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I am pretty vocal about promoting the idea of personalised hair care. This is the view that hair is individual and while we can have a list of best practice ideas, the only method to guarantee success is to listen to your own hair’s likes and dislikes. I think that there are some people who like to compare their hair to others and in my view, this can be helpful but it can also harmful. In my view, your natural journey should really have your own stamp on it, do not let it be a competition to match or outdo someone else. Here are 4 reasons why natural hair is not a competition:

1. Not everything you see on YouTube is real

I have seen many people get discouraged by YouTubers for because some appear to be able to retain a massive amount of length in a short time. The truth is, although some people may indeed have above average growth, those who are successful at retaining length when they previously did not, have actually done their research. You end up seeing a pretty 3 minute clip where hair goes from shoulder length to mid back but the reality is really much more than that. It is not possible, at least not in a mildly interesting way, to capture all the hours spent reading/googling on how to retain length, the several hours of detangling or product hunting nor the months and months spent in protective styling.

A good video will be edited to show you the best bits. Very few people will show you their failures.

2. Your hair does not need to be curly to be pretty
‘Why can’t my hair curl up like that?’ or ‘It takes ages to look half decent with my hair.’ If I am being totally honest, you do not need curly hair to feel pretty, you can make the decision to believe you are pretty regardless. However, switching back to hair, the natural texture of your hair really IS what it is. You cannot adjust it, it will keep growing out that way. Even the girls with curly hair will not always have perfect curls, frizz will happen and if you read number 1, you will know that you will not see that in a video.

You absolutely can and should be able to admire a texture that is different from your own. However, if you cannot look in the mirror and gradually over time learn to like your own hair, you will be paving the way for a lifetime of insecurity.

3. Your hair WILL grow longer, stop thinking it will not

‘I think my hair is always going to be short, all my family members have short hair, my hair always breaks when I comb or style it,‘ or Why can’t we just accept African hair cannot get that long, she is mixed.’ I know that despite the best of information out there, the truth is that some people really just believe their hair cannot grow longer. This is a terrible thing because many of these people simply stop working on the errors that could fix the problem.

It is not a competition, your hair may take more work and time to retain length compared to someone with a looser texture or a thicker strand, but if your goal is long hair, it IS very achievable with the right recipe.

4. Hair typing is not that serious, in fact it is pretty random
Oh it really does pain me when I see texture wars. ‘ I’m a type 4a’………’Oh no, you are definitely 4c with a bit of 4b.’ Seriously who cares? Do you know that 3c and 4c were made up by the online community? If you are using a store-bought conditioner, it is likely it was tested on straight Caucasian hair. Hair really is just a fibre and it is really more important to know what can soften your hair for flexibility when styling, what can moisturise your hair well enough, what can add strength if necessary to your hair and what can fix any styling damage. Reading ingredient lists will help you pick your products, not knowing your hair type.

You are also better off knowing how thick the individual strands of your hair are, the level of shrinkage of your hair when wet and the overall density of your hair. These things will help you to know how to handle your hair and whether you need protective styling or not. Whatever hair type you have, it is wonderful provided you are taking care of it.

Ladies, how do you view your natural hair journey? Do you sometimes see it as a competition?

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43 Comments on "Natural Hair is not a Competition"

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DJ Barbi Doll

ummm whats with everyone wanting long hair??? It is so weird to me. If that is your idea of beauty (sounds like it is) then that is sad….I know some pretty beautiful people with short hair cuts or just short hair…

Moira

Because it is hard to attain.

DJ Barbi Doll

ps, going to You Tube for Hair Info….REALLY??? omg

DJ Barbi Doll
Here is the thing that kills me. It is not a competition yet black women go natural and they “brag”, talk about it etc. I have been asked if I am natural and guess what??? I am 1/2 BLACK, AND 1/2 Dominican. I have beautiful hair Curly its awesome, & straight (how I like to wear it) is awesome. It is silky and shiny and never had a relaxer!! But what if I did?? What is the big freakin deal. If someone wants a relaxer, then get one!!! If I needed a relaxer, I would not care what other black… Read more »
Random Trini Chick

JC, I always appreciate the straight forward, unadulterated, scientific approach and information you provide.

Sometimes I just want facts on a matter, not an opinion, not an editorial.

For example, sometimes I just want to know which oil is effective so I don’t drive myself crazy or have so many oils in my cabinet that America is ready to invade it.

I appreciate your work.

