The nappy hair struggle


I must admit, nappy hair bloggers make the nappy life look easy. And no doubt, for the most part it is once you get the hang of it. We wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t or if we didn’t love our hair enough to jump through hoops for it. But at the end of the day most of us grew up learning relaxed hair and not natural hair so when you do make the switch it’s a tad bit of an adjustment. Honestly for me it wouldn’t even be an option had it not been for the net because very few people around me know how to handle the mighty kink.

For the most part I’m a happy nappy. No complaints here. Once I got past the awkward length stage it was somewhat smooth sailing there on out. However there are those days when my hair tests my patience, days where I wish I really could just sweep it into a ponytail (which at my length is impossible). Ladies, if you also have those days, you are not alone. I present to you the nappy hair struggles:

  • Tangling.  Boy does this hair loooove to tangle! My cousin once did thin twists as part of a hair style and when she undid them a week later her hair had already began to mangle itself into locks, no encouragement needed! 
  • Styling. frustratedblackwomanWhen you first start out styling nappy hair is a major pain in the behind. You never know what on earth to do with it and so you end up throwing a scarf on or hair band and hope it looks decent. And it doesn’t help that everyone in the photos you see online seems to have a bushel of natural hair to play with while you have 3 shrunken cms.
  • The search for softness. Natural ladies spend a lot of time and money looking for that product that will make hair soft. When relaxed that’s not really an issue but when the hair’s kinky, it’s all we want. Some hair textures are naturally soft while other textures need some help. Nothing worse than digging your fingers into a wiry mass of hair.
  • Dealing with everyone’s opinion. In this world, fro’s are the minority for the most part and make people curious. I’ve had everyone and their mama tell me what they think of my hair. Some love it, some are curious, some hate it, some pat it or touch it and some judge me for it. I’ve even had an Asian couple take a picture of it randomly at the mall. Anyone who’s made a major hair change can relate, relaxed or natural. The worst though were the ones who hate it. I was once told that because I wear my hair natural I appear to not be putting effort into how I look as opposed to women that wear weaves, let that sink in.
  • Grand expectations.
    Corrine Bailey Rae
    Corrine Bailey Rae

    I’m certain all 4c/4z bearing ladies (that were previously relaxed) have gone through this. Expecting that Corrine B Rae loose curl or something close at the very least and all you get is your slightly softer new growth. One thing I realized after going natural is that there is “good” and “bad” natural hair. So many non-naturals have said to me “I can’t go natural, my hair is really kinky/African, it wouldn’t look nice”. What does that statement say about how they feel about their hair?

  • Shrinkage. 

    Not all naturals consider shrinkage a struggle though our hair management lives revolve around avoiding it. We twist or braid to stretch which makes styling easier. Some just give in to the blow dryer because it’s faster. Shrinkage also hides length which most females want. It also causes tangling and knotting because it encourages the hair to wrap around itself. Sometimes I like to do shrunken hairstyles but then when it comes to detangling time I always regret it.

Now how to get past the struggle? 4 things have helped me keep going:

  1. Confidence: You need bucket loads of it. You will not get past the comments and opinions without it. 
  2. Self acceptance: Sounds zen I know but it’s true. Stop desiring someone elses head of hair regardless of type and enjoy your own. Naturally soft or no, long or short, frizzy or silky, thin or thick. Love it and work with it not against it.
  3. The online community: There are tons of naturals online on blogs, in groups and on YouTube which have done it or are doing it. No need to sit there feeling lost, ask someone! And you can always find people who have the same hair as you and try their methods. Here’s an online catalog of bloggers put together by Alice in Nappyland based on geographical location.
  4. Focus on healthy hair not length: Trust me, you will always get disappointed if your focus is on length. Hair only grows when you treat it right, there’s not much else you can do beyond that. There’s no magical product or regimen, naturals with long hair use various products and hair regimens. As long as those products or regimens keep the hair healthy, it will grow. You have to employ patience to see hair growth. Many popular long haired naturals have been so for more than 5 years, you cannot expect the same results in 2.

    Over 10 years worth of length
    Kimmaytube with over 10 years worth of length

And that covers it! Take heart ladies, you can defeat the struggle one day at a time. 🙂


9 Comments Add yours

  1. Dee says:

    thank you for this, i was once natural for three years while in uni, but succumbed to the relaxer when i started working three years ago because of the struggle i had with styiling it to suit the corporate enviroment. I like you blog as its the first botswana one iv seen. Now i can relate to products and were i cn get them unlike the american blogs i read when i was natural. Im growing out my kinks for two month then i’ll cut off the relaxed ends. im not so brave as i use but im ready. Keep on doing the good work.

    1. Ms Z. says:

      Thanks! and I hope I’m able to make your life easier! 🙂

    2. kangopie says:

      I was natural for 7 years then I decided to put the creamy crack on coz of work. I wish I knew then what I know now and it would have been a fabulous 7 years.

      For now I am staying relaxed this is my 2nd year of my hair journey so you never know. I really like this blog even though I am in SA.

  2. J says:

    Ha! Thanks, I was the one who suggested to you about writing the struggles and I am glad you did!

    TANGLING is the bane of my hair, so am really trying to baby my hair, esp the ends, I apply honey-only at the ends, it almost like a gel so it keeps it ‘straight’ just to prevent tangling.

    Thanks for writing, I guess we all deal with all these problems ang am so thankful to the natural world-its really supportive,

    anyway, keep writing, much love from Kenya, ❤ Africa ❤

    1. Ms Z. says:

      Yay! I’m so glad you found it! I couldn’t remember which post you’d commented on so that I could send you the link. Yes I wrote this just for you 🙂 That honey idea is interesting, I’ll try that out!

  3. bella says:

    Hi. I’ve just started reading your blog and I have to say that I can relate since I’m also a natural.
    I have been natural for a few years but I’ve just recently started learning how to take good care of my hair. One of the most challenging aspects of keeping natural hair is finding the right hair products. Any advice? And do you have any idea where I can get a satin/silk head cap in Botswana?

    1. Ms Z. says:

      Will do some product posts soon! I’m a bit of a junkie, I try a lot of stuff. Check out product reviews on the blog to help you too. Great places to shop are Clicks pharmacy, grocery stores (Spar/pick n pay) and pharmacies or health stores for natural oils. Don’t worship the “black aisle”, “white” products can also be great for natural hair e.g Tresemme, V05, Pantene etc. Black products that are good include JO’M, Dr Miracles (both found at Clicks), ORS and African Pride.
      Satin caps are at Dynamic Cash and carry at the station or at Airport Junction Clicks branch.

      1. bella says:

        Thank you 🙂

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