Debates within the African American community often take place between women having their natural, curly hair as opposed to straightened, relaxed hair because people prefer one or the other. Urban Views Weekly looked into this debate, citing sources from blackdoctor.org’s writer Naomi Mackenzie, just to see what the difference was between having natural versus relaxed hair.
In the debate of thickness and strength, natural hair wins. Why? Because according to Mackenzie, natural hair has more texture to it. This creates the curls that give the hair its strong thickness. With relaxed hair, chemicals make the hair unnaturally straight, so it is weakened by that. This causes the hair to “feel and appear lighter,” Mackenzie said. In conclusion, if women want to obtain the full and rich big hair look, natural is the way to go. However, if they want their hair to look long and satin-like, flat-ironing relaxed hair is the suitable method.
Natural hair, Mackenzie said, is harder to detangle because of the many curls interlocking with each other. Blow-drying after a wash and then detangling is the preferred method with natural-haired women. On the other hand, relaxed hair is already straightened so it is easier to detangle and manage. Air-drying is the preferred method for women with relaxed hair.
Mackenzie makes it clear that it is a myth that natural hair grows faster than relaxed hair and vice versa. She states that hair growth is dependent on two things: the actual health of the person and how the individual maintains their hair. Women with natural hair, Mackenzie added, often think their hair is growing faster because they aren’t putting as much chemical products into it. However, she states that what’s really happening is you’re not losing as much hair because it is natural. Relaxed hair has been treated with chemicals, so extra care is needed to keep it long.
There are no limitations when it comes to styling for relaxed and natural hair. African American women have a wide variety of options. Mackenzie does state that some styles will look better with relaxed than natural and vice versa. All of it, though, is based on what a woman wants to do with her hair.