The Nappy Hair Struggle

Written by Brandi. Natural hair blogger at Soul Canvas and ZedHair contributor.

I must admit, nappy hair bloggers make the nappy life look easy. And no doubt, for the most part it is once you get the hang of it. We wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t or if we didn’t love our hair enough to jump through hoops for it. But at the end of the day most of us grew up learning relaxed hair and not natural hair so when you do make the switch it’s a tad bit of an adjustment. Honestly for me it wouldn’t even be an option had it not been for the net because very few people around me know how to handle the mighty kink.

For the most part I’m a happy nappy. No complaints here. Once I got past the awkward length stage it was somewhat smooth sailing there on out. However there are those days when my hair tests my patience, days where I wish I really could just sweep it into a ponytail (which at my length is impossible). Ladies, if you also have those days, you are not alone. I present to you the nappy hair struggles:

  • Tangling

Boy does this hair loooove to tangle! My cousin once did thin twists as part of a hair style and when she undid them a week later her hair had already began to mangle itself into locks, no encouragement needed!



  • Styling

When you first start out styling nappy hair is a major pain in the behind. You never know what on earth to do with it and so you end up throwing a scarf on or hair band and hope it looks decent. And it doesn’t help that everyone in the photos you see online seems to have a bushel of natural hair to play with while you have 3 shrunken cms.

  • The search for softness.

Natural ladies spend a lot of time and money looking for that product that will make hair soft. When relaxed that’s not really an issue but when the hair’s kinky, it’s all we want. Some hair textures are naturally soft while other textures need some help. Nothing worse than digging your fingers into a wiry mass of hair.

  • Dealing with everyone’s opinion. 

In this world, fro’s are the minority for the most part and make people curious. I’ve had everyone and their mama tell me what they think of my hair. Some love it, some are curious, some hate it, some pat it or touch it and some judge me for it. I’ve even had an Asian couple take a picture of it randomly at the mall. Anyone who’s made a major hair change can relate, relaxed or natural. The worst though were the ones who hate it. I was once told that because I wear my hair natural I appear to not be putting effort into how I look as opposed to women that wear weaves, let that sink in.


Corinne Bailey Rae

  • Grand Expectations

I’m certain all 4c/4z bearing ladies (that were previously relaxed) have gone through this. Expecting that Corrine B Rae loose curl or something close at the very least and all you get is your slightly softer new growth. One thing I realized after going natural is that there is “good” and “bad” natural hair. So many non-naturals have said to me “I can’t go natural, my hair is really kinky/African, it wouldn’t look nice”. What does that statement say about how they feel about their hair?



  • Shrinkage

Not all naturals consider shrinkage a struggle though our hair management lives revolve around avoiding it. We twist or braid to stretch which makes styling easier. Some just give in to the blow dryer because it’s faster. Shrinkage also hides length which most females want. It also causes tangling and knotting because it encourages the hair to wrap around itself. Sometimes I like to do shrunken hairstyles but then when it comes to detangling time I always regret it.

Now how to get past the struggle? 4 things have helped me keep going:

Confidence: You need bucket loads of it. You will not get past the comments and opinions without it.

Self acceptance: Sounds zen I know but it’s true. Stop desiring someone elses head of hair regardless of type and enjoy your own. Naturally soft or no, long or short, frizzy or silky, thin or thick. Love it and work with it not against it.

The online community: There are tons of naturals online on blogs, in groups and on YouTube which have done it or are doing it. No need to sit there feeling lost, ask someone! And you can always find people who have the same hair as you and try their methods. Here’s an online catalog of bloggers put together by Alice in Nappyland based on geographical location.

Focus on healthy hair not length: Trust me, you will always get disappointed if your focus is on length. Hair only grows when you treat it right, there’s not much else you can do beyond that. There’s no magical product or regimen, naturals with long hair use various products and hair regimens. As long as those products or regimens keep the hair healthy, it will grow. You have to employ patience to see hair growth. Many popular long haired naturals have been so for more than 5 years, you cannot expect the same results in 2.

Over 10 years worth of length

And that covers it! Take heart ladies, you can defeat the struggle one day at a time. 🙂

One response to “The Nappy Hair Struggle

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