Natural Hair Expert Explains How to Wear Hair Au Naturel
There is a small difference between wearing natural hair and wearing hair naturally — in its natural state. Having natural hair basically means wearing hair that is free of chemicals, even though the hair may be straightened thermally.
There are several types of chemicals that can be used to alter the hair’s natural texture and curl pattern, such as relaxers or curly perms. Many natural hair wearers choose to alter their hair texture and curl pattern with the use of heat. This technique is considered thermal texturizing by a process of blowing out, pressing or flat ironing the hair. Also, some people with natural hair cover their hair beneath sew-in weaves. Wearing hair in its natural state simply means wearing hair in the texture in which it grew out of your scalp — the way God made it, without the use of texture-altering chemicals or the addition of extensions and weave.
Wearing hair naturally allows a patron to avoid the risks of permanent scalp damage, skin irritations or even hair loss from harsh chemicals. Chemicals create free radicals in the body, and free radicals are known to cause cancer. Women who opt to wear weaves face some of the same risks as those who wear relaxers. If hair is braided too tightly, and then an extension is sewn in — which creates additional tension — the results are often devastatingly tragic. Hair root damage can be long term or irreparable. When performed properly, weaving or braiding can be helpful in allowing the hair an opportunity to be left alone to grow. However, when part of the hair is left exposed, it is often damaged via excessive heat.
Another benefit to natural hair is the flexibility of styling and low maintenance. Natural hair styles can last longer because they don’t “revert” with increased physical activity or during inclement weather. When the topic of coloring natural hair arises, there are fundamentals that clients with natural hair should keep in mind. Hair coloring is usually a chemical process. Virgin hair can usually handle the color process better than hair previously processed with other chemicals. Natural hair requires lots of moisture and conditioning, but hair that has been colored requires even more. Another necessity for healthy natural hair, colored or not, is routine trimmings every 5-8 weeks.
Erica Blevins-Richardson is the owner of Oh! My Nappy Hair Salons in Los Angeles, Oakland, Calif., and Atlanta. Visit ohmynappyhair.com for more information.