5 Tips for Managing Natural Hair in College
By Geniece of Black Girl Long Hair
It’s that time of year of again. The rush of term papers, Friday and Saturday night social events, all-nighters: Yup, back to school. If you will be going away to college for the first time, you will soon discover that hair care will often fall low on your priority list as you juggle a new and exciting academic and social life. Before I went away to college my mother was a ready and available hair care lay-expert and I had a number of hair salons within walking distance from my house. Going to college in a not so diverse town in upstate New York was not only a culture shock but taught me that I would have to learn how to care for my hair. If you are natural you’re already ahead of the curve because when I went away to college I was still relaxed, which meant maintaining my hair required using a harsh chemical that could have spelled disaster in the hands of an unskilled teenager. This is not to say that it will be a cake walk if you’re natural but you can certainly manage your hair on a weekly basis without causing damage. Here are a few hair care tips that you may want to take into consideration.
1. Stock up on products before you head to school
If your school is located in an area in which “ethnic” hair care products are not easily available please consider stocking up before you board the plane or drive miles away. Two or three bottles of shampoo and conditioner, your favorite leave in and styler should keep you until Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday. Even if there aren’t any beauty supply stores in your neighborhood consider checking out the availability of products at CVS, Walgreens and similar stores, which have several options available. While ordering online is always an option, you will probably want to save your money for book shipping costs or for what my younger sister called “emergency outfits” for social events.
There will be weeks when you have NO TIME for anything not related to studying for an exam or writing a paper. As such you will need to identify a go to, easy hairstyle so that you can walk around campus looking presentable. While I have seen my fair share of brightly colored head wraps and du-rags in the library during midterms and finals, it is possible to keep it classy while prepping to ace your economics final. If you choose to keep your hair in a simple bun, be sure to moisturize it every two days. When your hairstyle becomes frizzy simply mist it with water and tie it down with a scarf. You may even find that this unintentional protective style actually holds benefits for your hair.
3. Watch out for cigarette smoke/party smells
I wasn’t much into parties in college but living in a dorm I became familiar with party smells. That’s right, smells. Parties held off campus will possibly have the aroma of cigarette smoke. This smell will cling to your perfectly fluffed fro. There’s not much to do to get rid of the smell but to wash it out so be prepared to possibly reserve Sundays for your hair washing day.
4. Find a “campus stylist”
Instead of doling out money to go to get your hair braided or twisted at a local salon identify the campus stylists. I’m a big fan of do-it-yourself hair care but I have yet to master cornrowing and even if I did there may be times when I’d be too lazy to style my hair. If you can find the individuals on campus who can braid you will be able to get your hair styled for a fraction of the cost of a salon. If you’re a freshman ask upperclassmen to point you in the direction of the best campus hair stylists.
5. Have fun!
College was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. While there are seasons of busyness, don’t allow the drama of others to dampen your experience or stress you out. I have seen the effects of unnecessary drama on one’s physical appearance, including hair. Enjoy this special time in your life, make friends and wear your beautiful ,natural hair proudly.