Natural Hair 101

*2017 edit: I made a YouTube channel with how to hair videos!

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Photo by Carolyn Victoria Photography

Thinking about going natural? Are you a naturalista and struggling to take care of your tresses? Are you a momma of a curly girl and wondering how to manage those crazy coils? Maybe you’ve seen someone with a foxy fro and are curious how they take care of it. Here are the basics to natural hair & care.

Before I dig in, there are a couple of terms that may be useful to know:

Natural Hair Glossary

Go Natural: no longer using chemicals such as a relaxer on your hair and embracing your naturally curly hair a.k.a. rocking the hair God gave you
Relaxer: chemical straightener – it is permanent
Co-Wash: washing your hair with conditioner only
Transitioning: The phase when you’re moving from chemically straightened hair to natural hair. When you stop relaxing your hair, your roots will be curly but your ends will be straight.
the stage i'm at now
BC (Big Chop): skipping the transitioning phase and chopping off all your relaxed hair
TWA: Teeny weeny afro. What you have left after a big chop.
Creamy Crack: see relaxer
No-poo: just like co-wash- not using shampoo because of sulfates
Protective Styling: Natural hair when dry (so always) is very brittle and breaks easily. Protective styling such as braids, twists, extensions, wig, etc., helps prevent breakage by lessening the everyday manipulation from combing, wind, heat, and other various elements.
Slip: when your hair is smooth and silky enough to run your fingers or comb through
Twist Out: A protective style. Like braiding your hair but with 2 strands.
Wash n’ Go: A quick and easy way to style your hair. Wash it, add curl holding product and go.
Shrinkage: your hair is longest when it is wet or straight. When it dries, it curls up and takes about 50% of your length with it.
shrinkage is real. c63d9f2a7f00c6cd2c53ca89781234e3
Shrinkage is real.
Hair type/curl pattern: What is this 3a/3b/3c 4a/4b/4c nonsense? Simply, it’s a classification of your curls. Once you know your type, you can find out what products and methods work for you. It’s possible to have more than one type. The front of my hair is 3c and the back is 4a. (Notice that the further up the scale you go, the more shrinkage you have.)


Natural hair NEEDS oil, moisture, and hydration.

Okay, now you know some hair care terms. What’s next? Routine. Whatever products/methods you choose to use, create a daily/weekly/monthly regimen. A good place to start is Cleanse – Moisture – Seal.

Cleanse: Depending on your hair type/curl pattern, you must limit the number of times you wash it. That could be washing it anywhere from once every few weeks to once a day. Your hair produces healthy natural oils and washing it with shampoo everyday strips your tresses of all things good. That is the purpose of the sulfates in shampoo. To get around this, many will co-wash or skip the shampoo. Look for products that are sulfate free. Use a t-shirt instead of a towel to dry your hair to reduce frizz. Because of the dryness of my hair, I normally wash my hair every day/every other day with conditioner only, then add curl styling & moisturizing products. Lately, I’ve been taking a page from the DevaCurl playbook and rinsing out 80% of the conditioner and leaving the rest as a leave-in. I use shampoo only when my hair is in need of a deep cleaning. Some days I do a wash n’ go, I just stick my head under the faucet to reactivate my curls and move onto the moisturizer. Your wash routine depends on your hair type/curl pattern.

Moisture: Once you’ve washed your hair, time to add moisturizing goodness. Essentials to have on hand: oil, leave in conditioner, styling cream/moisturizer. A good moisturizer has water as the first or second ingredient. Look for products that are made specifically for natural African American hair. I am really enjoying the Shea Moisture line and find that it works for my hair.

Seal: Now it’s time to seal in the moisture with oil. Good oils; coconut oil, olive oil, Moroccan oil, argan oil, grapeseed oil, almond oil, avocado oil, and more. This keeps your product from evaporating from your hair.

Deep Condition: Sometimes your hair just needs a boost. Set aside 1-2 days a month to deep condition your hair. Make a concoction from eggs, avocado, and any of the aforementioned oils. There are many deep conditioning recipes that uses ingredients you already have at home. Right now I use Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque.
SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque

How to Deep Condition: Check out my YouTube video on how to!

What you need: deep conditioner/homemade masque, shower cap, comb, clips, spray bottle
1. Wash Hair
2. Part hair into 4-6 sections (depending on thickness)
3. Wet hair with spray bottle and work treatment in section by section, paying special attention to ends.
4. Cover with shower cap and let sit for half hour.
5. Rinse out and style as usual.
For an intense treatment, heat up the product or sit under a blow dryer with your shower cap.

Bedtime: Moisturize – Protective Style – Cover

Moisturize: add some cream or shea butter.
Protective Style: pineapple, twist out, bantu knots or braiding. This helps prevent tangling and matting of the hair which leads to breakage.
Cover: cover with a silky scarf or satin bonnet. Use a satin pillow case because cotton pillow cases cause breakage.


Natural Hair Tips and Tricks

  • Instead of rewashing your hair, use a spray bottle to reactive your curls and refresh your look.
  • Say goodbye to heat. No more flat ironing or blow drying. The only way to get rid of heat damage is to cut it off.. trust me, I know 😦
  • Don’t become a “product junkie”. More products does not equal better hair. Find products that work for you and stick with it. Quality over quantity.
  • The secret to growing long hair is retaining your length. Retain length by taking extra care of your ends. Once they dry out, they become brittle, split, and break off.
  • Only comb or detangle your hair in the shower or you may get breakage.
  • Trim split ends to prevent them from traveling up the hair shaft.

Taking care of natural hair is not an easy task but it is worth it. Plus, it is incredibly versatile.

Yes, we do it all. 2014 natural hair style versatility

If you ever get discouraged, look to pinterest or vloggers for inspiration.

I need friends like this ❤️ beautiful hair and cute dress Precious Henshaw Natural Hair Natural hair siblings.

And lastly, whatever you do, DON’T GIVE IN TO RELAXERS!!

i must remember this in my weak moments.

My Pinterest inspiration:

Photos via Pinterest.



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