Natural Hair For Beginners – A to Z

If you are newly natural it is so easy for you to get overwhelmed with the amount of information you get from the internet considering how much there is regarding natural hair in social medias.

Basically social media has a significant drive to what natural hair is given the fact that natural hair wasn’t admired by mainstream media. So everyone who grew it long would use social medias such as YouTube to tell all about how to grow and maintain natural hair. 

In the sections below we are going to break down what you will need to know about natural hair as a beginners from A – Z as an overall approach to caring for natural hair.

A – Ayurveda

This is what is currently a game changer for many naturals with stagnant growth. For beginners in their natural hair journey it’s best to find out what this and familiarize your self with the powders. But it isn’t a must but something that could help your hair journey if you have stunted growth.
There isn’t much to back the science of it but I highly recommend GreenBeauty’s YouTube Channel link to understand what some of the more popular powders do to our natural hair.
Ayruveda is using Indian powders to aid in strengthening and hair growth. My advise would be to start with 3 powders, my favorite are Amla, Fenugreek and Henna.

B – Big Chop

Big Chop is what most naturals do to grow their natural hair. IT’s basically cutting off all your naturally hair and starting afresh with a naked head! It’s the start of your natural hair journey and the anxiety of what your hair will look like/behave as it grows from your scalp.

C – Condition

Conditioners is a hair product that focuses on improving the moisture of the hair especially after washing or as we naturals like to call it, wash day.
Based on the type and formulation of the conditioner, the product will add in moisture in the hair shaft for specific periods of time.
The are basically 3 types that stand out but this doesn’t necessarily mean these are the only 3 that work.

Leave in Conditioner
Pretty straight forward – mostly formulated not to be rinsed out immediately and to sit in the hair. It shouldn’t cause build up and is usually light for daily moisture.

Rinse out Conditioner 

Usually used after shampooing – since shampoos leave the hair feeling dry or “stripped”, the “normal” or as I would like to call it, the rinse out conditioner helps get some of the moisturizing effects that conditioners bring. It’s used daily after shampooing to reapply the moisture since the shampoo has cleansed the hair and everything in it.

Deep Conditioner 

The deep conditioner aids in deeply penetrating the hair shaft if the hair is left in the hair for 30+ minutes. Many naturals prefer this method as natural hair is hard to moisturize and rinse out conditioners do not do enough for a lasting moisture effect. So it’s best that if your natural hair is extremely dry you can put some deep conditioner as part of your regimen to help moisture levels to rise that will leave hair soft for longer.
Deep conditioners work hand in hand when the leave in conditioner is applied daily to maintain moisture.

D – Detangle

It is pretty clear that if you are natural, especially a beginner in the natural hair journey, the first thing you will experience daily is tangled hair. The curls and coils like to hug each other and more when the hair is out and when it’s dry. But don’t be misled, the hair can also tangle up when it’s wet too! The strands meet and stick together and it’s hard to get them separated (like a toxic relationship lol) and this is where a good conditioner and a good detangler is required.
There are many detanglers out there but personally, finger detangling works best as your hands can feel where the knot lies so you can deal with it individually. This can be time consuming but it’s the best method.
Alternatively, you can use the detangling tools available such as Denman brushes and tangle teezers.

E – Edges 

Don’t lose them, it’s hard to get them back and for many people, professional guidance is required to get them back. Avoid tight styles altogether and this may mean to loosen up the buns. Sleeping in satin scarf is also ideal.

F – Fiber 

Fiber is your friend for synthetic used protective styles. It comes in different colors and variations and curl patterns. From box braids, to faux locs to all kinds of twists and extension styles. You might have a box full of them filled with left over hair soon enough somewhere in the house (unless you go to a salon).

G – Gels

Gels are great at taming fly away’s. Their pure purpose is taming hairs that like to hang out while every hair strand stays in tact. They are mainly for edges but I find sometimes using them for the nape area (if yours is as wild as mine) helps too.

H – Heat

By heat I mean any tool that you can possible use to stretch(or curl) natural hair that requires heat. It’s very tempting to run towards heat when you are frustrated with you hair but I would like to advise against it in the early stages of being natural as you are learning about your hair. Heat temporarily fixes whatever frustrations you have with your hair but knowledge about your hair is more important at this point.
Once you are familiar with what your hair likes and wants you can try different stretching methods first then slowly (but not frequently introduce heat). Back in the day heat tools used to be a crime for naturals but now we are learning how to carefully use it for naturals.
Heat isn’t good for all naturals but the few that do have the fortunate opportunity to use it can. But it doesn’t mean all of us can and should. If you found that your hair doesn’t curl back after using heat you can slowly transition the heat damage out until you have your curls popping again. Trial and error is exactly that – trial and error.

