Natural Hair: Gorgeous Styles for Black Women

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See the Cutest, Coolest and Most Gorgeous Hair Styles for Black Women

Singer/actress Brandy Norwood
Singer/actress Brandy Norwood. Jim Spellman / WireImage

Natural hair is becoming more and more popular as black women give up the costly salon treatments, pricey weaves and extensions and the damaging chemical treatments and opt instead for hair that's natural and, as you will see in this photo gallery, quite beautiful.

But caring for natural ethnic hair can be daunting for women who have relied on salon visits in the past. In this article, we'll discuss how to care for your natural hair and what to consider when getting your perfect hair cut.

Let's start with styling those perfect curls.

The Right Cut and the Right Styling

In his book, Great Hair, stylist Nick Arroyo describes how it's important to work with your natural hair texture.

Finding the perfect hairstylist is key. Keeping your cut simple is important because it needs to hold its shape as it grows out. Too much fuss and you run the risk of a haircut that grows in oddly. Many stylists prefer to cut natural hair when it's dry. Shaping is much easier when you can see exactly how the hair falls.

As for styling, if you have super tight, thick, wooly curls, the less you mess with your hairstyle the better. You may consider using a relaxer just to smooth a hair a bit. But you definitely need to add a lot of moisture to the hair with cremes, styling products, conditioners, and oils.

How to Create the Perfect Curls

Most African-American hair is curly. Getting those coveted, shiny, and controlled curls takes time and some practice. Here's how Arroyo tamed hair that he claims was just like Diana Ross's. He was about to create shiny, controlled curls by taking these steps:

  • Hair must be wet or at least very damp.
  • Apply styling cream or curl cream from the roots to the ends of hair.
  • Pull a 1-inch section of hair and hold it taut and straight from the ends. Then twist it into a perfect spiral from the ends to the roots. Let it go.
  • Cup this spiral in your hand pushing it to your scalp and squeeze it tightly for about 15 seconds, locking the style in place.
  • Continue this trick all along the front and sides of your head. No need to focus too much attention on the back.

How to Take Care of Your Natural Hair

Nothing can be more annoying than waiting out the hair growth period. But if you want your natural hair to grow a few more inches a year than expected, follow these tips:

  • Cleanse your scalp and hair once every 4-7 days, especially in hot seasons. Massaging the scalp when shampooing is good for scalp health and helps remove any build-up. If your hair is thick, shampoo in sections. And always follow with conditioner or oils.
  • In between shampoos (or even in place of shampooing), you can co-wash your hair, which is all the rage. This means using conditioner on the hair instead of shampoo. Read more about it here.
  • Use a shampoo formulated for your hair type. A great bet is a sulfate-free shampoo (one that doesn't suds up).
  • If your scalp itches or you sweat a lot in summer, rinse your hair under cool water and massage your scalp to help get rid of sweat. 

If your hair still isn't growing, there may be a reason.

To Comb or Not to Comb, That is the Question

Combing natural hair is controversial. Many people believe you should never comb hair lest you mess with the tight coils, but combing hair is very good for your hair and your scalp, according to Eva Scrivo of Eva Scrivo Salon in NYC.

"Your natural oils are more compatible and effective than most synthetic conditioning ingredients," she writes in her book, Eva Scrivo on Beauty.

Scrivo says many women with curly hair refuse to brush their hair because they don't want to ruin their curls or have their hair puff up into a frizzy afro. As a result, Scrivo sees many women with curly hair who have a top layer of frizzy hair over gorgeous curls. Why? That top layer is exposed to elements and silicone products which build up on hair. 

To combat this, you must comb hair or even brush it with a natural bristle brush daily, Scrivo says. Oils from your scalp are great for your hair and the best way to get those oils distributed to hair is to comb your hair.

Yes, your hair will frizz up and look terrible, which is why Scrivo recommends combing at night and then rinsing hair with water in the morning. You can also avoid this by combing hair when it's wet and full of conditioner or oil. You can saturate hair with a leave-in conditioner and detangle by working your way from the ends of hair up. Spray more conditioner as you needed.

How to Straighten Short Natural Hair

You can actually straighten short, kinky hair without a relaxer. To do this Arroyo suggests using a fine-toothed comb, lots of frizz serum, a smoothing creme, and a blowdryer. Apply the serum to the roots of the hair and working in sections, place the comb as close to the scalp as possible, pulling the hair straight while shooting hot air at it with a dryer. Continue around the head. If hair is still curly, use a flat iron to iron it out.

