Making the decision to big chop is a huge step in embarking on your natural hair journey. Now that you’ve taken the first step to a wonderful hair experience, here are a few pointers on what to do next.
1. Develop a Simple Hair Maintenance Routine
After big chopping, many naturals are shocked of the new hair texture. Caring for natural hair is a lot different from caring for relaxed strands. You may find that your hair needs a little more TLC than before and will actually require you to learn about your new hair texture in order to keep it healthy and maintained. Don’t go overboard with buying all types of hair products. Start simple and perfect your routine to suit the needs of your hair. Stick to the basics such as a sulfate-free shampoo, moisturizing conditioner, leave-in conditioner, a plant-based oil for sealing, and your styling product of choice.
2. Keep your Hair Moisturized
You may find that your natural hair appears to be drier than your relaxed hair. Natural hair needs moisture and if it feels brittle or hard instead of soft, then you need to work on restoring moisture to your hair. Doing so helps to prevent potential breakage as your hair grows. The best moisturizer for your hair is water, followed by a sealant such as a light oil, moisturizer or leave-in conditioner to lock in the moisture. Try using a moisturizer where water is the very first ingredient. Keep a small spray bottle handy filled with water, and a light oil such as jojoba, sweet apricot oil, coconut, or almond oil.
3. Know the Porosity of your Hair
Knowing the porosity of your hair is key in determining the types of products your hair will need. Porosity is simply defined as the hair’s ability to absorb moisture. A simple strand test can help you determine your hair porosity level. Simply drop a strand or two of your natural hair into a cup of water. If the hair immediately sinks under the water you may have high porosity. Hair that sits on top of the water for a minute or so before sinking may be considered as having normal porosity, and hair that sits atop the water and simply will not sink may be low in porosity. Hair with a low porosity repels water and moisture and is also prone to build-up.
4. Remain Confident in your Decision
Although natural hair has now become more globally accepted than ever before, you may still notice a few glares and stares from the naysayers. Don’t let negative comments or looks get to you, you are beautiful and you shouldn’t let anyone convince you otherwise. You may even find that family members may not be supportive of your decision. The more confident in you are in your decision, the more others will respect it. So hold your head high and strut your new look! Don’t be surprised when the naysayers start asking questions about how to care for their hair as they watch your hair flourish. When I first started wearing my teenie weenie Afro (TWA) in the workplace, a few of my co-workers would ask why I would make such a drastic decision to cut my hair “so short”. It wasn’t long before several of my coworkers also decided to stop relaxing their hair and guess who was their go-to person for advice? My point exactly.
5. Learn to Two-Strand Twist
Even if you don’t know how to braid or style hair, two-strand twists on natural hair can transform into some of the most gorgeous natural hair styles you will ever see! Even if you can’t braid or cornrow (like myself), your hair can still be fabulous in styles such as twist-outs, twisted pin-ups, half up/down styles, a frohawk — and there are so many more styling options. Learning to style your hair will also save you tons of money from salon visits and will also help you achieve a relationship with your newly discovered hair texture.
6. Don’t Waste Money on Expensive Products
Don’t waste your money on products that may do absolutely nothing for your hair. There are lots of products on the shelves these days catering to natural hair. Take the time to learn your hair before splurging on hair products that are not suited for the needs of your hair. Start with a basic sulfate-free shampoo. There are several that you can find for under $8 such as Alba Hawaiian Coconut Milk Shampoo, OGX Renewing Moroccan Argan Oil Shampoo, or Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo. You will also need a moisturizing conditioner for natural hair such as Herbal Essence Hello Hydration or Pantene Truly Naturals conditioner. You can find several leave-in conditioners for under $10 such as Kinky Curly Knot Today (also great as a detangler) and my personal favorite, As I Am leave-in conditioner. When it comes to styling products, be sure to read the label to fully understand what the product is promising. Choose your product based on the needs of your hair and if the label description matches with your styling goals.
7. Don’t Waste Time (and money) trying to Create a “Curl Pattern”
One of the biggest taboos when it comes to natural hair is that there is a magic product that will create curl definition. Not at all. It is likely that as your hair grows, the texture of your hair may change and there may be very little to no curl uniformity. Curl enhancing products are created to do just that- enhance the pattern of your natural texture by defining the strands using ingredients that cause a clumping of the hair strands. Natural hair textures will vary and no two hair patterns are the same, they may be similar, but you will not and never have the same “curl” pattern as the next head of natural hair. Embrace the texture you were given and instead of wasting time and money on products to create a curl pattern, try learning what techniques work best for your hair specific hair texture.