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 :)