Here on BGLH we sing the praises of natural hair constantly. We talk about how beautiful it is and how, with the right information and techniques, it’s easy to manage. But even we have to admit that there are just some things that are undeniably frustrating about natural hair. Here is our honest list:

1. Protective Styling

Protective styling (or low manipulation styling) is one of the cardinal rules of natural hair, and although many naturals come to appreciate it, it is certainly an acquired taste. I mean, who doesn’t want to show off their curls, coils and kinks?? Plus, we live in a non-protective styling culture. From movie stars to street fashionistas, wearing your hair out and long is the name of the game. While protective styles like turbans and headwraps have gained some traction, the average American woman doesn’t have her hair tucked away. Still, in the name of hair health, many naturals hide their ends for days or even weeks at a time. The end result is beautiful, luscious hair, but Lord knows it can be frustrating.

2. Growing Out the Big Chop

I’ve never seen a big chop I didn’t like. The low cut style works wonders for highlighting a woman’s eyes and bone structure. Not so much the awkward 4 and 5 inches that follow. It’s a weird length where your hair is not short enough to be a fade, but not long enough to be the curly mop so many of us crave. The best way to get through the awkward phase? Figure out at least 2 styles that look good at that length (twist outs and flat twisted updos are good options) and stick with them. Also, buy copious amounts of headbands, flower clips and hair accessories.

3. The Product Chase

While there are some natural products that are almost universally effective (coconut oil and shea butter in particular), beyond that there are seemingly infinite variations; water-based moisturizers/spritzes, leave in conditioners, hair butters, deep conditioners, styling products. They’re everywhere! While products aren’t the primary determinant of hair health, and they certainly won’t make or break your regimen, it’s nonetheless important to find a set of products that work well together, and leave your cuticle feeling smooth and soft. And the time it takes to test out various combinations of products can be undeniably frustrating.

4. The Styling Learning Curve

It’s not so much that natural hair is difficult to style — most anyone can do a puff or a set of twists — it’s that it can be challenging to learn styles for a variety of scenarios. How do you style your hair for a date? A casual weekend? A work conference? A formal event? It can take months to figure out a set of basic looks that can work in a variety of situations.

5. The Regimen Tweak

There is a wealth of knowledge about natural hair online — and while that’s mostly a good thing, it can also present a challenge. Every day dozens of naturals give haircare advice — on blogs, in forums and on YouTube — and they’re all right because they’re all speaking from their own point of view. One might recommend co-washing, while another recommends using shampoo. One might recommend low manipulation styles, while another recommends heavy protective styling. One might recommend a daily spritz while another recommends a full sealing regimen. It’s all relative. Part of going natural is trying out these different bits and pieces of advice until you find what works best for you. It can be frustrating, but it’s an inevitable part of the journey.

6. The Temptation to Compare

For every natural who grows out a gorgeous, full head of hair in no time flat, there are plenty others that are struggling. But with blogs, Pinterest boards and Tumblrs providing a constant stream of “natural hair porn” it can be tempting to compare and become subsequently frustrated with your own progress. Be sure to view hair porn as inspiration ONLY and not a timetable or template of what your hair should be like. It’s also good to draw inspiration from all kinds of naturals. All your natural hair idols don’t have to have waist-length hair. There are plenty of gorgeous naturals with short, fine and mid-length hair to die for.

What about you ladies? What are some aspects of being natural that frustrate you? Let’s keep it real 🙂

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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92 Comments on "6 Undeniably Frustrating Things About Natural Hair"

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I have some part of my hair with a lot of breakage and i don’t know WHY because the rest of my hair is fine and SL. The back is dry and it breaks A LOT and my baby hair is dry and harsh. Very frustrating because i protect and take care of my hair.


i wish that i was more hair talented so that i could figure out some different hairstyles for my hair. i get bored doing the same thing.

Got alove for ma hair
Got alove for ma hair

sigh coconut oil causes my scalp to itch, they sell jojoba oil, castor oil, almond oil and tea tree oil. which one do you suggest I use? btw my hair is 4b 9 inches at its longest and 6 inches at its shortest. Thanks!


