A month ago, I was in a dream world.

It was the first morning of an all-expense-paid vacation. I spent it floating in the Hyatt Regency pool, alongside the man I love, under the shade of palm trees and a cloudless California sky. The most pressing matter on my mind was selecting the perfect lineup before we hit the Empire Polo Club grounds for Coachella Day One.

Then the tips of my hair dipped into the pool.

Thank God I recovered in that pool quickly and got my hair Instagram ready. Cheese!

From my reaction, you would have thought that chlorine is a deadly poison. I couldn’t get out of the water fast enough, straining to keep the rest of my head from getting wet, I frantically grabbed my wet ends and started re-twisting them. My boyfriend could only shake his head as he followed me out of the pool. Those 30 minutes totaled the entire time I spent “enjoying” the pool area during all three days of our vacation.

Taking care of my natural hair has made me so obsessed I often struggle with balancing my hair regimen with life’s demands like sleep, spending time with my loved ones, personal time, and work. And lately, I’ve been questioning my motivations for the extreme TLC I devote to my hair: Is all of this extra work simply a requirement for healthy hair? Or do I have a curl inferiority complex that makes me overcompensate when styling my tresses?

Seven years ago I didn’t know what to make of the unwieldy strands on my head. I would simply douse my clean, wet hair with leave-in conditioner and braid it every night to stretch it out. The next morning my hair would be a small, undefined ‘fro that felt like the driest and brittlest of tumbleweed.

I was so self-conscious the first time that I wore this style on a night out that I was convinced no guy would want to talk to me. Men kept hitting on my friends as I pretended to enjoy dancing on my own. As the night wound down, a guy approached me: “Don’t worry. I think you’re beautiful.” His eyes and tone did not agree with his words.

I felt ugly.


My hair was twice this size a few hours before I took this picture. Sigh.

Soon I began to stretch and smooth out my kinks with a blow-dryer before I braided my hair, which added an extra 30 to 45 minutes to the styling process. This new halo of hair was my crowning glory and made me feel beautiful, similar to the way some women feel more feminine with long, flowing hair. I finally got a steady flow of compliments.

But months of frying my strands proved to be too tiresome, as well as fruitless. The slightest change in humidity levels immediately obliterated any trace of my efforts.

One day I decided to wear my first wash-and-go ‘fro — a style that consists of fresh-out-of-the-shower hair and leave-in conditioner — on a date night with my boyfriend at the time. I thought my coarse curls looked pretty cute (and it was a relief to be so low maintenance) but the boy (who is now, fortunately, my ex) looked me in my eye mid-make out session to ask, “Why don’t you do your hair?”

Since then, I can probably count on one hand the amount of times I have worn a wash-and-go in the seven years I’ve been natural.

It took me a year-and-a-half to formulate a regimen that created a style that I loved, or should I say a style that I felt comfortable wearing because other people finally loved it?

The twist-out is to Janday what the textured pompadour is to Janelle Monae. I achieve my signature look by adding a curl defining cream to my hair after every wash (which always follows the deep conditioning pre-wash treatment) and two-strand twisting it section by section. It takes me about 2 to 3 hours.

The deluge of compliments began, the first time I ever wore my twist-out in public, with an emphatic “I LIKE THAT!” from an older man in line at Marshall’s.

“You finally learned how to do your hair!” my cousin yelled when she saw me.

Even random people have stopped me to offer commentary like, “Sistah, I just want to tell you that your hair is beautiful!” or ask “How did you do that?”

The near constant positive feedback drowns out the negative opinions like the black female executive who once told members of my career prep program that natural hair is “unacceptable in the workplace”.

Maybe my fixation on my hair comes from a desire to prove naysayers like her wrong. I am so focused on putting my best ‘fro forward that I have missed out on happy hours and dinners because my twists have not dried in time. My time-inefficient hair regimen cuts into prime cuddling time with my long distance boyfriend, and causes me to stagger, bleary-eyed, into work some mornings.

And I keep reaching new extremes. When my boyfriend and I got back to our hotel the night of Coachella Day, my body shut down the moment I saw the bed. I woke up a few hours later, stumbled into the bathroom and was aghast at the mess of matted hair I saw in the mirror. Even at 5.a.m., my vanity gave me the strength to stand in that bathroom and twist my hair for an hour before going back to bed.

As a self-described overthinker, I cannot help but wonder why most people praised my hair only after I started wearing a style with elongated and defined curls; a style that mimics hair with looser curl patterns.

In a society where “ethnic” looks come second to the Eurocentric ideal, my very tight curls don’t measure up to the beauty standard for some people. I sometimes fear that I’m trying to tame my hair by using products that promise to “manage,” stretch, and transform my “dull, shrunken coils” (these words are lifted right off of the packaging). I wonder if I am forcing my strands to conform to a more socially acceptable curl pattern -– call it the politics of respectability for natural hair.

If more people celebrated my high-shrinkage, coily-coils would I be wearing a wash-and-go style right now?

As frustrated as I get at times, I’ve accepted that an inordinate amount of time will always be spent on my hair because it is delicate. And I have committed to sacrificing some of my time so I can have a healthy mane, the way parents sacrifice the freedom of their adult lives when they have children. Yep, I just compared styling my hair to rearing children.

image The Bantu knots are on the left-hand side. I untwist them, and voila! Look at how my curls POP in the picture on the right.

Since I love complicating things, I just added the Bantu knot twist-out to my regular styling regimen. There goes another hour of my time each week.

Is anyone’s hair wash n’ go? Or do most of us sacrifice some serious time to our hair?



This post originally appeared on XOJane. Republished with permission. Click here for more
Janday Wilson on XOJane!

  • http://twitter.com/fufuandoreos OBEHI JANICE (@fufuandoreos)

    My hair is NOT wash ‘n’ go. I actually have to put my hair in micro-twists for two-three weeks or it gets silly. I love your honesty in this article. I feel like these days I’m comparing the amount of hours I spend with other 4b/4c girls. One of my girlfriends can spend THREE DAYS on her hair! Which is no better than my two…

    I empathize with your bantu knot, twist-out, blow-dry-then-braid-it-struggle. I just wish my shrunk down afro was considered beautiful.

  • http://www.tmorrisonpr.com Tamika

    OMG! You so in my life right now! As a new natural, I personally prefer a ‘tamer’ look for my 4a coils. I don’t mind the shrinkage, but I am obsessed with a perfect coil. Sigh. It always takes long than I expected or anticipated to do my hair and I had LOL b/c if the obsession to wash, re-wet and twist my hair happens – god-forbid – during primetime hangout hours, I nearly panic when my friends names show up thinking I may have to opt-out of a good time because my hair isn’t dry or coily-ready. But as you say, it’s the sacrifice we have chosen to make for a healthy mane of hair and I guess I’ll have to be OK with that because I am not going back the other way anytime soon…..however, I may dookie braids in just for the beach. Hmmmm LOL!

  • Fit_MissC

    Great article. I understand the struggle to get the “natural” hair look. My Sunday afternoons are devoted to maintaining and styling my hair. I have managed to find a style that gets me through the week but I do wish it didn’t take so long to execute. Natural hair is definitely a commitment. Right now I’m on the hunt to find some nice protective styles I can do to minimize my styling time. Anyone know where I can start? When twisted my hair is about 4-5 inches in length.

  • Jen

    Mine is wash ‘n’ go. Minimal maintenance is my primary requirement to anything I do with my hair. For me, the trick has been finding products that work well enough with my hair type to make excessive effort unnecessary. Mixed Silk by Silk Elements Leave-in has been working extremely well for me…I wash my hair once or twice a week and comb it out during conditioning, then I put in the leave in and it leaves it looking nice for several days. On the days I’m not washing it, I put some moisturizer in, throw on a headband, and call it a day. Life is too short to spend it in the mirror and in permanent panic mode over pools and beaches.

  • Chacha1

    I COULD wash and go, but then by the days end, it would be a tangled mass of hair that would take 2 hours + to detangle. So I alternate between twists/braids (2 weeks) and a twist/braid-out (2 days). Wearing braidouts daily requires that I re-braid every single night, and that is too much damn work.

    I have never, ever gotten compliments on my natural curl pattern. It is only when I have it braided or stretched to look like wavy hair that I get compliments from males and females alike.

  • Chika

    I don’t believe in policing what other people do with their hair so if you wanna spend 3-4 hrs on your hair a day that’s fine. But stories like this make me sad because they strengthen the myth that natural hair takes soooooo much time. Natural hair only takes a lot of time if you want it to. I have tightly coiled 4bcdefghi (I hate the bogus classifications) and I only spend about 45 min every 2-3 nights on my hair. That basically means I do a braid out every once in awhile and it gives me all the volume I need. If I’m going to a fancy shindig, I may take the time to do a 2-3 hr twist out the night before. But seriously, spending that amount of time on hair EVERY night isn’t healthy. It’s possible to work with your hair too much and it could stifle growth.

