What Is Natural Hair? A Definition and In-Depth Look 2024

Discover tips, products, and hairstyles to help you embrace your natural hair texture. Learn to care for and style natural curls, coils, waves, and kinks beautifully. Get advice on transitioning from relaxed hair, finding your hair type, proper cleansing/conditioning methods, protective styling, and more. Master wash and gos, twist outs, braid outs, and unique looks that enhance your natural pattern. Find the best hair products for natural hair and build an easy routine for healthy, hydrated locks. Love the skin you’re in with hairstyles and techniques that bring out your unique natural beauty.

What Is Natural Hair? A Definition

Natural hair refers to hair that has not been chemically processed or altered. It is hair in its natural state, with its original texture and curl pattern intact. Natural hair can be straight, wavy, curly, or kinky-coily.

The opposite of natural hair is chemically processed or treated hair, which has undergone chemical straightening or relaxing treatments, color treatments, permanent waves, or other chemical processes that alter the natural texture and curl pattern.

Going natural simply means stopping the use of chemical straighteners or relaxers and allowing your new growth to come in naturally without further chemical processing. This allows your natural texture to grow out over time as the previously chemically treated hair is eventually cut off.

Understanding Your Natural Hair Type

There are different hair typing systems used to classify natural hair textures. Two common systems are:

Andre Walker Hair Typing System

This classifies hair into 4 main types based on curl pattern:

  • Type 1: Straight hair
  • Type 2: Wavy hair
  • Type 3: Curly hair
  • Type 4: Kinky-coily hair

Each type is further categorized into sub-types A, B, and C based on hair porosity and strand size.

LOIS Hair Typing System

This classifies natural hair into letter categories:

  • L: Loose curls
  • O: Wavy
  • I: Big curly ringlets
  • S: Tight curls and coils
  • Z: Very tightly coiled hair

Knowing your hair type can help guide your natural hair care regimen. But keep in mind that hair typing is not an exact science, and your hair may have properties of multiple types. Focus more on understanding your hair’s unique needs and characteristics.

Adding Color to Natural Hair

natural hair colors
natural hair colors

Adding color to natural hair allows you to experiment with different hues and shades while expressing your style. When done correctly, coloring natural hair can be vibrant, beautiful, and healthy.

There are several techniques for applying color to natural hair. Semi-permanent hair color washes out over 4-8 weeks and deposits color without lightening the strands, making it lower maintenance. Demi-permanent color lasts around 24 washes. Permanent hair color makes longer-lasting changes to the hair shaft but requires commitment.

To color natural hair while minimizing damage, always prep strands properly and choose your coloring product wisely. Clarify and deep condition hair 1-2 days before coloring for the best results. Opt for ammonia-free formulas made for color-treated hair, which are gentler. Strand tests can determine how long hair takes to color.

Protect strands during the coloring process by saturating them thoroughly with the product and using heat caps or hooded dryers to help the color penetrate the hair shaft. Rinse hair with cool water and follow up with a hydrating deep conditioning mask. Repeat coloring applications should happen only after the current color has faded sufficiently.

When choosing hues for natural hair, warmer copper and auburn shades tend to look the most natural. But vivid colors like electric blue, violet, and bright red can also pop beautifully against darker natural hair tones when done correctly. Have fun with your options and consult a stylist if needed. With the proper techniques, coloring natural hair allows amazing self-expression.

Coloring Hair Naturally at Home

natural hair dye
natural hair dye

Dyeing your hair with natural ingredients is a gentle, non-toxic way to cover greys or experiment with new colors. Natural hair dyes come in powders, gels, and rinses made from plant-derived pigments that coat the outer hair strand. They are free of harsh chemicals like ammonia and peroxide.

Common natural hair dye ingredients include:

  • Henna – Reddish-orange hues, conditions hair
  • Indigo – Mix with henna for browns and blacks
  • Clays – Green, red, and yellow clays tint naturally
  • Teas – Black, chamomile, rooibos, and hibiscus teas
  • Turmeric – Vibrant yellow color
  • Beetroot – Faint pink/red hue
  • Coffee – Browns and blacks
  • Cocoa powder – Dark chocolate browns

To dye hair at home:

  1. Clarify and deep condition hair beforehand
  2. Prepare dye by mixing chosen ingredients into a paste
  3. Section clean, dry hair and apply mix generously
  4. Cover hair and allow the dye to set for 30 mins – 2 hours
  5. Rinse until water runs clear – no shampoo
  6. Style as usual – repeat monthly

While natural dyes don’t damage hair, do a strand test first in case of irritation. Have fun with natural ingredients to tint your locks gorgeously!

Gorgeous Natural Hairstyles to Try

natural hair styles
natural hair styles

The versatility of natural hair allows for endless styling options to showcase your beautiful coils, curls, waves, and textures. Whether your hair is loose and wavy or super coily, you can embrace chic styles that enhance your natural pattern.

