Natural Hair Myths To Leave Behind in 2021

Dec 29, 2019

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As we see another year pass by, it’s time to unsubscribe from some of the harmful natural hair myths we’ve been subconsciously fed by society.

There’s a lot of misinformation around natural hair and natural hair myths that need to be left in the past. These natural hair myths perpetuate a harmful narrative around vulnerable hair textures and hair types that, frankly, just aren’t true.

a GIF of Nelson from The Simpsons holding a pumpkin while exclaiming "you're a racist!"

Ready to find out which natural hair myths you need to leave in the dust this year? Let’s go!

Natural Hair Myth #1: Type 4 Hair Can’t Grow

A direct product of colonialization and white supremacy is the stigmatization of blackness.

According to this ideology, the closer we can get to whiteness, the closer we are perceived as “attractive”, “professional” and overall “acceptable”.

This encompasses what we refer to as “a beauty standard”.

In the beauty-sphere, coily, kinky hair is genetically associated with blackness, therefore less associated with whiteness.

In other words, the coilier your hair, the less you are able to meet this aforementioned beauty standard.

This agenda is further supported by media and what is marketed to as the ideal beauty. Growing up, many of us never saw black women in all their natural hair glory on TV.

This sends a subliminal, yet intentional, message to young black people. For most of us, we’ve grown to unconsciously detest our black hair because we’ve never seen it as beautiful.

All that to say, in order to accept and cherish our hair in all its glory, we need to unlearn some of the lies we’ve been unconsciously fed.

As an example, Type 4 natural hair isn’t “hard” or “untameable”. In fact, Type 4 natural hair is the most fragile of all the curl types due to its tight curl pattern!

Natural Hair Myth #2: Your Hair Type Is The Only Thing You Need to Know About Your Hair

There is merit in knowing your curl type, whether you fall in Type 3 or Type 4 natural hair, and using that to navigate through different natural hair products and techniques. 

But what really matters, especially for those transitioning to natural hair, is porosity.

Natural Hair Porosity

Natural hair porosity is the ability of your hair to absorb water and/products. 

Low porosity natural hair has a low absorption rate, because the cuticles are stubbornly closed. It is difficult for this hair porosity to absorb moisture.

High porosity natural hair has a high absorption rate, because the cuticles are always open. It is difficult for this hair porosity to retain moisture.

Your porosity will indicate how well your hair absorbs water and products.

For example, if you’re low porosity and you notice your hair is super parched and brittle, it’s because your cuticles are so tight that the hair isn’t absorbing any of the moisturizing products you’re using.

And if you’re high porosity, your cuticles are always open, so products and water evaporate just as fast as you put them on your hair. You will also notice dry, parched hair.

Once you understand these details about your hair, you’ll be able to create a personalized routine that works for you. Regardless of your curl pattern!

Natural Hair Myth #3: All Chemicals are Bad For You

Technically, everything in life is a chemical. So the statement that chemicals are bad for you is slightly inaccurate.

To take it one step further, there are some “natural” ingredients that are bad for you. For example, essential oils are derived from plant extracts, yet using them without a carrier oil is harmful for your skin!

It’s important to empower yourself on which ingredients promote our natural hair journey, work for your porosity and is generally safe to use.

Natural Hair Myth #4: Shampoo is Bad For You

This is a myth that should have been left in 2015.

Shampoo is essential to keeping our scalp clean, as the detergents and surfactants in the shampoo formulas remove dirt, product build-up, bacteria and mineral build-up (if you live in area with hard water).

To be clear: your hair will never be properly moisturized if you don’t clarify your scalp and hair regularly. And your hair will not be able to absorb moisture and products with a layer of dirt surrounding it!

There are many different shampoos to choose from, but two main shampoos all naturals should have are moisturizing shampoos and clarifying shampoos.

  • Moisturizing shampoos contain gentle yet effective surfactants that remove product build-up and dirt from the scalp. These shampoos are excellent for regular use
  • Clarifying shampoos, on the other hand, contain deep cleaning detergents that deeply clean the hair and remove hard-to-reach dirt, including mineral build-up (especially shampoos with chelating ingredients that can break these bonds. Clarifying shampoos are a must for low porosity naturals who experience accelerated product buildup.

If you are able to, investing in these two shampoos will ensure your scalp is clean, and will prime and prep your hair to uptake all the glorious moisture and products during the moisture process.

an image of camille rose sweet ginger rinse

Camille Rose Sweet Ginger Cleansing Rinse

Best for TYPE 4, high porosity

This shampoo is incredibly gentle and non-stripping, but contains enough surfactants to thoroughly cleanse your hair and remove buildup. Ginger root oil – the second ingredient in the formula – is antiseptic, boosting overall scalp health. A must have shampoo in any high porosity natural hair routine!

an image of the best products for fine type 4 natural hair_mielle organics pomegranate and honey shampoo

Mielle Pomegranate & Honey Shampoo

Best for TYPE 4, all porosities

This shampoo is one of the most moisturizing shampoos on the market. Key ingredients such as honey and panthenol reduce friction between hair strands, providing additional slip and promoting moisture retention throughout the shampoo process. A great biweekly or monthly shampoo to remove deeper buildup.

an image of Tresemme 2 and 1 cleansing shampoo

Tresemme 2 and 1 Cleanse and Replenish Shampoo

Best for TYPE 4

This shampoo is a triple threat: it contains deep cleansing and detoxifying detergents that will remove accumulated buildup; remove mineral buildup from hard water, and; includes conditioning agents to avoid stripping the hair. Best as a monthly shampoo to detoxify the scalp and reset the hair, and is a great shampoo for low porosity hair that is prone to accelerated product buildup. 

