Natural Disaster: My Natural Hair Trials and Tribulations

Thank God I found this forum, because I was ready to scream. None of the natural hair groups on FB have invited me in, probably because I don't post pics of myself on FB and they can't see my hair :/ and another forum I joined was too confusing to figure out (won't say which), so I cam here to get this out of my system because it's been a week since I've kept this in, and I really need some natural hair vets to talk to right about now!

So, I was having and am having a natural hair disaster, or as my mom likes to call them, natural disaster! I am going through this horrible phase in which I just hate my hair. It's difficult, I don't like the way it looks, It's too short to style the way I want and it's too long to just leave it alone. I think I am approaching that in between phase, and I say "think" because my hair is no longer considered a TWA, and yet it isn't really long enough to deem anything but a TWA . . . It's more like a small afro.

Anyway, one day I woke up, took a shower and in the midst of washing my hair I realized that nothing I was doing was working BECAUSE it had gotten long out of nowhere. So I tweaked my regimen to accommodate the new length. I started sectioning to avoid terrible detangling sessions. And since we have finally arrived at detangling, let me tell you my woes.

It's always detangling where I get caught up in the whole I-hate-being-natural mentality!

Now, I'm not into the whole hair typing thing, but I did figure out that my hair is of mixed texture. I've got 3c curls in the back and 4a-4b curls closer to the top. While all of my hair gets horrible tangles no matter the texture, the back is always so . . . well behaved, and once I start creeping further up my head to work with the center, things get mad!

The center of my head is my problem area. The tangles are absolutely most horrid here and they drive me up the wall. Detangling this section of my hair can turn into a breakage-for-all fiasco if I am not careful and keep my patience, which I almost never am! Last week when it was time to wash I had such a terrible time with this that I asked my mom to buy me a relaxer. I just could not take it anymore. I was trying unsuccessfully to work a denman through my hair when my fingers just wasn't getting the job done and it got to the point where I threw out the brush because I felt like I was ripping out more hair than I was saving. I got so mad at myself and at my hair that the second I was done detangling I washed the conditioner out and blew those curls out with the dryer. I blow dried my hair until I could no longer see the curls. I was so mad, and felt even more horrible because I used heat, and my hair did not feel like I'd just washed it at all. The ends were dry and still tangled.

Long story short, it was a mess! I'd lost all this hair, used heat, and I just wasn't feeling it.

The same day my cousin braided down the front of my head for me, so the back was curled but the fronts weren't. The braids were neat and beautiful, but I didn't like the style. I wore it for a week before washing my hair yesterday.

Now, my hair washing session yesterday was completely different. I committed a natural hair sin and detangled on dry hair as I was applying my hot oil treatment and noticed little pieces of hair sticking to the mirror from where I was popping the ends of my hair clean off from the dry detanging. Needless to say, I'll never do that again! But when I put in the conditioner and let it sit, I got out of the shower, sat in front of a mirror and TOOK MY TIME. I sectioned the hair into even smaller sections and finger detangled until my hair was smooth and ran a comb through the curls for good measure. And while the center of my head was still just as temperamental as it usually was, it was much easier to tame this time, because I broke it down into even smaller sections and took my time.

So detangling went much better than it has been in a long time, but I'm still not satisfied. I feel like something in my regime is missing. I feel as if, even though I can't see it, my hair is getting longer and causing more problems and something needs to be tweaked or changed in order for me to get this under control.

Which brings me to my next problem. I am so sick of having to read every single thing in the ingredients list just to make sure my hair is getting all the good things and none of the bad things. I find myself avoiding more products than I am using. I mainly stick to Giovanni and Aubrey Organics. I never have to worry about what's in these products because they are all natural and anything coming from a whole foods store has to be good, right? And these products work well for me. But something is missing. The problem could be that I am using my summer time routine in the winter since I usually stick to just one routine throughout the year, but I just feel as if something is lacking, and I want to just go out and buy something new without having to comb through a confusing ingredients list and wondering if something is good or bad.

Anyway, I decided that a product haul would be good, but when I started thinking about all the things I wanted to try I got frustrated because all the things I wanted try has bad ingredients, such as the Tresseme Naturals and Hello Hydration. But the more I thought about it, the more I was just like "Screw this, I'm trying it anyway!." I just don't care anymore. I'm tired of this strict hair diet I am on. And while it may be working, something new is needed. I think I'm just bummed out because I am ready to be out of this trial and error phase. I mean, does it ever go away?!

I mean, I am only in my second year of being natural. I am still at the beginning. It's just that the longer my hair gets, the more demanding it gets, and I don't think I can take it anymore.

Don't get me wrong. While it may be frustrating, I absolutely love my curls. Most of my frustration comes from the fact that I keep breaking them, no matter what I do. I don't ever want to perm my hair again. I just want my natural to grow and be the healthiest it can be.