Wash and go – This air-dried favorite uses leave-in conditioner and gel/mousse to define curls after shampooing. Scrunch products in and let hair dry fully.

Twist outs – Twisting hair while damp and letting it dry stretched gives a cool crimped effect when unraveled.

Bantu knots – Part hair into square sections, then twist into mini buns secured with pins. Bouncy curls result when released.

Braid outs – Like twist outs, braiding damp hair in rows or plaits then unbraiding makes for voluminous, wavy results as the hair dries.

Flat twists – Part hair into sections, then grab a subsection and twist tightly down toward the roots. Leave as-is or unravel for waves.

Faux locs – Get the loc’d look without commitment by installing twist hair extensions—super low maintenance.

Afro shapes – Let your natural texture shine with picked-out fros, high puffs, halo buns, and uneven shapes.

Cornrow styles – Intricately braiding hair into rows, shapes, and patterns allows for creativity and protection.

No matter your natural texture, you can find chic styles that enhance your unique hair pattern. Explore different techniques, products, and accessories to switch up your look!

Stylish Short Natural Haircuts

short natural hair styles
short natural hair styles

Short natural hair offers endless styling versatility. With the right cut and products, short locks can look edgy, chic, and put-together.

A tapered cut with slightly longer layers on top allows curls to pop while keeping hair neat and shaped. Ask your stylist for a precision cut to maximize the natural texture.

For extra definition, use a curl cream and gel to set curls in place after shampooing. Air dry or diffuse for perfect spirals. Light-hold gels that aren’t crunchy work well.

Pinned-up styles like bantu knots and flat twists show off cute, short curls while keeping them out of your face. Part hair into sections and twist up into knots or flat twists, pinning each one in place.

Headwraps and scarves secure short hair stylishly while protecting the ends. Tie fabric tightly around the hair for a put-together look.

Gypsy braids and cornrows give the illusion of longer length on short hair. Going to a braiding stylist ensures clean parts and intricate braid patterns.

Get creative shaping your short fro into a defined hawk, heart-shaped ‘fro, or Avalon fade style with shaved sides.

Bold hair accessories like metallic cuffs, jeweled bobby pins, thick headbands, and wraps add flair to natural haircuts.

With the right routine, products, and styling tricks, short natural hair can be sculpted into truly stunning looks. Embrace your length!

Popular Natural Hairstyles

There are endless styling options for natural hair. Here are some of the most popular natural hairstyles:

Wash and Go

This style involves washing the hair and then applying leave-in conditioner and/or styling products like gel or mousse before air drying. It allows your natural curls to take shape and form defined curl patterns as the hair dries.

Twist Outs and Braid Outs

These styles involve twisting or braiding damp natural hair, allowing it to dry completely, and then untwisting or unbracing to reveal soft, stretched-out curls.

Bantu Knots

Bantu knots involve sectioning the hair into small coils, and then twisting each section into a tight mini bun shape. When unraveled, bantu knots reveal springy curls.

Braids, Twists, and Locs

Intricately braiding, twisting, or locking the natural hair into various patterns is protective and low maintenance. Styles like box braids, Senegalese twists, goddess locs, and sister locks allow length retention and growth over time.

Afro Styles

Embracing the voluminous, rounded shape of a natural is a classic, beautiful way to wear natural textures. Styles include the classic Afro, high puff, low puff, and Afro ponytail.

Heat Styles

Using heat tools like blow dryers, flat irons, or hot curlers allows you to temporarily straighten or add curls to natural hair for stretched styles. Just use a heat protectant!

Natural Hair Care Tips

Caring for natural hair properly is key to maintaining healthy hair. Here are some top natural hair care tips:

  • Detangle hair gently: Always detangle natural hair in sections while wet and slippery with conditioner to minimize breakage. Use oils, leave-ins, or detangling sprays to add slip.
  • Shampoo less frequently: Over-shampooing can strip natural hair of moisture. Limit washing to 1-2 times per week. Co-wash (washing with conditioner only) in between.
  • Deep condition regularly: Deep conditioning treatments saturate the hair in moisture and nourish it from within. Do a weekly deep treatment.
  • Protect hair at night: Use a satin bonnet or pillowcase to wrap hair at night. This reduces friction and keeps natural hair moisturized.
  • Use protective styles: Low manipulation styles like twists, braids, and wigs protect the ends from damage.
  • Trim split ends Dust natural hair every 8-12 weeks to snip away split ends and allow hair to retain length.
  • Avoid heat damage: Limit the use of hot tools. Always use a heat protectant.

Following these tips will keep your natural hair healthy, moisturized, and thriving!

