Is Natural Hair Less Manageable Than Relaxed Hair?


By Chinwe of Hair and Health

Just like many of you, I have had both relaxed hair and natural hair.  Prior to big chopping five years ago, no one could have convinced me that my natural hair was manageable.

You see, in my relaxer days, my new growth became unbearable after about four weeks and really annoying at six weeks.  I had to make sure my hair was “laid”, or perfectly straight down to the roots in order to get a comb through it.  Only then – when my hair was super straight – was my hair “manageable”, and this became more obvious as I began to transition to natural years ago.  There was no way that my stick straight ends combined with my kinky new growth were any more manageable than a fresh relaxer.  However, relaxers were damaging my hair and I was willing to go natural even it took more work.  But would it really take more work?

After my big chop, I was taken aback at how manageable my natural hair was, especially with the right products.  It was no longer stiff, dry, and hard but soft and pliable.  I could go outside in the rain with my TWA (teeny weeny afro) and not be afraid of the weather ruining my style.  I could quickly transform a bad hair day into a good one by wearing a puff and spritzing with some water.  I could even retain a lot more length than when I had a relaxer.  I was now convinced that my natural hair was very manageable.

As my natural hair has gotten longer, I am not going to lie and say that this journey is as easy as it was for me right after the big chop.  I do have my days, particularly when it comes to detangling, when my natural hair is a bit of a challenge.  However, I certainly do not miss standing in the bathroom applying a relaxer to my head, then rinsing, then neutralizing, then conditioning religiously every several weeks.  I do not miss trying to make my new growth more “manageable” by relaxing it bone straight.

Is MY natural hair less manageable than my relaxed hair was?  No.  The fact that I let my strands just be “natural” from the roots to the tips makes it all the more “manageable” for me.

Ladies, is natural hair less manageable than relaxed hair?  Share your thoughts!



Empowering women of color to break barriers. Cherish.Thy.Melanin.


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78 thoughts on “Is Natural Hair Less Manageable Than Relaxed Hair?

  1. I think that natural or relaxed hair can be manageable. I prefer managing my natural hair because if you work with the texture there are less issues. I have not had to do any “cute bob” cuts due to damage and thinness. I have not had to shave my sides due to breakage. I am not constantly on the come back and grow my hair out mode. I just do what I do and it just flourishes. I finally have hair past my shoulders for the first time in my life. I have always wanted long hair and only able to get with a weave. And I hate weave. So for what I want which is long healthy thick hair, it is much more manageable natural. Tried relaxed for over 30 years without success. Successful in only 2 1/2 years natural….to me this is managable.

  2. In the beginning natural hair is more difficult because you have to learn and unlearn a lot of things. You go thru a period of fighting your texture wishing it was something else, no styling skills, can’t rely on a pony tail or bun. You get frustrated and wish you could just comb it and go like you use to. But then after struggling you find your stride. Suddenly all the above mentioned crap doesn’t matter. You love your hair. You start to try new styles and new products. You find a rhythm all your own. All this is to say that natural hair and relaxed hair requires pretty much the same amount of work. It all depends on what your expectations are and the acceptance of bad hair days as you try to get use to being natural.

  3. I’ve never worn my hair natural, but my mother and brother have. I honestly haven’t had any of the horror stories about hair falling out or thinning hair, etc. that many women have had with relaxer, but I’ve also never colored my hair and don’t use relaxer more than once every couple to three months so I think I spread it out more than others. I do find that letting my hair air dry makes it more manageable no matter what. Something about hair dryers makes your hair form into the most unnecessary catastrophe, at least for me. When I let it air dry, I can kinda shape it how I want it to. That’s actually my secret to spreading out relaxers. Hair dryers used to dry my hair out entirely too fast. I haven’t used one in at least 6-8 months now.

  4. For many new naturals, it seems less manageable than relaxed hair because they are working against the coily textures. Get past that and natural becomes much more manageable.

  5. Hi I am Cynthia Pryor Hardy? a radio talk show host in South Carolina. We are a LIVE broadcast Sunday evenings 6pm EST You can find our show Onpoint! with Cynthia Hardy on FB.
    Our show topic this week (tomorrow) is Natural Hair or Weave/Straight/Relaxed Hair. We are the #1 talk show in South? Carolina. We cover 85% of the state and have a cumulative listenership of more than 75k people each week. Oh–and our call in audience is off the chain. If you have interest/availability, please email me at

  6. I’ve been getting a relaxer for a couple of years now, and the only time I experienced breakage and dryness was a time I didn’t know how to take proper care of my hair. Even then, it wasn’t hard to get my hair back on track. My hair has never been shorter than my shoulders, it always has that shine, and it’s very thick and full. I don’t see myself going natural for a long time.

    • That’s a shame…” no shorter than my shoulders” is a sad way to measure hair health – which is what going natural is all about. But do you boo :). Those who perm only help us naturals stand out that much more.

      • You conveniently left out the rest of the sentence where she also said “it always has that shine, and it’s very thick and full.”

        [side eye]

        Natural Nazis are the worst.

        I have been natural almost 10 years and can say the same as Lauren. My hair was just as healthy with a relaxer as it is without and I have no idea what breakage is like. I tell people that my hair is TOUGH and dosnt seem to break for anything. Different strokes for different folks. I will definitely miss being able to wash and style my hair in less than an hour (I need at least 2 hours to air dry or flat iron), but I looooooooooove being free from the chains of the hair salon. Those all day appointments, though? I’m no longer here for it. :)

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  8. my relaxed hair was easier to manage. that being said, my natural hair is gorgeous and it’s worth the extra time i put into it.

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