I don't know. What do you think? Any tips on what I should do when my hair starts getting even longer and I have to switch things up?


  • lolo918lolo918 Posts: 729Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    I'm curious about the bad ingredients you are avoiding and why? From what you do say about detangling it sounds like your conditioner isn't providing enough slip for your hair properties. I havent been here at curltalk long, but what I have seen is that hair properties and products your hair likes trump other things. For instance, I actually use Tresemme naturals moisture variety conditioner (quite a few people here do) and it does provide quite a bit of slip for me. It was a price issue (very affordable) along with it being silicone and sulfate free as to why I first tried it. I also recently used a sulfate shampoo when I don't normally bc my hair needed that extra removal of build-up that my sulfate free clarifier wasn't providing.

    From what I do understand fatty alcohols are one thing in products to look for that can provide slip while detangling. I can't remember one off the top of my head though so I'm no help there. :(

    I also love my detangle sessions after I do an overnight coconut oil pre-poo- I leave the oil on for at least 8 hours.
    Other things that may help are regular deep treatments with conditioners that work to add moisture. Hot oil treatments can help soften/moisturize if they penetrate the hair shaft but most oils only keep moisture from leaving.

    After writing this book though, I will say the trial and error can have sort of an end if you learn your hair properties. It can help you as far as knowing whether or not you really should avoid certain ingredients (like how I figured out about oils after shampooing for me). I hope this helps a little and good luck! There are tons of information and help within these boards.

    Sent from my SCH-I200 using CurlTalk App
    3C/4A, fine texture, low-medium density, and low porosity
    CG since November 2013.

    Pre-Poo: infrequent now, Coconut Oil overnight
    Shampoo: Curls unleashed/for occasional sulfate wash when needed, everlasting sunshine.
    Conditioner: Suave Naturals Everlasting Sunshine and GVP's conditioning balm.
    Styler: iagirl's flaxseed curl cream or gelatin gel/conditioner mix. <3
    PT: iagirl's gelatin treatment 3-4 times a month, with conditioner/honey/avj
  • BluebloodBlueblood Posts: 1,748Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    As lolo918 said what bad ingredients are you avoiding? Have you noticed they cause you specific problems or are you just avoiding them because the natural hair sites say you should avoid them?

    It's actually a good idea to work out:
    a. Your hair properties
    b. What an ingredient does to your hair instead of blanket avoidance as a lot of curlies have no problems with silicones and mineral oil as long as they wash them out properly.

    Also I just use a wide tooth comb in the shower with loads of conditioner on my hair or my fingers to detangle I don't both with a brush. I don't do hot oil treatments as I'm lazy but do do coconut pre-poos.
  • TheAutumnRoseTheAutumnRose Posts: 9Registered Users
    Thanks , lolo918 and Blueblood for reading! I am mainly trying to stay away from silicones and sulfates and alcohols, and apparently Tresemme Naturals changed their formula and it is now loaded with alcohols, so I don't think I'll be buying that after all. And yes, Blueblood, I am avoiding them because of what natural hair sites say (even though there is always something we're doing wrong, like using too much moisture or coming and brushing too hard, avoiding the wrong things or doing something wrong, too much water, etc., etc,). From what what I've read, alcohol can be drying to our already dry hair, although the cetyl alcohol apparently has good benefits. And another reason why I don't go for chain brands like Tresseme is because they like to lure you in with the good stuff, then they change their formula on you and load it with all these bad ingredients, as if they're trying to trick you. The conditioners that I do use have slip, but I think you might be right lol918, they might not be providing enough slip . . . but I also think that it is because I kept trying to detangle in large sections while I should have just sat down and took my time and detangled in smaller sections. I think my hair is getting too thick to do the things I used to do, and I can't be lazy with this hair of mine. I have to learn how to give in to it's demands and be patient with it or I'm going to end up breaking all of my ends off.

    Today I mixed honey, jojoba, avacado, olive, and coconut oil with the last of the VO5 that I was no longer using (because of all the things I'm avoiding in my hair diet again, and I only used VO5 because I am running out of my Giovanni, my staple) and my hair detangled like a dream. So yeah, I think the Aubreys and Giovanni isn't providing me with enough slip. Thanks for bringing that to my attention!

    And I never thought about hair properties . . . this is going to be a silly question, but what are hair properties? The only things I know that my hair likes are hot oil treatments and natural conditioners as a leave in. The more natural, the better. I do hot oil treatments weekly now. At first I hated oil because I was being too heavy handed and thought it made my hair greasy, but now I can't get enough of it. My hair sucks up the oil well and it softens it and makes it much more manageable than it usually is. But I'm not sure what else my hair likes. I'm going to have to pay attention to this when I do my product haul and record it in my hair journal so I'll know what's working and what just isn't. I know mineral oil is an absolute no go (It dries my hair within moments) and products that coat my hair and sit on it like a barrier isn't going to fly, either. My hair is very clear on what it likes and what it doesn't, but I don't think I've been paying as much attention as I thought. Maybe mixing honey and natural ingredients in with commercial brands like I did today will be just as helpful as buying all natural products. I can always use any Giovanni product as a leave in, but for washing and detangling I may have to reevaluate what I am using.