I just saw this website and I am so happy to join the conversation. My biggest challenge is to get my curls to relax somewhat. Then there is the dry look. How and what do I use to combat the dry burned out look? Miss Jesse didn’t work, thought about kinky curly hair but I heard it leaves your hair feeling hard. So what’s the next product, has anyone tried WEN? please share your thoughts if you have

Thanks much

Parched in FLA
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[…] David, in the midst of his tribulations, I have to encourage myself.    After reading this article from BGLH Online, I gathered the courage to admit a couple of things to […]


If they said that to you, it’s. Because they’re jealous. That’s mean!


Thanks Julia nd Alisha, but i just chalk it up to ignorance.

there are two frustating things listed her that get to me. Number one is the whole comparison bit. Now I think we can subconsciously compare ourselves to other naturals, but my experience with this isn’t quite what bugs me. I’ve had other naturals actually come up to me a vocally compare their hair with mine, with random comments like “Oh, I can achieve that same style, but my hair is longer than yours” or “Oh I should try that, but I think my hair would be prettier than yours because I have xyz curl pattern”….really? can you please keep those… Read more »

No! They didn’t say that. That is absolutely incredulous#meannaturals


I can’t seem to keep my hair from being brillo pad dry, no matter what I do to it


i was there…it could be you aren’t moisturizing and sealing well, you could be constipated (health,diet), you could have hard water (buy a shower filter or do more ACV rinses).


you could also try Marine’s suggestion and use a plastic cap on your hair for a few hours to help seal in moisture.


Spray with water everyday and seal with a oil.

Interesting. I don’t find protective styling frustrating at all. I wore my natural hair out for 4 years, then started protective styling 3 years ago. I tried some out styles again not too long ago, and my hair got dry and hard SO fast. It took weeks to recover (and I am consistent with giving my hair moisture). I love how supple and soft my hair feels in twists. As my hair has gotten longer, I can do alot with them (not mini twists, either. I rock about 25 medium sized twists on a regular basis). Now what IS frustrating… Read more »
One of THE most frustrating aspects of having natural hair are the constant changes in my regimen that are continuously implemented. I often feel as though when I find valuable information, I should be doing it. I suppose that I should be more patient with each regimen, giving it a real opportunity to work for me prior to changing it so quickly. The second frustrating aspect of having natural hair is the time and energy required simply to maintain. Take moisture, for example. I feel like although I use mostly natural products in my hair, moisture leaves my hair QUICKLY,… Read more »

shrinkage ……………………………… that is all.


Growing out of the “Big Chop” now it’s too long for a fade and too short for twist outs, so I’m stuck with wearing wigs right now


Me too! I have short, baby locs. It’s summer now, so I often wear them out when running errands, etc. But if I have to look presentable–my college graduation, interviews, any time I see my demanding African mother–I wig it up. It’s a hassle.

#6- one reason i like to compare- right now i’m using sera5244 (i hope i got the number right lol) as my reference- is because if i’m growing out my hair, one good way of guaging how well i’m staying on track with my progress, even if it’s not the same as my reference point, is to monitor my results as compared with theirs. i’ve chosen to compare my hair, on a month by month basis, with sera’s (as well as post pix month by month as she does) because it keeps me focused and on track, and lets me… Read more »
#1: I don’t mind because I’m a low maintenance girl so PS work for me in that they are convenient and simple for my lifestyle…now by mid week, I’m restyling my hair so by Friday, I can wear my BnC to party! 😉 #2: Because I’ve been transitioning for the past 23 months, I’ve not experienced the fade or the weird in between phase; however, when I do BC next month, I expect to have 7″ of hair so I’m looking forward to the curly mop 🙂 #3: Transitioning has allowed me to overcome the ‘Product Chase’…my only concern (and… Read more »
Coconut And Cream

I actually… I actually hate my hair… I really do. It’s been living in a bun for the past two weeks… Me no wanna deaaaaal with this dead thing!

i was there a few weeks ago. then i just took a step back and breathed. like, i literally was holding up the scissors to my ears, prepared to chop 6 inches off my hair just like that, when i had a sobering thought: i’ve come this far. i didn’t wanna repeat a year’s worth of growth, considering that the hair i was about to chop was perfectly healthy, thanks to my most recent trim. so i decided i’d quit regimenting my hair and just have fun with a new style, and it worked. try curlformers. try doing something to… Read more »
Coconut And Cream

