One of the biggest challenges of going natural is wading through all the advice to figure out what works for your hair and what doesn’t. And while some naturals might report amazing benefits from a particular practice, others might see no result at all — even finding it detrimental. Here are 5 natural hair practices that don’t work for everybody.

1. Wash and Go’s

Some naturals love the ease of this style, which entails co-washing, then applying styling product and letting the hair go. But others don’t like the feeling of having a wet head for hours, or the tangling that wash and go’s can bring.

2. Protective Styling

Many naturals swear by protective styling as a way to retain length, but for some it isn’t necessary. Some naturals are able to retain length by simply being gentle with their hair — even if they style it on a daily basis. Remember, the necessity of protective styling is dependent on how fragile your hair is. Stronger hair will require less, while finer, delicate hair will require more.

3. Sealing With Heavy Oils or Butters

Castor oil and shea butter are two go-to products for sealing in moisture, but if your hair is on the fine side those heavy products might do more harm than good, weighing down the hair and taking on a sticky, glue-like property. If your hair is fine, try sealing with a light spritz that contains oil, a light oil like jojoba or a light whipped butter.

4. Henna as a Dye

Not everyone will achieve the “henna red”. Henna’s burgundy color doesn’t really show up prominently unless hair is light enough that the dye can show up when deposited.

5. Henna as a Curl Loosener

Henna’s curl loosening qualities tend to show up more prominently on looser textures as opposed to tighter textures.

6. Blowdrying

Some naturals can incorporate blowdrying into their regimen (for detangling or styling purposes) without consequences. Others deal with dry hair that leads to breakage and, in worst case scenarios, hair that becomes straight and won’t revert to its curly state.

7. Twisting

Believe it or not, not all naturals are a fan of the twist. Fine-haired naturals often find that twists look thin and scalpy on them. Plus, on some textures twists become very shrunken (as opposed to stretching the hair), leading to tangling, knots and breakage.

Ladies, which natural hair practices simply don’t work for you? Help add to our list!

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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73 Comments on "7 Natural Hair Practices That Don’t Work for Everybody"

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Donni F.
I can do wash and go’s every now and then, but only if I wrap it in a t-shirt first… and I can’t do it consecutively. Surprisingly, most of the above practices do work for me except the protective styling and twists. PSing is a wonderful idea, but I can’t keep my hands out of my head for more than 2 days, and my hair doesn’t seem to mind, as long as I moisturize and seal every night. Twists aren’t a good stretching tool for my hair, as it just shrinks up immediately like a W&G, and can tangle like… Read more »

Braids and braid-outs. My hair does not like braids. I can use braids for stretching but not for styling. The braids crinkle my hair in a pattern that’s opposite of what my curl pattern prefers. Twists, on the other hand, are perfect! Since my hair grows in a coiled pattern, the twists are naturally suited for the coils.


Same for me with braid outs….but in some sections at the top of my hair, it actually does work. I start with the braid then twist the ends. Anywhere else it looks like a Sun Chip.

I’m also not a fan of sleeping with a satin scarf AND pillow. I wake up sweating and gasping for air which ends up ruining my hairstyle. The scarf is enough for me.

natural dancer/candice

I love the Sun Chip reference!!!! My coils can’t stand braid outs or any other PS situation. 🙁
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I felt like I was looking at my hair there for a minute, except my crown strands are really thick so they wave rather than create the pretty coils and my edges are more tightly coiled.

I have not been able to get a decent braid out or twist out. I just use it to stretch my hair.


All of this applies to me except the protective styling part. lol. Also my hair type can never acheive a “puff” or “afro.”

Hi, I have fine hair, yet lots of it, my mother is caucasian and my farther is bajan so I have a combination of fine and thick hair, I am trying to grow it and my hair is currently above shoulder length, it is really dry, splits very easy and Overall in bad condition. At the moment I have to tie it up, I put hair food in regular and I use hair gel to slick it back. In 2008/9 my hair was in such good condition and I would wear it out in spiral curls, a bit like corrine… Read more »

Boil up some irish moss and add some oil that your hair likes to it and use it instead of hair gel. It works a charm. I have thick 4b/c hair and use it to make ringlets in my hair, not my whole head of hair just the loose baby hair, it is also great for smoothing all my hair down before I do an afro puff – yes my hair is finally long enough for an afro puff.

Hi Amelia! i Recommend that you scale back on your use of gel. I know that’s easier said than done, but a better option may be to use something like Jane Carter Nourish and Shine instead of gel for slicking back the hair. I may add a warning that slicking back usually requires extensive brushing to smooth the hair and then pulling the hair to tie it back. Both of these add stress to the hair which can result in further damage. A weekly deep conditioning treatment will help tremendously. I would recommend using a heating cap and leaving it… Read more »

You should post this in the forum. You will definitely get a better response. Wishing you all the best in your hair journey!


Yes, I agree with all of these. As a fine haired natural, I’m not a fan of shea butter and hate the way dry twists look on me (thin and very scalpy). What works for one does not always work for the next.


Thank you for this article! There are so many of these so called “natural hair practices” that don’t work for me and I kept trying and trying while damaging my hair in the process…after 1.5 years of being fully natural I finally figured out that “everythang ain’t for everybody!”


Sealing with heavy oils or butters (3) on the entire hair shaft equals greasy hair for me. I only use castor oil on my ends and edges. Shea butter attracts lint to my hair–I use it on my skin instead.


1,3,4,5 & 7 don’t work for me.

Wash-n-goes (1) were fine when I had a TWA they’d cause too much tangling on my Afro-textured hair now that it’s longer (APL).

Dye and “curl loosening” (4 & 5) are not the goal of henna for me–I use it for its strengthening properties.

Twisting (7) does not work for me–at all. Twist-outs are hit-or-miss (mostly miss) so I do braid-outs. Braid-outs–as compared to twist-outs–impart a prettier pattern onto my hair, stretch my hair better and are easier to detangle. They’re my go-to style and a great base for my buns and updos.


A twist out….can’t do one to save my life. I’ve been natural for about 15 mos and EVERY single one has been an epic fail. I love the way they look, just not on me!


same here! I actually think it’s because my stretched hair is at that awkward length…I pretty much end up spraying water all over till it shrinks to a cute fro and then i’m happy with it…any twist/curl pattern disappears at that point. Ah well, I love my shrunken fro, it’s how I’m surviving through awkward length land.


Yep, its always odd to me to hear how many folks are against blowdrying. For almost a year, I’ve been doing it once a week and I’ve seen a lot of growth and my hair is still perfectly healthy AND its dyed blonde!

I get it from my mama…she has hair strong enough to lift an ox, LOL.
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My hair is the same exact way! It absolutely loves the dryer. Even though I have been natural for the past ten years, most recently, I have been avoiding the dryer like the plague due to information on youtube and forums. However, since I have low porosity hair, my hair needs heat in order for the cuticles to lift and absorb products and stay mosturized. Ever since then I have been using the dryer at least once a week and my hair has been thriving. I forgot the most important lesson for natural hair: no two hairs are alike.

Twitter: @Accesuality

I use to co-wash frequently but find that my hair does better with just a rinse and finger comb or spritz with water. I only wash, condition, and comb out with comb once a week. So far my hair likes this better and my curls are more defined and less poof. I love protective styling. My hair doesn’t require shea butter or castor oil to seal, I can just use coconut oil and that’s sufficient. I’ve never tried a Henna but I do color my hair with traditional hair color and find that it loosens my curl but the effect… Read more »