My hair has been a source of friction my entire life. As a child, I hated my curly hair and prayed at night for God to make it straight like all the girls on TV. As a teenager, I kept my hair in tight buns and ponytails because I hated how frizzy it was. In college, I got highlights and straightened it as much as I could.
And then the natural hair movement took off. Natural hair refers to hair that has not been chemically straightened or altered, and in my case, I’d always been natural. I never got a relaxer to straighten my hair or a Brazilian blowout (which I desperately wanted and am SO glad I never got). I distinctly remember it happening, too. I was living in L.A., right after I graduated from college, and I started seeing ads for a new brand called Shea Moisture, which was marketed towards Black women with curly or “natural” hair. I was SHOOK. Before this point, if I wanted to find something for my curly hair, I had to resort to using whatever products were labeled “moisturizing” or “hydrating,” since my number one concern was dry hair.
Thanks to the natural hair movement, I learned how to find a hairstylist that could deal with curly hair, how to actually style my hair, how to do protective styles, and what products are best for my hair type, not to mention the countless amazing hair care brands that have launched in the past 10 years.
Thanks to the natural hair movement, I learned how to actually style my hair, how to do protective styles, and what products are best for my hair type.
With more and more natural hair care brands launching each month, it’s hard to keep up. If you take a peek underneath my sink, you’ll find a treasure trove of half-used or rarely touched hair products—and that’s the thing about the natural hair movement. You’re constantly striving to find that *one* special product that’ll improve your hair, that’ll make it look like the curly hair of your dreams. I can’t even tell you how many different products and curly hair styling methods I’ve tried over the years, and how much time I’ve spent trying to achieve what I think is healthy, curly hair. It’s gotten to the point where I dread wash day. The thought of spending two or more hours a day just dedicated to my hair is … a lot, to say the least.
But there’s a growing number of women who’ve grown exhausted with the product testing (and hoarding, let’s be honest) and the multiple hours a week spent styling their hair, and have slowly started becoming a part of the Naked Hair movement.
But there’s a growing number of women who’ve grown exhausted with the hours spent styling their hair, and have slowly become a part of the Naked Hair movement.
The Naked Hair movement was started by the natural hair YouTuber and Instagram influencer Jade Kendle (@lipstickncurls on Instagram). Back in May, she posted on Instagram: “I started forcing myself to wear my hair without anything in it every so often, and it was painful at first. I couldn’t tell you what product was doing what to my hair because I ALWAYS had something in it. I had to learn to love my hair in its natural state.” Since then, she’s been sharing her naked hair journey using the hashtag #nakedhair, encouraging her followers to learn to embrace their hair without mountains of product on it.
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I gotta admit, the idea of wearing my hair completely product-free is terrifying. My hair is very frizzy, and without product it just looks like I’ve stuck my finger into an electrical socket. But at the same time, I’ve never actually seen my hair *without* product—ever. I’ve always applied something, even if it was a lightweight leave-in conditioner. And while I’ve streamlined my hair routine down to three products, I still have no idea what my hair looks like completely unmanipulated by product. The idea of freeing up a lot of mental space and actual time by letting my hair do whatever it wants seems incredibly freeing and truly revolutionary.
But I think the Naked Hair movement is bigger than time constraints—it works to dismantle some of the harmful boxes that Black women put themselves into. When I really think about it, I don’t actually care about my frizzy hair, but I DO care what people will think when I step out into the world.
In America, to be a Black woman means to look “presentable” every time you leave the house. It’s something that’s been ingrained in me since I was a child. My hair was always combed, clothes neat, my skin fresh and clean. My mother grew up during the Jim Crow era and learned to be Black in America was to try to assimilate as much as possible. To this day, I’ve never seen my mom’s natural hair—she dyes and puts in a relaxer every eight weeks like clockwork.
And unfortunately, much of the stigma against Black hair still exists today. I mean, it’s still legal in most states to discriminate against Black women for their natural hair styles in the workplace. Black hair IS political, and embracing the Naked Hair movement is a direct way to challenge some of the deeply entrenched ideas we have about hair that are rooted in white supremacy. By freeing up so much mental space about what my hair looks like, I can start to embrace what it means and feels like to be truly honest and vulnerable with myself and my body.
So what’s your take on the Naked Hair movement? Let me know in the comments!