Aw this is really good advice, thanks. I think I’ve been so focused on protective styling that I’ve stopped having fun and enjoying my hair – I made a post about this here

hey sherida i have checked out your blog post. i rarely follow up with replies to my comments because i seldom check my email, so i am just now seeing your response half a year later. But i loved your post and you know what’s crazy? i feel that way about my hair often, too! I think a lot of it is mental and that’s the part that truly makes the journey frustrating. i hope you’re hanging in there; i haven’t yet gotten around to reading your updates but your hair looked great from the picture i saw from that… Read more »

That must be no fun…honestly….I hope you get to the point where you do at least like your hair and learn how to take care of it.


Why do you hate it so much?


What is fustrating is natural hair in unpredictable just when you think you’ve mastered that braid out….. LOL and also the product chase. -_-


For me, it’s damn fairy knots and shrinkage. They both just get on my nerves, although I think I’m coming to terms with my shrinkage (it can be fun to feel like you’ve got a short bob one day and then long hair the next). People can be amazed by our versatility. Fairy knots though, I get them sooo much and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I can spend hours cutting them out.


Fairy knots are part of having coily/curly/kinky hair. They can’t be eliminated so try not to fuss over them too much.


i now leave mine be. i noticed that my longest hair strands would have fairy knots, so now i don’t touch them. i let them become my “lead hairs’. since i now handle my hair gently, my hair doesn’t break with the knots and they don’t cause tangles. if anything, they prevent my hair from splitting past the knot so i’m grateful for the few that i have.


I don’t think it’s important to find a set of products. But of course, products must be promoted on a sight full of ads for hair products. Ive bought a few but they end up going partially used and abandonded. I think it’s stupid to spend upwards of $20 on some product. I’m fine with my Shea butter and olive oil. It’s frustrating to have products shoved in your face constantly lol.

I don’t think all the 6 are frustrating, not to me anyway. For example, I love protective styling they are styles I would do to my hair anyway. If I left my hair in a twist out I’d be constantly worrying what it looked like especially when it is windy or the weather is less than perfect which is the case in London. I didn’t do a big chop this time, I did one years ago before I knew about going natural and I just put my hair in plaits for a year until it was long enough to loc… Read more »

i have this big patche at the top of my head and around the hairline fron weaving and braiding and i am tired ot wearing wigs i really want to wear my twa but too embarass can you please help



Try wearing scarves instead for a change. Also I’m sure you know this but massaging your scalp daily will encourage the hair follicles to grow.
When you are at home don’t wear a wig or scarf to let your scalp breathe.
I wish you the best.


You should try the Essential oil mix on hairscapades. Better still read the article on using monistat. Learnt it works supernatural wonders.

Oh man!!! There are so many replies I concur with. I’ve been natural since 2001, but I kept my hair flat ironed the majority of the time. I’d ever now and then do a weak twist out. As the years passed – and more and more women started going natural – products actually geared toward natural hair started to appear and I felt like I could do more with my hair outside of the twist outs. I decided to lessen my flat ironed times and increases my natural state periods. With that came a huge dryness issue. I realized it… Read more »

Your hair looks great. What did you do to achieve this style?


Oh good lord, lets not pretend everything about natural hair is all roses. If thats the case we(black woman) would have never relaxed in the first place. I treat my hair as if its already 100% natural and thanks to the internet there is a ton of information, opinions, horror stories and success stories to reference.


why does this have to be about pretending something is all roses?

it’s about accepting it for what it is, not fighting it, not setting certain expectations for it, not judging it, and moving on…

frankly, i think the reason black women relax their hair is fair deeper than the so-called difficulty of dealing with their natural hair.


Merry get a life and stop ‘correcting’ people on the net. Your misery is Astounding.


Transitioning and stories like this scary the hell out of me!! I will be 9 months post relaxing on June 1st and my go to style is braid n curl. About 4 inches of new growth & what haunts me is will I be able to achieve a great style when Im 100% natural. I have shrinkage now so I only can imagine how much in will shrink at full natural and the dryness is a monster!


