Considerations before going natural | Beginers' food for thought

TsokungW's picture

Hey friends! I hope you are having a fabulous week and summer is treating you right as you take your first steps towards your 2018 new year resolutions.I have thought about all the issues that I feel like I should have considered or what I should have known before going natural to help me figure out quicker what my hair wanted and what I was generally doing in this natural hair care community. Like most people, when I look back, I therefore realize that I could have done much better and made my life so easier in learning how to care for my natural hair. Therefore with this post I hope to help someone out there who is on the edge and not sure when is the right time to jump yet.

DECISION | WHY?

First of all, ask yourself, “why am I going natural, What drives my inspiration towards the natural hair path ?”.

Different women have different approaches towards the above questions

  • I was tired of the society’s expectations from women of colour, imposing European beauty standards on us all the time. I am now fighting to show my society that African standards of beauty matter most to us too. We are beautiful in our own unique way.
  • I wanted to stop putting potentially health risking chemicals on my body, I now have increased my awareness on women’s health and the effect that crème relaxers can have on a woman’s body.
  • I am a victim of previously damaged hair due to crème relaxers, I now want to let my hair be and not manipulate it to have permanent straight strands whereas naturally it is curly/coily , not straight.
  • I was just following the trend because “natural hair is a thing/in Fashion nowadays”, I saw most ladies looking beautiful wearing their natural  hair out and I wanted to try that out, I am now starting to have enough of the high maintenance demands of my hair,therefore I might relax it someday.

The above points just represents a few reasons some women gave, to the question of why they went natural.

DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH

Network / Support

You want to know what other women who are natural are doing. Find out who is in your area to advice you on whatever you want clarification on. If you are like me, who was living in a predominantly “white” community when I went natural, YouTube and Natural hair blogs will be almost the only source of information you have.

Available Products /Services

This is a big one under the considerations of going natural because after watching all those YouTubers based in other countries, you are likely to be asking yourself where and how to find all those products in your local area.

Another question will be ” What did you use on your relaxed hair?” . I once met a lady with relaxed hair, who told me she just used petroleum jelly (Vaseline) all year long and her hair was flourishing. Some women have a simplified hair care regimen when they keep relaxed hair, they just use hair food (grease) and visit the salon every 3 months for relaxing their hair or sometimes doing a hair treatment as well. So If that is you, consider how your products are going to change.

Since you might find that you haven’t been used to keeping a stack of hair products, consider that now your natural hair will require certain shampoos, conditioners,, deep conditioners, oils as well as gels and curling creams for styling. This could be overwhelming but If you take one step at a time to learn what your hair wants, you will be just fine.

Availability of hair dressers in your area might be a hustle too and consider if you will be able to do your own hair, if not are you willing to learn?

What is this Afro-ethnic hair?

Expect a lot of changes and consider these questions:

” How will my hair now behave?”

“How will my hair be affected by different environmental conditions?”.

The above questions will drive you towards learning more about your natural hair, such as it’s behavior and how is it different from other hair textures. Most women have spent the rest of their lives with chemically straightened hair since childhood and they have never experienced how their natural afro ethnic hair behaves or how to care for it.

It tends to be a total shock to see that ;

  • extreme shrinkage,
  • extreme tangling,
  • brittle to combing,
  • high tendency to knot,
  • defying gravity/ holding shapes,
  • extremely drying out,
  • curling/coiling up
  • and looking unkept ( as many people compare it to other hair textures) etc.

It can therefore be stressful for many women to deal with those unique characteristics of kinky/curly/coily hair, and most people eventually give up. So in short, we are teaching ourselves what could have been learnt by our ancestors many years ago. Let us be easy on ourselves , it is our first time, we are still figuring it out and we are winning so far. Having said so, the above characteristics are the ones that make our hair beautiful in it’s own unique way.

CAREER/OCCUPATION

Natural hair care being the “new thing” in the world and in Africa as well, not all black people embrace it. Wearing your hair out to your professional environments like school or work might cause concerns for those around you. Consider the type of job you do and what your boss or school principal’s reactions will be. Consider if you will be forced to hide your natural hair in wigs or scarves or you will be able to freely wear it out. Consider your workplace or school dress code and what sorts of hairstyles you will do for them to consider you “presentable” in their premises and not breaking the rules anyhow.

FAMILY / FRIENDS SUPPORT

We all have heard of stories of people who chased their dreams and achieved whatever they wanted to achieve regardless of their family and friends’ disapproval, however not everyone is that strong alone. In most cases we get our strength to succeed from family and friends. Same thing with changing our looks, such as going natural, our loved ones may hate or love it. Sometimes if our loved ones disapprove of our decisions, we are likely to lose interest .

What will your partner/spouse say and how will they react?

What will be your friends comments?

Remember that sometimes our friends’ comments may kill our confidence and even our self esteem.

When I was growing up in Botswana, keeping natural hair and growing it long was not “a thing” except for dreadlocks. I remember how some people used to be nagged by their siblings, friends, church members that the dreadlocks made them look less neat, up until they chopped them off.  Therefore consider the reaction and the support you will get from your loved ones to continue looking beautiful rocking your natural hair and having no doubts on your self image and self esteem.

COST

Added cost may arise from increased number of products that you will now use, shipping hair products from another country or from the fact that imported products generally tend to cost more. If there are natural hair salons in your area, they might be more expensive as well.

HOW TO GO NATURAL?

After doing all your research and looking at all the considerations , you might want to make an informed decision on how you will start.

Are you transitioning to natural or doing the big chop?

We all know those girls that will never wear their hair short, and they are less likely to big chop and for those who do, wigs are usually their best friend.

The concept of self image is very important, some women believe that when they walk into the room, their hair represents a part of who they are. Sometimes this can be true, therefore, how others perceive our hair cannot be ignored no matter how hard we try.

THOUGHTS…

We now have to educate our societies and take them with us as we go through these changes to improve our ways of seeing things for a better future for African children and the rest for the world.

Change will always be scary but sometimes it is for the better, good luck on your natural hair journey and enjoy every moment of it.

Until next time;

Lots of love by Lebo @tsokungwoman