didn’t name names, but hey if the shoe fits..
        #2 If the preface was the point, there would be no article! What would be the point in writing an article saying that everyone can wear their hair as they wish? Duh! We already know that! We’re grown women, and last I checked we live in America not Iran.
        #3 All black people are not a monolith. I think the whole “dividing the black community” thing is getting tired. We all have different opinions/preferences. If anything, it’s holding on to European standards of beauty that divides us.
        #4 I’m not (and neither is the author) saying that women who go natural are “superior” to anyone. If you have an inferiority complex, that’s your problem, not mine. It’s so funny how women who choose to relax get defensive when someone even mentions that there are alternatives. Do you boo.

  • DoinMe

    This article is really stretching and is extremely presumptuous. How people choose to wear THEIR HAIR is a personal choice and nobody else’s business. Hair does not define who you are.


    This seems like a plea for women to go natural. Let people do what the hell they want to do with their hair. All of these points made should be taken into consideration in your adult life anyway. If it takes hair to make you focus on your health,see yourself and others as beautiful,and showing respect to fellow human beings, you have issues that a simple hairstyle can not fix! I’m sick of seeing irrelevant issues help keep the community divided. Do what makes you happy and like Drake said “take care” NEXT!

  • mischka34

    I agree…I’ve been natural for going on 4 years, but its not working for me! As soon as a get a better job, I’m probably gonna get a texlax or relaxer.
    My question is: What is bad hair? We all know what good hair is, so what makes a person’s hair bad, because I think I have bad hair.

    • Preciouspeace

      Bad hair is hair that is unmanaged and appears unhealthy. No one is born with bad hair…it just becomes bad when you don’t keep up with it.

    • realadulttalk

      I don’t think most people do know what “good” hair is. Many were taught that if you have hair that is naturally straight (and usually thinner) that you have good hair – that’s not good hair!!!

    • Cadence

      Sis, with all due respect, if you think you have “bad hair” your perception is just off. Like another commenter posted the only “bad hair” is unhealthy hair. I dont care if your hair was as nappy as wool…it’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just your God given texture and incapable of being “bad” in and of itself. Do a little research to figure our your “hair type'” (i.e. 3, 4b, 4c) and then look up pics and YouTube videos of women with your same hair texture to see what they are doing.

    • mischa34

      My hair appears unhealthy….Its very thin,fine,dull, and breaks very easily. My nape hair barely grows and a 3 inch spot on my crown doesn’t grow past 3 inches. For some reason in those spots, my hair is even thinner than the rest of my hair. Its been like that all my life, even before my first relaxer at around 10/11 yo. My hair has never grown past my shoulders and it always looks like its broken off. My crown grows way faster than the back of my head, so my afros always look off. I do everything to keep my hair moisturized. Now I’m doing the bagging method almost every other night, spritz during the day, and it says dry. I have and was born with ‘bad hair’

      • Ms. Esq

        @ Mischa34. It sounds like you may need to go to a dermatologist. I don’t know if you have been to one already. It might not be your hair that is the problem i.e. it could be a vitamin deficiency or something like that. You mentioned in your first post about getting a better job but you can call most dermatologists’ offices and get a quote on how much an office visit will be.

        Good luck and remember it’s your choice as to what you do with your hair. I have psoriasis and I have been natural a few times and have gone back to reIaxers including recently. When I wore my hair in either state, I had problems. I went to the doctor and found out that lifestyle (especially stress) and nutrition were contributing to my scalp condition. Now I know what to do if I have a flare up in my hair. So maybe your hair problems are related to an internal problem. By the way, with psoriasis–my hair sucks up moisturizers but it can also take a lot of products. Hopefully a doctor and/or nutrition can help you.