  • BeanBean

    I do my hair once a week, Sunday, it takes about 3 hours, start to finish, once my hair is styled that’s how it remains for the rest of the week. I don’t have time to wash, detangle, and style my hair daily

  • au napptural

    You know, I was going to get all self-righteous, but I’ve spent many a hour trying to make my hair look “right”. Now, I still have to give a little lecture. You can’t control your family or BFs, and you shouldn’t even be with someone who thinks the only way for hair to be “done” is European style. Now, I’ve noticed the same phenomena. My family praises my 4b defined curls and ignores or criticizes my undefined hair. But that doesn’t stop me from wearing it. I don’t have the time or inclination to try to make my hair something it isn’t. At the end of the day, the natural journey needs to be something you undertake b/c you truly love your natural hair; not Joan from Girlfriends natural hair. If you want to make your hair acceptable to all, just perm it and save yourself the grief. Plus, if you care, all the manipulation will keep it from growing as quickly. As a bonus, once I really accepted my hair, I left it alone, except to moisturize and love it, it grew like wildfire and now is almost bra-strap length and defines all by itself.

  • talaktochoba

    no other kind of woman on the face of the Earth ever can match your beauty save one of your own kind, and it is the crown you make of your hair–which is also unmatched by any other kind of woman–that tells the world you are regal;

    if looking regal were meant to be easy, you can bet every woman in the world would do so, so don’t submit to the Dark (read petroleum distallites) Side and wear your crown well as your grandmothers did;

  • sixfoota

    Yeah, when I was a new natural I always did a twist-out or braid-out. I felt like my hair HAD to be in some sort of defined state. Now, I fully embrace my lazy & I do a wash-n-go once a week. The other days I just spray it with water & it loses it’s curl a few days in. That’s when I enjoy it most – undefined.

  • Gari29

    Your shrunk down afro is beautiful! Forget what everyone else has to say about your afro, just be confident in yourself and in your skin. To change it up, you can go to a salon for a shape up or cut it into a nice style, put some highlights to make it funky or just let it be. I always look at natural hairstyles for inspiration on the internet.

  • cb


  • cb

    preach, they don’t feel good about their hair or not comfortable with the texture…natural hair is a different ballgame…either get with the program or…..

  • Mademoiselle

    I notice with a lot of naturals, there seems to be this constant compulsion to style their hair. When I used to have a perm, the go to style was a pony tail. When in doubt, tie it back. But with naturals, it seems everyone’s so obsessed with a style that can be worn “out” to show off it’s length or texture. I have a growing 4c TWA now, which I wash and go and only detangle while wet, but when my hair was at least as long as the author’s, my Monday through Thursday look was ONE signature/protective style that I wrapped in a scarf at night to keep neat all week (maybe I’d two French braids or a Princess Leia inspired braid with the ends tucked in), and I’d “let my hair down” Friday and Saturday, wash & style Sunday, repeat. There’s no need to spend hours each week on hair. There’s no need to make it fancy every day. And when you’re going on vacation, do what the permies do for vacation: go to the salon ahead of time, get a nice long-lasting style put in, and leave the hair products & tools at home. Keep it simple. Oh, and I always put my hair in braids when going to a pool/beach. Wading with “out” hair is impractical if you’re going to be vain about the fro.

  • GG

    This article is so good lol ugh the struggle. I’ve missed events because of styling and not feeling like doing anything. Also, showed up so late to a party. I can definitely relate to this.

  • Me27

    I’m a wash n’ go girl myself. But, I’ve always been pretty low-maintenance when it comes to my hair.

    However, I will admit, that when I first decided to wear my hair in it’s naturally curly state, I started out doing twist outs. My hair was shorter and i liked the elongated state. But, one night while re-twisting my hair, I asked myself, “If i were on vacation right now, would I be doing this?” The answer was “No” and that was the last time I twisted my hair. I decided I needed to find a regimen that was more attuned to my lifestyle. I am the kind of person that likes to pick up and go. I cannot imagine turning down an invite or delaying doing something because i had to wait for my hair to set. So i started wearing a wash n’ go.

  • http://gravatar.com/mimiandy1683 MimiLuvs

    Here’s the thing:
    I’ve been “natural” for the past ten years and I don’t know anything about the ‘grading system’ of natural hair. I hear things like ’4a’ or ’4c’ and for me, I am thinking ‘What in the H*ll are they talking about?’
    The only way I can describe my hair is too loose to form an afro, but I do see tight curls. If I comb my hair, my hair will straighten out.

  • Chacha1

    What’s sad? That I won’t do a wash n go? That I won’t braid my hair every night to make my hair look wavy in order to gain approval? Or that many people are hung up on a certain curl pattern being nice?

  • Me27

    Same here. My last relaxer was at sometime in 2001. And I don’t get this hair typing thing. I simply refer to my hair as Kinky Curly. The curls are extremely defined. It’s a loose spiral curl when wet and a tight spiraled, fluffy curl when dry.

  • http://gravatar.com/latinlover Pseudonym

    I’m wash’n'go but that’s b/c I don’t have any hair styling skills- AT ALL!!! I tried twist-outs and bantu knots and failed miserably, having to jump in the shower to wash’n'go my hair back to a presentable state. I have looser, curly/wavy hair so I probably get less negative comments than the author (though I have received them!) so I feel less pressure to “tame my hair” from other people (Actually, when I straighten my hair, more people tell me that they prefer my hair curly.). I totally empathize with the post, though.

  • http://gravatar.com/latinlover Pseudonym

    I think it might be “sad” that you never get compliments on your natural curl pattern, but rather only when it’s stretched to mimic wavy hair. All textures should be appreciated.

  • cookiechica

    I believe it’s part of the process of being natural, to first have the need to style all the time and/or burn a lot of maintenance time nightly, then have that “aha” moment, and discover the regimen that is time saving and works. I still like experimenting with styles(next year is my 20th natural anniversary), usually when I’m going out, but for work, it’s usually away in a bun and under a scarf after being moisturized with water and aloe vera juice and sealed with coconut oil(I’m a baker). I’m more in protective styling mode rather than twistouts these days, and there are a lot of simple, fun, elegant and funky styles to be found on you tube(I’m into the retro pin-up styles this summer).

  • Deal-n-Truth

    @Chicka I totally agree with what you said. As someone who’s not new to this, I just oil the scalp, moisten the hair with water, braid it and that’s it.

    I find that many women are embracing their hair in it’s natural state, but the message I get is that they’re still uncomfortable wearing it in this manner, hence the need to attempt to define a curl pattern that’s not there and buying products that they think will turn tight coils into curls.

    I’ve worn my hair in this manner for four decades and not once have I looked at it as a hindrance to anything because it is a part of who I am and I embrace what GOD gave me fully without compromise.

  • Miakoda

    Wash and go? Yea right! I have the kinky hair that shrinks up as soon as it gets even the slightest bit of moisture.

  • J

    One Word: FINGERCOMBER!!!!
    Best Protective Style Yet! =)

  • MommieDearest


    “Natural hair only takes a lot of time if you want it to. ”


    If I’m in a hurry and I need to wash my hair and don’t have time to twist it and let it dry (my hair takes at least 24 hours to air dry), I do a wash and go puff. I conditon and moisturize my hair and pull it back with a Gooody hair band or scarf. It’s my go to style when I’m on vacation at the beach. Easy, quick and cute. (I wish I COULD do a wash and go fro, but my texture is looser in the top so my hair would just droop.) Or if I want a more “formal” look I put it in a low bun.

    I refuse to plan my life around my hair, or let my hair hold me hostage. I got enough of that when I was relaxing it. Ain’t nobody got time for that! LOL!!!

  • GG

    I think it’s because natural hair already has a negative perception so the need to look really good is to offset the negativity of natural hair.You don’t want to prove them right. Also, if other girls see it looks nice they will likely join the natural side if that makes sense.

  • GG

    I don’t think that’s the right mentality to get with the program or… It makes people run away example church…

  • df

    Mark my words, she will either eventually relax, texturize her hair or become a heat trained natural.

    We still have a long way to go truly accepting all forms of our hair since we are ingrained in a white-centric society. One step at a time. We got to accept ourselves whether or not the rest of the world does.

  • df

    also wanted to say thank you for your honesty. many of us have and still think this way. I pray that the next generation go even further than us in understanding and appreciating all our hair as it is and can be.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    I agree, I feel like the most blasé natural ever…lol and mind you I have 4b/c hair too. My hair personally doesn’t take this unnatural amount of time like some naturals seems to complain about in the 4 range nor do I use expensive products or hair 50-11 products in my closet. My styling is limited but usually I find protective styling that last me a good week or two (or a month if I decide to braid) and that is it. I never have been obsessed with this perfect coil/curl or super definition. I know hair time varies on natural hair and factors (i.e. if your hair is long/short, hair type, regimen etc.) but anything pass an hour and a half seems like overkill to me. I think it is time for some naturals who feel like their hair is “so much work” to be honest with themselves. Because the only time your hair should take a lot of time if you are A) limited on your skills/techniques or B) you are trying to make your hair do something it doesn’t do…i.e. defining a perfect curl.