Saye

Fantastic article.

cacey

WHAT?! but of COURSE it’s a competition! what else would it be? lol jk. i agree very much with the points made.

more
You Tube part is 100% correct!! I been saying for ages that YOU TUBE IS NOT REAL LIFE!! What i see on YOU TUBE IS NOT what i see on a daily basis in NYC! outer boroughs. One of the MAIN THINGS THAT REALLY URKS ME is that most of those ladies dont have issues retaining length. How can you advise me on growing my hair long WHEN U HAVE ALWAYS HAD LONG HAIR AS A CHILD?? Some of those women dont even have BLACK HAIR kinks coils. UGH. You can sugar coat it all u want but i’m calling… Read more »
cacey
actually i think most of the women i’ve seen on yt with those vids didn’t always have long hair. elsewise, what’s the point of a video? who have you been looking at? i think the most popular ones at the very least went from short hair to long at some point, even if they had long hair as a child. take me for instance. as a child i had long hair MBL until at the age of 12 when i got a relaxer. even with a relaxer my hair was BSL but it had begun breaking horribly and so i… Read more »
Lizz Am
Wow, I tend to dislike the articles that come from The Natural Haven. They’re so self-righteous and preachy. This one takes the cake. I guess she wrote it to attract attention or feed into the insecurity of many struggling naturals. The problems in this article lie with points 1 and 4. The point of making a youtube video is to teach people. A teacher can briefly reference their sources, but they are there to convey knowledge. Most people don’t watch videos longer than 7 minutes. People have short attention spans. However, if one explores a person’s entire youtube channel, they… Read more »
Dananana
Well, I think The Natural Haven writes the best articles. I may not always agree with what JC has to say, but I’m always left with something to think about, some tweak that makes my regimen that much better for my hair. And another thing, I think this article hit the nail on the head–for some people. I never got caught up in the YouTube hype, but I sure had some curl envy when I first BC’d–wanted some Corrine Bailey Rae spirals and got a head full of coils and cotton fluff. It was only through making my own mistakes,… Read more »
LBell
You make some good rebuttal points but your overall judgement of Jc’s writing is unfair. Natural Haven (Jc) is one of the smartest writers on this site. Her own blog dispels a lot of the myths and fantasies that some women still like to hold on to about hair in general and natural hair care in particular. I may not agree with everything she says but I rarely agree with everything ANYBODY says. That’s called having the ability to think critically. Whenever I hear anybody call someone online “preachy” I usually take that to mean that the person’s talking way… Read more »
cacey

well said

The Natural Haven

The point when you have detractors and supporters is the point when you are most valuable because you are encouraging people to think, talk and debate. Guess I am going to keep on writing 🙂

Dabney
Thank you for posting this! it was bold and very official! A declaration! I think we need to keep a healthy perspective in this individual journey! stop looking for what other people consider beautiful and look at who you are and accept it! Once you do that growing your hair and keeping it healthy is actually very easy! The best thing a naturalista can do for herself is research in books. Yes Youtube is good and fun to watch but really pick up a book and read about our hair. When I started reading and understanding what our hair needs… Read more »
Smallfro
I think that this is not a competition. But, unfortunately for many of us these are the only images of natural black hair we see. I live in Milwaukee and the loose natural hair community is very small. I have hundreds of heads of locs, perms, braids, and weaves to admire. But there are few which look like my hair. I enjoy the side channels not about hair, because the youtubers are seen in their everyday environment. No one’s hair is hair show perfect everyday. Once you accept this, you hair will represent you in a positive light – no… Read more »
Kelcie

“If you are using a store-bought conditioner, it is likely it was tested on straight Caucasian hair.” Gasp and clutched my pearls!!!

Yvonne

It is definitely not a competition but an individual and unique journey. Love this article and BGLH. <3 Keep inspiring our community!
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Laney
Sadly a lot of people do make it into a competition and we are constantly having ideal/tumblr natural hair shoved in our faces. It’s not hard to see why people feel like their hair isn’t what it’s supposed to be. Curl product retailers have preyed on some natural women’s insecurities to get sales, kinks to curls and all that. It’s only now that naturals are starting to go their own way and just do what works for the health of their hair rather than trying to meet these unrealistic standards set by the images we see on tumblrs, blogs, curl… Read more »
EClark6

Personally, my hair journey is just a part of my quest to be a healthier, more organic version of myself. If I inspire others along the way, GREAT! I’ve never thought of it as a competition.

R
I have 4b/mostly 4c hair. By understanding the concept of typing, I have been able to identify what my hair can/cannot do. The time, effort, and tears I put into trying to achieve a “wash and go”. My 4c hair cannot wash and go. Again, it just helps me out when it comes to my styling options. I think typing can be useful and I choose to embrace all that is good in the system. So say it’s good hair vs. bad hair, but in my opinion you have to buy into the idea of bad hair in order to… Read more »
TINA SMITH

WHAT WORKS FOR YOU HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HAIR TYPE

R

What exactly does it have to do with then? Remember that my comment was about styling my hair. Nothing else.