I – Ingredients

Reading product ingredients is a skill that especially new naturals need to learn. There are a lot of products that claim to have specific ingredients at the front but once you read the list, you will find how low the ingredient is on the list that its claimed it’s contained with.
The rule of thumb is the first 5 ingredients hold about 80% percent of the product contents. The next 5 hold about 10% and the rest of the ingredients share the last 10% of the product content. So pay attention to protein content or as many products would like to claim they have specific oils and yet they are extracts.

Another thing that makes ingredient reading so important is that you find what your hair likes in a certain products and do a bit of homework by investigating if the are similarities between one product to the next.
If there is a common denominator, then why not focus on getting that ingredient in its raw state then? New naturals need to learn about alcohols, good and bad, silicones, surfactants, sulfates etc. It helps a lot to know what your hair likes then you do more of that for it to thrive!

J – Journey 

Each and every naturals hair journey is different. The catch is that social media wants us to believe that we can all reach waist length in 3 years and unfortunately that isn’t the case. We have different genes, different hair types and densities and all that (and more) has and effect on how a 3 year journey would go.
For example some naturals love to keep their hair short. And others keep the same length, some eventually would color or transition into locks. That is what a journey would look like for one individual to another.
It doesn’t mean a journey is waist length, and for me it meant the first 3 years I had to leave the idea that salons don’t always have good intentions to protect your hair, they just want a protective style to look as neat as possible at the cost of your natural hair and hairline.
See? It’s not the same. It was only on year 5 that I started to see my hair flourishing and that didn’t show length, just health.

K – Knots 

3 words – your worst enemy. See D for detangle. That is how you fix them. Single strand knots are usually the common enemy we all have as naturals and can lead to more breakage than one needs. Mine are usually caused by leaving my hair out mostly in puffs and the hair would knot on itself.
Tip: If you wear your hair out everyday, you will need to trim a lot more often than someone who doesn’t this is because your hair thins out at the ends and then knots on itself forcing you to trim to keep those ends healthy and your puffs full.

L – Locs

Locs are usually hair that’s grouped together through matted and knotting up. Some loc stylists also use crochet needle to ensure that the hair locks up and there is no lose hair. You can also twist your hair up and allow it to keep the twist to lock up (not interfering with it) and as it grows it will tangle by itself and there you have it, locs!

Locs, just like natural hair require maintenance, washing and moisture as well. As the natural hair grows, the roots will also need to be twisted.

M – Moisture Method

LCO or LOC method is what you do when you maintain moisture in the hair. Yes, I did mention that Deep Conditioning also aids in the moisture of the hair but the moisture method that I mention here is based on what you do on a daily basis to maintain moisture in your hair before your next wash day.
A reminder that natural hair is naturally dry (i got that from Naptural85’s older videos here). Also know that natural hair that is dry easily tangles, breaks off which will lead to the inability to retain length. Moisture keeps dryness at bay which will lead to length retained.

I strongly recommend the LCO method because moisture penetrates deeper then the butter coats the moisture and then the oil prevents the hair from drying out too quickly. Sometimes you might find that you don’t need to moisture daily if this method is applied accurately. I have found myself only moisturizing on day 3 on many occasions.

N – Natural Hair 

This is why you are on this page right? This is your hair that grows out of your scalp and kept in its most natural state. I have seen on social media what this term actual means, whether or not natural hair that isn’t permed isn’t natural but I feel the best way to explain what natural hair to fit many but not all categories is hair that grows out of your hair with minimal chemical alterations.
Many non black people can use this term on their hair but personally I feel many didn’t have to alter their hair to make it look straight. And if they do, the can easily wash it and their hair is back to normal. But for many black people, we can only transition out or chop of the straightened hair for us to get our natural curls that we were born with. And that (for me) is my definition of natural hair.

Natural hair is fragile, and high maintenance and thrives best when left alone. It delicate and defies gravity. It can be shaped and formed it to many creative ways to be preserved and it’s just beautiful on how it can take so many shapes too.

O – Oils

Oils server 2 purposes, lubrication and sealing. The reason I have put oils is that belief that oils grow hair. And I have a problem with that because I once had about 9 very expensive oils at some point in my newly natural journey as I was promised massive growth instantly.
I ended up with greasy hair, terrible skin breakouts and unnecessary build up thanks to over oiling. Oils have their place in the natural hair and that is to PROVIDE NUTRIENTS which aid in growth and to SEAL which leads to retention. Your hair is already growing. Oils (and there are a lot of oils) help with sealing and lubricating your hair to prevent it from losing moisture too quickly.
Oils have vitamins that help scalp and hair health. I feel if I knew this personally I would have saved a lot of money trying to think oils grow hair. But that is how we learn through trials.

P – Porosity 

Porosity is the hair’s ability to absorb moisture. There are 3 levels to it, high, medium and low from easily able to absorb to difficult to absorb (low). This is important and more important than hair typing because it helps you understand which ingredients your hair needs to retain moisture.
For high porosity, your hair can easily absorb moisture but it can also easily lose moisture since your hair cuticles are always open. So using heavier oils could help retain as much moisture as possible.