    Thanks again for reading and bringing all these things to my attention :D
  • lolo918lolo918 Posts: 729Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    Asking about hair properties is NOT a silly question- before I started posting here around October 2013, I had no idea and was too shy to ask so it took me awhile of reading to find out what they were.
    Hair properties are things like porosity- this can be low, normal, and high. From what I've seen here people can have areas with different porosity for a variety of reasons. The way you say some products sit on your hair sounds like you could have low porosity hair but your love of oil stumps me a little. When my hair dries fully it comes out so dry looking, tangled, no elasticity, and hard to the touch when I use oils (even shea butters) the way that you described or high on product lists (shea moisture being the most recent discovery for me). Second, there is texture- this can be fine, medium or coarse. My hair is fine so each strand is very thin. Third there is density- this can be low, normal, and high. I have low density hair so when I do things like braided updo's I frequently hate them b/c I have quite a bit of scalp that shows. Fourth there is elasticity- so how well your hair springs back from tension being applied. Lastly, there is curl type. So this is 2,3, or 4 type curls with subclasses of a,b, and c. There are other typing systems, like the curly girl types but I haven't done a lot of research into them.

    After you mentioned the alcohols, I did have to take a look at the brand new bottle of TreSemme naturals that my mom got- the second ingredient is an alcohol but it is a fatty alcohol that doesn't dry(cetearyl alcohol). That particular alcohol is derived from coconut and palm oils, and from what I understand is a combination of two fatty alcohols that were in the first five ingredients of the old formula. I didn't get to finish but all the ingredients up to the fragrance weren't listed as harmful, so I'm not sure about the information you were given. Again, I am still new to ingredient lists but I consider anything after fragrance to be less "active" so for the bottle I researched it was the first 7 ingredients. This bottle IS the new formulation so it has the caprylic/capric triglycerides below the fragrance near the end of the ingredients which means there's not a whole lot of it in the product- where it used to be in the first five ingredients. I can't speak though for other store brands about their re-formulations. I can speak to say that I'm a super nerd who tends to google everything, lols so this was fun researching my conditioner.

    I have been wanting to try coconut milk as a deep treatment- this is a definite way to avoid the ingredients you want to avoid as it is safe for human consumption. It WAS just brought to my attention that coconut milk/coconut cream is part of a relaxer recipe floating around the internet. What I did notice about people saying it relaxed curl pattern though was that they all left it on for hours- like 4-5 hours. The only "deep treatment" I use for hours is coconut oil (olive oil could work too) b/c it takes that long to really penetrate the hair shaft, but then I shampoo the excess out. Otherwise you most likely won't see a relaxed pattern with 30-45 minutes of exposure if you dare to try it.

    That brings me to my last words of encouragement that I did want to throw out there- don't feel bad adding grocery store products to your chemist formulated products. I mix more aloe vera juice and also aloe vera gel for hold to my TreSemme to style my curls. I usually add honey to any kitchen DIY treatment I do which usually involves some of my normal conditioner- it acts as a mild humectant meaning it draws moisture in the hair. Same thing for aloe juice- which is why I started getting it. I use it sometimes in my spritz bottle to revive my curls.
    3C/4A, fine texture, low-medium density, and low porosity
    CG since November 2013.

    Pre-Poo: infrequent now, Coconut Oil overnight
    Shampoo: Curls unleashed/for occasional sulfate wash when needed, everlasting sunshine.
    Conditioner: Suave Naturals Everlasting Sunshine and GVP's conditioning balm.
    Styler: iagirl's flaxseed curl cream or gelatin gel/conditioner mix. <3
    PT: iagirl's gelatin treatment 3-4 times a month, with conditioner/honey/avj
  • TheAutumnRoseTheAutumnRose Posts: 9Registered Users
    Oh, okay. So I know about hair porosity and all that, and that is just summed up as hair properties . . . cool! I'm going to have to list mine out then (I love making lists). I've done a porosity test before and you're right, I have low porosity, which is why I've also been doing deep conditioning under indirect heat. This has made a significant difference. Yeah, I don't know what happened with the oil because at first we didn't get along, but I think it was because I was being too heavy handed. I started loving oil after I did my first hot oil treatment, which I dreaded at first, but the results were awesome once I washed all the oil out. It made my hair super duper soft, and now when I seal my product in with an oil my hair isn't as oily or greasy. I don't know. I can't explain the change. I hated it, but my hair apparently loves it. It liked oil before, I just didn't because I didn't know what I was doing with it, it was greasy and made it impossible to touch my hair because I was using too much . . . yeah. How did you use the oil? I tried using just oil to lock in the water once when I didn't have any leave in conditioner . . . I'll never do it again! That was a dry and oily natural disaster, lol.