Natural Hair Myth #5: Natural Hair Should Always Be In Protective Styles

Protective styles are wonderful for natural hair. It retains moisture throughout the entirety of the hair, which in turn helps naturals retain length.

But too often we see naturals abuse and neglect their hair once they are styled and tucked away.

Styles that are too tight will stress the hair and follicles, leading to increased hair shedding and subsequent hair thinning, and possible irreversible conditions like alopecia.

Protective styles that are left in too long are also not good for natural hair. Neglected hair in a style that’s been installed for more than 8 weeks will cause dryness and product buildup, also damaging the hair and scalp.

Take protective styling with you in 2021 so long as your style meets the following conditions:

  • Seals your ends completely
  • Is uninstalled and re-moisturized every 6-8 weeks
  • Isn’t too tight and is not causing tension, especially around the hairline

Natural Hair Myth #6: Oils “Moisturize” Hair

Oil is not a hydrator because there’s no water in it. Oil is a sealant. Water is nature’s only “true” moisturizer.

Always apply a moisturizing, water-based leave-in conditioner before applying oils.

a picture of camille rose curl love moisture milk

Camille Rose Curl Love Moisture Milk

Best for TYPE 3-4, all porosities

This product is well-loved by all naturals, but the film-forming humectants, such as aloe vera and slippery elm, is great for high porosity naturals experiencing moisture loss. The plethora of conditioning ingredients will also make your hair feel supple and soft. A must try for all naturals!

an image of kinky curly knot today

Kinky Curly Knot Today

Best for TYPE 3 – 4, high porosity

A cult classic leave-in, this formula is perfect for both curly and coily hair. Packed with fortifying and film-forming humectants such as slippery elm and marshmallow root, it will keep your moisturized your hair for days to come. The conditioning agents will also allow for easy detangling, making your hair feel like butter. A fan favourite for high porosity naturals prioritizing moisture retention.

an image of tgin daily moisturizer

TGIN Butter Cream Daily Moisturizer

Best for TYPE 3-4

No other cream moisturizer exists on the market quite like this one – not only does it have amazing slip, but it’s rich formula with shea butter and Vitamin E will help flatten your cuticles and promote hydration all week long.

Remember that oils create a very strong film around the hair, and if you are someone who re-moisturizes during the week, it will not be able to actually reach your hair.

Oils still have a place in a natural hair routine, especially for high porosity hair. Some oils are highly penetrative because of their small molecular weight, and can temporarily fill in cracked cuticle gaps.

There are three oils that can actually penetrate the hair shaft, similar to how water can. Although this isn’t technically “moisturizing”, it works in a similar function to heal the hair shaft from the inside out. These are coconut oil, olive oil and avocado oil.

Be sure know which natural hair oils are best for your hair. As a general rule of thumb, olive oil and avocado oil are good for both low and high porosity hair, while coconut oil is good for high porosity hair.

Natural Hair Myth #7: You Can Repair Split Ends

This is a myth that applies to all hair types.

Many natural hair products claim to “repair and restore split ends”, and upon using that product, you will magically see your split ends fused back together.

This is entirely untrue and is a predatory marketing technique aimed at targeting our pain points.

No product can glue split ends back together. Now, what products can do is stop any further breakage in its tracks.

Moisture-based products can keep the split end from creating a deeper split. Protein-based products will strengthen your hair to ensure that no further split ends will be made on other strands.

Natural Hair Myth #7: Black Hair is “Harder” Than White Hair

There is literally no basis for this claim. This is one natural hair myth that stems from a place of racism and ignorance, describing white people as “delicate” and “fragile” and black people as “tough” and “barbaric”.

Studies have actually shown that Afrotextured, coily hair is actually more fragile than straight hair because of all the kinks and bends in our hair that are points of potential breakage. 

Natural Hair Myth #8: Natural Hair Isn’t Beautiful

Natural hair is gorgeous, beautiful, effortless, resilient and out-of-this-world.

When we let go of these indoctrinated harmful narratives, stop trying to tame and subdue Afrotextured hair and work with it, not against it, we’ll find that our hair is highly responsive and cooperative.

The Bottom Line

The above natural hair myths are common in the natural hair community, and it’s unfortunate that many of these stem from racist, ignorant perspectives. 

Black is beautiful, and natural hair is an exclusive link to blackness. 

Bring the new year in with healthy, natural hair tips and disregard the natural hair myths outlined above. Your hair will thank you!

The Curl Market is a natural hair blog catered to helping black naturals grow their curls into a long, luscious manes.

We use the latest evidence-based scientific research to provide you with the top tips on growing your curls, regardless of hair type.

We also provide lifestyle tips, both self care and mental care, to ensure you are optimizing your body’s natural hair growth cycle – because you can’t grow natural hair if you’re stressed out!

Come as you are.

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Ayana is The Curl Market’s brand founder. When she’s not deep in natural hair research or creating content, she’s hanging on the couch with her husband and her cat, reading a book or scrolling through TikTok. Follow her on Instagram at @tothecurlmarket.

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