For low it is hard to get those cuticles to open. So a combination of heating and cooling is idea. First deep condition with heat (or use warmth to open cuticles) and then find a way to use cooling (I would use a cool leave in and oil combination) to close cuticles.

Q – Queen

For the queen you are. The queen that you deserve to be and the crown that will grow you hair. Your character, your poise, your beauty and the way you see yourself and deem yourself every time you look at the mirror. Your crow will be there on your head.
Take care of your crown, queen.

R – Regimen

Regimen is a routine that you will commit to in your journey. It can and might change based on lifestyle preference and its what works for you. It usually starts from wash day and then follows on moisture and protective styles as well.
No 2 routines are the same, all you need to know is that you need to be consistent and maintain your moisture routine to what works best for you. If you found something in the social media that could help your routine in some way, you can incorporate it or slowly adapt into it, such as Ayurvedic routine.

It’s not idea to toss away your entire routine instantly because someone on YouTube has said this is how they grew their hair to their feet. It’s a bad idea (I’ve tried that lol, don’t ask). You have the control on what goes on to that crown and the queen that wears it everyday.

S – Shrinkage 

Shrinkage is pretty self explanatory, your hairs ability to shrink especially when wet) is something God gifted. It is beautiful and I wish many naturals would embrace the shrinkage but many won’t be able to as shrinkage can lead to knots and tangles. For those naturals, they would twist and braid their hair to keep the hair from matting.
Shrinkage is a sign of health and it shows our hair in it’s most natural state! It’s also amazing to see naturals stretch their hair out to see their length. Shrinkage is what makes our hair defy gravity!

T – Transition 

Another way to grow your natural hair out is to transition out the old chemically treated hair (through a relaxer). It works better for many naturals who don’t wish to start being natural with a bald (or so) head. It’s allowing new growth while maintaining two textures until you are ready to trim off the straight hair and leave the curls as they are.

U – Up-do’s

This is for naturals who don’t like their naturals in their face too much. Up-do’s are usually styles that can be worn without extensions to keep the ends tucked away and still looking great. These are outside the normal buns and puffs although they are also technically up-do’s but these are creative ways we can style our hair with a few bobby pins and hair ties! Natural can be worn anywhere for any event!

V – Vitamins

This is essential but not a requirement for growing natural hair. Many of the required vitamins can be eaten but if you need a boost, incorporating vitamins as your daily supplement will boost hair growth.

W – Wash Day 

This is also part of your natural hair routine. This is actually the most important part of your regimen as it’s a fresh start to fresh, cleansed and moisturized natural hair. Usually done at the start of your week and will be part of your routine for as long as there is hair in your head.
Being consistent helps a lot and it’s also part of your hair care journey and self care journey. I just wish more naturals would stop dreading it and start enjoying the time they have pampering themselves and their bodies. That perspective would change a lot – how much you love your hair instead of how fast you would like it to grow.
Here is a link of different types of wash day regimen here:

X – X for Cut/Trim

A trim is required when there is too many knots. When your tangle is just impossible to detangle so it’s best that you cut that small piece out to save the rest of the strands from being lost! A trim is required every 3 – 4 times a year when your hair feels like it’s difficult to detangle or breaks off more than normal.
Trimming is essential to maintaining a full afro and maintaining the health of your curls.

Y – YouTube

This has been the foundation of where many naturals find information on how to grow their natural hair. I love the fact that many naturals can use the platform and share their experience, their routines and many other tips and advises that they have to help you with their hair journey. A kind reminder that you still have a say to what goes to your hair, and it is just advice.
The danger is that you can be policed into doing or not doing certain things to aid in your growth! Another is feeling like you are missing a special ingredient or a secret ingredient to growing your natural hair. Use YouTube with caution and then whatever is being said can be taken as advice or as grain of salt, it’s all up to you, other youtubers are helping get the goal/look that you too desire for your natural hair.
My advice is that you look for naturals that you can see clear documentation of their journey. It’s easy to fall trap to product pushing without doing your homework. Naturals are promoting on YouTube but still, you have the right to do the opposite if you feel the need to. Not everything is a must. What works for you is what is a must but do seek guidance and like I said before, trial and error.
Another advice is follow naturals with similar hair as you. This will lead to less frustration because a product will “look” one way and different to your hair which may make you frustrated. Yes you can follow whoever you like too!

Z – Zig Zag (curl pattern)

By zig zag I mean the 4 type curl pattern. Honestly the typing system is really tricky but it is something to be aware of and talk about. Hair type has nothing to do with moisture or hair healthy. It’s God being creative. The problem is people have associated this with favoritism between looser shinier curls and tighter curls. Hair typing has caused a bit of chaos (especially in the Tiktok community) as a means to get more followers be careful about types as it adds little to no value to your hair growth journey.

In my opinion, your porosity is more important than your hair type.

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