Popular Natural Hairstyles You’ll Be Obsessed With

Embracing your natural texture opens up an amazing world of hairstyling creativity. Here are some of the most popular hairstyles that allow you to showcase your coils, curls, waves, and kinks beautifully.

Wash and Go

This is one of the easiest natural hairstyles. After washing and conditioning your hair, rake through a leave-in conditioner and styler like a gel or curl cream. Scrunch your hair gently to encourage the curls, then let it air dry. The result is defined, as bouncy curls.

Some tips for perfect wash-and-go:

  • Apply products to soaking wet hair in sections
  • Use a microfiber towel or t-shirt to gently dry hair
  • Allow it to air dry fully – no touching!
  • Scrunch out the crunch from the gel once dry

Twist Outs

To get stretched curly styles, twist-outs are key. Here’s how:

  1. Wash and condition hair, then apply a leave-in.
  2. Divide hair into sections. Twist each section tightly from roots to ends.
  3. Sit under a hooded dryer or allow hair to air dry fully.
  4. Untwist each section gently to reveal soft, defined curls.

Braid Outs

Similar to twist outs, braid outs involve braiding damp hair in sections to dry, then unraveling for big, voluminous curls. Use small, medium, or larger braids depending on your desired results.

Bantu Knots

For springy, coil-like curls, bantu knots are perfect. Part damp hair into square sections, then twist hair into knots secured with pins at your roots. Let the knots dry completely before gently unraveling.

Flat Twists

Flat twists give a cool, rope-like look. Part hair into sections, then grab a subsection and twist down toward the roots to create defined ridges. Twist hair halfway for loose waves or full-length for gathered ends.

Faux Locs

You can get the loc’d look without the commitment with faux locs. These are created using twisting hair extensions with your natural hair to form loc-inspired braids—super low maintenance and chic.

Afro Styles

Let your natural texture and volume shine by embracing Afro shapes. Try defined frohawks, voluminous high puffs secured with accessories, or uneven ‘fros with shaved sides.

Braids and Twists

Intricately braiding or twisting natural hair into beautiful updo styles is great protective styling. Go for goddess braids, crown braids, cowrie shell braids, bricklayer braids, lemonade braids, box braids, Senegalese twists, and more!

How to Care for Natural Hair

Caring for natural hair properly is the key to retaining length, preventing breakage, and keeping your curls poppin’! Here’s a complete guide to natural hair care:

Cleansing Natural Hair

  • Detangle hair gently before washing: Always separate your hair into sections and detangle from ends to roots using lots of conditioner for slip. This prevents knotting and minimizes breakage.
  • Shampoo hair 1-2 times per week: Over-shampooing strips the hair and dries it out. Focus shampoo mainly on the scalp and alternate with co-washing.
  • Choose gentle, sulfate-free shampoos: Harsh sulfates can be drying for natural hair. Look for moisturizing cleansers without sulfates.
  • Deep condition after every shampoo: A hydrating deep treatment brings moisture and nutrients into the hair. Sit under a hooded dryer to allow deep conditioners to penetrate.
  • Rinse out conditioners thoroughly: Leftover product buildup can lead to dryness and flakes. Rinse all traces of the conditioner with cool water.

Moisturizing Natural Hair

  • Apply leave-in conditioner: Leave-ins provide instant moisture and slip to hair post-shower. They also help seal in moisture.
  • Follow up with oils and creams: Layer your favorite oils, butter, and moisturizing creams to seal in hydration. Focus on ends.
  • Refresh as needed: Mist hair with water or a spray, then reapply your leave-in and moisturizers to boost moisture.
  • Use protective styles: Braids, twists, and wigs keep hair moisturized longer by preventing rubbing and tangling of ends.

Styling Natural Hair

  • Work in sections: Always divide hair into sections before styling. This makes hair easier to manage.
  • Use a heat protectant before hot tools: Heat protectants provide a barrier against damage from blow dryers, curling irons, flat irons, and more.
  • Air dry when possible: Allowing hair to air dry cuts back on heat damage. Just takes longer!
  • Set your style: Use rods, curl formers, flexi rods, perm rods, or pin curls to set styles that last longer on natural hair.

Key Natural Hair Care Tips

  • Handle hair gently and minimize brushing
  • Trim 1/4 inch every 8-12 weeks to prevent split ends
  • Protect hair with a satin cap or bonnet at night
  • Incorporate protein treatments to strengthen hair
  • Drink lots of water and get trims regularly for growth

Following a natural hair care regimen tailored to your hair type keeps your natural locks thriving!

Natural Hair FAQs

What is considered natural hair?

Natural hair refers to hair that has not been chemically straightened or relaxed. It has its original texture and curl pattern from root to tip without chemical processing. This includes straight, wavy, curly, and coily hair types. As long as the hair has not been permanently altered with chemicals, it is considered natural hair.

