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The joys and pains (and then joys) of natural hair

Feb 1, 2017

Curl Theorists, let me be real with you. There are times when I love my hair on Monday, am utterly confused by it on Wednesday, am “not speaking” to it by Friday, and am back in love with it all over again on Sunday. What is that about?

It’s about the joys, pains, and then joys of natural hair.

We forget that our hair has a mind of its own. It’s temperamental. All the various textures on one head of hair have different needs and sometimes they throw tantrums about it. On top of that, the environment plays a huge role in how our hair behaves. We get confused, because on Sunday we wash, deep condition with a plastic cap and heat, and take our time using the perfect leave-in and the perfect styler for our braid-out. On Monday, we reap the rewards of our labor big time: everyone, from strangers on the street to colleagues at work, compliments us on how nice our hair looks and we just know that we have finally found the perfect, fail-proof regimen. Tuesday is cool, though we notice a few random issues here and there and we basically ignore them because we’re still on a bit of a natural high from Monday’s epic win. Wednesday is frustrating. We did not over-apply additional product. We kept it moist with just a tiny mist of water where it was needed. We slept on our satin pillowcases. WE FOLLOWED THE RULES AND OUR HAIR PLAYED US! WHY, WHY, WHY? We are giving our hair the silent treatment on Thursday, punishing it with a ponytail, or a bun, or a pin-up that we really aren’t feeling but that will do the job and make us feel like all of Sunday’s hard work was not in vain. Friday, same. We overcompensate with attention-grabbing jewelry and amazing make-up and clothes because we refuse to invest more time into our hair. By Saturday, we feel guilty and we feel like we should have tried to figure out what the problem was, so on Sunday, we wash, deep condition, and repeat the process all over again.

And then the next week is a 100% hit – our twist-out looks better by Friday than it did on Monday; our wash-and-go demands absolutely NO attention all week and just elongates itself on its own; our coils shine and glimmer and frame our faces like never before. We lovingly want to give our hair a second name because we are now convinced it has a split personality, cute little thing. It drives us crazy, but man, oh man, do we love it.

This is the joy and pain and then the reclaimed joy of natural hair. Lest we forget, our relaxed days were not perfect, either – there were days when we wrapped our hair at night religiously only to wake up the next morning wondering why we looked like flat-headed Martians. Maybe we massaged too much oil on our scalps the night before; maybe our hair was just tired of being brushed in the same circular direction every night and decided to rebel with sections that refused to flow in a new direction. Who knows. But those days were not perfect. Remember that.

This is the thing: anything worth having requires acceptance. We have to accept that our hair will amaze us and disappoint us, sometimes in the same week. It doesn’t mean our hair is “bad” – it just means it’s hair, doing what it does, being the unique force that it is. Isn’t the uniqueness of our hair one of the things we fell in love with in the first place? Like love, like life, our hair will bring us unspeakable joy and also some pain, but that pain will be followed by joy again. Joy does come in the morning, right?


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