    I don't know my other properties. I don't know how fine my strands are. They are fine, but I don't know just how fine, like if they are thready or medium. Definitely not wiry. And I don't know my density, but I speculate I have medium to high density. I can see my scalp when I part it, but can't always touch it directly when I dig my fingers into my curls. I try to stay away from the hair typing thing . . . I want to know, but at the same time its not that important. From what I've seen and researched I fall in the 3b-c 4a-b range, but since my hair is still too short to really know I just forget about it. The longer my hair gets, the more defined the curl pattern gets, and the less I'm sure about what I'm dealing with. My hair type is temperamental when she doesn't get her way and just beautiful and well behaved when I've given her what she wants and needs, and that's all I need to know, lol.

    The Tresemme list I came across with all the alcohol was on CurlyNikki, but there was a pic a woman took of the two different bottles on another website that had completely different ingredients, so I don't know. How many times have they changed their formula? And why change it if it's working great the first time?

    I heard about coconut milk and coconut cream, too. They say it's good for making your thick homemade conditioners a little more creamy. But I didn't know it relaxed the curl pattern. I don't leave conditioner in for hours. I've tried it, and it just doesn't make my hair any softer than when I leave it in for thirty to forty five minutes, so . . . Besides, I like washing that stuff out right then and there after forty five minutes. My scalp does not like being wet with conditioner for ours. It starts to get itchy and irritated after so long.

    And as far as grocery store items go, girl, I know, right? The best ingredients you can put on your hair are those that are good for your body, too! I haven't tried that aloe vera juice that's everywhere now. Is it just 100% aloe vera juice in that bottle most people get? Do you have to keep it refrigerated? I find that extra virgin olive oil is cheaper from a grocery store than from a hair store. I can't find coconut oil, though. I'm sure that's edible somewhere! And I plan on stocking up on the honey. I've also been wanting to try avocado and banana in my conditioners, too.

    I'm much happier with my curls today, btw. It's just sometimes I get so frustrated. I've noticed that the curls in the front are . . . curlier than usual. It no longer looks like a frizz convention up there, but now look like a bunch of little macaroni noodles bunched together, and I'm even starting to see individual spirals in those little noodles, which lets me know my hair has grown out more, and my fro is a little bigger than it normally is. I don't know what I am going to do when my little fro actually grows out and there is more of it to take care of! But I think longer hair is less stressful because you don't have to work so close to the scalp and have your arms up the whole time. That gets tiring, too.
  • BluebloodBlueblood Posts: 1,748Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    Actually your density and strand size are important.

    They help you to work out whether specific ingredients are likely to work for you e.g. butters and heavier oils as sealers, what you need to wash your hair with if you use particular products and how often you need to wash it.

    In my case I always was told my other people's comments from childhood that my hair was low density, and 2 hairdressers I used and trust because they knew a lot about hair agreed.

    Other people I know including blood relations who have high density hair have had similar.

    Those with normal density tend to get no comments.

    Strand size can be worked out by comparing your hair to divided cotton thread. Coarse hair is thicker than it and finer hair is thinner than it.

    However again if you ever had your hair done by a decent person they will tell you, alternatively others who see your shed hairs will also tell you if they aren't normal/medium.

    In regards to using natural products -I've been natural for nearly 14 years. In the first few years you insist on using natural ingredients but after doing research you realise that some derived ingredients are perfectly fine. You also work out as product manufacturers are always reformulating products, changing lines or going out of business so it's worth learning about ingredients.
  • BamagirlBamagirl Posts: 59Registered Users
    I got my coconut oil from the baking section of the supermarket. It was beside the cooking oils and shortening.
  • TheAutumnRoseTheAutumnRose Posts: 9Registered Users
    I am starting to learn some of this now. I really do insist on all natural products, but the way my budget and low maintenance ways are set up, sometimes all natural just doesn't even cut it. I've found that mixing honey and oil in a regular chain brand conditioner is working wonders.
  • TheAutumnRoseTheAutumnRose Posts: 9Registered Users
    Bamagirl, I'm going to have to look again in the baking section. Usually I go straight to where the oils are stocked, find what I want, and go, but coconut oil never jumped out at me (probably because I wasn't "looking").

Leave a Comment

BoldItalicStrikethroughOrdered listUnordered list
Align leftAlign centerAlign rightToggle HTML viewToggle full pageToggle lights
Drop image/file