7 Natural Hair Myths You Need To Stop Believing

Out of all the textures, natural hair is the one tangled up in the most misconceptions, from those both in the community and those outside of it — from the idea that it's difficult to deal with, to some people thinking you should never, ever straighten it. With the natural hair movement in full force, it's becoming more and more important to address and debunk these myths, which could prevent others from making the shift from chemically straight — or just leave the wrong impression for those who aren't familiar with hair types other than their own.

Click ahead as we, with a little help from some hair experts, set them straight once and for all (no pun intended). And, if there are any others you think need to be put to rest, feel free to share them in the comments.
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Myth: Natural Hair Doesn’t Grow
Those with natural hair often become borderline obsessed with tracking their hair growth. And, they're often disappointed when they don’t notice any visible, down-to-your-bra-strap action happening overnight (case in point: this meme). As hairstylist and cofounder of Hair Rules salon Anthony Dickey points out, “Regardless of ethnicity or texture, everybody’s hair grows at the same rate, which is a quarter to half an inch a month. The challenge for women that are natural is...they’ve been caring for their hair historically from the standpoint of someone else’s hair texture, which makes it a challenge to see any kind of real length.”

Since natural hair is more tightly coiled, the growth isn’t always as immediately evident as, say, your straight-haired friends' — simply because their hair is, well, straight, and you’re able to see that length. Shrinkage is real, my friends. “Until they stretch it out in a mirror, they don’t realize how long it’s gotten,” says Dickey. Straightening, not detangling or moisturizing properly, or wearing your strands in particular styles can often stunt growth.
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Myth: You Should Only Wash Your Hair Once In A Blue Moon
It is true that women with natural hair don't tend to wash it as often — due to the fact that our hair doesn’t retain moisture as well as other types. But, water can actually be your friend in most cases. Curls CEO Mahisha Dellinger says that since those with natural hair tend to pile on the products, which often block the scalp’s breathability and any moisture from actually coming in, it’s even more important to make sure not to stretch out the time between washes.

“You definitely want to [wash your hair] not every day, but at least once a week, and do a midweek co-wash,” Dellinger recommends. “You want to clean the hair, not just from the products…but you should also take into account that you have environmental stresses.” While we may have been conditioned to think that water is the devil, those with dryer strands need that moisture.
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Myth: Greasing Your Scalp Makes Your Hair Grow Faster
As almost any Black girl will tell you, as a child, greasing your scalp was something of a weekly ritual. I remember sitting between my mother's legs as she simultaneously parted and slathered on whatever grease concoction we had on hand, so that my hair would continue to retain that fresh-out-of-the-salon shine. But, while many assume this act helps moisturize the scalp, it actually does the opposite.

“Back then, we weren’t really privy to what all of the ingredients were, what they did, and how they impacted our hair,” says Dellinger. “If you turn around a jar of grease, you’re gonna get petroleum oil or mineral oil; none of those are going to allow the scalp to breathe, and you end up clogging the pores.”

She adds that a lot of natural-haired women think of oils as moisturizers, which they’re not. They’re actually considered sealants. “If you’re putting oil on top of dry hair…you’re still going to get dryness. If you put [it on] after you’ve moisturized your hair — you’ve conditioned it and put a cream on — then you can seal in the moisture with the oil.”
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Myth: Natural Hair Is Stronger Than Other Hair Types
Since natural hair has a tougher-looking texture, many people assume it’s as strong as it appears. But, looks can be deceiving. In fact, natural hair is very delicate. “People think because they see kinky, textured hair is like wool, it can resist anything,” says Dellinger. “But, it’s typically fragile, because it is prone to breakage and dryness. You have to treat textured hair like a fine, silk blouse — gently, and take extra care of it.”
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Myth: You Should Never, Ever Straighten Your Hair
Yes, if not done safely, straightening your natural texture can end up damaging your curl pattern, says Derick Monroe, SoftSheen-Carson style squad member and celebrity hairstylist. But, when executed safely and done intermittently, you can still keep your coils intact. It’s all about the amount of heat you expose your hair to. “If [the hair] overheats, bonds of the hair will start to break, so when you want to go back to curly, the hair isn’t going to curl the same,” he says. “We call it thermally relaxing, because once you break the bonds of the hair, it’s done, and it’s just like a chemical relaxer.”

Make sure you’re taking the proper precautions: Use a blowdryer with a comb attachment, so that you’re not applying heat directly to the hair; always, always, always moisturize; condition; apply heat-style protectants beforehand; and don’t overuse your flat iron. And, if you go to a salon to have your hair straightened, make sure you’re going to someone you trust and who’s going to properly care for your curls — preferably someone who specializes in natural hair care.
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Myth: Trimming Your Ends Will Make Your Hair Grow
This does hold some truth — trimming your ends will stop the split ends from riding up the shaft and, in turn, damaging your hair in the long run. Despite what your (or, just my) mama might say, the way to longer hair isn’t by cutting it every chance you get, but by caring for it, starting from the scalp. “We want to pay close attention to the ends because they’re the oldest part of our hair,” says Dellinger. “But, do [your ends] impact growth? No. Growth begins in the scalp. So, that’s what we really want to work on, making sure the scalp is healthy.”

You, of course, should be taking care of your hair overall — from the base to the ends — but keep in mind that a trim every six to eight weeks will suffice.
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Myth: Natural Hair Is Difficult To Deal With
Natural hair does require more time, TLC, and patience. While "difficult" isn’t necessarily a word we’d use, there’s no doubt it takes more work, especially for women who’ve been relaxing their hair for a majority of their lives. Speaking from experience, the idea of caring for this new, unfamiliar texture is, well, daunting. But, you have to define manageability for yourself and really gauge what works best for you and your lifestyle.

“It’s just about texture; when you have texture, the more time you’re going to spend detangling properly, conditioning, and styling. It just kind of comes with the territory,” says Dellinger. “But, at the same time, it can also be the most versatile. You can go from a wash-and-go to a Bantu knot to a twist-out to straight. So, it’s amazing in that way.”
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