6 Undeniably Frustrating Things About Natural Hair

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

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop culture and black beauty enthusiast.

92 thoughts on “6 Undeniably Frustrating Things About Natural Hair

  1. 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 it. I do sympathise though as my awkward stage was no fun this time around (I had about 5-6 inches), I got sick of the limitations.

    I actually enjoyed the product chase, even though I have loads of stuff that is not part of my regime when I feel like a change I can use the stuff and it helped me figure out what was good for my hair. Plus I loved shopping for natural products. I don’t go in hair shops now there is too much temptation.

    Styling was very frustrating especially at the beginning I went to work with some horrors thank God for scarves eh? Now I have a few styles I can stick to life is easier.

    Tweaking my hair regime has improved my hair and also cut down the time it takes to do it. Say I am in a rush but I have just washed my hair, I know what to use to accentuate my curls so I can leave the house in an Afro puff that dries into glorious little curls. I recently started using the LOC method and I think I will stick with it.

    I have finally cut down on my YouTube addiction, Br0nzeqt really inspired me with her styles to try more out styles instead of just my basic cornrows and flat twists. Her hair regime is way wrong for me but her styling is impecable. I never wanted flowing locks and her hair length is my goal. I don’t mind watching Hair Crush, India from mynaturalsistas, Kashera LaTash or Kimmay for hair porn but I don’t want the headache that comes with that much hair.

    The most frustrating thing for me is that I still have days when I wake up and have no idea what I am going to do to my hair….

    • 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

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

      • Sandra

        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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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

    • 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.

    • 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 make your hair actually look cute. don’t focus on growing it so much as just maintaining its health. when you do what you can to style it in ways that flatter you, be they protective or no, and when you concern yourself with eliminating as much breakage as is conducive with your personality and lifestyle, then you’ll be at peace with your hair.
      i feel where you’re coming from though! i go through periods of hair hate every so often. :)

        • 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 particular post. An update on my hair from since i gave you that advice lol I ended up cutting my hair twice last year. July 2012, about 2 months after i advised you to have fun with your hair, i cut four inches off mine sending me back to CBL. then by November, my hair was back to APL and i cut 6 inches off, sending me back up to neck length. Now my hair is skirting CBL again, about an inch grown from my last cut. So i see progress, even though i still get breakage, and now i’ve decided that in addition to still having fun with my hair, i’m just not gonna worry about breakage. If i get it, oh well, if i don’t, great, but i’m not gonna think about it anymore. I’m gonna grow my hair out for three years, no trims, breakage be damned, and assess my hair’s overall health at the end of that time period. That way i know for sure i’ll have the length i want! I hope you’ll have reached a place of peace concerning your hair too, if you haven’t already. good luck! and i’m glad that my words were of encouragement to you!

  5. #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 this actually excites me) will be how my routine and hair needs will change once I BC…we’ll see, but I don’t suspect that my products will stray too much from what I use now.

    #4: This one isn’t really an issue because for me 4 different styles that I’ve mastered (curly fro (twisted or braided), recycle old curly fros into a curly puff, roll and tucks, crown & glory style) is plenty :)

    #5: Again, an advantage of transitioning has allowed me to tweak my regimen and find out what works or doesn’t…the internet and paying attention to my results definitely helped!

    #6: I think everyone loves a beautiful head of hair, but that love does not take away from love for our own mane…I love hair porn and hopefully will become the hair porn star in someone else’s eyes one day! :)

  6. #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 know that i’m doing something right if each month i’ve noticeably gained my standard half inch. it’s nice to be able to actually see that in 8 months, i should gain what i predicted i should- just by looking at her pictures to confirm what i already calculated. then i just keep my eyes on the prize. so comparing is not always bad.

    if all we ever saw were pictures of black women with short hair and none of us had ever seen pictures of black women with long hair, none of us (or most of us, at least) wouldn’t be motivated to try to grow long hair. they’d think it was beyond their reach. if there are no stars to shoot for, what motivation would anyone have to try and shoot for the stars? oh well, maybe they’d reach the moon first and find themselves content lol

  7. 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.

  8. 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, and it frustrates me because I feel as though I have to be faster in reapplying before my hair has a chance to dry out. The frustrating part comes when the dryness comes faster than I can remoisturize, which makes my hair begin to feel brittle. It is at this point where my hair is most vulnerable to breaking. THIS IS SO VERY IRRITATING TO ME, and I’ve found that it can a actually put me in a bad mood.

  9. 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 to me is when my hair gets DRY. Lord, I hate dry hair, lol!

  10. 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 thoughts to yourself. I mean its taken many women a long time to learn to love their natural hair, so why make such destructive comments.

    The second frustration is the product craze. I’ve slowed down a lot, finally finding products that work for me, but I’m still tweeking a few things. This habit can get costly if out of control, so I try to reign it in.

  11. Pingback: My Natural Hair Journey, Chapter 15: Without Faith… « The Blessed Heritage

  12. 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

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

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