Tuesday, 8 July 2014

5 Common Mistakes New Naturals Make

Its all very exciting going natural. Exciting and scary. Most of us have no clue what our hair texture is because we've had it relaxed so long and before that, our mums or hairdressers always did our hair. So off we go on our natural journey, determined to make it work. Or die trying.

photo credit: thecurlyqueen
Here are the five most common mistakes new naturals make. I've made them all. And then some.

1. Not Educating Yourself
The first thing you usually do when you decide to go natural is go online. You binge on youtube videos, natural hair blogs, facebook groups and images upon images of naturals with amazeballs hair. You learn the basics:  you should moisturise; you should seal; you should co-wash. But you don't really know why. So you start your journey all hyped up talkinbout "I'm going to be The Greatest. Natural. EVER!" ...but it's not long before you start cutting corners. I mean, you're already moisturising your hair, do you really need to seal the ends? You're just too lazy to sleep in a scarf or bonnet every night, and what if your boyfriend sleeps over?! You want to deep condition, you really do, but you cowash all the time, isn't that enough?

Solution: If you don't understand why you're doing something, it's pretty easy to disregard it. Yes, the science stuff is boring (it is!) but rather than just watching styling videos, invest some time and read blogs like The Natural Haven and books like The Science Of Black Hair. To achieve a hair regimen that keeps your hair moisturised and nourished from within, looking good on the outside and retaining length, you really have to know what you're doing.

2. Copying Other People's Regimens
Part and parcel of starting out as a new natural is not having a clue what you're doing. So you ask other, more experienced, naturals for advice. You usually pick someone based on how much you like their hair. And you start diligently doing all the things they do. But your hair looks nothing like theirs. In fact, it looks like poop. Dry poop. 'What went wrong?!' you cry.

Solution: Everyones hair is different, even if your hairs look the same. Understand your hair first before you invest your hard earned money and time.

3. Curl Chasing
Curls are gorgeous, no doubt. But we don't all have them. The trouble is, curly hair seems to be the new normal. Everywhere you look, curly haired naturals are dominating blogs and videos. For those with curly hair, this works great. But for those without a distinct curl pattern, it can be pretty disappointing buying all the products, trying all the techniques, investing all the time only to have your hair stubbornly refuse to cooperate.

Solution: Love the hair you have. Look for role models with similar hair for positive reinforcement and manage your expectations for your hair. Whether it is kinky, curly, coily or wavy, your hair is beautiful just the way it is. As soon as you begin to embrace your natural hair texture, your hair journey will be a much happier one.

photo credit: lipstickalley.com
4. Being A Product Junkie
I've said it before and I'll say it again.  There are no miracle products out there! If there were, all we'd need to do was slap on a product and voila! Ankle length hair. Yes, there are undoubtedly some great products out there but good hair practices are far more important. But it doesn't matter what anyone tells you, most of us will run out and buy everything under the sun 'coz you saw someone with cute hair using it. Then you'll end up with a bunch of stuff gathering dust on your bathroom shelves because none of them work.

Solution: Some of us you will forever remain junkies but for the rest, the solution is simple. Try before you buy. Ask friends to give you a sample of their favourite product so you can see if it works before you buy it. If you do buy something that doesn't work, try swapping it for another product you'd like. Cost sharing is also a great way of indulging in your product addiction; get a bunch of friends together and chip in to buy something new. You may not get much product out of it but, if it ends up not working, you haven't spent a ton of money on it either.

5. Giving Up Too Quickly
After the initial excitement wears off, you may find yourself struggling with a mop of hair that is time consuming, dry, breaking, unmanageable and unaccepted by society. Uncertainty about your decision sets in and you find yourself fantasising about returning to relaxers, trying out texturisers as a 'manageable' alternative or simply braiding your hair and forgetting about it. 

photo credit: naturallymeashly.tumbler.com

Solution: Stick at it! Practice makes perfect and patience is a virtue. All those people with fantastic heads of hair you keep seeing probably went through the same thing you are. Ok, braiding is definitely an alternative if you feel yourself reaching for the creamy crack but remember that when your hair is short, it is at it's easiest so t is a good time to learn your hair and what works for it; the longer it gets, the more work it needs. Braids as a protective style will help you retain length so while it is easy to put your hair away and leave it until you are ready to deal, when you undo your braids, your hair will still be there. Just longer. 

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