3 Ways to Own Your Natural Hair

3 Ways to Own Your Natural Hair

Check out these tips and learn how to embrace your natural locks.

By: Karen Walrond

I have crazy, insane, thick hair — the kind of hair that coils and kinks into tight curls and fights fine-toothed combs with a vengeance. Every day when I was a young girl, I’d spend a tearful half hour as my mother wrestled with my hair, trying to tame it into neat braids.

“I wish you had hair like your sister’s,” she would say as she wistfully looked at my sister’s loose ringlets. “She got the good hair. You didn’t.”

Finally, when I was about 11 years old, my mother couldn’t take it anymore. She took me to her stylist who proceeded to straighten my hair with harsh chemical relaxers that caused my scalp to blister. We did this every three months or so — me blinking back tears at the pain, but thrilled at my long, straight hair a few hours later. Beauty hurts was the lesson I learned.

I did this until I was 40 years old.

I don’t exactly remember the reasons that made me decide to go completely natural. Part of it was the thought of how many thousands of dollars I’d paid over the course of my life just for the sake of straight hair — with only a few short breaks here and there when I cut my hair completely off to a half-inch afro. I was also a bit horrified that I’d consistently added chemicals to my hair for such a sustained time.

While I’ve not heard of relaxers causing cancer, given my family’s propensity to contract the disease, I figured that tempting fate wasn’t a particularly smart idea. Besides, I realized that I hadn’t really seen my hair’s natural texture in almost 30 years and had no idea what it looked like. It was time to put an end to it all.

And so I decided to grow my hair out, though I was nervous the entire time given the fact that, according to my mom, I didn’t have “good hair.” I was shocked to discover, however, that I actually loved my hair — the tiny little coils were what I’d wished I’d had all along!


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I’m 45 now, and I’ve never returned to the chemicals (although I have occasionally cut my hair off again to that half-inch afro since I have a lot of hair and Texas summers are hot!). It also took a considerable amount of time to learn how to do my hair, including what products I should use, the types of combs to try and that moisturizing was the key to curl definition. But now I can unequivocally say that I really enjoy my hair, kinky coils and all.

And so, if you’re contemplating going completely natural yourself, here are three lessons I’ve learned along the way.

1. Find a Stylist Who Knows How to Style Natural Hair
The sad truth is that not every stylist knows how to cut and style natural hair. And since natural hair comes in all sorts of textures and curl patterns, finding a pro can be invaluable not just for styles, but for hair product recommendations as well.

2. The Fastest Way to Go Natural is to Do the Big Chop
That is, cut off all the permed or chemically treated hair to reveal your natural hair underneath. When I did my Big Chop, I went for the Teeny-Weeny Afro (the “TWA,” in natural hair terms) — a style that I’d worn in the past and honestly quite enjoy (I do keep returning to this cut).

Lopping your hair off can be a really scary proposition, but I promise, the trick to wearing a tiny afro is all about the attitude — wear it like you know you look awesome, and trust me, you will. And always remember that it’s just hair — it grows back.

3. Find Some Online Resources for Natural Hair
Going natural is a huge undertaking with so much to learn: Should you lock your hair? Braid it? How do you take care of your curls? Happily, there are tons of online resources out there that are really informative in determining what products or styles would work best for you.

When she isn't sharing tips on StyleUnited on how to add more awesome to your life, you can find Karen on
Chookooloonks.com . She's on a mission to prove to you that your life is filled with different, unique moments of beauty, starting with her book, The Beauty of Different. Her work can be seen on Babble.com, TEDxHouston and USAToday.

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you always want what you don't have which helps you appreciate what you have naturally - i have mixed asian/european wavy long hair and wanted the shiny, straight bland pure asian hair - i got my hair japanese straightened and loved it for a little bit - 1.5 years later and i'm glad that hair is gone so i can start from scratch

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