Black Hair Care: Should I Straighten Or Go Natural?

By Dapehne Baines

Black hair care, as discussed in this article, refers to caring for especially the hair of African Americans. Even though the African American females are in mind, the African American male can use similar principles.

What does Black hair care have to do with Christian healthy living? We have learned in previous articles that our body is the temple of God.

Part of taking care of the temple of God is loving ourselves. We must get comfortable with who and Whose we are, if we are going to take proper care of God’s temple. Especially for Black female Christians, caring for your hair is part of taking care of the temple.

This article, “Black Hair Care: Should I Straighten or Go Natural?” is written to answer the question many have asked. Should I go natural? At the time of this writing, I am wearing a natural hair style. It is kinky, thick, shoulder length, silver, and black.

Many people compliment me on my hair style and texture, ask how long have I been natural (8 years no relaxer - started my journey in 2002), and then state they are thinking about going natural, but they are frightened.

Below are three ideas that will help you make your decision on whether you should have a relaxer or straight hair or no-relaxer or a natural hair.

- Remember what your natural hair looks like. Many people are not sure about black hair care and the texture of their hair, because they are not looking at sources that help them visualize. Some think of Pam Grier and an Afro. That image is correct; however, there are different images of what natural is all about.

To visualize what your natural hair looks like, try to look at some pictures or remember when you were younger. Most people did not think about Black hair care, until they reached their teens. If that is true for you, look at your pictures before your teenage years, and that will be a good idea of what your hair texture will look like.

After visualizing your younger years, if your hair texture is something you admire, go with it. If you think this natural style will stress you, go with the relaxer or straight hair.

- What is your motive? When dealing with Black hair care and thinking about your motive, it is important to ask yourself – why? When we were younger, most of our parents styled our hair for a variety of reason - mostly convenience.

Think about it. If your hair was too short for cornrows, you had a small Afro or what we call a bush. If you had long hair, it was usually in a ponytail. If you were going to church, a funeral, or an important event, your hair was pressed.

Just as our parents used convenience as a reason to do our hair in certain ways, we too must determine our reason or motive for choosing what we want to do with our hair.

There are many motives and reasons why we do what we do. Just to name a few motives - time management, economics, and beauty are some reasons we choose to do what we do with our hair. Getting comfortable with ourselves should be our ultimate motive.

- Know how to care for your hair. Black hair care can be difficult, if you are not knowledgeable of how to care for your hair texture.

Lisa Akbari gives some great tips in her article, “Grow Natural or Go Straight?,” on how to take care of your hair. She mentions that if you have natural hair, wash your hair at least weekly, use a clarifying shampoo, and condition it well.

Make sure your conditioner has protein in it. Daily groom and moisturize your hair to prevent dehydration of the scalp and hair. This also will keep the hair from matting.

She goes on to give some invaluable advice for those who choose to straighten their hair with a pressing comb or flat iron. After washing, conditioning, drying, and moisturizing your natural hair, the heated tool can be used on the hair. Keep the temperature below 300 degrees, and oil hair and scalp to keep moisture in.

Her finally words of wisdom was on relaxed hair. Lisa Akbari warns against getting relaxers too often and on a damaged scalp. She suggests waiting 8 to 10 weeks to get a new relaxer and minimize heat on the hair – get a “wet set” if possible. If heated tools are desired, keep the temperature below 300 degrees, and oil hair and scalp to keep moisture in.

Hopefully, the above three ideas will help answer the question of “should I straighten my hair or go natural?” Remember that Black hair care is all tied into caring for the temple of God. Make a decision that will help you love you.

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