Don’t be scared! I transitioned for a year and now it’s been almost a full year being natural and honestly, it’s been easier for me without the straight ends. It’s far harder balancing two very different textures. I love my hair so much more now.

You’ll be fine!


oh good lord relax.

you’ll be fine. 🙂

you just have to unlearn what you’ve learned about haircare. this wouldn’t be a big deal if we never forsook our hair to begin with. so, most people are learning.


Exactly! If we were not so utterly removed from our own hair
and how to care for it in the first place we wouldn’t find any of this challenging. Natural IS a journey back to self. Regardless of
what anybody thinks! Everything u thought you knew about how to care for hair totally changes once you go natural. Sad how we have lost so much of ourselves… smh


None of these things are “frustrating” about my natural hair. Just “keeping it real”…


Omgosh! Zara, I was just about to say that I clicked on that same link and got some of The Gud Stuff too! LOL. That’s crazy. Yeh it’s super. It’s the only moisturizer I use now. For my hair and body. What a kawinkydink… umm that was corny i know but wutever!


Former Dread
I just took down my locs after having them for seven years. Even though I have been natural for all but a few years of my 30+ years on earth, I am re-learning my loose natural hair. I am loving the learning curve and getting reaquainted with my kinks! I have about 10-12 inches of length, and I am doing mostly protective styles 3-4 days a week/loose curly/crinkly fro rest of week. Protective styling wasn’t around as a length retention concept before I had locs, so it is a new strategy for me. I do look for ways to keep… Read more »

so, what’s the consensus then? Natural hair sucks but at the same time, it’s kinda worth it? Just wondering honestly…


Many naturals have have a difficult time figuring out what works for their hair. It can be frustrating. I was getting frustrated with protective styling, but that didn’t mean I thought that natural hair sucks. I ended up finding a happy medium for my hair for the time being.

I personally LOVE being natural. There are some challenges but I suspect it comes from years of only caring for processed hair. I love the freedom, the flexibility, and the overall health of my hair. I’ve come to realize my hair is an expression of me. My hair has a personality and can be a bit quirky (like the owner). I grew up with a perm where caring for my hair had always been left to the salons, so there is a bit if a learning curve. Still I am glad I went natural and I am NEVER going back.… Read more »

No, it’s like when you have a child. They cry, scream, poop, and need constant care and attention. It’s hard, and at times can be frustrating, but you wouldn’t trade your child for anything. When you get the hang of things and a nice routine going, it’s a walk in the park for you. And then, the end results are so rewarding.

The thing I love most about having my hair in its natural state, is no longer being afraid of sweat or water. That freedom far outweighs any frustrations I may encounter.


amen @gingerfizz!
I call it my second child (I have one actual baby) because it needs that much love and attention too. But it is almost just as rewarding (nothing is as rewarding as my child! lol)



this is not about concensus, is it?

i’ve been natural for years, well before hairboards etc. despite the issues i’ve had with its fickle nature, there’s nothing that would make me go back to that lye.

Ughh!! This is soo true! Protective styles get on my nerves the most sometimes. You know sometimes I just want to wear my hair out all the time without worrying about having to cover it or twist it etc but of course it will become dry as hay if I keep that up! I was reading one of the other articles on here about hair regimes and I saw someone posted about this website called The Gud Stuff? Here is the link she posted Ok seriously I’ve been natural for 5 years and this is THE BEST product I’ve… Read more »

OF COURSE it has coconut oil *humph* I wish people who made natural hair products would realize that not EVERY head of natural hair needs or tolerates coconut oil. I never realized how prevalent it is for products to have proteins or coconut oil till I went natural. It’s ridiculous.


Yessss!!!! My hair is not a fan of coconut oil {unless it’s straight} nor glycerin {until I’m in a steam room}. Smh.


I’ve been natural for almost 2 years and have worn my hair straight 4 times. The last two times I experienced noticeable heat damage. I miss being able to wear my hair straight occasionally. My hair and heat are not friends.

I am currently 8 months natural after a 10 month transition and I feel like I am peaking. lol! I have a regimen that works for me and I have found products that I do NOT have to order online that are natural/organic that keep my hair moisturized. My hair is about neck length when I wear it in a twist-out and it is growing like a weed! I am currently trying to learn about protective styling primarily for convenience. I am rocking semi-mini twists in an updo today and I really like it. Although I do prefer to wear… Read more »

I can’t wait to BC next month; looking forward to that spike in growth after the BC!


