Being natural is more difficult than just having a perm…

A reader has color-damaged hair and thinks it’s just too hard to be natural. She writes…

Question: I went natural in December, 2008 and it has been a challenging road to say the least. When I had short natural hair that was fine because I would just add a little bit of s-curl gel in my hair and that worked well, but over the year I have colored my hair a lighter brown possibly over coloring (to frequently) as I grey fairly fast. I noticed the texture of my hair is very nappy especially at the ends of my hair. At the ends, my hair tends to curl and causes it to get tangled, making it very difficult to comb. I have trimmed my ends, but my ends still are hard and easily tangled.

A few questions I have for you are 1) What is the best type of color to use on my hair. I hear hair dye exist that doesnt cause as much damage to the hair folicle. 2) What can I do to get my hair back in shape. I want to get my hair to be much softer and less tangled at the ends.

With my hair being so difficult to manage I am starting to think that being natural is more difficult than just having a perm. Please help.

Answer: Hi Angela, sorry you feel that way. But you just admitted that you dogged your hair out with color and so, in my opinion you’ve created your own monster. And even if you’d had a perm, you’d still be in the same boat or worse with your already chemically treated hair. Therefore, you can’t blame your hair for the condition it’s currently in, but you can do some things to stop the damage and get it back on the road to health.

First let me correct your terminology. After reading your post, it’s clear that you’re mistaking the difference between a follicle, which is the hole deep within your scalp that your hair grows from and your hair shaft, which is the hair above the scalp. And actually, it’s pretty difficult to damage your follicle. But it’s really easy to damage your hair shaft by via everyday wear and tear including combing, brushing, wind, sun, heat appliances, harsh shampoos and of course chemical processes such as relaxing and permanent hair dyes.

Now that I’ve clarified terminology, let’s talk about the damage you’ve done to your hair. Yes, overlapping chemical applications of hair dye can weaken your hair, create porosity issues and make your hair feel like straw.

While my hair is NOT that bad off, I do have some color damage of my own to contend with. When I first colored my hair, I didn’t like it. So during the course of six months, I did two full-head color applications. It looked great at first. But a couple years later, my ends have become very whispy and they don’t make great twists any longer. Unfortunately, the only solution is to periodically cut my ends off. Until I get rid of all the damage, I keep my hair properly moisturized and always wear protective styles so that I don’t have to manipulate it very much.

I suggest you do the same.

With regards to your ends curling up, that’s what nappy hair does so that part sounds normal to me. But feeling hard, no your hair should not feel HARD, especially if you’re keeping it properly moisturized. So this to me is another indication that you’re just straight up dealing with damaged over processed hair. Unfortunately there’s nothing you can do for it except to continue trimming your ends until all the damaged hair is gone.

As far as what type of color to use that’s less damaging, anything that lifts the original color from your hair shaft to make it lighter will cause damage. The more color you lift (getting closer and closer to blond) the more damage you do to your hair. But lifting a couple of shades (or levels) to get to a lighter brown should not be that big a deal.  So going forward just make sure you’re ONLY coloring your roots. And before you do, make sure you saturate your ends with a product that can offer some protection to your hair. One that comes to mind is Roux Porosity Control conditioner. You can find it at Sally Beauty Supply. It’s formulated to prevent chemical shock, equalize the hair’s porosity and ensure predictable results. My beautician used a similar product on my hair before she actually applied the color.

Roux also makes a shampoo and a deep conditioner, both of which you may want to try.

Now if this all sounds like too much trouble to go through, head to your nearest professional whom you can trust to color your natural hair. That’s what I did, and so far it has all worked out fine.

Ultimately, being natural is what you make of it. It’s only difficult to care for natural hair if you keep comparing it to straight hair. In my opinion caring for natural hair is not hard or difficult, it’s just different. But from what I can tell, being natural isn’t your problem…it’s all the damage you’ve caused with overlapping color processes. So if you stop doing that, take measures to protect your hair when you color, wear styles that promote little manipulation, keep it moisturized and periodically trim off the bad ends, you can start your hair on the road to recovery.

It won’t be easy, but eventually, you’ll one day have a head full of healthy natural hair and you’ll be a much happier nappy.

Take care and good luck!

5 Responses to “Being natural is more difficult than just having a perm…”
  1. What an absolutely thorough answer you provided to the sister! Thank you for the enlightenment. Would you mind if I linked this to my site?

    I pray for Peace and Wellness on your journey.

    The Whole Body Consultant

  2. ms-gg says:

    Good advice Nappyme!

  3. Lisa says:

    Great Answer I learned so much

  4. S says:

    Let me piggyback excellent answer! ive gone through many trials & errors coloring. It can be done successfully you just condition more frequently, trimming ends. Its not hard to do you just have to be consistent and make friend with hair. Get to learn your hair teaches you patience in an impatient world.

  5. NubianPrize says:

    I quit the commercial dyes totally after doing my BC. Too dangerous & damaging to hair.I used to Use Bigen but it dried my hair out & the edges broke off. I now use henna to dye my grey edges back to black. Henna’s good for your hair. I get mine from They have a special kit “Ancient Sunrise” Henna for African Hair” . Go there & read the forum advice.You have to mix henna with an acidic liquid. Lemon juice left my hair dry the first time but in my second application I used apple juice,which someone on the forum suggested. Hair’s nice & soft, in good condition & natural jet black

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