African Americans and hair care can sometimes be an adventure. It’s true that we have such style variety that we can do almost anything we want with our hair. Natural hair is more popular than ever right now. Even with its kinky texture, natural African-American hair is making a comeback. Yet, criticism of kinky hair is ever present. In many instances African Americans also criticize themselves. If a woman enters the room with kinky hair not styled to someone’s liking, the chatter begins. Adults are used to the discussion. Such a discussion might be overwhelming or even detrimental for children.
In reality, natural hair poses a bit of challenge to some African-Americans for a few reasons.
Many African Americans Woman have spent little time managing natural hair and don’t know the best techniques. A person has probably worn other styles (relaxer, weave, extensions, braids, wigs, etc) more than they have worn their natural hair. For example, I had a relaxer for more than twenty years before I decided to wear natural hair. When I transitioned to natural, it was different. It took time and patience to figure out how to manage kinky hair. I am still learning.
It’s hard to adjust to the onslaught of questions that come when you change your hair natural. The questions come from everywhere. I remember once wearing braids with extensions to my job. One of the managers there pulled me to the side and said that the only time she wore braids to work was just after she had given birth. It was as if braids were to be worn only occasionally and not as a regular style. I ignored her for a while as I continued to grow out my relaxer. Braids are a good way to have a consistent hairstyle while managing two textures of hair (natural and relaxed).
The multitude of products is can be overwhelming. It takes visits to your stylist, online research and traditional research to keep up with latest hair care products, techniques and trends. Some say use sulfate-free shampoo. Some say no shampoo. Some say co-wash. Determining what’s best for your hair means you must know your hair type, get the “right” products and figure out how often to apply these products. On top of all of that, one has to decide if the stylist that you use as the expert advisor knows what they are talking about.
It is a journey to understand what’s best for African-American natural hair. Hopefully, everyone will find ways to manage.