When styling nat­u­ral hair, it can be easy to fall into bore­dom and rep­e­ti­tion. You find your­self doing the same tired style over and over again and before you know it, you’re none too hap­py with your hair. Due to its tex­ture, nat­u­ral hair is insane­ly ver­sa­tile, and there are always new styles com­ing out of the nat­u­ral com­mu­ni­ty! Here are 7 ways to break out of the styling rut, should you find your­self in one.

1. Modify hairstyles that you love

You might be brows­ing through pho­tos think­ing, ‘That style looks amaz­ing, but my hair is too long/short to do it.’ But there are plen­ty of ways to mod­i­fy styles! For exam­ple, If your hair is too short to gath­er into one, try flat twist­ing it to the cen­ter or if a style requires you to have a short afro, try work­ing with your hair while it’s in a short, shrunk­en state. If the nec­es­sary mod­i­fi­ca­tions are beyond your skill set, try a local styl­ist or even a fam­i­ly mem­ber or friend that’s good at doing hair. They can help you fig­ure out how to achieve the look you want.

2. Go to the Salon

Nat­u­ral hair cul­ture is very do-it-your­self, but there’s noth­ing wrong with going to the salon from time to time. Many styl­ists — whether they spe­cial­ize in nat­u­ral hair or not — are good at corn­row­ing, braid­ing and flat twist­ing. If you’re unsure of the styl­ist, meet with them before hand to lay out exact­ly what you want. If you don’t trust the salon prep, ask if you can show up with your hair already washed, con­di­tioned and (if nec­es­sary) blow­dried. And don’t be afraid to ask them to be gen­tle! Even if you have to say that you have a med­ical con­di­tion that requires gen­tle han­dling (and hey, it’s true if you count ten­der-head­ed­ness as a med­ical scalp con­di­tion ;)

3. Build an inspiration board

Sites like Tum­blr and Pin­ter­est are per­fect for keep­ing track of styles that you like. Com­pile pho­tos of styles that res­onate with you and per­haps you’ll see a pat­tern. You might find that you’re drawn to styles that are high­ly detailed, or looks that are big and out. Per­haps you like styles that are more geo­met­ric, or looks that are more reserved. Fig­ur­ing out what you love is half the bat­tle.

4. Do the opposite of what you normally do

Here’s an easy tip… just take the plunge and switch it up! If you nor­mal­ly wear your hair up, try an ‘out’ style. If you nor­mal­ly wear your hair out, try an updo. Break through your reser­va­tions and try things you’ve always want­ed to try, like a new col­or, a sec­ond big chop or locs. Learn­ing to have fun with your hair is essen­tial.

5. Start out as a copycat

YouTube and blogs are full of nat­u­rals with incred­i­ble styling skill. Start by mim­ic­k­ing the styles they do, then branch out and add your own twist. Many nat­u­ral hair styling ‘gurus’ got their start by copy­ing for­mer gurus. The cycle of inspi­ra­tion just keeps going :)

6. Cheat with heat

When used safe­ly and spar­ing­ly, heat styling can be a fun way to switch things up. Plus, it’s great for trim­ming and length checks. Many nat­u­rals notice that straight­en­ing nat­u­ral hair gives a smoother, shinier fin­ish than when their hair was relaxed. Now, if you’re going to a styl­ist for this make sure you go to one that knows how to work with nat­u­ral hair! This is def­i­nite­ly a sit­u­a­tion where you want to be super picky about the styl­ist you choose because heat dam­age is irre­versible!

7. Go for extensions

Exten­sions are a great way to play with length and vol­ume. You can add pieces to a sec­tion of your hair, or do a full set of twist or braid exten­sions. Keep in mind that, if not prop­er­ly applied, exten­sions can lead to trac­tion alope­cia. Fur­ther­more, the extra hair can expe­dite the ‘dry­ing out’ of your strands. Be sure that your exten­sions are not too heavy and that you are mois­tur­iz­ing your hair fre­quent­ly.

How do you break out of a styling rut when you get bored with your hair?

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noel­lis­te, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop cul­ture and black beau­ty enthu­si­ast. bell hooks’ hair twin…

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24 Comments on "7 Ways to Break Out of a Styling Rut"

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get­ting noticed it is impor­tant that you…

keep post­ing reg­u­lar­ly with fresh new con­tent. this will also show read­ers that you care about your blog and are work­ing hard to keep pro­vid­ing them with new infor­ma­tion. poor qual­i­ty con­tent — if the con­tent you are pro­vid­ing your read­ers…

Tee Moorer

I def­i­nite­ly get frus­trat­ed with my hair because of the sev­ere shrink­age in my crown. I will try some copy­cat­ting right away, tho.:) I will say, I am a hair­styl­ist and I com­plete­ly agree with the treat­ment of nat­u­rals in most salons. Hav­ing been on both sides of the fence, I provide my clients with the best of both worlds…And in my opin­ion, car­ing for my nat­u­ral clients has increased the care I give my relaxed clients.

DeAnna Troupe

Okay guys don’t beat me up, but when I get bored, I just put on a wig. That way I don’t have to wor­ry about dam­ag­ing my hair and I get a new look.

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Cosign w/Deanna! I make my own wigs on a stock­ing cap (only using my fav col­or, pur­ple!) and get my home­girl 2 cut them into a style for me. I swim every­day and it allows me 2 keep my own nat­u­ral hair healthy and pro­tect­ed aaaand i can have fun with­out dam­ag­ing my hair!
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In my area there are no nat­u­ar­al styl­ist beyond a bar­ber. I went to the salon two years ago and they messed up my hair so bad I had to start over. At that time when my hair was straight­ened it was down to my shoul­ders. My lesson was learned. I would rather watch videos, read up on nat­u­ral hair, and do my own thing before going to a salon ever again.