  • Nic

    Not everyone thinks you need to have corkscrew curls or waves t to have pretty hair. Some people think that. Some people do not. A lot of people on both sides of the fence don’t ever comment.
    This problem is a bit your own and reflects a preference SOME but not all people have.
    Look, not everyone thinks dark skin is pretty but plenty of dark-skinned women love their skin. A lot of people have a LOT of things that don’t fit society’s narrow definition of beauty. Your choice is to either internalize that or say eff it, I’m great and move on.
    I think the problem is that if you see 10 people and 2 insult your hair and 2 compliment it and the rest say nothing, that becomes “everyone” in a lot of people’s minds.
    I think it’s pretty common for a vocal minority to drown out people who have no opinion or even the ones who say you look pretty. And that is unfortunate.
    I think the author is uncomfortable with the kind of hair she has and thinks it needs to be a certain way to be pretty. She will likely go back to relaxing b/c it just seems to cause her a lot of anxiety. And honestly, I don’t know why you’d remain natural if you hate your natural hair this much. It’s not worth it.
    I can’t even imagine running back to my hotel room b/c my hair got wet. She has a very patient boyfriend, and she’s kind of ignoring the fact that he is okay with it (not that men’s preferences should ever dictate how you wear your hair).
    But at some point if she lets her hair take over their time together he might move on.
    A lot of people need to find their self-esteem and cannot count on other people to give it to them.

  • Nic

    What sad is that she wastes so much time to make her hair look like something it’s not. it takes my hair a million years to dry but other than that, it’s not that hard. And I have a lot of hair. But I also could care less about having a well-defined twist out (I never bother with that) or pretending my hair is something it’s not.
    There is nothing wrong with blow drying or flatironing or whatever you want to do, but yeah, short of getting a relaxer, your hair wants to be what it is, and if that is a tightly coiled fro you are better working with that and not against it.
    I don’t have curly hair and I don’t desire curly hair and I don’t buy products that promise to define curls or mimic curls. That’s BS. My hair is awesome. And I think if you don’t like your natural hair you should do something with it that will let you be happy and lead a normal life.

  • Nic

    This whole article just makes me sigh.
    I feel like a lot of people are dumping their relaxers but just aren’t ready. And that’s okay.
    But I feel like a lot of the women who were getting relaxers every month or wearing weaves non-stop are going natural after kissing a picture of Tracee Ellis Ross’s hair every night.
    So they continue to covet what they do not and will never have.
    I think that in general, it is healthiest to find images that are similar to you and attainable.
    If you feel like your hair is inferior, stop wasting time on You Tube watching some girl with Scary Spice curls. There are plenty of pretty women who don’t have curly hair and don’t try to mimic that. Look at them. I say as long as your hair is healthy and you don’t wind up with something that is too tangled or matted for you to handle, you should be fine. And you’ll look fine too.

  • Nic

    Slow clap. Out of all of the new natural hair lingo, I think “hair crush” has got to be one of my least favorites.
    People need to stop fawning over Tracee Ellis Ross’s hair b/c you know what, it’s staying on her head and isn’t going to magically start growing out of yours.
    I almost think some of these women need to just avoid looking at videos and pictures of other people b/c they will just reinforce their own inferiority complexes that they don’t have the right type of hair, or long enough hair. I hate the comments “I can’t wait until my hair looks like this”, b/c for most of those commenters, they’ll be waiting until 5 minutes after never.
    It’s not an accident that the people who have thousands of You Tube followers either have really long hair, really curly hair or both. But it’s just not helpful for people to do that if they are just going to think that they look good when they have that hair, since most of them NEVER will.

  • Nic

    It’s some new BS that people made up in the last couple of years. I don’t use it. It’s too simplistic and that’s pretty obvious if you’ve ever been in a room full of black women with natural hair. No two heads are EVER the same which is crazy since you figure most of them would claim one of 2 or 3 categories.

  • Nic

    Oh, I’m lying, I think the numbers came from Oprah’s hairdress Andre. And they’ve been doctored since then by self-declared “hair gurus.”

  • Mademoiselle

    Just like no dress size perfectly sums up your physique, the hair typing system isn’t meant to identify every individual’s characteristic. But I think you should take a look at the chart. It’s pretty useful in helping people identify other naturals whose hair textures more closely resemble their own. It’s easy to shoot something down before checking out its benefits, but for me, this helps me weed through the numerous sites dedicated to the “curly” naturals whose hair droops when it grows out, and whose curls can be “defined” by products to make it look like its in a constant state of wetness. Years ago, it used to completely frustrate me to see that texture be the natural hair icon for all, while my texture continued to battle stereotypes. Now when I look things up, I can specify my texture and bypass all the irrelevant sites easily. So whenever I find someone who is a 4c, I know right away, her hair is one of the tightest coiled (smaller than the spring in a click-pen), fragile (combing/manipulating has to be done very delicately), averse to clumping (each strand curls in its own direction, making it look like “frizz/naps” instead of “curls”), and moisture hungry, just like mine.

  • Mademoiselle

    There are more than 2 or 3 categories. Just like bras, people tend to pick the pattern that closest resembles what they have, and you can have more than one type growing in different areas of your scalp.

  • http://twitter.com/Author_JGail Teflon Jawn (@Author_JGail)

    I like the honesty of this article. I think we spend WAY too much time worrying about what other women and men we may be interested in will think. Family members, co-workers etc. But you really have to think about it… why do we care so much if another woman is snickering behind your back? Some isht from childhood. I tell you the most empowering thing is to walk outside with the mentality of “don’t like my hair today? Oh well, too bad! Good thing it’s on MY head.”

    I didn’t go natural to seek compliments, but ironically I get them a lot now. Still I’m mindful that I’m not styling my hair for others, only for myself.

    This whole going natural thing is still new for a lot of sisters (including myself, about 2 years now), it is the first step after many years of straightening the hair to an inch of its life from childhood. It will take more than a few months or years to *completely* wash away our negative beliefs of having kinky hair. But I believe it will happen eventually, and if someone has an issue with naps, OH WELL!

  • Mademoiselle

    “You don’t want to prove them right.”

    That’s a sign that all those stereotypes are still being internalized. I think part of what takes some naturals so long to settle into their decision is they let go of the perm, but hold onto the mentality. I’ve seen busted looking perms, and busted looking fros. Once people realize that looking busted is a function of maintenance, health, and opinion, not texture, it becomes easier to quit trying to prove anything to anybody and prioritize life based on personal preferences.

  • Ms. Vee

    To my fellow 4a/b/c textured ladies:

    If you desire the up and go life, length and hairstyle versatility consider getting locs. I have your typical 4c West African hair and was not too pleased with spending hours on a daily twist out. Plus combing it was too painful the more it grew and the hair shrinkage never gave me big afro affect that i desired. Now that i have locs i spend max 5 hours a month making sure the roots are on point. Locs are not for everyone, but before you chop off/perm the kinkiest hair of them all consider some locs.








  • http://www.urbannaturale.com Deborah Davis

    I have worn my hair in a natural style for many years and I have also shared some of the same frustrations regarding the amount of time it took to style my hair. I grew bored with a basic ‘afro’ and wanted to try other looks.

    I finally found freedom and a fun, fashionable style by simply washing and twisting my natural hair using a natural twisting aid or locking gel. Of course it took a couple of hours to twist my whole head initially, but after the twists dried, I was able to wear them for a week or two happily without much maintainence. I would simply rinse my twists in the shower each morning, shake them dry and spray them with a light moisturizer or conditioner by Jane Carter or Carol’s Daughter. I was also able to wash them out quickly and easily.

    As my twists grew, they looked a little like locks but they were not permanent. (Fortunately for us, there are many other natural hair moisturizers and DIY solutions available as well.)

    Happily for me, I have received compliments on my hairstyle and never felt unattractive.
    (And as you shared, any guy who told me to get my hair done would definitely become an ex.. Smile)

    Another variation on this style is the very short twist which I really love. It gives my hair a great textured look and is a very low maintenance hair style.This is a super-easy look for the beach or on vacation!

    Yes, natural hair can indeed be beautiful and easy to maintain with a little creativity and the right care.

