Natural hair has many forms with so many meanings. As a hairstylist, I myself didn’t realize the depth of natural hair. It is spoken about from so many angles. I want to focus on one angle that is often a question asked in my chair. “Why are my ends straight but everything else is curly?” Well, let’s start at the beginning. What is the true definition of natural hair? What are the true curl patterns (wavy, curly, and coil)? Let’s not forget about our elasticity and porosity level. All of the answers to these questions play a huge roll in our natural hair and why certain things happen concerning it.
In my interactions (professional and laymen), searching the internet and social media, I ask people what is their definition of natural hair? Better yet, how do you define if a person has natural hair or not. The responses have been extremely interesting. If you want to experience for yourself, then ask yourself and answer the question, then ask 2 friends, then 2 strangers and see what they all have to say.
Although we have our opinion of what is considered natural hair, here are the facts of natural hair:
Natural hair is the authentic hair strand that comes out of your head. There are 4 main texture hair types: straight, wavy, helical (curly) and spiral (coiled). All 4 textures are natural as long it has not been altered. What is considered altered? Any chemical that will either straighten, smooth, loosen, or tighten the pattern of your hair. It also means changing, enhancing, or brightening the color of your original hair color. Yes, this includes any Semi, Demi and Permanent hair color, for those who include natural hair color. Why all of these types of hair coloring are considered unnatural hair will be explained shortly.
Another way of altering your natural hair is heat. Heat can eventually permanently alter your natural hair texture. This includes blow-drying. This is one of the biggest questions of opinion, yet is a fact. Some people feel heat is considered natural. However, due to the physical change of the elasticity in our hair that can slowly change into a chemical change (all chemical reactions inevitably happen through heat), the high and low of our elasticity in our hair determines how quickly the heat of a blow-dryer, flat and/or curling iron and pressing comb can permanently straighten the ends of your hair. People who’s hair is resistant straightening or have a natural curl pattern that is straight or coiled, have a high chance of heat from the blow dryer, pressing comb, or flat iron (at the correct temperature) not altering their natural curl pattern. Gray hair is likely to become heat resistant, sometimes chemical resistant, and tends to change textures, the gray hair is still very delicate. The heat from any hair implement can turn the gray hair yellow permanently altering the hair.
People will debate that hair is still natural with Semi, Demi or even Permanent hair color. Permanent hair color is a chemical change. It is a given that your hair is not at its natural state anymore if your hair has been permanently colored and/or bleached. Not only does it alter the natural pigment, at a small to medium percentage, it does change the natural curl pattern and porosity level. Although Semi hair colors; yes this includes henna colors; are not mixed with peroxide, and are plant based, Semi-permanent hair color technically doesn’t leave the hair. Surely, overtime of repeated hair color touch ups, it can stain your hair creating a permanent change on your cuticle. The hair color will definitely stay permanently if the hair is porous on any level. Authentically, it does not change nor alter the natural curl pattern, or the natural pigment. However, because it has stained the cuticle layer permanently, it has altered the cuticle in which the color would need to be removed with some type of chemical product, or cut off.
Every human being has natural hair, but how you alter your hair determines if it is still considered natural. It doesn’t matter if your hair is kept at a true natural state or altered to your finest pleasure, what’s most important is loving your hair, respecting your hair, and keeping your hair healthy at its finest. There is a saying my grandmother use say to me, that now for the past 25 years I remind all my clients in or out of my chair: Natural, Chemically treated, straight, curly, color, long or short hair, if you love your hair, it will love you back!