Monday, 20 April 2009

Question of the week: Natural hair is too complicated?

This post was triggered by a comment from a work colleague today who gave up on transitioning because she was overwhelmed by products. She was confused by the need for multiple products and felt that natural hair was too complicated. With her relaxed hair, she could just go to the salon for treatments every week and that was the end of her hair care.
In her words, ' Natural hair is for people who are skilled and can do their own hair.' Sadly, this is partially true only because there are not many natural hair stylists out there, so for people who prefer for someone else to do their hair, you may struggle.
I do disagree that natural hair is complicated. I have two regular products that I apply on my hair (conditioner and jojoba oil). I do have alternatives when my hair isn't acting right (aveda conditioner, coconut oil and shea butter). However left alone with water, hello hydration and jojoba oil, I'll do just fine.
I think it is quite sad if people think natural hair is fussy. Are you a minimalist or a PJ? Do you really use all the products in your bathroom? Are you confused by the number of products recommended to you by naturals?
Is product junkism a useful exploration or is it simply unnecessary?

16 comments:

  1. I think product junkism is useful and needed, it goes along the lines for me as" you never know unless you try". Meaning you have no idea how something may benefit your hair or finding a backup product should your staple one become unavailable temporarily or permanently. With that said i'm a recoverig PJ , I went through the steps and everything LOL. (First was acknowledging :-) )

    Simple for me just works and its cheaper. I'm also a fan of jojoba oil for my hair as an added ingredient or hot oil treatment. :-)

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  2. It's hard because there are so many choices out there now. Sometimes it's best to just find a few things that work and stay the course with those. I like trying new things just out of curiosity but I always seem to keep going back to my staples. I think natural hair is as easy or difficult as you make it, depending on how you like to style and how often. I can see how someone who is used to just going to a salon and having a stylist do it all would have a harder time adjusting to total self care. That's too bad. Maybe next time, if she wants, she can transition with some kind of extensions that don't need to be styled all the time and with minimal products to keep up. Everybody comes to their natural in their own time so maybe this wasn't it for her. Good luck to your co-worker no matter what she chooses!

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  3. minimalist-I use 3 products daily: whipped shea butter, olive oil, and gel. That's it. A fabulous wash-n-go.

    There ARE a lot of choices since people have just realized that natural hair care is a HUGE market. It really comes down to figuring out what your hair does like or does not like and THAT can take time and multiple products

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  4. im trying not to be a PJ, but I'm newbie and I'm still exploring so I can't help it. No, I don't use everything I have but I think thats because I'm still figuring out what to use & how to use them. I would love to go see a stylist, but honestly i don't trust them with my hair, and i have yet to find a stylist who specializes in naturals. When I had relaxed hair it was way easier, but only because I honestly didn't care as much about my hair like I do now. Now, I don't go to bed without moisturizing and a scarf, back then I didn't bother.

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  5. Unfortunately, natural hair is complicated, only because it's not common enough to have an extensive knowledge base behind it. We grow up with perms or getting presses and rarely are allowed the time to get to know what works on our natural, virgin hair, so, in turn, any attempt to make up decades of ignorance is gonna be a bit trying.

    Me? I'm a consumer by nature, so I will try any and everything, but I pretty much know the characteristics of my hair and what it needs. In my product junky-ism, I seek out things that are in alignment with what I already know. If anything, it's fun and not a burden at all.

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  6. I think you can be a product junkie with relaxed hair too. You buy things to repair and moisturize, and style. I also bought mousses and hairsprays that I don't use now. I had more products when I was relaxed than when I became natural. Now I'm using fewer products because I'm doing the conditioner only method like you. So I'm using Tresemme Nourishing Curls conditioner, Mega-Tek mixed with castor oil for my scalp, a spritz (vegetable glycerine and leave in conditioners I already had), a few other things. I think I'm going to be able to use up all the products I purchased since going natural. But I don't have a use for the old stuff I used on my relaxed hair. I think that once I use some stuff up, I won't have to buy as much next time because I'll know exactly what works and what doesn't and I can have multiple uses for the same product.

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  7. Great post - I hear comments like natural hair is too complicated all the time. Recently one of my clients' parents permed her hair because she said "she just couldn't work with it anymore". I couldn't believe she did or said that. First of all 'I' was the one 'working with' her daughter's hair. And secondly, even though she permed her child's hair - apparently she still could not 'work with' it because they were standing at my door for me to do it?!?

    I think in the begining of a natural journey - being a product junkie of sorts could be necessary. It takes a few trial and errors to find what your hair likes or dislikes. Once you are well into your journey you pretty much know what your hair likes and should be out of the exploring stage so then I think product-junkism is unnecessary. It took me a long while to get out of being a product junkie and it still flares up every once in a while. I had to put myself on a budget of spending no more than $20 when I go into a beauty supply store. But ever since I started delving into making my own products - I find myself reading labels more and walking out of the beauty supply with one or two acessories or nothing at all.

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  8. Great post! I'm actually posting this week about someone who struggled really bad at the beginning of her natural hair journey.

    In any case, I think being a minimalist is the best. I've seen many women who just go too far overboard. I think that you just need 3 or 4 great products and maybe 1 or 2 backups to get you through.

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  9. Excellent L, look forward to reading it!

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  10. I forgot to mention your site was mentioned/linked on a post on Afrobella.com
    http://www.afrobella.com/2009/04/20/how-serious-is-your-hair-love-affair/

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  11. Oooo thanks Laquita! I had a look and I'm so glad that you are letting people know about the natural community and the resources they can turn to. Keep the information out there for those who seek it!!

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  12. It's sooo tough not to be a PJ! Every time you blink, there are more cool products geared towards naturals springing up. I think when you first BC, it's really easy to become one tho b/c you're trying to figure out what works for your hair.

    I've found now that my hair is growing longer and I'm getting the hang of my hair's likes and dislike, I am finalizing the products that work best for my hair and sticking with them. So the PJ in me is slowly dying now. LOL.

    But for some PJ'ism works like Empressri

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  13. I am a product junkie. I am transitioning but I have not had product recommendations made to for naturals. I have only told one person that I am transitioning. Unfortunately I don't think my other friends will be supportive. As far as natural hair being difficult I am concerning the longer my hair gets the more difficult it will become to untangle in the shower.

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  14. I think I've always been a product junkie...from body products to hair products, I was always trying out things even when I had a relaxer. What I did find though is when my hair was in it's TWA stage it liked simple things to keep it well moisturized...as my hair grew longer I had to do a lot of trial and error on so many different things! My texture changed a bit and my approach to conditioning also changed. I don't think the term PJ is necessarily a bad thing as long as you are mindful of your spending...Personally I use up most of what I purchase, or give it away to someone who could best use it.

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  15. i could be a minimalist, but when i go to the store there's just so may thing to chose from and the colors are so pretty lol, plus there's a constant thought in the back of my head say "what if" what if this is the 'it' product for my hair

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  16. Natural hair is complicated. I agree with said co worker.

    My solution : no afro. My hair is thick, voluminous and I have always gone to a stylist to handle it. Afros mean combing like mad, too many wet haired days (and heat damage) and unpredictable "hairstyles".
    Braids, cornrows and twists are my thing. I have a budget and I go to the stylist monthly (or bi monthly). On the whole, I don't care about detangling, shrinkage and the likes because a professional does my hair (and I'm worth it). My only contribution :
    - washing my hair before hand with tea tree soap
    - bringing my own products (coconit conditioner + almond oil)

    I do have afro hair periods though because hair needs to breathe and be naked too. I use them to boost my hair with butters and massage the scalp.

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