How can I transition to natural hair?

Transitioning to natural hair involves growing out your relaxer and allowing your new growth to come in. There are a few ways to transition:

  • Gradually trim relaxed ends over time as your natural hair grows out
  • Wear protective styles like wigs and weaves to blend the line of demarcation
  • Do a big chop and cut off all relaxed hair at once to start fresh with short natural hair

Take your time finding styles that blend your two textures well. Focus on moisturizing your new growth to keep it healthy.

What hair products work best for natural hair?

Look for these ingredients when buying hair products for natural hair:

  • Moisturizing oils and butters like shea butter, coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado oil
  • Natural humectants like honey, glycerin, and aloe vera
  • Natural gels like flaxseed or aloe to define curls
  • Deep conditioners with nourishing ingredients like protein, honey, and oils
  • Sulfate-free gentle cleansers
  • Leave-in conditioners and curl creams to hydrate hair

Avoid products with drying alcohols and mineral oil. Read labels closely.

How often should I wash natural hair?

Most natural hair types only need to be shampooed once a week or every two weeks. Too frequent washing can strip natural hair of oils. You can refresh hair in between washes as needed by:

  • Co-washing with conditioner only
  • Spritzing hair with water, leave-in conditioner, and oil to re-hydrate
  • Doing an apple cider vinegar rinse to clarify hair without shampooing

Listen to your hair’s needs. If it gets too oily or product-y, wash as needed. But avoid over-cleansing.

Is air drying or blow drying better for natural hair?

For most natural hair types, air drying is preferable to minimize heat damage. Blow drying can lead to dryness over time. Some tips:

  • Blot hair gently with a t-shirt to remove excess moisture
  • Apply a leave-in and styler to elongate the drying time
  • Air or sit drying allows hair to dry evenly in its natural pattern
  • Diffuse blows air gently on low/cool setting to speed up air drying
  • Use a blow dryer with a concentrator nozzle on the coolest setting

How do I grow longer natural hair?

Here are some tips for retaining length on natural hair:

  • Keep hair continuously moisturized to avoid breakage
  • Avoid heat styling and overuse of tools that cause damage
  • Protect ends by wearing low-manipulation styles
  • Sleep with a satin bonnet or pillowcase
  • Get regular trims to snip away split ends before they travel up the hair shaft
  • Be gentle – minimize tugging and rough handling
  • Eat a balanced diet and take hair supplements like biotin

With proper care, natural hair can grow long and retain inches over time. Stay patient and consistent!

What ingredients make natural hair curly?

Certain ingredients help define, enhance, and maintain curls on natural hair. Look for:

  • Curl creams with hydrating ingredients like shea butter and coconut oil
  • Botanical gels with marshmallow root or flaxseed to define curls
  • Natural humectants like honey, aloe vera gel, and glycerin to attract moisture to curls
  • Proteins like rice water and keratin to strengthen and elasticize coils

Stay away from drying alcohols that can cause curls to frizz and lose definition.

Is it OK to straighten natural hair sometimes?

It’s fine to straighten natural hair occasionally as long as you take precautions to minimize heat damage:

  • Always use a good heat protectant spray first
  • Work in small sections to get hair straight smoothly without tugging
  • Use the lowest heat setting on your flat iron or blow dryer
  • Avoid going over the same spot multiple times with hot tools
  • Give hair a break by stretching out straightening to every 6-8 weeks

Look for heat-safe methods like blowouts on cool airflow or banding hair to stretch curls.

How do I revive my curls between washes?

To bring your curls back to life between wash days:

  • Mist hair lightly with a spray bottle of water to rehydrate
  • Apply a pea-sized amount of leave-in conditioner & styler to your hands and smooth over hair
  • Scrunch curls gently to reshape and encourage curl formation
  • Diffuse or air dry to set curls back in place
  • For more definition, re-wet hair and reapply gel in section

This refreshes curls without having to fully wash and start over!

What’s the best way to detangle natural hair?

Be gentle and take your time detangling to avoid breakage. Follow these steps:

  • Start the process on freshly washed, conditioned hair
  • Apply a leave-in and oil before detangling to add a slip
  • Separate hair into sections and start detangling from the ends
  • Use a wide-tooth comb, followed by a finer-tooth comb
  • Avoid yanking – gently work through tangles with your fingers
  • If you hit a stubborn tangle, re-apply conditioner liberally

Detangle in the shower while hair is slippery for best, pain-free results!


As you can see, natural hair is beautiful in its diversity – from loose waves to tight coils. Learning your own hair’s unique needs, taking the time to style it in protective and flattering ways, and caring for it with the right techniques and products helps natural hair thrive. Have fun with the journey! There is a stunning world of styling possibilities to explore for your texture.

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