This post is for all of the relaxed ladies thinking of going natural, and all of those transitioners who are still a little reluctant about going completely natural...
Time and time again i have recommended friends to go natural, and i have gotten a few to start transitioning for the long haul, some in weaves, and 2 clients who have transitioned from relaxed to texturized.
The ladies who are thinking of going completely natural always seem to have the same question, or what seems to be more of a fear.
"Do i have to wear an Afro? I don't want to wear an afro."
The answer is NO... And what's so bad about an Afro anyway?
It's unfortunate that so many women are uneducated about their natural hair and think that there is no versatility in it, especially for the more tightly curled textures. There are so many different styles and results you can have when you learn how to style your natural hair, and i have learned thats it's all about creating the texture you want.
Straight Hair: People relax to permanently create a straight texture. Natural women can straighten their hair by various methods, usually combined. You can flatiron, maxiglide, press/hot comb, roller set, silk wrap and/or blowdry to create a sleek, smooth, straight finish. If you try straightening your hair and you have a lot of damage and split ends, it will show and probably not get as straight as possible, or you might have straight hair and 'afro ends.' Your ends may not be used to being straight so try your best to smooth your ends by silkwrapping, wrapping, pincurling, finger smoothing, whatever you can, and if that doesn't work, your ends may be split and in need of a trim. Remember to ALWAYS use heat protector when using heat so as to avoid heat damage.
You should also make sure to do your best to preserve your style by wrapping/ pincurling at night so as to avoid needing to add heat to the hair again.
*A smoothing and heat protecting serum is a great way to keep away frizz and add a bit of moisture and shine.
Wavy/Curly Hair: To create wavy and/or curly textures, women rely on sets. What do you mean by "sets?"
A set refers to creating a texture and setting it to last. You can set your hair by using a curling iron, doing a rollerset, flexirod set, perm rod set, straw set, bantu knot/ china bump set, twist set, braid set, or setting your own curl using certain products/gels to help preserve your own natural curl pattern (example: Using a product like Kinky Curly Curling Custard or Ecostyler gel).
Sets have memory and can last for a few days depending on how you care for them, resetting by re-twisting a twist-out or putting rollers back in the hair to sleep can help to prolong your set. Wet/damp setting usually lasts the longest/ holds the most memory. If you want a long lasting style (usually set to last for a week), set the hair wet and let dry. Your final result will be up to you so remember to set your hair in the direction you want your hair to lay (example: If you are doing a twist out and want curly bangs, make sure you do the front twists coming to the front so when you untwist them, they're already hanging forward). Make sure you also use the right products to help you achieve your desired look, like using holding and frizz reducing products, or only moisturizing products and/or light hold if you like a more 'free' look.
Remeber that while setting, you are creating the texture you want, so for bigger waves/ curls, do larger twists/braids/knots or use bigger rollers/rods and vice versa for tighter waves/curls.
Some people would rather dry set, probably because they want to stretch the hair first to show more length or have a sleeker/ less textured look. Braid outs, twist outs, roller and rod sets can be done on blowdryed/flatironed/air dryed hair as well.
Take your time and experiement with your hair and you will learn that your options and results can be endless. With any hair type, remember that everyone has bad hair days so if something doesn't come out perfect, try again or try a different approach.
Afros: Yes, an afro is a texture some choose to create, as not all people have hair that stands up as an afro would. An afro is basically a bunch of separated curls that stand out from the head and usually defy gravity.
Some people may tease their hair to create an afro texture, set their hair on small rollers/ rods or in small braids or twists and then comb/pic them out to separate the curls/texture and shape the afro.
Some people want a fully rounded/picked out afro while others like textured afros, created with either their own afro/texture or a set texture.
Either way, know that our options are NOT limited!
Now remember, it's always going to be harder to have and keep the texture that is the most opposite from your own hair texture, and remember that as women with textured hair we are not the only ones who go through these issues. Just as it can be difficult and time consuming for straight Asian hair to be curled and stay curly, the same goes for our curly hair and trying to straighten and keep it straight.
Once you go natural, it's always easier when you embrace your natural texture and natural styling, as opposed to always wanting to straighten, as it will of course be the most time consuming and damaging.
If your texture is not ideal to you or you just want to try a new look, learn how to create the texture that you like and don't forget that your hair's health should come first and foremost.
Have fun experimenting with creating textures!