  • NeverBeenWrong

    This.This.This. Sometimes I feel like the desire for long straight European type hair has been replaced by a desire for long curly mixed chick type hair. I get into it with a friend of mine all the time who recently went “natural.” I’ve never had a perm or relaxer in my life (I grew up in an area with no humidity) and I go back and forth between wash/flat iron and a wash/braid out, but somehow she says I’m not “natural.” Just as I will never sit in an overcrowded hair shop for hours just to get my hair done, I will never spend hours at home doing my hair. It’s not that serious (to me) and I have better things to do with my time.

  • bm

    I have the same type of hair pictured in this post. Just the other day, I was sitting in a waiting room filled with black women, one other whom was also natural. We were all chatting; however, it was the other natural who got the compliments. “Oh, I just love your curl pattern.” Then the conversation of natural hair began, and gravitated towards the ideal of ‘curly natural hair’ being the standard. I just started interjecting with what I used on my hair…it was a cover for being offended, yet not trying to be a total jerk/rude – “Hey, well I’m natural and I’m not curly; and do not apologize.”

    I don’t have the time, these days, to do all the extra stuff. I used to have the same mindset as the OP. But, these days, I just don’t care. Yes, I too get the compliments that are ungenuine.

    But that’s not my problem. I refuse to apologize to this world for how nature made me. I am not going to apologize by deliberate seeking in my mating practice, people with curlier or silkier textures than mine. I’m not going to buy into the idea that I NEED TO make my hair appear to have another texture naturally in order to be deemed acceptable.

    Really, I was waiting for someone in that waiting room to say something rude to me about my hair. I guess, I was trying to provoke them by interjecting with my uninvited responses about the topic, as they seemed to all be deliberately excluding me from the conversation.

  • http://gravatar.com/ceecollegegal CeeCee

    I’m one of the type of individuals that could care less what other people think. I don’t need compliments from random strangers or concern from family members about my kinks. My hair looks exactly like the author’s hair, but its much shorter; I cut my hair about two months ago. The longer my hair is, the longer it takes to co-wash, condition, de-tangle, style, and dry. Its just too much for me, at this point in my life; so I am satisfied with a short fro. Since cutting my hair I have finally completed the Hunger Games trilogy, obtained a certification, and found a new summer job. Now, when winter rolls around, I am going to put my hair into twists and leave it up for about two months, take it down, and then I may get micro braids, dookie braids, or something; I don’t have time to be doing my hair everyday for 1 to 2 hrs (I have to condition it daily).

  • Echi

    Got dreads, never looked back.

  • memyselfandi

    I think it’s odd that natural seems to have such a specific connotation now – whenever people talk about natural hair, they seem to be referring to big (often fairly curly) afros. Maybe I’m just misreading, but that’s the way it comes off to me.

    I’ve never had my hair straightened in my life (not even with a hot comb), so I thought everything I ever did was natural, whether that was twists or braids or extensions or a short-cropped look or locs (which is what I have now, because I like low-maintenance hair and I can pretty much roll out of the bed with them). Maybe some of those styles are just out of fashion now?

  • copelli

    I am straight up wash n go. I wear my afro all the time and don’t care who likes it or not. And yes, I do work in a corporate office and dare someone to say something. They don’t.

    My nappy fro and I are best friends. I swim constantly. I roll my windows down to enjoy the breeze and my dog appreciates the extra time in the morning for a walk since I don’t have to spend time worrying about my hair.

    All in all, life is good.

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae

    As long as YOU love your shrunken afro, who cares about anyone else?

    As women of African descent, we do not fit the current beauty standards and that should be celebrated! When I need confirmation of my beauty, I look in the mirror.

    My hair is 4a/b/c/z and I never wear a wash and go bc I cant’ deal with the tangles I’d suffer as a result.

  • http://gravatar.com/cocovabarbie KemaVA

    @Ms Vee

    Yes!!! I have sisterlocs and I love love love them.

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae


    I’m an avid protective styler; meaning for the most part, from Sun-Wed or Thursday I wear my hair in a style that ‘protects’ or hides my ends. It works well for me in that I’m not spending time styling my hair daily, I retain moisture, and length. I remoisturize (the Moisture Method I use is the LOC method:http://www.lillian-mae.com/newly-natural/natural-hair-tutorial-the-l-o-c-method) my hair on Thursday nights in preparation for my twist/braidout fro for the weekend. Here’s a link to a few protective styles I do on my hair: http://www.lillian-mae.com/transitioning-guide/protective-styling-it-aint-always-glamorous-but-it-always-works/

    I am a K.I.S.S kinda girl!

  • Mike

    No mention of a man. I wonder why. lol

  • Mike

    These STYLES look feminine but honestly 90% of the black women I see with locks make them look masculine. As if they’re on their way to a construction site. Yuck!!!

  • Mike

    , Man LESS

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae

    I prefer to describe my hair as highly porous and dense, rather than a certain hair type. Knowing the porosity and density helps me decide on what techniques work best to maintain my hair health.

  • donnadara

    I started wearing my hair natural before this explosion in popularity. I never cowashed, pre-pooed or any of that stuff. I used hair grease and generally braiding my hair in large braids at nights so that it wouldn’t mat and combed it out in the morning. I also sometimes twisted it with some curl pudding from the drugstore and sometimes wore a twist out. I understand that the author is trying to create a certain look, but one of the reasons that women go natural is to cut down on the maintenance and to swim. You can’t be focused on what other people think. I wore my hair however I wanted and people may not have liked it, but they had enough sense not to say anything – except family. I’m loced right now and today I am wearing a faux hawk. Most of the people that have seen it have made no comment, which probably means they don’t like it. I don’t care, I like it. Maybe the author should step away from youtube and natural hair forums and stop making her hair so important. It really doesn’t take all that to have healthy hair.

  • Lulu

    Just a side thought: when I was relaxed, my hair was in a ponytail or some style and was RARELY out when I got to a length I could pull it back. I plan to do the same thing with my natural hair except apart from ponytails, I’ll be doing updos..etc.

    I feel like current naturals have been bombarded with images of women wearing their natral hair out and big since they’ve started and feel like that having to wear your hair OUT is the main option. The most stunning styles I’ve seen have been creative braided and unbraided updoes with some being easy while to me twist outs look the dang same but they reign as king for many textures regardless whether necessary stretching to prevent knots is a factor.

    My parents are west African and my mom, grandmother and many of my relatives were natural for most of their lives. From conversations, I’ve discovered they were ther hair in “protective” styles 90% of the time and not to grow their hair but for convenience. Same with fairly isolated tribes scattered around Africa.

    I feel like there’s this need to have to wear hair out also because of the western society we are in where the current societal norm (that doesn’t care about our type of hair) is to wear hair out. Keep in mind that wearing your hair tucked and pinned away was the norm in the Victorian era – early 20th century and that’s what all women tried to adhere to.

    I’m not saying that we should always wear out hair up up and away but I do think there is this almost programmed need to always sport loose hair when natural that is leading to IMO, unecessary high hair maintenance that many do not desire.

  • Deb

    so because you live In a mental prison imposed by society’s standards,
    you want to drag others who have set themselves free and are living a life filled with true self acceptance back into it.

    You have proven yourself to be a quite useless drone, a weak sheep. Move to the side and obey your master. Dont bother trying to get in the way of those progressing. It’s not going to work.

  • df

    I think it’s interesting that people being up women of ALL races dealing with not liking or wanting to accept different aspects of their appearance. That’s true but black women as a WHOLE stand APART by being so far from white-centric societal standards (not just here) and being fed the message from birth that so many specific aspects of their appearance are inherently ugly/unattractive. There’s also the racist origins of this disdain for our appearance so IMO, there’s no comparison.

    I’m not saying that we’ll always love our hair and be all natural from birth to death eventually but there’s definitely alot of mental baggage with our hair that is detrimental to black women’s self esteem. Just my opinion.

  • XoXo

    I think it’s interesting when SOME women eventually cut off their locs, they are once again faced with hair they never learned to take care of.

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae

    RE: but there’s definitely alot of mental baggage with our hair that is detrimental to black women’s self esteem

    This is why women who have daughters need to install self love and self esteem from birth! One way to do that is by love and acceptance of herself. Why we look to others to validate our beauty is beyond me.

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae

    RE: faced with hair they never learned to take care of.

    It’s interesting that in most cases of AA women, bc our natural hair is foreign to us (extremely sad, I know) we lack the knowledge to maintain it. Hopefully the next generation will be freed of those chains.

  • talaktochoba

    Mike, you really don’t like black women, do you?

    son what her name…the black one you let bust you all up inside, because she couldn’t have done it without the help of your obvious superior-aired arrogance…

  • talaktochoba

    your friend is right–you eschewed the petroleum distillates but trust me, that hot iron is taking its toll;

    your hair wsd never meant to be baked upon your head;

  • dirtychai

    This comment made me laugh out loud because I’m the same way. I was never one of those girls that did her hair, so I can’t even make a braid. Wash and go is the way for me!

