Outfit by Ambercrombie
Yes, I get this question all the time. And yes, we’re going to talk about it.
I’ve now realized that the talk and education about afro/curly hair isn’t as common knowledge as I would like it to be. I assumed that because there are thousands of YouTube videos on natural hair and literal aisles filled with natural hair products that most people are aware of or at least familiar with how afro hair works.
I was wrong to assume, and I would also be wrong if I didn’t break this down.
So, let’s start with some basic terms on natural hair.
Natural hair can be described as afro/curly hair that has not been chemically manipulated. The most common form of chemical manipulation is the perm. I’m sure many of you have heard of the notorious perm. Your mom, dad and probably your grandma tried a perm in the 80’s (go ask them about it, I’m sure they have some stories). In short, the process of a perm includes adding some sort of chemical solution to your hair either to straighten it or to make it curly. And once you get a perm, you’ve altered your hair permanently. Hence, the name perm. Lately, lots of people have been cutting off all of their damaged hair and growing new, unaltered hair. So I guess there needed to be a term to describe hair that hasn’t been chemically manipulated; thus, natural hair.
This is a term to describe the day that people with natural hair actually wash their hair. This may sounds gross and super scary for some of you reading this, but many people with natural hair don’t have to wash their hair every day or even every week. I can go up to a month without washing my hair and no, nothing gross happens. Wash day can take up to 2 hours just to wash, condition, deep condition and style my hair. Once I complete those steps, I wait for my hair to dry and it’s honestly miserable. I deeply dislike wet hair, especially when it takes 8 hours to cry, I mean dry.
My hair is super thick, super coarse, and kind of like a black hole.
If I washed my hair every day or even every week, I would not only be stripping my hair of natural oils, but I would also be snagging my hair way too often. In my experience, my hair prefers to be left alone. It basically screams at me if I try to do too much to it. So I listen to it. My hair has started to thrive and grow more since I began listening to what it wants and needs.
Satin bonnet and/or satin hair wrap (of some sort?)
I often get asked, how do you maintain your hair? How do you keep your hair so fluffy? I don’t. I wear a satin bonnet at night. If you want to see what a bonnet looks like, you can click here to be amazed! Or not? I don’t know, they’re extremely comfortable to me.
Bonnets are important for natural hair because curls snag and get caught on any and everything. This can result in breakage. Satin specifically is extremely soft and breakage resistant (I can’t prove this) but it saves my tiny coils from being ripped out of my head, ouch. Now back to how I keep my hair fluffy all the time, 24/7. Like I said, I don’t. I sleep and my hair shrinks into this ball shaped hair thing? Basically, It gets flat on all sides and my hair needs to be fluffed daily to look presentable. That brings us to the next topic.
How do you keep your hair curly everyday?
Yes, I said a spray bottle. But really it’s a spray bottle with water in it. Some people like to add a little conditioner or an oil, such as olive oil or coconut oil, to their spray bottle (with water). I keep it as simple as possible because I’m the laziest person when it comes to my hair routine. I take the spray bottle filled with water, and I spray until my hair is basically dripping wet. Then I shake my hair like a wet dog so that my curls clump together and then I wait for it to air dry. I do this every single day because it takes like 5 minutes and it makes the process of fluffing my hair easier.
This step is important for me and a lot of other naturals because after the initial wash day, we need some way to moisturize our hair while also being able to manipulate it daily without having to rewash and style our hair. I normally just shake and go. My hair then dries in about 15-20 minutes and I have fluffy hair again. See how that works?
I would say those are my intro terms for natural hair.
Of course, everyone has a different routine for their hair and what works for them. I felt that this blog post was important to get out there because the more questions I get asked from genuinely curious and often confused people, the more I realize that afro/curly hair isn’t widely understood. It’s hair, but how does it get like that? Well, I was born with hair like this. But just like everyone else, I use products to style my hair so that it isn’t a ball of frizz.
A lot of people are familiar with the afro (a popular hairstyle in the 70’s where the natural curls are picked out to a non-defined state.) This hairstyle is still worn by many people today.
Beyond the fro, what do you know?
I think this is an important question. For non people of color (POC) and for those of you who don’t have curly hair, beyond the fro, what do you know? If your answer is “I don’t know anything about afro hair” – Well, I hope this blog post has introduced some new terms to help you all understand natural hair a little better.
And please, don’t ask a random stranger if their natural hair is a wig or if you can touch it.
Even if it’s with good intentions, it can be offensive and it is particularly offensive to me. We don’t just go around asking people if their hair is a wig or not, right? This behavior would be deemed not socially acceptable, so why do we feel like we need to ask people with curly hair if their hair is a wig or not?
My hair doesn’t have to be fake to be cool and it doesn’t need to be touched so that you can verify its authenticity.
Thats all for today folks!
We’ll talk in the next one,