So you are finally out of the in-between phase! You are past your big chop, and you can rock a natural fro with the best of them. You have watched all the YouTubers and Instragrammers. You have a few go-to styles in your hair tool box. What now? How can you maintain your natural hair so it continues to grow out strong and healthy?
1. Practice makes perfect
Maintaining your natural hair means continuing to do the things you know to do. It also means finding routines and styles that work with your current hair length and texture. With my big chop, a “wash-and-go” was my main go-to look. When it stopped looking fresh, I did not hesitate to wash it. I would wash it at any time for any reason up to and including evenings after a long day of work/homework with the kiddos.
I do NOT do fresh washes during the week with my current length except on special occasions. My hair takes too long to style/dry. In addition, “wash-and-gos” are no longer my go-to style of choice. I now do two-strand twists, high puffs, low puffs, flat twists and so many others.
Each of these styles and wash routines required practice. I did not just wake up one day with the perfect high puff or twist outs.
The more you practice, the more you will like your looks daily. Furthermore, you will learn what works best with your hair’s current length and texture to maintain the appearance, length, and overall hair health.
2. Develop a nighttime routine.
Your hair can break and shed simply based on how you sleep at night. Do you toss and turn frequently? Are you using non-silk/satin bonnets or scarves? Are you just going to sleep at night and trying to manage your curls the next morning. Part of maintaining your natural hair is setting yourself up for success the night before. During my big chop phase, all I to do was lay down at night. I did not need a nighttime routine. A silk pillow case was more than enough.
Then my hair grew, and I needed more than a silk pillow case. I now need mini pineapples and silk bonnets also. I have to apply products and do all styling at night.
I tried all types of nighttime routines. I tried all types of products. I finally found the right mix of products and styles that bring just what I need to my evening regimen.
3. Watch out for over manipulation AND under manipulation
For all the natural hair girls (and guys), you can absolutely have too much of a “good” thing. You can leave the conditioner in too long. You can twist too frequently. You can braid too often. You can finger coil one too many days in a row. You hair does not need constant attention. Perfect curls cannot occur every moment of every day. When I transitioned from less “wash-and-gos” to more twist outs, I wanted perfect curls daily. I wanted to twist outs to look fresh at all time. I wanted day one hair every day.
(For those who do not know, day one hair is the way your hair looks right after it is styled to your liking. Day two hair would be the next day. Day three hair would be the day after that, and the days continue until you re-style your hair.)
Over time, I found an increase in shedding and breakage trying to keep my curls looking like day one curls every day, especially in the areas where I did the most manipulating.
Your hair needs rest. Over manipulation can lead to hair damage that will keep you from maintaining your natural hair’s health and length.
The same works for under manipulation. Your hair needs fresh washes. Your hair needs to breath. Your hair needs to be combed out. You cannot rock a high puff all day every day. You cannot wear a low puff for weeks and weeks. You hair needs to breath between protective styles. You natural hair cannot flourish without tender loving care.
4. Recognize that Natural Hair is a Movement
Part of maintaining your natural hair is learning as you go. You are learning your hair. You are accepting your hair.
People are learning natural hair. Right now, so many products are developing in a market that did not even exist 10 years ago. (My personal favorite product line is the love of people – shameless plug for my favorite brand.) People have an idea of what they feel like hair should look like, including natural hair. People will treat you differently based on how your natural hair is styled on any given day.
Do not spend your life playing to the expectations of others. The expectations of others will lead you to over or under manipulation. The expectations of others may cause you to leave your hair in bone straight weaves and wigs. Other’s expectations may cause you dislike the hair in the mirror.
Maintaining your natural hair means loving your hair despite expectations. It is yours now. It will be yours forever. Find you a mentor or a group of girls who have embraced curls that look like yours and rock your natural hair unapologetically.
What are some ways that you maintain your natural hair?
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Need some more information on rocking your best natural hair? Here are some more of my favorites:
- Natural Hair Growth: Tips & Tricks
- Curly Hairstyles – a Style Guide for All Winter Occasions
- How to Style Your Short/Medium Length Natural Hair
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