by Klassy Kinks
For some of us, the beginning of September not only marks the end of summer, but the beginning of the new school year. Whether you’re in high school, college, graduate, or professional school, I’ve compiled a list of tips for balancing your natural hair care with the demands of readings, assignments, and tests that so joyously come with school (yeah, in our dreams).
Educate Your Hair
I began my transition the summer after my freshman year of college, so I spent much of my sophomore year rocking braids and weaves. During that time, I began obsessively reading and watching hair blogs and tutorials. Being a student made me approach my hair journey as an educational experience, so I very (maybe too) diligently read, researched, and inquired about products, styling, and maintenance tips way before I even cut my hair. Even if you’re already natural, make sure you educate yourself about how to properly care for your own hair, or research a knowledgeable hair stylist in your area that will help guide you along. Although you might have homegirls and even blogger friends giving you suggestions, it’s important to do this research ON YOUR OWN… you wouldn’t go take a calculus test without studying and doing some practice problems on your own right?
At the beginning of the school year, many teachers off the bat give you the dates of papers and exams, and then you scurry to write them down in your planner or GCal. Similarly, map out a weekly or monthly schedule for your hair, especially washing and detangling hours/days. You don’t want to wake up one day having to choose between washing your three week old musty twists (no judgment, it’s like that sometimes) or writing a 10 page research paper. And you also don’t want to have to sit out of your organization’s charity basketball game because you straightened your hair three days before. I use wash days as my time to catch up on TV since I don’t watch that much during the week (except for Scandal). So I’ll plop on my bed or couch armed with my wash day stash and a few movies or episodes of Law and Order: SVU. That said, if it’s your bi-weekly wash night but someone asks you on a date or your girls wanna have a night out, don’t turn them down! Which leads to my next point…
Have a Go To Hair Style
When you’re in between washes, wake up 5 minutes after class has started, or just can’t figure out what to do with your hair, you need to have a go-to hairstyle that you can put together in no time whatsoever. Think of the pair of leggings and sweatshirtyou wear on laundry days… yeah you need the hair version of that. For me, that was/is often puffs: I could wear them to a formal but also to the gym. For you, it might be a flat twist pin up do, a Marley bun, a turban, or something else, but master and perfect that hairdo that never ever goes wrong. Trust me, you’ll need it.
If you’re a student, chances are you’re not working a full-time job. So don’t spend full time job money on products! Staples like oils, butter, and conditioners should be bought cheaply and in bulk (I would suggest buying on Amazon where you can get Prime 2-Day shipping for students!), while you can splurge a bit more on shampoos and styling products. A lot of the products I use are affordable, so if you’re looking for suggestions, you can find them under Current Arsenal. If you’re in college, you’re also probably dealing with limited space to store all your stuff, so curtail the urge to buy 10 products that all serve the same purpose. Plus, if you have a shared bathroom, you don’t want to have to lug everything to and fro (hehe pun intended!) in your towel. Not that I’m speaking from experience…
Pretty good life advice, but we (especially black women), don’t often follow it. It is incredibly important to ask for help both in school and with your hair. Not only do you save yourself much time and headaches, you also build a community whether it is with your classmates in Sociology or with your roommate who’s really good at flat twisting. Moreover, don’t hesitate to turn to the pros for help. In college, I knew people who would never go see the teaching assistant (TA) for help, they would always go straight to the professor. While I don’t necessarily agree with that method, I think it is important to consult professional help regularly for your hair. Depending on your location, it might be difficult to find a stylist who is knowledgeable and genuinely cares about your natural hair health, but avoiding a stylist for too long can have unfortunate consequences.