Natural hair Top Tip: Patience

As always it is time for the natural hair practical tips and this Monday my tip is patience. Natural hair thrives once you know how to handle it but this knowledge comes only with patience. This is especially true if you have very tight curls. Here are my top tips

1. Patience with learning

Unless you are supremely lucky, you are bound to make a lot of mistakes. The first year of your natural life should be dedicated to learning how to handle your hair. Use resources like youtube to see how others do it but be really really really conscious and aware that none of these people are doing your hair. Pay attention -If the curl does not look like yours and if the shrinking is more or less than yours....that technique may not be for you. Learn about your hair and what your hair likes.

The faster you master this, the better. Trust me, the shorter your natural hair, the easier it is is handle. Hell is waiting for you at 10 inches (umm yes hell).

2. Patience with handling loose hair
Learn to diffentiate between what you like and what your hair likes. Our hair likes to be curly, we prefer to stretch it. In other words recognise that if you are handling loose hair and you apply water to it, be patient with the hair because it wants to go into a curly configuration. Be gentle if you want to stretch it out and compromise with your hair, accept some shrinkage, you will both be happier this way.

3. Patience with growing long hair
It takes 3-5 years of constant growth and no breakage to get your hair to grow to a nice full APL to BSL (armpit length to bra strap length). Given that you have to learn about your hair first, you are likely to sustain breakage, damage and split ends so really you should account for another year. Some people are lucky enough to have damage resistant strands but again remember, this not necessarily you.

I would love it if people stopped measuring hair on a month to month basis and perhaps waited 6 months. Constanly pulling your hair just to check if it has passed a certain mark can do more harm than good (psychologically to you and physically to the hair).

4. Patience all the time
Ultimately patience is necessary all the time from detangling, washing, combing(even finger combing), drying and styling. Learn to allocate sufficient time and in fact I recommend always budgeting for extra time. If you think a style will take you 15 min, double it to half an hour. Ultimately the extra time allows you not to rush and you will be better able to be patient.

Are you patient in your hair care?


  1. Yes, my patience has dramatically increased in those 4 areas.

  2. THANK YOU!!!!
    My first year I was soo excited to be natural and learning about my hair. By year 3, I started getting worried about length and stopped having fun because I was on forums constantly and reading threads on from TWA to APL in a see the kind....then I started becoming less patient!
    Others friends who wanted to go natural saw my length at year 4 and would be like this is taking too much time...but for me in 4 years I had more hair and healthier than in my years of relaxed hair.
    I am glad I really chopped off everything to start over because the previous set was no longer fun for me...
    thank you for this post!!! PATIENCE is key!!

  3. Have to agree Calla Lily, patience is really really important.

    Yw Amina :)

  4. I love this post. Patience is absolutely KEY. When I tell people that I take 2 hours to detangle they look horrified. But taking my time and being GENTLE is how I've kept my hair on my head.

    Now, I wouldn't say 10 inches is hell lol. I'm at 15 now and it's not too bad. That's because now I just do what my hair likes (and I've just learned to like it as well lol).

  5. Patience seems to be a recurring theme this week...
    I try to be patient, but because I'm so busy, my hair can suffer as a result. I'm a lot more patient when I'm not at home - my loved ones wind me up so much about my hair I want to wake up the next day with waist length hair! Plus, when I'm by myself, I can use 3 hours to de-tangle properly guilt-free, without worrying about making food for my siblings....
    I really, really wish I had learnt to look after my hair when it was shorter, rather than leaving it in braids, but I'm learning now. It's hard to not compare yourself to other people, but I don't suffer from hair envy any more - I'm too busy looking at my hair to notice anyone else's!

  6. Yes patience is very important and thanks to my natural hair I have more than I ever did before.

  7. I so needed to read this posting today. I recently BC'd last month, I currently have 3/5 inches of hair, and am frustrated with the feeling it's growing to slowly. I'm so guilty of pulling my hair down to see the lenght. Silly me, I know my hair is not going to grow a foot overnight - but I'm so impatient :-) I have cornrows in my hair for now..unitl my patience can set it.

  8. It took me a really long time to understand the need for patience when styling and handling hair, or even when trying products. I still have to remind myself.

    I was glad to see this today, I happened to be working on a post showing just how long it can take to see significant length. I had just pulled together photos of my girls from six month intervals and can really appreciate your point about not measuring hair month to month.

  9. asimplething - This is one of the main reasons I personally discourage braiding with extensions for a long period of time. Extensions allow your hair to retain length as it is a low manipulation routine but they do stop you learning about your hair. So once you have the length it is really easy to lose it all again. I think taking a small break with extensions is fine (say like 3 months or so).

