7 Ways to Break Out of a Styling Rut

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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?

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Black Girl With Long Hair

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila, founding editor of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008), social media and black beauty enthusiast. When I'm not here, I'm moderating a Facebook group for black mothers called Black Moms Connect.

 
  • http://24hourhair.wordpress.com Marsha

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

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  • hyspin

    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.

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    • Lele

      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.

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  • mangomadness

    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.

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  • merry

    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. i would go that route or natural hair blogs.

    sorry. i just don’t have much respect for hair stylists.

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    • BeautyIAM

      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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      • http://helpwritingcollegeessay.com psychology coursework aqa

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

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    • http://blackgirllonghair.com Black Girl With Long Hair

      There are many naturals who have had great experiences with salons and stylists. Here in Chicago there are two stylist, Emon Fowler of The Harriet Experiment and Alecia Tucker of AfrosnBabyHair who do an amazing job.

      Alecia has worked on Afrobella’s hair, and I (Leila) have gone to Emon.

      It’s important to realize that not every natural is going to be able to style their hair at home. I don’t think anyone should judge another person’s approach.

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      • merry

        i don’t think i judged anyone’s approach as much as i offered a warning about certain choices – seeing stylists who don’t specialize in natural hair.

        i thought i was pretty clear about that.

        i think a natural can potentially have a very negative experience seeing a traditional stylist.

        i’ll bet there are more naturals with poor experiences in traditional salons than good – whether it’s because the stylists lack the knowledge or the attitude toward natural hair is bad. hence the reason for blogs such as this and the proliferation of youtube videos where black women have taken things into their own hands and share their knowledge with one another.

        if stylists were really that great and a tremendous source of information for naturals, this blog, other blogs and tons of youtube channels would hardly have a need to exist. no doubt traditional stylists, and even haircare companies, have dropped the ball on natural hair – no doubt believing it to be a trend.

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  • BeautyIAM

    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.

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  • Kim

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

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    • http://tnnkodbgih.com Avari

      Do you have more great arlcetis like this one?

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  • cygnet

    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 don’t do heat, no way!

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    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003453118368 Alex

      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 various stages and in between fresh twists. Perhaps it would be very reassuring. I am fuzzy as all get out right now. I know thats to be expected but WOW, this is a bit much! Again, thats for the blog. Great resource!

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  • Amanda

    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 find a niche with my locs, and since I don’t have to wear a hat anymore, I figured I could try it again. Smh:)

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  • zyaran

    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.

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  • Katnap

    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 wore an afro and took care of my own hair completely except for occasional barber trims. It was a lot of work. We are lucky that today we naturals have so many products to choose from, and stylists who specialize in working with us.

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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.

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  • http://naturalicioushair.com Terez

    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.
    [img]http://blackgirllonghair.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/day13d.jpg[/img]

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  • http://www.misshondababy.blogspot.com LASHONDA

    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.

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  • http://www.learnsmallbusiness.com 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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    • lady purple

      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!
      [img]http://blackgirllonghair.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/use.jpg[/img]
      [img]http://blackgirllonghair.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/use2.jpg[/img]
      [img]http://blackgirllonghair.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/use4.jpg[/img]
      [img]http://blackgirllonghair.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/use5.jpg[/img]

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  • 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.

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