By Terez Howard

Kinky, coily hair is good hair, too. I always felt that I had to straighten my 4A/4B hair texture to make it look presentable. I never thought that my natural hair could ever look right unless the texture was altered. How exciting it was to hear that natural hair myths were just that – MYTHS!

Hair texture does not determine the amount of hair growth you will see.  I don’t need hair care products for black hair.  In fact, I can make my own hair care products in my kitchen.  This article will debunk 8 natural hair myths commonly believed as fact.

Hair myth:  “I have to brush and comb my hair daily, so I could never go natural.”

Fact:  Natural hair is nothing like that straight, European hair most women hope to have.  Natural hair is a different type of hair texture and has to be cared for differently.  You would not care for your child the same way you would care for your dog.  They’re different, just like natural hair is different from straight hair.

Natural hair thrives when it is gently detangled wet and preferably covered in conditioner.  When you style natural hair, especially in protective styles, there is simply no need to comb it every day.  If you want your natural hair to be healthy and strong, you will keep that comb and brush out of it when it’s dry.

Hair myth:  “Your hair texture determines how much hair growth you get.”

Fact:  All hair grows exactly the same way.  The three phases for hair growth are the growing phase, the transitional phase and the resting phase.  Genetics determine how long your growing phase will last.  It can be anywhere from 2 to 6 years.  All hair grows from about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch per month.

You don’t have to have a mostly curly hair, rather than coily hair or no curl pattern at all, for it to grow.  A natural hair texture might appear to not be growing because it shrinks.  Some hair shrinks up to 90 percent of its actual length.

These first two hair myths really go hand-in-hand because natural hair must be cared for properly in order for it to grow. One way to promote growth is to avoid detangling dry hair, which will only cause breakage.

Hair myth:  “Black women cannot grow long hair.”

Fact:  Again, black natural hair grows just like anyone else’s hair.  Hair loss, breakage and damage are oftentimes caused by harsh products, harmful chemicals, direct heat, tight braiding and heavy-handed care.  Gentle care, moisturizing products composed of the right ingredients and keeping the hair and scalp clean promote natural hair growth.

Also, protective styles, where natural hair is not manipulated too much, promotes hair growth. That’s why women with locked hair see so much hair growth. The hair is never combed and experiences very little manipulation, especially when locs are started.

Hair myth:  “You have to wash natural hair with shampoo.”

Fact:  The ingredients in the majority of commercial shampoos, such as sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate and various alcohols, are too harsh for natural hair.  Shampoo gets hair clean as well as makes in brittle, dry and prone to breakage.

A no poo routine is a much better way to care for fragile natural hair.  With a no poo routine, you use conditioner to clean your hair and gentle cleansers to lift build-up, dirt and debris.

Hair myth:  “Trimming natural hair only takes away growth.”

Fact:  If you don’t trim natural hair and get rid of your split ends, those split ends will travel up the entire length of your hair.  Your hair will become unbearably tangled, break off and look lifeless.  Trimming natural hair actually prevents these problems from happening, giving you healthier hair.  Loose natural hair should be trimmed every 6 to 8 weeks.

If you wait too long to trim, you will have to cut more hair away, and those trims will take away your growth.  So, trimming on its own does not remove hair growth.  Trimming infrequently, however, will.

Hair myth:  “You should only use hair care products made for black hair.”  

Fact: First off, several hair care products marketed to black people are owned by white and Asian people. (Check out the movie Good Hair for more on that). If you look on your product ingredient list, you will probably find mineral oil and petroleum. These ingredients give your hair a shine, a shine that also clogs the pores in your scalp, bringing growth to a halt. Natural hair suffers, too, because that shine does not moisturize natural hair. Rather, it makes natural hair more prone to damage and breakage.

Learn which ingredients actually are good for natural hair, such as shea butter, jojoba oil, gentle conditioners and water.  Our fragile natural hair needs tender care.

Hair myth:  “Natural hair is too hard to maintain.”

Fact:  All hair textures require maintenance.  But natural hair is no harder to maintain than any other hair texture.  It just requires a hair care regimen different from one that you’re probably used to.  Natural hair must be kept clean and needs washed regularly.  The amount of time you can go between washings varies according to hair type and activity level, such as if you exercise regularly.

Natural hair maintenance is different than other hair textures when it comes to detangling and hair care products.  Yes, it takes time to detangle, and it takes time to learn which products are best for your unique natural hair hair.  However, it pays off with a head of healthy hair.  Once you discover which routine works best for you, you will find natural hair is not difficult to maintain.  It might even be easier than a routine with straightened hair.  It is for me.

Hair myth:  “You can’t do much with natural hair, and it’s unprofessional.”

Fact:  You have countless styling options available with natural hair.  You don’t just have to rock the blown out fro (which is a gorgeous, powerful style).  You can do a wash and go, two strand twists, twist-outs, braids, braid-outs, cornrows, flat twists, Bantu knots, Bantu knot-outs, roller sets, straw sets, palm rolls and even a combination of all of these styles.  You also have the option of locking your natural hair.  You can get small, micro locks, large, traditional locks or something in between.  With locks, you have the same styling options available as you would if you had loose natural hair.

As far as being unprofessional, that’s far from true.  A simple, sleek TWA (teeny weeny afro), an updo with twists or flowing curls from a roller set all are professional hair styles suitable for the workplace.  In fact, you can do just about ANY natural hair style and make it suit the workplace.  Keeping a hair style simple is the best way to ensure it will look professional.

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