    Happinap and Kimmy - thanks for the comments :) So true Kimmy, 1 foot of hair takes a while!

    Katie - Patience is everything and I do have to remind myself too despite 10 years of experience. I need to catch up on my HGH reading!

  10. Timely post. I just 'felt' the true meaning of patience today, and my butt still hurts!

    I had a neighbour do mini-plaits in my hair today (from 9am-5pm!) Ok, she was 'a bit' slow, but still... I don't know why it took me this long to do the math and realise that mini plaits at 9" and mini-plaits at 12" are two entirely different affairs. *sigh*

    It's settled... I release these things 3-4 months down the road... and I shall not pass this way again.

    *heading off to apply mineral ice to my derrière*

  11. Having natural hair is bringing back to being patient. Transitioning was a hoot and prolonged it for nearly a year. Now, my focus and healthy growth

  12. I BC'd last summer and while my hair has/had grown, I've cut it scalp short so many times due to porosity problems, so I'm still figuring out how to maintain moisture and keep my hair porosity free. It was nice to see this post Jc, because I'm getting a little impatient with my hair! I plan to braid my hair for the winter to keep my hands out of my hair and hopefully see some growth.

  13. Great post. I've realized how important patience is in dealing with natural hair. Patience is probably the one thing keeping people from having healthy hair and retaining length.

  14. Patience truly is a virtue...and if you find you don't have patience, there's absolutely NOTHING wrong with keeping your hair SHORT! ;)

  15. Thanks for all the new comments. I definitely agree LBell. My hair is technically not short but I intentionally keep it at a length where I don't have to struggle (around 12 inches). I do think that getting to this mentality goes against the grain for some of us (including myself). I still think about growing my hair again but wash day always reminds me that hair growth equals more work lol

  16. This is another great post. I am learning to have patience and that includes not buying every single new fangled hair product to grow or alter my natural hair. I recently threw out a garbage bag of products and I vow to keep my regimen simple and to just enjoy my hair at its current length. With care and time, I know it will grow. ~Renee

  17. 3-5 yrs to grow your hair to APl or BSL? I am assuming this estimation only applies to those who have done the big chop??

  18. That would be correct Seygra :)

  19. I think we all need to be reminded about patience. I agree, in my first year as a natural, I went crazy with experimentation. I permanently dyed it 5 shades lighter twice with Aveda products (name brand stuff supposed to be "natural" but same damage as other salon products!) My hair felt like straw, was dry, severely damaged and just broke off very often.
    Later, I also flat-ironed it once at a black salon and she used grease :( I experienced so much heat damage.
    These days, I'm taking it easy with my hair. I'm going to fix a weave for a few months and just go easy on myself. All the fussin' & fightin' aint good for nothin'!

  20. I needed to see this because I have been on every blog and asked everybody I have seen how long was there hair after 2 months. I guess I figured my fro would be a little higher.

  21. Oh wow patience is very difficult, at times I don't even realize that I am handling my way unlike a cashmere sweater. Simple things like not tugging on strands to remove a knot that is never gonna come out- and snipping it with shears instead. And ofcourse pateince to see growth where you can get a nice ponytail-and 2 strand twists that have more hang. I am so bored with hair styles or should I say 2 strand twists. I just want to keep my hands out of my hair! I wish I knew how to cornrow/flat twist well.. haha donw venting atm..great post (: x

  22. yeah, i don't have patience that's why i stay in braid extensions from sept to may cause i HATE shrinkage. And black women would say i have big nautral hair but my hair is only APL in the back when stretched and the sides are SL when stretched. I get frustrated with shrinkage from the humidity so i stay in braids. I burn the ends and no one can tell what the length of my hair.

  23. Is it bad to braid your hair, or to put it in a bun? I heard that braiding hair can also thin out hair. I feel that by braiding my hair or putting it in a bun, it makes me more patient as I cannot see my hair.

    Is it also bad to individually cut a split end when I see one? or should I just wait, and then go to the salon and get all of those beasts off my hair?

  24. Nataly - As long as braiding or the bun is not tight and does not pull hair at the edges there is no issue.

    Cutting individual splits is known as 'dusting' in the natural world. Some women exclusively use this process. Others go to the salon when they start seeing many quite often.

  25. I think when you are first growing your hair and have a goal you are really patient with doing your hair and impatient for it to grow but as you progress and start to see results you relax, this is the case for me.

  26. Great article. I think I need to be more patient with all aspects of my hair care. Its ironic that I am soooo patient and gentle with my daughter's hair but not with my own... this will change now. Thanks for the encouragement!


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