TINA SMITH

INGREDIENTS AND TECHNIQUE

The Natural Haven

OMG I AGREE WITH TINA SMITH – I actually have pretty much disagreed with everything Tina has commented on in the past, including the typing in caps but today, I actually agree, hair type will very rarely be helpful in finding what works.

jasmine

Can i say, with or without the hair typing system you would have figured out what did & what did not work for your hair via trial and error. If you never saw the hair typing system before you would have still figured it out.

aree
Great article. I admit I had hair envy when I first started out, I didn’t envy texture, but my goodness I craved me some length. I was never mad jealous though. I can want something without hating those who have it. I would see a natural with long hair and just be in awe. Im sure some could see the drool coming out my mouth. It was motivation though. It inspired me to continue my hair journey, and now my hair is a little past bsl. I still get a little envious though when I see some youtubers with hip… Read more »
Nicole

You’re funny. You also pretty much summed it up for me as well when it comes to some you-tubers-the long haired ones. Gosh I love me some long hair. Def not a short hair girl. However since my BC i have had to deal with my hair being short. Patience and work. That is what I know will work. That is what I do.

Emilia

I second that! I wish an article like this was posted earlier by a few years; regardless, those long-haired idols gave me the motivation to research and practice good hair care – even patience, as I noticed some of them went through trial and error, as did I. Now, I reap the benefits! So keep at it, ladies – those YouTubers are on to something!

Ilovemyhair

The best article on this website.

lablooplah

This is a dang good article.

Kayla
I am on YouTube and it is never my intention to mislead people. My hair growth rate is suuuuuuper average and I only check my length every 6 months (twice a year). Because that is such a big span of time my hair appears to grow a lot in each length check video. I am very clear about the dates, but yet I constantly get people contacting me and asking how my hair grew so fast or what is the secret. In responding to an earlier comment, I don’t think unrealistic expectations can be totally pinned on the youtuber. It… Read more »
Stace
I believe that’s exactly whats going on. Most people don’t pay attention to detail. Alot of people not only do not look at the dates, they also don’t watch all of the video or all of the journey videos. People are very quick these days, they want a quick answer, quick solution, and quick satisfactions, so that is what they look for. So many times even on here you will see people take the time to ask questions about the hair feature that were clearly answered in the article, proving that they either did not read the article, or did… Read more »
TWA4now

I didn’t see it has a hair competition. Everyone’s hair grows at different rates. I think there is a “push” for longer hair (for real), but that takes time…lots of time and effort.

silkynaps
One day I found a chick with hair similar to mine on the tube. She had an awesome twist out. In the tutorial for the style, she showed us how to apply product. She showed us how to do a twist. She even showed us how to unravel a twist. Then fade to black and she returned with an awesome, fluffy twist out. It was the most ridiculous thing. Anyone watching that video is trying to figure out the fluff! I know the few times I’ve attempted a twist out, I ended up with a fro like Florida Evans. The… Read more »
Mjay

Or just desperately seeking a larger following for free products/endorsements.

Lizz Am

Wow, I can’t believe you said “those you tube chicks” are self-absorbed and fishing for complements!!! Without youtube, A LOT of naturals would be LOST when it comes to how to take care of their hair. Thousands of naturals would be lost. You are so ungrateful. The visual aid that youtube provides is extraordinarily helpful to thousands of naturals. Natural or not, styling hair is an actual practice. People study it because it IS a study that requires time, patience, and a TEACHER. “Those youtube chicks” are teachers!! What you said is so hateful, I can’t even….

coffeeandfingernails
Second that. The first time I considered going natural was in college, back when the internet was really just becoming a thing. I went to the store to find magazines to get ideas about styling and I could not find a natural style that wasn’t locs or braids (which are both fine of course, but I wanted to know how to style loose natural hair). Most styles in black magazines were on relaxed hair, which made me wonder what the point was–I can find straight hair styles in white magazines. It was 10 years before I tried again and those… Read more »
silkynaps
There are still a few women out there that haven’t succumb to the hype of trying to get famous via you tube. They are real. They make real videos and show you how to do a real hairstyle. If they have received any financial benefit from youtube, they deserve it. However, I stand by my statement that MOST (maybe you need to re-read my comment) of those you tube chicks are out there trying to hop on the bandwagon of free products, sponsored videos, and self-absorption. The point was not everything you see on youtube is real, and they are… Read more »
Ubah Luar

Youtube is groing out of hand nowadays.
First it was all about maintainging healthy natural hair. Now its modre of a curl pattern/curl definition war.

Some Youtubers wear their 4a hair only in a twistout state…acting like somthing else…

Latte
What do you mean? (I very very rarely watch YouTube videos.) I’ve only ever watched naptural85 and a couple posted on BGLH and I’ve been natural since 2000! Anyway, I’ve stopped wash/gos and have begun braidouts and updos because I’ve decided to grow my 4a hair long (for me wash/gos won’t a let me grow hair past my collarbone, but I like the short coily bob look and had done that for many years). ANYWAY. Are some people doing twist outs and acting like its their natural hair pattern or something? That would be silly, cause I love my natural… Read more »
Latte

Sorry about any typos (I’m on my phone). And I am one who loves kinkier or frizzier hair (not obsessed with perfect curl) so please no one take offense about me saying “very defined.” I just wanted to help anyone who was beyond frustrated and may have slightly more porous coarse 4a hair like mine. Oh, henna has helped my porosity too.

MsKat

*applause* Well said!

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