Amen..this post is right on the money..I’m tryna get enough energy to finish my protective style lol smh

I really enjoyed this article. I think one reason that protective styling is so frustrating is because many naturals limit themselves to thinking that protective styling only means “protective styles”. Really it can be so much more encompassing than just styles. The concept of protective styling is actually quite broad and really refers to making sure that you’re constantly doing things that protect your hair from damage. So, it’s more so about the process used to style your hair and not the actual style that you decide to wear. Taking precautions to mitigate heat damage is an example of protective… Read more »

among naturals, protective styling mostly means protecting those ends.

protective styling is not about applying heat or doing high manipulation styles.


I don’t disagree that’s usually what’s discussed and it’s accurate to say that protective styles are about protecting the ends of your hair. I’m not referring to protective styles.

I’m talking about conceptually what “protective styling” means. It should be about building more protection into your regimen and can very well include mitigating heat damage by “protecting it” using a heat “protectant” and taking other precautions. Get it – protection.I think we agree and it’s semantics really….but it doesn’t have to be limiting as its usually discussed by many naturals.


Wow! An informed guy who knows much about protective styling (including mitigating heat damage) is definitely a fresh of breath air.


whereas tucking your ends away is practically a guarantee against not having damage, using “protectant” is no guarantee against sustaining damage from heat.

i think if you actually read these natural hair forums, you’ll notice that your so-called conceptual definition of protective styling is built into our discussions – moisturizing (how to do it), which combs to use or not use, which conditions/shampoos are beneficial, deep conditioning, trimming ends, etc.

i think the women who post on natural forums are pretty much on point with the suggestions/advice given. the lingo just doesn’t fall under your particular framework. seriously…


Why the hostility? kenneth raises valid points, in the article protective styling is being explained as low manipulation and a protective hairstyle, kenneth is saying that it doesnt have to be just that, you dont have to limit yourself. He is talking about what is said in the article not what is being discussed on blogs…


I think you raised some good points Kenneth – don’t pay attention to the moaners! Your idea of protective styling – which I agree with is written about in the science of black hair quite extensively. Merry is wrong protective styling can / does also include not applying heat etc. Merry is wrong to say tucking your ends is practically a guarantee to not having damane – if you don’t do tings like moisturise effectively, or look after your hair in other ways – tucking in your ends won’t achieve much.


some people refuse to use their reading comprehension skills.


The only style that works for me is the two-strand twists. Once dry, I untwist them; I don’t unravel them, because the style won’t last long. It comes out great, but the twisting is very time consuming (about four or five hours). When I don’t have the time, or I’m not up for twisting, the only other thing I know how to do is a slicked back ponytail, which can get too tight after a while.


What frustrates me is the unpredictability of my hair! It may work with a certain DC one day and not so good the next. Water/glycerin would work some days and some days not. Honestly, it is starting to wear on my nerves so bad… ugh!

But I keep trucking along…

Annie L.

Me too *sigh* I finally chucked everything in favor of water, olive oil (which I like but don’t love) and DB’s Cupuacu pomade.


My gripe is not being able to run out of the house without my hair fully glammed. I mean if I want to run to the grocery store, but I am not fully ready to untwist and style my hair, I sometimes feel stuck. If I style, then I loose the fresh effect that I want to have when I really hit the streets. Yet, I don’t want to got to Jewel with my Ms. Celie braids. Same goes for wet hair in the winter. It can hold you back.


on tope = on top of
afar = after

When I have to leave the house while I’m air-drying my hair in braids for a future braid-out I wear a turban (on tope a satin scarf/bonnet combo, of course). Here’s a link: You can also buy them from a Beauty Supply Store. I wear my black turban with a matching outfit and some big pearl stud earrings. I also wear black winged eyeliner (a.k.a. cat eye look) if I’m feeling super fancy. It makes me feel “fully glammed” because the whole ensemble is very vintage glamor (Eartha Kitt, etc). I get tons of compliments on my turban when… Read more »
My hair is the anti-natural. What works for most will not work for me. Olive oil, too heavy; Henna, dries my hair out; co- wash, can’t bc my scalp is very sensitive and needs regular shampooing. My hair is more of a diva than Mariah Carey. Still it is growing, albeit slowly. I just keep trying stuff, eventually I’ll find something that works for me. For the record, I am ALL about the protective styles. The are convenient and some are really cute. Granted I am only able to do two strand twist and Bantu knots, but it’s a start… Read more »

Yep…doing your hair on Saturday so it’ll look right for Friday. I like my twists, but yeah, I find myself rocking many a head scarf at the grocery store.

