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11 Important Tips For People Who Are Going Natural

You will inevitably hit the point where you feel like you can't do it anymore. Hang in there! You totally can!

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1. Read and research.

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You want to be as ready as you can to start styling and properly caring for your hair right out of the gate. There's no possible way you'll learn everything there is to know before you're ready to holler at the scissors—there's ALWAYS something new to learn–but why not knock out some of those hours you'll spend reading about your destination while you're en route? Make sure you know the basics at the very least; googling "natural hair basics" will turn up some informative sites, and you'll definitely want to have this natural hair dictionary handy as you peruse the thousands of natural hair sites out there.

2. Don't have ANY expectations.

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If you haven't yet, you have to divorce yourself of the thought that "good hair" (and, thusly, "bad hair") exists. There's no such thing as a "right" or "wrong" kind of natural hair. If you go into this wanting long, silky corkscrews or fluffy, cottony kinks, you're setting yourself up to be disappointed. Hair texture is as different and distinct as fingerprints are. Let yours do what it will do, and embrace whatever it does. All hair is different—yours may not look like your hair idol's; products that your favorite hair forum poster love may have you looking a mess. Expect and accept that and look forward to learning and (hopefully) loving your hair.

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3. And don't stress too much over your "hair type."

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This chart is pretty widely accepted among many naturals as a means of figuring out which products and styles work best for particular curl patterns. But, as this piece at MadamNoire points out, "there's more to hair than just texture and pattern."

Hair typing is a great place to start understanding your newly natural hair, but don't stop there. Several factors impact your hair's behavior and needs, such as porosityand protein sensitivity. Don't assume that everything that works marketed towards your hair type will work for you.

Also, if you notice that you have more than one of these hair types, don't freak out! It's totally normal.

4. Keep heat usage to a minimum

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Too much heat on curly hair can result in heat damage, potentially hurting or ruining your curl pattern. Use it sparingly! Take this time to practice protective styling, like twists, braid-outs, and sew-ins, or low manipulation styles, if you'd prefer.

5. Make moisture your best friend.

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Natural hair requires a lot of moisture to stay healthy and happy, and a good hydration routine will encourage hair growth.Make deep conditioning your hair a weekly event, learn how to seal your hair, and make sure to wrap your hair with a satin scarf or bonnet or sleep on a satin pillowcase at night.

6. Be very careful when detangling.

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Detangling natural hair is an entirely different experience than working with relaxed hair. The highly textured strands are much more prone to knotting and getting even more tangled, and the curlier/kinkier your hair is, the more careful you need to be. Most naturals detangle with a Denman brush or wide tooth comb while the hair is soaked and loaded with conditioner. Start at the ends and work your way up to the root. click here for more info on careful detangling.

7. Remember: expensive does NOT necessarily equal better.

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Product packaging and fancy websites can be oh so seductive. When a lot of people first go natural, they think that a product is guaranteed to give them fab hair just because it has a heavy price tag. Companies often pay popular vloggers to promote their products and when new naturals become YouTube hair tutorial addicts, they're inundated with ads for expensive products without knowing it. Pretty soon you're a product junkie with a closet full of expensive, half-used products that didn't work.

Remembering that a product isn't the best thing out there just because a it has fancy packaging, a flashy website, and a big price tag can save you lots of dollars and headaches. A lot of naturals treat and style their hair with items that you can find in your own kitchen, like honey, olive oil, coconut oil, and apple cider vinegar. You can even make your own products.

This isn't to say that expensive products don't work! It's just helpful to remember that a 99 cent bottle of conditioner can do you just as good or better than a $15 one.

8. Just do it!

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Depending on how long you transition, you'll come to that awkward stage where half your hair is natural and you've got some relaxed ends just holding on for dear life. Cutting hair that you're had forever is hard, but think about snipping those ends. It will be good for you and for your hair—your relaxed hair will become weaker and break off as the rest of it grows out. Don't prolong the inevitable for the sake of a few more inches. Rip off the band-aid!

9. ...Or don't!

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You don't have to chop off a bunch of hair at once to go natural; lots of people do, but that isn't the only way. It isn't uncommon for people to grow their hair out for years before cutting their relaxed ends completely off. Soon you'll be seeing different looking person in your mirror, and it makes sense to want to transition slowly. Just be sure that you're taking care of all your hair as you transition—getting regular trims will help keep your hair together as those ends break off, and be sure to ply it with moisture to nourish the newly natural portion of your hair.

Doing the big chop and experiencing your new short hair is exhilarating once you get over the shock, but if you need to ease into it, that's okay too. It doesn't make you any less brave!

10. Hang in there!

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Expect to want to quit at some point. When your roots are staging a good ol' fashioned Black Is Beautiful demonstration and your ends are trying to bribe you to go back to that jar of Dudley's, try your best to hold out. Transitioning to anything new can be difficult, and you will absolutely go through some ridiculous looking days as your hair becomes who it is. Accept it, get ready for it, and commit to being fierce in spite of. It IS possible. Don't quit!

11. And if you do quit, remember: it's just hair.

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You won't be a failure if you don't see it through. If you make it, but don't like it, it doesn't have to mean you're a self-hating assimilator. The sister with the Angela Davis blowout is not one stitch better or blacker than you are. It's just hair; the important thing is what's beneath it.

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