I’ve Been Natural For 9 Years And I’m Just Figuring Out How To Manage My Texture: 3 Lessons That Helped Me
I might be a little late getting to the world of natural hairstyles, but the learning curve has already presented some important lessons for me.
I have been natural for about nine years, and I’m just now figuring out how to manage my natural texture. While I typically get my hair washed and pressed by a professional, I have been trying to learn natural styles lately. And with all of the educational resources at my disposal, there’s no excuse. Besides, our hair is so voluminous and beautiful, who wouldn’t want to dive in and learn how to cultivate the curls?
You can click through YouTube, Instagram, and Google to find out almost anything you might need to know. Wash N’ Gos? There’s a beauty guru for that. Protective Styles? There are too many to count and they all range in complexity. Hair porosity? There are any number of tests to determine yours. Want to figure out your exact texture? You might have multiple curl patterns all over your scalp and they all need to be handled differently.
There’s a lot of information to absorb, but here are a few lessons I lean on as a late-in-the-game naturalista.
Lesson 1: Be (Extremely) Patient
Whether getting your twists together or letting your hair air dry, patience is an important part of curl manipulation.
As any natural will tell you, it takes a while for your hair to dry after you wash it. And by a while, I mean you’ll easily be waiting more than 24 hours. Just because the outside of a twist might feel dry–and even if the hair near a part feels dry–leave your twists up and your rollers in at least another 6-12 hours because the hair near the core of a twist could still be wet. Taking damp twists down will blow your entire look. The sleek, shiny curls you were hoping to cultivate may plump up into fuzzy tendrils.
One way to cut down on drying time is to sit under a hood dryer for an hour or so. If you have somewhere to be while you wait for your hair to dry, you may want to wear an expertly swagged scarf over your tresses. If that’s not your aesthetic, then you could always find a protective style that looks good anywhere. I would suggest an asymmetrical goddess braid that results in sultry curls. This technique from YouTuber Naptural 85 is a little tougher than it looks, but it’s worth the work.
Lesson 2: Be Comfortable With Experimentation
Doing a natural style is never as easy as it looks. You need the right products and the right technique. Then you need to make sure that you have the right combination of both. Going through all of the permutations can take a while. In the search for the holy grail of your hair care routine, its easy to stockpile enough product to start your own salon.
Personally, I have a lot of products that do the same thing because I’m seeing what works best for me and my hair. Many of the products that I want to try out only come in full size, so this means there isn’t much room for error when attempting to get my money’s worth. Fortunately, I have yet to come across a product that was really bad for my hair, but I credit that to doing a lot of research before making a purchase.
Finding the right way to twist your hair for optimal curl sculpting is another challenge. Does it look better after Bantu Knots, flexirods, curl formers, flat twists, or banding? (For the record, I like my flexirod curls best, so far, but I’m excited to see what curl formers do). There’s only one way to find out, and you have to live with the results for at least a few days because doing your hair again is a major time commitment that often requires a clear schedule.
Lesson 3: Results May Vary
You can do the exact same process, using the exact same products, and get two completely different results.
Case in point, I tried this flexirod technique from CurlDaze twice, using the same set of products both times. While my second attempt came out looking more defined and felt better, I noticed that the curls from my first attempt looked a bit shinier and held up longer. I plan to try this out again soon, so we’ll see how it turns out!
What lessons have you learned along your natural journey?