  • dirtychai

    *Hands thirsty Mike a glass full of ice cold attention

  • http://tribecalledcurl.com Imani

    I shared your frustration for many years until I stopped attempting a zillion styles and opted for a signature look. If you’re tired of being tired of your natural hair, I suggest you try the Lazy Naturals approach: http://tribecalledcurl.com/the-lazy-naturals-lifestyle/

  • RenJennM

    Thank you for this!! I love this! I’m definitely following that blog from here on out… :-)

  • Yas

    Honey, leave the summer months for the twists and braids, weaves and wigs. It’s way too humid for us to play these games with our kinky hair. I love the freedom of my braids and Senegalese twists. I can easily kill 3-5 hours on my hair when it’s loose; so I decided to reserve the the twists outs and braid outs during Fall and Spring months. It’s better for your hair between deep conditioning and twisting. Type 4 hair must not be over manipulated. It is way too delicate to be worn loose daily–especially in extreme heat and extreme cold were the weather will dry it out.

    If you must wear it loose, bantu knots are great (especially if you need to gently stretch the hair). I do gently secured ponies with Afro falls if I want a loose look in between twists outs. I also wear wigs and will probably try weaves soon. My hair is shoulder length now and I plan to grow it as long as I reasonable can. It took sometime to grow it out post big chop, but I’ve learned that the the key to long, healthy hair is not growth. It’s MAINTENANCE–and heat is just a no no for that. Avoid sulfates and use a mudwash. Only use heat for special occasions– if you need a length check or a trim or (if you can’t avoid it), when you’re getting braids or twists done and need to straighten the hair somewhat. If you keep frying your hair with the heat to be “acceptable”, you will find yourself bald. You are literally robbing the strand of it’s moisture–which is hampering your efforts of silkening your hair strand. Even the best hair drier–the Ionic drier–will still take some moisture out of the hair because if you have thick hair you’ll have to use more heat to straighten the hair. That eventually results in the breakage of already delicate hair.

    Hair that retains a great deal of moisture will create it’s own sleekness. It’s a matter of feeding and protecting the follicle regularly in order to trap that moisture into the hair. This is difficult to do with type 4, so you must not over manipulate and over dry it by wearing it loose too often.

    You are beautiful. You are not your hair, it is an extension of you. Embrace your mane as it is and model girls who have similar hair types, not the one’s who do not. You’ll find what works best for you.

  • RenJennM

    I did the big chop in 2007, the day before I turned 18 years old. This was before the popularity wave of natural hair hit. And on top of that, I was a high school senior. So, imagine: I just went natural, NO ONE else was doing it, and I was in high school. Everyone, including my mom, thought I lost my mind. Luckily, I only had six months of high school left by then, so the side-eyes and curled-up lips of high-schoolers only had to last so long.

    Entering the world as a young adult was a different monster though. I had days where I got nothing BUT compliments, and I had other days where guys wouldn’t even look in my direction. Once, I almost got into a fight with a drunk girl who kept clowning on my hair. smh…

    Now, I’m 24, and my hair is bigger and longer. I guess the old adage “the grass is always greener on the other side” is true because when I first went natural, I wanted longer hair. Now, I’m always fussing over having too hair! lol And since the summer has hit, I keep craving to cut it all off. But I know me, and if I do that, I’ll be devastated.

    The most frustration I go through with my hair is the fact that I’m in the military, and my texture isn’t the “slickest” look I can achieve. So, when I slick it back into a ponytail and have to keep taking my hat off and putting it back on all day, my hair dries out and my curls spring out all crazy. It makes me look like I’m unkempt. And my hair is way too long and voluminous to wear out without being out of regulations. So, the slick-back ponytail is the quickest way. Luckily, I’m in the Air National Guard, so I only have to worry about my hair being “military standard” for a couple days a month. After that, I go back to my wash-n-go or my topknot in my civilian life.

    I don’t think my frustrations with my hair will ever end as long as there are people who just “don’t get” natural Black hair. But I do love my hair, and I appreciate it’s health and it’s length. If I had that naturally built-in-hair-stylist bone in my body, maybe all of this wouldn’t be so difficult. lol

  • Nic

    Right on…someone will ALWAYS have something to say about you, your face, your body, your hair. But it is a choice to separate fact from opinion and so if you are keeping your hair healthy, it just shouldn’t matter if some people think it should be straight, curly, or wavy.
    Your hair isn’t automatically ugly if it lacks curl. It just isn’t. Keep it healthy, keep it clean, and keep it moisturized and you will look great.

  • Nic

    Yes, I know there are more than two categories, but it seems like a lot of black women CLAIM just a couple of them, although we run the gamut.
    My point is that you could find 10 women who are supposedly “4a” and they could all look different. And they wouldn’t be delusional or lying. So my point is that the categories are too simplistic to capture all of the variations in our hair.

  • Nic

    It’s not about shooting it down. It’s just that how your hair behaves can be a very individual thing and have nothing to do with what your supposed hair type is.
    I have afro-hair. I have thick hair. I do not have to “pre-poo” or wash my hair in sections or avoid sulfates or mineral oils. it doesn’t tangle. I use a comb on my dry hair. People regularly ask about my hair(sometimes asking if it is real). Both relaxed and natural, I have hair that other women long for b/c it’s a lot of hair. A lot.

    If I had a nickel for every time I read someone saying how “4a” hair can’t do this or “4c” hair can’t do that, I’d have a lot of darn nickels.

    I haven’t found that I need someone to look like me for their hair care techniques to work for me. I look at videos b/c I’ve always liked watching hair get done, but not b/c I think the girl whose hair looks like mine is going to teach me some magic about my hair that I didn’t know.

    My mom’s hair is radically straighter than mine or my sister’s, yet she did the same stuff to our hair that she did for her own and we all had really nice hair.

    Based on these new hair rules, that is impossible. We didn’t all just go natural for the first time so a lot of the “rules” just aren’t necessary.

    Look, if it works for you, it works for you, but I’d be first to tell anyone who asks about how I do my hair that it’s what I do for MY hair, and it might work for you or it might be awful, whether or hair looks or feels the same or not.

  • Nic

    I can’t even make a decent french braid/flat twist. I like watching people do it but don’t think it’s in my future. My hair is out every day.

  • Mademoiselle

    I was responding to “It’s some new BS …”

    It’s been very helpful for me because I, like a lot of other women that I’ve seen with the tightest coiled hair that requires a very attentive type of maintenance can’t do what 3′s (which sounds like the category you’re in based on the description you gave of your hair characteristics) do because our hair is very prone to severe tangles that can only be managed while wet, extreme dryness, and extreme shrinkage. There are a lot of women in my category who battle the stereotype that our hair type can only be acceptable in locks because it’s impossible to grow/manage otherwise. You may not need or choose to use the hair typing as a tool, but discouraging others could very well be a disservice to those who do not fit the “new mainstream natural” hair aesthetic and have a difficult time finding relevant examples, products, or styles that can be used to achieve what our hair is capable of.

  • Amina

    I understand the author’s feelings. While it’s easy for some people on here to not care what others think of them, it feels nice to be told you look beautiful or that someone recognizes how much work you have done to present yourself in the way you feel most comfortable.

    I used to be like the author when I first started growing out my hair, I’d spend four hours every night to twist up my hair and take it out in the morning. Of course, the defined curls would shrink right back to a ball of fuzz. This was a couple of years ago when I was in college and the small group of friends I was with all grew out their hair. There was this one girl who’s hair was so hugh and beautiful, like one of Solange’s showy afro wigs, but all her own hair. She receive so many, many compliments, but when it came to my hair, up till now no one notices it or it gets made fun of.

    Ironically, when I shaved my head is when I received the most compliments on how I looked! :0

    I’m STILL learning how to care and be happy with my hair two years later, and while have pretty much come to terms with my curl pattern, am simply defeated when to comes to dealing with my hair’s high porosity. I’d love to do wash n’ gos, but that’s a sure way for my head to be crispy all day. Being back home with my folks, I’m blessed enough with a mom that helps do my hair in an up-do, which I wear for a week or two before washing it out. This has helped a lot.

    Janday, do whatever it is you have to do in order to make yourself feel good, but know that you’re beautiful either way. Your hair in the second picture that people would dare to ignore is big, long, well-moisturized, and taken care of.

  • EbonyLolita

    OMG This post is my LIFE! I have a thing for BIG, Lioness hair so the bigger my Fro the bigger my smile. But some nights I just wanna GO TO BED! But knowing that when I wake up I don’t have a “Presentable” style for work besides my picky picky dry hair is not doing it for me. I spend time w/moisturizers, leave-in conditioners & twisting. For the last 4months I’ve decided to be on a protective style kick. Weave one month, twists another, another weave & now I want braids/senegalese twists. Summer is not fun for a fro & by time the winter hits it’s so COLD! *Sigh* Either way I’m going to find something that satisfies my hair growth goals & an option of ready styles.

