Saturday, May 28, 2011

Natural Hair Community: Getting Out of Hand?

I went natural back in my sophomore year of High School, which was 5-6 years ago. When I did it, I wasn’t scared of the ridicule I would get for being the only girl without a perm as I used to be in 7th grade, which led to me getting a perm in the first place. I just wanted that crap of out my system. I felt bored with a perm, seeing as how I couldn’t do as much as I wanted. See, I had no idea what I could achieve with natural hair, but I thought to myself, “It has to be better and more alive than this.”

And it was. I had so much fun with my hair once my mother clipped off the permed ends. The poofs, the fro’s, the accessories, the cornrows and twists . . . I did whatever I felt like, and in doing so, it brought an attitude to me that has shaped me to become the person I am today. Fun, happy, full of excitement with a punch of eccentricity.

Around this time, I never knew there was a natural hair community. I was 15 years old, doing what I felt and loving it. I didn’t know there were blogs that banded together to better educate the hair we grew up with. I didn’t know people were testing pH balances, concocting deep conditioners and listing what oils went well with what. I was completely oblivious. And to this day, a part of me wishes I still was.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The natural hair community has become a community I’m happy to be a part of. I’ve learned quite a lot, met a lot of people, educated a lot of people, and so on. I’ve been able to bring curls to my hair, seen conditioners in a whole new light, and so on. But at the same time . . . I lost myself within the education.

There are blogs after blogs, YouTube gurus after gurus, doctors after doctors telling us one day one item is great, and the next day saying it’ll damage your hair. We’re using things such as henna, tea, and so on to bring shine and body and even growth to our hair. There are so many options that you begin to do SO MUCH with your hair, and where it becomes overwhelming. My mother would notice that the amount of products I bought would increase week after week. I’d be using her household items like Extra Virgin Olive Oil and her honey, and she would watch in dismay as I went ape shit trying to bring my hair to become, what? Healthy? Better than it already was?

My hair was fine before I embarked on this “make my hair that was fine before, HEALTHIER,” journey, which started off cool but has become tragic. I did what blogs advised me to do, but then another blog said different, and I wouldn’t know what to do! One day, I tried a product that I thought was working for me, but that ended up drastically breaking my hair, and ever since then it has been a rollercoaster for me to go back to the hair I once had that brought me happiness. Right now I’m suffering with High Porosity, and I’m weighing the option of cutting all of my hair or just leaving it and treating it.

Natural hair isn’t as difficult as it seems. Our hair needs moisture. Lots of moisture. Don’t use grease that clog the scalp that include petroleum, for it prevents moisture from coming in. Condition after you shampoo to bring back the moisture into your hair that the shampoo strips away . . . every blog/video will tell you the same thing. Yet it seems people keep trying to find something deeper, as if there’s a formula we’re hiding. It’s simple, if you understand it.

Taren916, a YouTube natural hair guru who I subscribe to, posted a question: Are Natural Hair Videos Boring? And to my surprise a lot of people said yes. Folks are complaining that natural hair blogs/videos are becoming lackluster with the same facts, same product reviews, same ways on how to co-wash, shampoo, deep condition, henna and all that jazz . . . people get it. They know what they need to do. Some have given up trying to do exactly what they’re told because they see it doesn’t work for them and see their way is better and more effective. Someone on YouTube said, “Once you know the basics of natural hair care, there's not a whole lot to say.”

I’m not blaming these gurus/bloggers. They simply learn something in which they want to share with anyone who has difficulties with their hair, or anyone who wants to spruce it up. That’s understandable, and we’re grateful that you care enough. But to those who are watching and reading and who are soaking everything in, we have to stop searching for more. People watching videos with gurus that don’t match their hair type and who get mad that their hair doesn’t turn up like theirs, people upset when someone raves about a product but see it does diddly squat for them . . .

It’s all so much. Not to mention there weren’t so many to begin with. There was a good handful that gave you enough info to get by. So now, there are numbers upon NUMBERS with the same details. For those who are new or transitioning, it’s all new to them, this natural hair journey. But once they get into reading numerous blogs and watching countless YouTube videos, will they become overwhelmed as well?

For naturals who have been in the game for years, at the end of the day, keep it simple. Don’t trial and error as much. If there’s a product you trust, trust it. Stick by it. Yes, it’s great to try new things but if your hair knows what it likes, then keep feeding it to your hair. Love it, nurture it. Treat it right. If there is ANYTHING a natural should go to bed knowing that is written in stone, is that MOISTURE IS A MUST. That’s it. Go with that. Create a simple regimen and run with it. For those who are new, learn the basics of how to treat your hair, and that's it. If you go in too deep, you'll go crazy.

As for me? A cut might be a necessity. Right now, I’m keeping my hair moisturized as much as possible. Co-wash every three days, deep condition once a week, whipped shea butter with essential oils so I don’t have to go crazy with which one I didn’t put in my hair, spray bottle filled with water, satin scarf on deck for bed . . . Nothing too drastic, everything simple. And I feel better, less stressed or uncertain. I’m building my accessory and scarf collection for when I get lazy, found a natural hair salon for when I want to trim my ends every 6-8 weeks . . . I’m smooth sailing.

And lemme tell you, it’s a relief.


MOP TOP said...

i agree. the whole thing is boring. now i find that a few months into being natural, i got bored with all the information and nowadays if i am studying natural hair online, its basically styling options. i get sick of the protective styling. "do this do that and keep ur hair protected!" its annoying. I also find that it almost brainwashes the masses that length is all that matters and it causes most natural to forget to have fun with their hair and stop being desperate for long tresses. Once one gets there, they'll realize how stressful long afro hair can be. its my hair and sure i want it to grow but i want to be free to wear my hair as out as i please or as cooped up as i want to. Styling videos and tutorials never get boring to me, however the excess product reviews and "how to wash" type of ish is a major yawn.

Cee Frizzle said...

I'm glad you brought that up. Naturals DO sometimes forget to have fun with their manes. I actually cannot stand the idea of protective styling. I don't care if my hair is in a tangled state or not, I'm rocking a puff, dammit.

Emme Emme said...

I agree with both comments, especially Cee Frizzle. I can't stand the idea of protective styling either. My sister and I just wash and go and I love it that way and I do it all year round. The YouTubers and all the natural blogs, I read them, but I don't take the advice; I just go to see the hairstyles. I like when the blogs mix fashion with hair.

I don't know if it's just me, but I enjoy my hair messy and wild. Some sites put too much emphasis on detangling and twist outs, I'm like just wash that ish and go.

I don't like to fuss with my hair.

Emme Emme said...

And oh yeah @moptop, I noticed, too, that some of the naturals focus on length. I'm enjoy my hair at all stages. I never was pressed with length even when my hair was permed. If my hair looked dope, it looked dope. It didn't need to be long to be dope.

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