Natural hair is not just a trend, it’s a lifestyle
In recent years, more and more women have been chopping off their chemically-relaxed hair and letting their natural hair texture grow out. From celebrities like U.S. singer Solange, and Tanzanian beauty queens and entrepreneurs Nancy Sumari and Happy Watimanywa, it seems like everybody and their mama is going natural.
However, beyond being a trend, what exactly are the benefits of having natural hair? Well, we’ve got the answers below.
- Relaxed hair has some serious health risks
Many black women are familiar with the rancid smell and burning sensation of hair relaxer on the scalp.
You see, hair relaxers contain harsh chemicals like Sodium Hydroxide and Potassium Hydroxide that basically break the protein bond that makes our hair naturally curly and straighten it. In fact, the chemicals in hair relaxers are similar to the chemicals used to remove dirt from drainpipes! That’s why if kept for too long, relaxers can burn the skin on your scalp.
Moreover, while many black women (and some men) have been relaxing their hair for years without any health complications, the chemicals in relaxers can enter the pores in your scalp, and over time contribute to diseases like respiratory issues (due to breathing in the chemicals), cancer, and fibroids.
- It’s affordable to maintain
The growing popularity of natural hair has been accompanied by the rise of the natural hair care products industry. However, while it’s nice to splurge on organic conditioners and creamy moisturisers for your hair, fundamentally, natural hair doesn’t require most of these products to grow.
All that natural hair really needs is:
- A non-chemically harsh cleanser for washing
- A detangling conditioner to help you comb it
- A protein treatment to use every two weeks (it can be home-made from avocados, eggs, bananas, and coconut milk)
- Olive oil or coconut oil to restore moisture
Photo credit: Pinterest
3. It’s incredibly versatile
While you don’t need many products to take care of natural hair, hair products like creams and gels do come in handy when it comes to styling natural hair. From twist outs, Bantu knots, to a combed out Afro – there are so many hairstyles that you can do on natural hair. Moreover, when you want to try something new, you can always get braids, weaves, or wear a wig – without needing to use heat or harsh chemicals on your hair.
4. It pays off in the long-run
In the beginning, when you first start to grow your natural hair, you may complain about the pain of combing it or how much it shrinks when it gets wet or exposed to humidity. The difficulty of adjusting to having natural hair may make you consider relaxing it again.
Don’t do it. Give it some time.
The thing is, relaxed hair eventually starts to become thinner and weaker because of the harsh chemicals that it’s exposed to. However, natural hair tends to get stronger, thicker, and more nutritious and healthy looking over time. So while you may be struggling in the beginning, know that your investment will pay off in the long run.
Kathleen Cleaver of the Black Panther Party (1960s)
5. It builds self-esteem
In the 1960s, the Black Power Movement started in the U.S. but spread across Africa and the rest of the world. In addition to addressing the social injustices black people were facing globally, the movement also aimed to create self-love in the black community. This was illustrated by slogans like ‘black is beautiful’ and the popularity of the Afro as a hairstyle.
Similarly, the current natural hair movement aims to encourage black women to love their blackness. Let’s be real, because of historical realities like slavery and colonialism, and the influence of Western white media, for centuries black women have been made to feel like they have to look similar to Europeans to be considered attractive. This has resulted in unhealthy beauty practices like skin bleaching, and well, even hair relaxing.
So wearing natural hair goes beyond the physical, it also shows that you are comfortable and confident with yourself – as you are.
What you do with your hair is your choice
Hopefully, now you have a better idea of the benefits of having natural hair. Though, whether or not you are willing to go natural, always remember that what you do with your hair is your choice. And at the end of the day, loving yourself and feeling confident in who you are is the greatest beauty accessory. # blackgirlmagic