Friday, 20 December 2013 00:00

Mythbusting Natural Hair

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If you have thought about going natural, you have probably heard some of the things people claim that will make transitioning easier or going natural instantaneous. Most of these things are myths.

To stay natural after a long time of wearing your hair straightened will require patience and time as well as a transitioning of the mind. If your self-image has revolved around your relaxed hair, or if having your hair straightened has been a requirement of your beauty standard, then transitioning the mind is just as important as transitioning your hair during the entire process. If you fail at changing your mindset, you will fail at transitioning your hair. I will go into this in depth in my next blog on the subject and give you some helpful tips to help ease the transition for you.

For this blog I am going to put a hammer to those common myths about going from relaxed to natural.

MYTH 1. “If you stop relaxing your hair, it will fall out.”

Stopping relaxing will not cause your hair to fall out. What happens is that once you stop relaxing and the new growth starts coming through, the area where the natural hair meets the relaxed hair flexes and weakens. Your hair may begin to break off in that area. If you experience excessive breakage, there will be split ends where the breakage occurs. I recommend you cut off the relaxed ends and allow your natural hair to grow in and look much better and natural right to its ends.

MYTH 2. “Natural Hair Doesn’t Grow / Relaxed Hair Grows Faster”

Your natural hair will grow as fast at the same rate as your relaxed hair. The difference is that as your natural hair grows, it curls up, so it may not seem to be growing as fast as hair that is straightened. Please read our article on Hair Growth to understand the growth process of hair.

MYTH 3. “Natural hair breaks more than relaxed hair”

Damaged hair, whether relaxed or not, is prone to breakage. It is important to keep your hair healthy and moisturized regardless of whether it is relaxed or natural, so it maintains its elasticity. Natural hair has more curls, Z’s and waves than relaxed hair but also a higher natural elasticity than relaxed hair. If you are experiencing more breakage from your natural hair than when your hair was relaxed, then you are not doing something right and it’s time to examine your products and styling tools.

MYTH 4. “To go natural you will have to cut all your hair off”

This is true and untrue. The correct phrase would be “to go natural you will eventually have to cut off the relaxed ends or allow them to break off or shed out.” You do not have to cut your hair off right away. There are many different ways you can transition out of the relaxer without a low cut. You can transition slowly, with protective styles, braids or extensions. Of course it’s easiest just to cut off your relaxed hair and start fresh but not everyone is prepared to do this.

MYTH 5. “You can reverse/revert a perm with [insert concoction here]”

Nothing will reverse a permanent chemical relaxer. Nothing.  A permanent chemical relaxer or perm is a chemical process which breaks the bonds in your hair and cannot be reversed. Using some of these concoctions such as beer combinations, vinegar, dishwashing detergent... will strip and damage your hair but will not reverse the perm.

MYTH 6. “Grease will make your hair grow faster”

No. It’ won’t. Nothing you put on your hair will make it grow faster. You can use products that coat the hair to prevent it from drying out and breaking but products like these will not make your hair grow out of your scalp any faster.  Don’t confuse the term “grow” with “length retention”. If you are not retaining your length, no matter how fast your hair grows, it will not seem to be growing because it is breaking off.

If you want to optimize your level of hair growth or treat alopecia, there are things you can do such as nourish your follicles by increasing circulation to the scalp (there are natural/herbal sources that do this), or use a prescription product made specifically for treating baldness (note that many of these pharmaceuticals have some side effects).

MYTH 7. “You don’t wash locs”

Yes you do. Locs are hair and hair needs to be washed and clean to be healthy.  In fact, locs need extra attention because of the density of the style. The frequency of washing locs may change depending on your preference but it is important to keep your locs clean to prevent a whole lot of misery like build-up, dirty abrasions, lint and mold among other things you don’t want happening to your hair.

MYTH 8. “You will have to shave your head to get your locs out”

No you don’t. Locs can be taken down. It is a arduous process and can take many many days or even weeks, but it can be done. I know, because I have done it.

MYTH 9. “Water dries your hair out”

Pure, soft water does not dry your hair out.  Rinsing or steaming is one of the best things you can do for your hair. The problem with water is if the water contains chemicals such chlorine, fluoride or a buildup of minerals from the pipes such as copper or calcium or lime. Those minerals can build up on hair and cause dryness and even brittleness. This type of water is called HARD WATER and it can play havoc with your hair and skin. The remedy for this is to use a shower filter to filter these things out. Your hair and skin will thank you for it. You can also use a clarifying shampoo but use with caution and condition well afterwards.

MYTH 10. “Natural hair is difficult to maintain”

A beautiful Natural hair style is no more difficult to maintain than a beautiful relaxed hair style. The difference is in the technique and knowing how to work with your hair. You cannot come from relaxed or straightened hair all your life and instantly know how to work with your natural hair. It takes time to learn what to use and what works for you.

Going natural is a decision. Staying natural is a journey of discovery and its success or failure depends entirely on you and your determination to learn how to wear the natural hair you were blessed with.

If you have any myths you'd like us to know about, let us know in the comments.

Last modified on Thursday, 16 November 2017 13:36
Patricia "Deecoily" Gaines

Patricia Gaines aka Deecoily is the founder and creator of Nappturality in 2002, the beginning of the natural hair movement. Since 2000 she has been blogging on all things natural hair, Black culture and politics.

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