Amazon has a number of great frizz serums.

The Benefits of Hair Oils

Oils have been used for years to moisturize hair, fight frizz and condition the scalp.

Argan, extra virgin coconut oil and even olive oil work beautifully on natural hair. Use these liberally. Scrivo recommends neem oil, which comes from trees in India and amla oil, which come from the Indian gooseberry. In her book, Eva Scrivo on Beauty, she suggests rubbing 6-8 drops of the oils into your scalp and hair. You can comb it through as well.

Deep Condition

Deep condition hair on a regular basis. How much you should condition is up to you and a matter of personal preference. Heat helps with deep conditioning. Wrap conditioner-soaked hair in a thin towel and aim a blow dryer at your head for 5 minutes to activate the product.

You may also consider using the L.O.C. method, which is popular at the moment. It refers to the order in which you treat your hair with oils and creams. See L.O.C. Method.

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Eva Pigford

Eva Pigford
Eva Pigford. Jason Merritt / Getty Images

If you are transitioning to natural hair, you'll want to avoid the common mistakes women make. See Top 10 Mistakes Transitioners Make.

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Malaika Firth

Malaika Firth
Malaika Firth. Timur Emek and David M. Benett / Getty Images
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Fleur East

Fleur East
Fleur East. Karwai Tang / Getty Images
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Zoe Kravitz

Zoë Kravitz
Zoë Kravitz. Steve Granitz / Getty Images
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Liris Crosse

Liris Crosse
Liris Crosse. John Lamparski / Getty Images

Co-washing hair is all the rage. This means using conditioner instead of shampoo on the hair. This is also called the "No-Poo" movement and is popular among Caucasian women with curly hair.

Read more about co-washing in 6 Co-Wash Mistakes to Avoid.

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Carly Cushnie

Carly Cushnie
Carly Cushnie. Getty Images
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A model on the runway with natural black hair

Runway model
Runway model. George Pimentel / Getty Images

For maximum moisture protection, consider trying the L.O.C. Method. This refers to the order in which you condition hair: liquid, oil and cream. Read more about it here.

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Mireya Acierto

Grace Mahary
Grace Mahary. Mireya Acierto / Getty Images
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Solange Knowles

Solange Knowles
Solange Knowles. Instagram

See more of Solange's hairstyles on her Instagram account, Saint Records.

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Kiersey Clemons

Kiersey Clemons
Kiersey Clemons. Jim Spellman / Getty Images
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Wynter Gordon

Wynter Gordon
Wynter Gordon. Cindy Ord / Getty Images
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Vanessa Williams

Vanessa Williams
Vanessa Williams. Frazer Harrison / Getty Images
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Karly Loyce

Karly Loyce
Karly Loyce. Melodie Jeng / Getty Images
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Tempestt Bledsoe

Tempestt Bledsoe
Tempestt Bledsoe. Frazer Harrison / Getty Images
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Karimah Westbrook

Karimah Westbrook
Karimah Westbrook. Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images
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Jill Scott

Singer Jill Scott
Singer Jill Scott. Jerritt Clark / Getty Images
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Menyone DeVeaux

Actress Menyone DeVeaux attends the after party for 40th NAACP Image Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 12, 2009 in Los Angeles, California
Actress Menyone DeVeaux attends the after party for 40th NAACP Image Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 12, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images for NAACP
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Tanika Ray

Tanika Ray
Tanika Ray. Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images
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Naturally Curly Black Hair

Naturally curly hair
Frazer Harrison for Getty
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Constance White

Constance White
Constance White. Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images
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Actress Jenifer Lewis

Actress Jenifer Lewis
Actress Jenifer Lewis. Jim Spellman / WireImage
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Short Curly Hair

Short, curly hair
Natural Hair Daily / Instagram

See more natural hair images on real women on Instagram's Natural Hair Daily Website.

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A Gorgeous Mane of Natural Hair

Mane of gorgeous hair
Natural Hair Daily / Instagram

See more natural hair images on real women on Instagram's Natural Hair Daily Website.

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Short and Sweet

Short and sweet
Natural Hair Daily / Instagram

See more natural hair images on real women on Instagram's Natural Hair Daily Website.

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Yaya DaCosta

Actress Yaya DaCosta
Actress Yaya DaCosta. Michael Stewart / WireImage
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Damaris Goddrie

Damaris Goddrie
Damaris Goddrie. Melodie Jeng / Getty Images