  • justanotheropinion

    Forgive my ignorance and know that my comments are not judgmental, but made with a true sense of awe. I apologize ahead of time if my comments seem simplistic.

    I’m bi-racial (white & black) and yes, I’ve got white girl hair. All my life, I wanted ‘black girl hair’ – don’t laugh. But it was only black girls that had hair with texture, with volume and substance to it. All the black girls & women I’ve known have had processed hair (save for a few). Their hair wasn’t what I envied. I wanted to be able to do locks, twists, thick, smack someone in the face braids, the head full of curls (tight, semi tight and kinda loose). This will sound base, but when I was younger, I’d see black women with different natural hair styles and it seemed effortless. I now realize the main reason for this is how a black woman carries herself. Yeah, hair envy at it’s best – even when not realistic.

    I don’t know what the #’s & letters mean (4b/c etc.) and I’ve never known or understood just how much time and effort a natural hair style required. Spending 2hrs each morning? 3hrs. every Sunday night? 24hrs for a head of hair to dry? All beyond my comprehension. I gotta give it to you all.

    But please know this. I am one of I’m sure many, that see you everyday and admire your crowns. I don’t know that you got up at 4am today to look like you do now at 9am or 3pm, but I love it. Going forward, believe me, I will remember that. My admiration for your ‘do’ has grown ten-fold. I will never have what you do and I can’t imagine the patience that one must conjure to do this on a daily basis, but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE what I see.

    Again, please forgive my ignorance. But I really do mean that I love what I see when I’m out and about – everything from the 1in tight little locks, well groomed dreads, thick braids, micro braids, tight springy curls, the messy bed head that looks effortless, the fro or various lengths, slicked back ponytail or bun, and even the sista that is just a shade past having a trim that keeps it all in check. Thank you for working with what God gave you. Thank you for struggling with your hair on a daily. Truly, I LOVE WHAT I SEE and this article & comments have given me a new found appreciation for how you get that Crown each and every day.

    Thanks for indulging me.

  • http://www.myfroandi.com Aisha M. @Cosmoaisha

    Omg!! I had to laugh at the part ‘Even at 5.a.m., my vanity gave me the strength to stand in that bathroom and twist my hair for an hour before going back to bed’ That is me!! From the increased compliments when I wear a twist out, or when my hair outgrew the TWA stage, it seems that we think certain textures are more attractive than others and if our hair doesn’t naturally look like that texture, we break our backs to conform to it. Very interesting article and a definite eye opener. Thanks for sharing.

  • Nkem

    I’ve been natural my whole life & with type 4 hair, I can state that majority of her methods aren’t really needed. She needs to experiment more with her hair..there IS a balance between low manipulation and lovely styles, which is KEY, for growing healthy (long, if this is main priority) type 4a hair. Wearing your hair out isn’t the only hairstyle option. Being at the pool, a cute crown french braid or tuck/roll updo could have have been done. Or to avoid daily styling, braid/ twists extensions is another option instead of running away from water, lol

    As for wash and go’s, all through high school I forced myself to wear them to accept my natural hair…I grew to love the look wild and received both good/bad comments…I didn’t let any of the comments affect how I felt about my hair, good comment, ok but if bad, it didn’t change what I THOUGHT OF MY HAIR. Self validation is important. Today, wearing wash n go’s is a look I’ll come back to occasionally , but not consistently as I did back in high school. For me, it is not the most ideal because breakage, dryness, single strand knots and split ends are INTENSIFIED when I rock it. The last time I did, my breakage was the size of my fist. Some type 4′s could rock wash n go’s with no problems but I can’t, so my stretched hair(majorly no heat) allows for more versatility and lessens the issues I face with wash n go’s.

  • Luci

    And that’s why when I want a natural look, I either get braids, an afro weave or shave my own hair down low.

  • http://www.ruthlesslychic.com Kristen

    I have a 4″ afro and I wear my hair in what is more or less a wash and go every day and I have the most coily “grade” of hair that exists. (I don’t think ANYONE, but low maintenance people just wash and go)

    I wet and moisturize it in the shower with some cheap $1 conditioner, leave my hair sopping wet with the conditioner in when I get out, add some moisturizing gel/ curl creme and use the palm of my hand in small circles all over my head to create some “texture”. Oddly enough, this reduces the frizz and makes little coils all over. Then I wrap it in a towel while I get dressed, take the towel down while I put on my makeup (as it dries it fluffs back up) and stretch/fill the holes with a pick. Done. I spend about 10 minutes on my hair total.

    Even people with bone straight hair have to at least brush their hair and most need some sort of product to keep it tidy. Few people have a completely wash and go routine. And those that do, probably apply that same low maintenance/ completely au naturale philosophy to their entire life.

    The trick is to accept your texture. It wasn’t “matted” when she woke up, our hair is just… stiff. Ain’t no shame in that! First thing in the morning, I stick my fingers in the sides of my fro I’ve been sleeping on and do this little scratching motion to try to lift them up to match the top. My little crooked morning fro is cute! I’m not expecting it to be curly. I don’t have that type of hair and it sounds like neither does she. She’s spending so much time manipulating it into something it is just not. Which is fine if she’s willing to spend that time. I’m sure it looks beautiful. But it sounds like she doesn’t want to do all that and her life would be easier if she stopped fighting quite so hard against nature.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AudraMi Audra M. Akins

    Thank you Donnadara!!! I have been natural on and off since 1989. Doing the So-Called Big Chop the very 1st time in 1986, it was then just called a barber cut. I too am loc’d and sometimes mu hair is styled and sometimes it is not like today.

  • raah

    This article was so so honest. Thanks for that-I’m transitioning and pretty soon I will be at that crossroads too

    Totally off topic-your skin is gorgeous girl!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Nic

    Since I’ve seen what people consider to be a “3″ I in no WAY have type 3 hair. Like i said, it’s pure afro. I’ve been called Jill Scott more than once. (And Angie Stone too). So it’s a ‘fro hair.
    Maybe it doesn’t tangle and it’s easy to comb, but I promise it’s true afro hair. I’ve never tried curly girl method or those things that are supposed to make curls pop. B/c I don’t have curly hair. To me, if you have curly hair, you don’t have to fight to get there. Products may battle frizz but true curly girls have curls the on wet or dry hair without a a a battle. The only time my hair has any curl is when it’s wet. But it’s afro textured hair.

    My mom has hair that is probably bridging the gap between 2 and 3, but that is NOT me or my sister. We have afro hair.

    Like I said, my main point is that your hair can look one way but behave another and need different maintenance. There are curly girls with “silkier” hair that have more issues with tangling and shampoos than I do for the same reason.

    If people in your circle or family have issues about hair, that is unfortunate(and I know it’s not exactly rare), but I dislike that being put on the rest of us. They probably have the biggest impact on what you feel b/c they will be the most vocal about it. I know it’s a thing. If it wasn’t a thing people wouldn’t have thousands of people looking at their blogs or You Tube videos. I don’t think women who have kinkier hair have to have locs or a perm to look right. I have no opinion on it, and I cannot be the only black person who thinks that.

    I really think that the people who say the most hurtful things are louder or just stand out more(esp. if they are “friends” or family), b/c not related to hair, I think the nastiest things ever said to me stick/hurt the most even if I’m being honest, they aren’t REALLY what the majority of people think/feel.

    I’m not sure I’d classify the obsession with good hair as a stereotype…there is a pathology and some internalized racism but that seems like the wrong use of the word.

  • Nic

    That is probably one of the truest things I’ve read here. The attitudes you hear as a child definitely shape how you feel about these things as an adult.
    If you didn’t hear your parents or family laughing at people b/c of their hair, then you don’t look at people this way. But if you had a mom or dad who was putting down your hair or other people’s hair, then yes, you’ll remember that.
    I like my hair b/c no one ever told me I wasn’t supposed to. And I only heard my mom say “good hair is healthy hair” and take care of what you have. She was a teacher so she was ALWAYS schooling kids if she heard them start any of that.

