What is Natural Hair? A Definition and In-Depth Look

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Natural hair is hair whose texture hasn’t been altered by chemical straighteners, including relaxers and texturizers. An Afro hairstyle is sometimes referred to as “a natural,” but natural black hair can be worn in many other styles besides a short ‘fro. Pressed hair may still be considered natural because once washed, the texture usually returns to its unaltered state (as long as no heat damage has occurred).

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Natural Hair Characteristics

In terms of natural black hair, there’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to texture and growth patterns, but in general, natural black hair usually ranges from wavy to kinky-coily, with a wide range of variation between the two. (And yes, some black people have naturally straight hair as well.) Most people of African descent have some type of wave or curl pattern, and texture differences exist not only in families, including siblings but on the same head of hair! Curls may be as small and coiled as pen springs or wavier and the size of a fat marker.

Natural hair can look strong, but this is a very delicate texture and needs to be handled as such. This means frequent conditioning and moisturizing and as little direct heat as possible to maintain optimum health.

Can You Color Your Hair and Still be Natural?

This is a matter up for debate in some natural circles, but in most cases, colored hair is still natural as long as there are no texture-altering chemicals on the hair as well. The question of “real natural” comes into play when you consider that some women have experienced texture changes due to the color (this also occasionally occurs with henna application). Unless your hair is bleached or colored several levels away from your natural shade, you probably won’t experience any loosening of your texture. If you have no relaxer/texturizer on your locks, but you color it, you should still consider yourself to have natural hair. Sure, it’s not 100% natural due to the color, but the texture is generally what many people refer to when referencing “natural hair.”

Are Texturizers Natural?

No, texturizers are not natural at all because they’re chemicals designed to break down the protein bonds in your hair in order to permanently change the texture. Some products market themselves as “natural texturizers” or claim they can increase the manageability of your hair by application and heat. They usually contain the same active ingredients as relaxers, just in lower amounts.

Unfortunately, some natural-haired women report being duped by hairstylists who apply these chemicals under the guise of making a person’s hair “more manageable” without fully disclosing what the product contains. This is why some ladies are leery of going to any stylist and choose to do their hair all by themselves. If you’re truly interested in being natural, steer clear of any products that contain questionable ingredients.

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