How To Love Your Natural Hair When Society Tells You Otherwise
Hair is a very personal experience. For black women with kinky or coily hair, that experience is often shaped by how well we can hide behind weaves and chemical treatments. Natural black hair simply isn’t celebrated, although black women are also vilified for wearing fake hair or perms. Basically, we can’t win.
Until Galore sat down with beauty vlogger and self love enthusiast, LiveNaturallyLove, or Liv, as her fans call her, I hadn’t felt the natural texture of my hair in more than fourteen years. But after talking with her, since she’s so committed to her natural hair journey, I was encouraged to “live in love” with my real hair too.
Liv started her Youtube channel three years ago after noticing a significant lack of beauty videos and channels that she could relate to.
“It was really difficult to find people that had 4C hair,” she told Galore. “And not only people who had 4C hair, which is the kinkiest texture, but who also had dark skin. There’s something very important about being able to connect with people that you admire on many levels as far as ethnicity, race, things like that.”
So Liv decided to be that person others could admire.
Growing up, she had a similar relationship with her hair as I did. She’d had a perm since before she could remember, and then she entered high school and was introduced to weaves and extensions.
“I got very self conscious about my own hair because once I would take off the weave and see what my hair actually looked like, and see how thin and short it was, I was very unhappy with it,” Liv said. “I started to develop insecurities and that bothered me.”
Looking at her now, you’d never be able to tell. She has a full head of proud, versatile, kinky hair. Falling in love with that hair has helped her to fall in love with herself, but it wasn’t always easy.
“There were a lot of days where I would be very very depressed looking at my hair in the mirror,” she admitted. “There were days where I would look at my hair and ask, why did I have to get this texture, out of all textures? Why did I have to get the kinkiest and the coiliest? And I was very discouraged.”
I know exactly what she’s talking about. It’s the same way I felt growing up. I looked at celebrities and cried because I wanted a different texture than my own, until finally my mom caved and let me get a perm and then a weave. As Liv described the insecurities she had tied to her natural hair, I realized I had a few of my own.
So I started my own transition. A few hours later, after my first ever twist out, I was crying in the mirror as my mom told me how “unpolished” I looked. But a large part of Liv’s natural hair journey has been about accepting herself, even when other people didn’t, so I tried to keep that in mind.
“My family, they’re in the traditional way of beauty,” Liv told Galore. “So they didn’t believe in what I was doing. I had to really stay strong and be my own support system. I had to stop doubting myself and I had to honestly believe that I was beautiful no matter what, and that was the most challenging part.”
Can you imagine your own family disapproving of the hair you were born with, the hair you got from them?
When you exist in a society that doesn’t celebrate your hair texture, you’re defying the beliefs that you and everyone else around you have internalized. So when I was frowning at the mirror, wondering if I was incapable of loving my hair, I was also wondering if other people were incapable of that too.
But transitioning isn’t just learning self love, it’s learning how to style and care for your hair for the first time.
“One of the hardest things about going natural is that all your life, you’ve been going to the hair salon and getting your hair done for you,” Liv said. “And now all of a sudden, you have to do your own hair, and not only do you have to do your own hair, but you have to do a texture you’ve never seen or felt before.”
Basically, there’s a learning curve.
As I twisted my hair, the strands felt so unfamiliar in my hands. It felt like I was grabbing dinner with a friend I’d lost touch with and we were struggling to connect.
For anyone else with the same problem, Liv advises baby steps. Rather than a big chop, she prefers transitioning slowly into natural hair, which means cutting off the chemically treated parts of your hair over time. She also suggests wearing your hair in its most natural state just for one day, which feels way easier than committing to it for a lifetime.
“The best thing about natural hair is its versatile,” Liv told us. “That’s what will make you fall in love with it, because then you’ll realize all the things you can do and all the things you can be with your natural hair, it’s not just a poofy mess.”
It’s also important that before you go natural, you do your research. Your hair will be a texture that isn’t discussed in the beauty pages of most magazines or hyper-visible in the media, so most people won’t know wtf to do with it.
“Do the research in your family to find out what hair texture you have because we don’t know,” Liv said. “Before we go natural, we literally don’t know.”
You’re also going to need to shop for brand new hair products.
I had a whole bunch of hair sprays and creams that don’t do anything for my natural hair, so I had to run to the store and get gels and creams I was unfamiliar with. I settled on Eco Styler Moroccan Argan Oil gel. Meanwhile, Liv swears by the afro-vegan brand Soultanicals and her very own DIY Shea Butter.
As for me, well I don’t know if I’ll stick with natural hair.
I’m already discouraged and I keep playing a loop in my head of every time an ex has made fun of my texture. But seeing Liv’s confidence, and the connection she feels with her hair, is keeping me motivated. Plus, she recently launched a self love podcast and the most recent episode is on self-esteem and natural hair. Hearing her journey, and how much it relates to mine, gives me the motivation to fall in love with my natural hair too.