I hear you all…I have reached the stage where once I have washed and styled and determined that this particular style will last me XX amount ofdays or weeks, etc absolutely nothing, not even if the hair looks rampled, causes me to take it out of its protective style. If it looks rampled or so I tie it down, wear a hat or if push comes to real shove I put on a wig. I have realised mad growth becasue of this, keep the hair ends moist and leave the hair alone till next wash date or the date you… Read more »

i’m still trying to arrive at this point. the problem is my hair has a tendancy to tangle within 2 or 3 days even in a protective style. crazy indeed. so it ruins whatever plans i had of dragging out a protective style. i keep trying and failing miserably. i think because my hair shrinks back over time, so then i have to undo it from its style and detangle it, then redo the style. being able to get by without a comb now has become a lifesaver for me.


I just hate long drying time…omg my hair just takes her sweet time drying 🙁


Humidity is not a natural’s friend. The summer time is my worst enemy.


Dryness needs to be category of its own.


yes! my hair is uber dry. though that might be a byproduct of the bleach….hm.


Preach is sistah!

OMG so I js read something on here about Moisturize daily and seal with oil daily. Yes I’ve read it 50/11 times but this week I finally listened. Sooooooo like they say or hve been saying “it works”. Geez I’m so hard headed. Now if I could just find the best detangler, and fund out how to cut dwn 3 hours of braiding js to get big hair. Hit me ikon fb Martine Soalien Laine. So e can compare notes. I’m not a expert but help me out if u hve ideas. I hve 4 something hair with different patterns… Read more »

This is my holy grail detangler for my 4b hair – its amazing!

It’s called Africa’s Best Organics Kids Shea Butter Detangling Moisturizing Hair Lotion and its amazing (and cheap!) Cuts my detangling time in half.


YAAAS Lord!!

I learned earlier this year that dryness can actually CANCEL OUT protective styling!! I had kept my hair in this cornrowed updo for, like, 3 weeks and I was so proud of myself, but I neglected to moisturize it regularly enough. To my horror, when I took the style down, my ends came out too! It shocked me that something as effective as disciplined protective styling could be erased by some dryness! Now I spritz religiously every night! It ain’t a game.


I feel you, Robin. Having your hard work and patience entirely undone due to dryness, tangles, or breakage is SOOO frustrating!

Annie L.

Hell %@#ing yes!


i might add that the thing that most frustrates me about my hair is its picky nature; has to be treated with kid gloves to thrive.

that’s annoying but it is what it is.

c’est la vie.


YEEESSS!!! If I LOOK at my hair the wrong way, it will spite me and break, lol! Been natural for 5 effin years and JUST started to retain length about 6 months ago. It took that long to really understand and get a grasp on how fragile my hair really is.

Now my hair is 11 inches long and I’m SOO excited!! It’s never been this long in my entire life 🙂 I’m aiming for 18 inches.

protective styling is a refuge for me. i’m someone who wore my hair in a short fade for years, so i’m not really into fussing with my hair. it’s shoulder length now and i think i’m growing it to see how far it’ll go. i sometimes think about cutting it though. but figuring out styles, especially for someone who doesn’t like to fuss over beauty rituals of any kind, can be a bit annoying. luckily, most styles are not too difficult for me to do. but, sometimes, i do get weird thoughts of ‘what am i gonna do’ if i… Read more »

RE: protective styling is a refuge for me

Same here! I’m not into wake up every morning and style my hair so my hair is mostly in protective styles. I probably restyle once a week or so to re-moisturize. I do like to, every now and again, experiment with new protective styles, but for the most part, I have my signature styles that work well for me.