To get into styling my nat­u­ral hair, I chal­lenged myself to do a dif­fer­ent hair style every day this mon­th. It has real­ly helped me to try some new styles, like a mohawk and pom­padour, styles I would nev­er have tried usu­al­ly. I loved them! The 4th tip is gold.
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Ashley F.

I do 2 and 6 now. I had locs for 5 years, and I recent­ly cut them so when I did I was in a styling rut…I went right to a local nat­u­ral hair salon and got some Sene­gale­se twist exten­sions.

I have had locs for near­ly six years, and I go to a salon once every 4–6 weeks for sham­poo, con­di­tion­ing, palm rolling of the new growth, and a style. My styl­ist works only with nat­u­ral hair. I look for­ward to my salon vis­its because they are the only pam­per­ing I receive! I leave with some­thing dif­fer­ent each time — curls, waves, or updos of var­i­ous sorts. I feel for­tu­nate that I have the mon­ey to pay for month­ly salon vis­its, because this is Phase 2 of my nat­u­ral hair jour­ney. Phase 1 was from 1968 to 1980, when I… Read more »

When I feel my hair is in a hair runt, then I will look at pret­ty­dim­ples01 or 160­days2lose2 aka charjay’s youtube chan­nel to get ideas. If not then I will def­i­nite­ly put in some minitwists and be done with it for about an mon­th, while still hav­ing the mois­tur­ized hair.

Yeah, I defin­te­ly agree with this. I got so bored with my locs(I had two years of growth) I decid­ed to take them out one by one (lol, youtube videos, showed me it was pos­si­ble). Then I couldn’t get a flow going with my hair and due to my pre­vi­ous job, which required me to wear a hat, it was hard to have a nice style, since my hair was so thick. Soo, I decid­ed to do locs again; that was a year and some months ago. Now, I want to pull out the locs again! I can’t seem to… Read more »
All excel­lent sug­ges­tions. I actu­al­ly prac­tice 1, 4, and 5. For 3, I sub­sti­tute Youtube and blog stalk­ing, remem­ber­ing what I’ve seen and try­ing it. I used to do 7, but after the last batch of chia hair lit­er­al­ly made me sick, and I came to the real­iza­tion that all of it was pro­vok­ing lesser ver­sions of that reac­tion, I swore off it. Now that I have enough hair of my own for a lot of what I want to do, I don’t want exten­sions. As for 2 and 6, no, thanks! I’m a DIY’er all the way, but I… Read more »
Love, love your locs! Great blog! I’m almost 6 mnhtos in. I’ve yet to vis­it a loc­ti­cian so I’m always googling my ques­tions and con­cerns and your blog has popped up on sev­er­al occa­sions. You’ve been very helpful.I am think­ing about vis­it­ing for my 6 mon­th mile­stone. We’ll see. I dont have many options in my area and I always sort of assume the loc­ti­cian is going to tell me I’m doing every­thing wrong and that I need to pay her to make it right If you’d feel com­fort­able shar­ing I’d love to see more pics of your locs at… Read more »

Who else is tired of all of the­se 7 ways to do this or 5 ways to do that?


Do you have more great arl­cetis like this one?


I com­plete­ly agree with this arti­cle. I recent­ly went to the salon this past week­end I got some kinky twists. I was just get­ting into a hair rut when I real­ized I couldn’t keep twist­ing my hair my self. I was start­ing to get frus­trat­ed. I final­ly went to a nat­u­ral hair salon in my area. I am so relieved that I can just get up and go with­out wor­ry­ing how my hair looks.

I am def­i­nite­ly con­cerned about trac­tion alope­cia so I’m mak­ing sure I don’t put too much ten­sion on my hair.

unless you are at pro car­ing for your hair (and know what you want), i would stay out of salons — unless they spe­cial­ize in nat­u­ral hair. tra­di­tion­al salons/stylists have lit­tle appre­ci­a­tion for nat­u­ral hair, imo. they may do you more harm than good. their idea of tak­ing you out of a rut may be relax­ing your hair, even if you don’t want that. they are often rough with the hair and real­ly don’t know what to do with it. even if they are braiders, they may braid too tight­ly. there are tons of yt videos around with styles to try.… Read more »

Mer­ry, I feel the same way. I went to a salon the specif­i­cal­ly caters to nat­u­ral hair. They are also an appoint­ment only salon, which is great.

I hope that more salons that cater to a black clien­tele start to appre­ci­ate our unique tress­es as opposed to treat­ing it like a has­sle.

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Thanks for that! It’s just the answer I need­ed.


I do every­thing but 2 and 7. I do 6 rarely–tension blow-outs are nice once in a while. As for 4, I would do a sec­ond BC or lock my hair but I would nev­er dye it with chem­i­cal (non-hen­na) hair col­or.


Salon thing is dread for most nat­u­rals because salons that work­ing with nat­u­ral hair are few and far between. All the advice is great but advice 2, 4, 6, 7 have the abil­i­ty of end­ing up with some­thing you may regret and can­not fix eas­i­ly espe­cial­ly if not thought out thor­ough­ly or tak­ing the right steps.


I have been going to the salon from time to time (like every 6 months) for the past year. My prob­lem with salons is that nobody will ever give my hair the TLC that I give it, or I leave angry that I paid 80 bucks for a style that is com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent than what I asked for.


I do all except going to the salon and use exten­sion, when I get bored.