  • Mademoiselle

    It’s not a “thing” for me. I’m actually quite blasé about hair in general. The only reason I commented is because you dismissed hair typing as “BS” which could discourage many people from looking into it as a tool to help them understand the characteristics of their hair. For instance, when you say your hair is curly when wet, but not dry — the typing system takes into account what your hair does while wet in order to determine which category you fall in, which still puts you somewhere in the upper 3s, and maybe low 4s. Again, you may not need or want to use the tool for a variety of reasons, but for some women who have had perms longer than they’ve had the motor skills to even hold a comb correctly, it’s actually a really good starting point for understanding what your hair will and won’t do, and identifying other women who have had success with their journey so you can piggy back on some of their findings. I got my perm in 2nd grade (I think), and I knew from the look in my mother’s eyes the day she decided it was for me that when I grew up, I’d make it not for me — and every perm I got proved me right. When I got to college, it took a couple tries at growing it out and a couple more bouts of breakage from perms before I went ahead and cut it off and just be me, but it was never a journey for me, it wasn’t a significant mile marker in my life as far as I’m concerned, and to this day, I’m the worst woman for a newly natural woman to approach all gleamy eyed and hoping that I’ll impart words of wisdome to my sistren or even squeal with glee for their new status because I just don’t care enough about anyone else’s hair to accept that responsibility. All that being said, though, I most certainly needed help figuring out the inner workings of my hair after I started over. I most certainly needed to know that the hair left in my comb after dry-detangling was not shed hair, it was breakage. I most certainly needed to know that my hair will suck up any semblance of moisture from the atmosphere at even the slightest level of humidity, which is why my hair is currently long enough for a mid-size fro, yet I can “wash & go” it into a fro tiny enough to look like I just cut it all off again. There have been a lot of things I’ve learned about my hair just because I was privy to this typing system that I would not have even thought to research without it. You had a knowledgeable and encouraging mom/environment with respect to hair — loads of us had and still have the complete opposite. These tools are useful for that segment of our population even if you already know all you need to know about your own hair. All I’m saying is don’t ruin it for those of us who can find benefit in it.

  • Lisa

    Thanks for sharing but I do wonder why you spend so much time worrying about other people’s opinions of your hair. You let that impact your self esteem. You opted to go natural; embrace your look and others will to. I see women with blue weave who walk around like they are gift to all who gaze upon them (Nikki Minaj?) but I also see women with natural hair who walk around looking obviously uncomfortable in their skin. I have learned that people are attracted to confidence, how you carry yourself matters. Wear the wash and go if you want and keep it moving.

  • Shayla

    bell hooks, alice walker, angela davis and others have dialogued about why our hair is so political. your inability to be comfortable in your decision to be natural is not a political issue but an insecurity issue. until we stop declaring war against our natural hair and make peace with it, embrace it, nuture it, and encourage others in their natural journey … we will continue to be fragmented selves. i’ve been rocking DREADLOCS for the past five years and at 51 finally understand that i got freed up when i got loc’ed up. go with the natural FRO TWIST KNOT or LOCS of things and be happy being you.

  • guest

    I really don’t understand what was the problem with your hair and why you took so long styling it. Stop worrying about what others think

  • http://www.facebook.com/AudraMi Audra M. Akins

    I too have locs. I don’t know what 1, 2, 3, or 4 nor A, B, C, D my hair is. I don’t care either. I just let my hair do what it does and I go with it. If it doesn’t like a product, technique, or style. I know that it is not for it and I go with what works.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AudraMi Audra M. Akins

    I don’t think that many don’t know how to take care of their hair. I believe that they are often still attempting to achieve looks that our hair doesn’t best achieve. We have kept our hair for millenniums, in varying styles and with grace. We have to accept a different standard of beauty to accept our hair for it’s versatility and style ability.

  • Angela

    I admired the almost inhumanly gorgeous Yaya Alafia wearing her hair naturally in the Lisa Cholodenko film The Kids Are Alright (admittedly, a very white-centric film).
    It was so original and refreshing to see…
    At the time I remember thinking that it was a very unusual choice — I didn’t realize how ‘brave’ it was.
    So, as a non-African American, I just want to say that I admire the individuality and confidence of a women who wears her hair as is, and makes her own fashion statement.
    I don’t know if this is relevant but my god, I wish I looked like Yaya Alafia:

  • Kameelean

    I completely understand what you mean and how you feel. There is a palpable difference in the way people react and comments made about lusterless, kinky, curl-pattern-free-hair vs. shinier, defined coils. The disapproval is quite blatant and difficult to just ignore. The inner conflict is are we conforming to appease others or have we swallowed popular opinion and are self critical. For me it’s often in the back of my mind but generally if I love it it shows in the way I carry myself and people keep their personal opinions to themselves. I think we have to stay on our hair journeys and keep finding ways to get and maintain something we like and can do in as little time as possible. I am constantly trying new products and techniques with these very same goals in mind. I keep reminding myself that this natural hair thing hasn’t been done since the 60s when the fro was popular and that was pretty much the only style. Before that, we have to nearly go back to slavery days to see natural hair. We are really breaking new ground here and changing the minds of 3 generations, not to mention the Black hair care industry. So the nay-sayers can go kiss something. We are beautiful, naturally and as long as we love how we look, it’s all good.

  • http://twitter.com/MilaXX Milaxx (@MilaXX)

    I am thankful I went natural nearly 20 years ago before it became popular. I am simply not about this ultra preparation life & I could care less about shrinkage. Before I loc’d, my hair tool maybe 30 mins in the morning and another 30 at night. Now that I am loc’d unless I pin them up for a special occasion, my locs roam free. I wash and retwist once a month and other than the occasional scarf/headband/barrette, I don’t bother them. I put a satin bonnet on at night and it’s a wrap.
    I stopped giving damns about what others thought of my hair a long time ago.

  • http://www.secretstyling.com Walter Smith

    Hello, please allow me to introduce to you Smith Products Company, LLC. We offer a quality line of hair moisturizers, shampoos, conditioners and other hair styling aids formulated to solve multi-textured hair styling needs. http://www.secretstyling.com

  • NOitAll

    “I stopped giving damns about what others thought of my hair a long time ago.”


  • cb

    @Chacha1…yes you read my mind…very sad

  • E L Harris

    Sis, I can relate. I love my natural tresses, but for some reason I was under the impression before I made the switch from a relaxer, that it would be easier to care for. I was so wrong. And with a husband, 3 kids, a full time job, volunteer work, it’s SO hard to take time to do hair, mine and my 3 year old daughter, who has thick, curly, soft locs down to her back. There’s just too much to do. I

    ‘m not as worried about what others think, and I think wash and go works, if you work it. But sometimes I want something more, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But more, takes time. The question is whether the time it takes is worth it, when you have to sacrifice time with loved ones, or a night out, just to do your hair. I don’t have any answers, but sometimes I do it, and sometimes, ya girl just throws on a wig (afro wig that is).

  • Hafsa

    I agree with you about the mimicry of Euro styles that many of the “natural” styles aim for. For me, this is underscored by the recent categorization of hair types you see on many a natural hair blog and resort to blow-dryers and flat irons as part of the styling.

    I feel like if we love natural hair, then we should love it’s natural texture(s). The same goes for short styles which seem to have been thrown aside. Now “natural” means long locks, even if like you, our hair is delicate.

    Other articles have been written about how natural short hair seems to be completely unacceptable for many black men looking for a woman to date.

    Again, what’s wrong with our natural hair?

    Re hair that consumes our time:

    I do two-strand twists, but they are almost always in a ponytail or bun since I have little kids who keep me busy and don’t have hours in my day to mess with my hair.

    With the ponytail or bun, I only worry about touching up the twists in the parts of my hair that can be seen sort of frequently and can re-do my hair one section at a time whenever — not counting after washes.

    I’ve never had a nasty reaction to this style.

    At night I put my hair into a high bun – so again, the hair that is affected by my movements during the night is just the hair around the margins of my head.

    If I can’t get to touching up the twists at the margins, I can wear a hairband or scarf wrapped around those areas so the need to re-do them isn’t obvious.

    On special days I can let my mane out — though a twist out sounds way too high maintenance for me and the twists give me the face framing and softness I’m going for.

    I’ve cut my hair and had short twists before but prefer the long twists because the short twists and any short style that requires twisting or braiding/unbraiding is really high maintenance and doesn’t allow for the convenience of putting my hair in that ponytail holder and forgetting about it.

  • Steph

    I’m not so tightly coiled -3b or 3c- but I’m a wash and go. Recently started using apple cider vinegar diluted to 2.5% to get rid of oils and sweet almond oil to replenish. My hair has never looked this good and I’ve never spent so little money on it.

  • http://mavis-musings-music.blogspot.co.uk/ Mavis

    Thanks for writing this. This debate – natural texture vs. protective styles – is something that constantly plagues my decision to wear my natural hair out, all the time. As much as having healthy hair is important, the fact that i know that my natural texture is not suitable for certain situations, means that i’m reluctant to spend hours putting in protective styles, in order to fashion my hair into curls.
    I think that it’s just a case of not caring what others think and just wearing my hair how i like.

  • talaktochoba

    um, where do i begin?

    a model with so overwhelmingly white features she over-represents a minor portion of the black populace while reinforcing a staid, out-of-date, out-of-touch beauty standard completely unattainable by the vast majority of women on the planet;

    same model starring in a “refreshingly whie-centric” movie, as if “white-centric” is anything new and refreshing in its racist, barbaric, mysogynistic history…

    you must live right next to the so-progressive-thinking Mel Gibson and Clint Eastwood on Walgreens Street, between the Great White Way and Primrose Lane…

  • Kam

    I used to care. I really did. I would spend HOURS on my hair. Not to mention it took my hair two days to dry. Overnight didn’t do it for me. That was over 3 years ago. NOW? I really could care less. My hair is healthy. It is growing. It looks good. The end. I do not care what someone else is thinking when they look at my hair. Prior to getting in the pool, I lace this mane with conditioner and oil then ponytail it. I’ve had people ask “what do you do to get your hair like that?” and i reply…”wash it.” My only products are oil and conditioner. Aussie 3 minute miracle. Whatever its called. Ladies, as long as your hair is HEALTHY…wear it/style it to your liking. Whether that’s straightened, twisted out, bantu’d out. Whatever!

  • http://twitter.com/cherubicnerd L.Hoskins (@cherubicnerd)

    i notice that natural people spend as much time and effort on their hair as their “relaxed” sisters and brothers. I thought that with natural hair,you’d just moisturize it and go. why must it be curly or lengthened? seems as superficial as someone straightening their hair: I like the way you look in the black bow but most people will like the “worked on” look of your hair in the other pics. there’s this confident,older lady,at my local library,who just wears her hair truly natural (no twisting,strectching,etc). it just irks me that our hair,unfussed with, isn’t even excepted in the natural hair community.

  • http://twitter.com/cherubicnerd L.Hoskins (@cherubicnerd)

    aw,you got scared,didn’t you? it’s ok. Copelli,your comment made my day. GON’ ‘HEAD!

  • http://twitter.com/cherubicnerd L.Hoskins (@cherubicnerd)

    Audra:”We have kept our hair for millenniums, in varying styles and with grace. “

  • Serene

    There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look presentable. Many women had a misconception about HOW MUCH WORK it takes to take care of natural. It is not anymore easier than relaxed or pressed hair.

    Now as for this curl achieving thing, I see nothing wrong with it. Many African Americans in the past wore the afro in the 70s and they got bored. So, do whatever you want to your hair, it’s yours.

    If you’re worried about spending too much time on your hair, maybe you should wear more protective styles.

    Also, you do come off as if you’re not comfortable with your hair. It seems like your doing way too much and trying to overcompensate for something that you feel is a problem-your hair. Your hair isn’t the issue, its you!

  • Jenny J

    Thanks for writing this. I agree but I also remember that I spent an obscene amount of money and time on my hair when it was relaxed & when I spent hours or weekend getting braids & weaves. The lowest maintenance do I ever had was when the barber buzz cut my hair for my BC. As my hair grew during that first year and beyond it took a lot more work and the times when it is easier has become a trade off. I don’t have to worry about what to do with my hair for the gym or when I’m training for a race, but if I’m not wearing a protective style, I have to set my hair some kind of way at night to avoid matting and tangles whereas with a relaxer gym hair was a big deal (especially if I wanted to do something afterwards) & I was a slave to the 7 to 12 week touch up schedule. Six on one hand, half a dozen on the other.

  • kno

    constantly trying new products = spending money (throwing away product)

    IMO, keep it simple.

  • Nyala

    I can relate very strongly to this. The only reason I big chopped was because I wanted my hair to be accepted as it was (and also to avoid the consequences of ‘perm burn). And after I did so, I immediately search the forums on how to handle my new found tresses.

    However, instead of finding things like ‘just spray and oil’ or ‘just detangle, fluff in go’ I found myself lost among all the tutorials, recipes, and products trying to give my hair the ‘perfect curl,’ and the ‘perfect kink.’ Even within the natural hair community, I feel like I do not belong if my hair is not perfectly twisted out, or my bantu knot outs do not spiral just right.

    It seems I have only jumped out of the fire pan and into the fire. How disappointing…

  • kendra b

    Your are an idiot. Go back to relaxer if you are so dumbfounded.

  • http://gravatar.com/tawkinsmack tawkinsmack

    i wear my hair natural..wake up, finger it with my fingers or afro comb..and i’m on my way…i know some people look at me and wonder what’s going on with her hair and a lot of people compliment as well…but i;m not doing it for compliments and i could care less if you don’t like it..whats important is i love it and i think i’m beautiful and i love me so who cares about the dead rat?…only the hungry cat!!…..and i teach my nine years old daughter to appreciate her nine ether and who she is…she loves to wear her hair like mommy….when kids or grown ups make comments to her about her hair, she tells them..”its called natural”..love her..no shame in her game!!…just to say, if i wasn’t so comfortable in my own skin,, she wouldn’t be either!!!

  • Edyne Paul

    I think when you first go natural setting your hair is time consuming for a variety of reasons. Having gotten to know my hair, I find that it doesn’t take me nearly as long to accomplish a twist out, bantu knot out, etc and I also know how to make the style stretch for more than a day and I have several quick updos just in case I wake up and my hair isn’t co-operating. I know what products work when for me. Footnote: I’m in a very conservative profession.

    Also if you are the type that prefers only super defined hair and you don’t have curls that can be easily defined you have to put in the time to get that look. You’re working against your hair. As someone who has 4A/B hair, I have learned to embrace elegant updos when I’m not comfortable with the definition of my hair (and I have to get out of the house) or in general.

  • Christine

    I have been natural 3 years, have a combo of 4b/4c hair, and I wear my hair in a wash and go for a few days before twisting it (I like dry twistouts better.) I was self conscious when I first went natural, but now I realize that society has imposed enough on my life,so why allow it to dictate my hair? I’m a teacher and work in a predominately white school and when my curls are looser, my white female co-workers compliment it, but when it’s in a wash and go or a high puff, faux hawk, etc, my white male co-workers love it!

  • BeautifullyBlessed

    That’s rude..

  • BeautifullyBlessed

    i have found that my length frustrates me.. neither short nor super long.. twist outs just turn into a fluffed out ‘fro, which is cool.. but humidity does terrible things to my hair and makes me frustrated. I am contemplating chopping again. For now, it’s up under a ponytail piece!

  • Hafsa

    What’s wrong with shrinkage?

  • Lynn

    A Great Tip for Swimming with Natural Hair – Put it in box braids or individual twists and swim with that style. Your hair won’t poof out when it dries (like mine would if I just left it all out), because it will be in braids/twists. Plus, it will already be pretty much sectioned off when you are ready to wash it after the swim.

  • Tee

    A very interesting perspective that I feel a lot of naturals have not thought about. The reason I went natural and which I believe, a lot of us black girls go natural, is because I wanted to embrace my natural curl pattern after years of relaxers and damaging weaves. I have coily 4C hair and 99% of the hairstyles I see on blogs or youtube tutorials are on how to stretch out my hair so it looks more like 4A of 3C hair. Then I ask myself, is this the reason I went natural, to try very hard and spend so much time trying to achieve a look that is not what I was endowed with? We naturals, pride ourselves on not conforming to the European ideal of beautiful hair but we have chosen a different prison, trying to conform to the ideal “natural” hair. I also spend hours twisting my hair so that it can have the curl pattern that it doesn’t naturally have. I spend money on hats and scarves to cover my hair when my twistout gets old and my hair starts to revert to its natural state. Have I really embraced my natural hair or am I just being a hypocritical natural?

  • http://twitter.com/devans00 devans00

    I’m impressed with how much effort you put into your hair child :). The main thing stopping me from trying to get ideal “natural” hair is pure laziness.

    I’m more accepting of my scalp grown textures because I’m not dedicated enough to make my hair look drastically different. Bantu knots once or twice a week are about as far as I go.

    Up-dos, scarves, hats and fancy hair accessories are out of my league.

  • Kim

    Have been natural for a year now and my hair is *hard*. U can’t run a comb past it. Detangling is a nightmare. Most the times I feel like giving up and just relaxing it. How do I make it manageable? It is so dry and coarsely packed. I’m at a breaking point and feel like giving up. Was told that a perm makes it softer but isn’t it a chemical and can ruin the natural hair journey?

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Knotty Natural


    If you’re hair is *hard*, you’ve gone wrong somehow. If by hard you mean hard to the touch, I suggest deep conditioning weekly; if you’re not protein sensitive, alternate that with a regular deep conditioner.
    Detangling: You’ll need to be patient when detangling. Do it in sections and you can use either oil, diluted apple cider vinegar, or conditioner to lightly FINGER DETANGLE your hair. Never detangle or comb dry hair! The only time you need a comb is when combing conditioner through your hair, while the water is running. Sounds to me like you need the proper techniques to comb and handle your hair. If you find yourself getting frustrated, take a break because if you’re ripping out your hair out of frustration, you may as well forget about being natural and relax your hair. And a relaxer/perm won’t make your hair softer, but it will make it straight! If all else fails and you want to have natural hair, find a knowledgeable natural hair professional in your area and have your hair done by her.

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