The Most Common Natural Hair Problems and How to Fix Them, According to Experts

Rockin’ your natural hair can be a beautiful flex. However, to say the journey toward #hairgoals is easy would be cap. To help you on your quest, we’re comin’ through with expert solutions to some of the most common natural hair problems.

By Stacey Coles

“I need my hair to give life! Why is it so dry?”

Let’s be real, no one wants a parched crown. Moisture is everything, and to achieve and maintain it, you must understand your hair’s porosity, meaning how well your natural tresses absorb and hold on to moisture. According to DeShawn Bullard, an Atlanta-based celebrity hair coach and licensed cosmetologist of 25 years, low-porosity strands basically diss hydration —  products and water tend to sit on top of the hair. On the other hand, high-porosity hair takes in moisture but can’t secure it.

“[For low-porosity hair] we recommend that you do steam hydration treatments to kind of open up the strands to expand it. It will allow the strands … to receive the products,” Bullard says. Oils are great for giving shine, but they aren’t always the best moisturizers, and they can actually block hydrating creams from getting into the hair, she continues. The best way to deal with high porosity? Trim those ends and use a protein treatment every few weeks.

“I want to flex a natural 26 inches. Why won’t my hair grow longer?”

Struggling to get the hang time you desire? Blame it on your genetic makeup, lack of retention, or scalp care. “Your hair is only going to grow the length that your heredity, your genes, will allow it to grow,” Bullard explains. “So, if you look at your family, and no one in your family has hair down the middle of their back, then the chances are that your hair is not going to grow to the middle of your back … [Other than that] I would recommend that you look at what you’re doing to the scalp,” she continues. “A lot of us use the no-poo method — we don’t use any sulfates at all on our scalp. We also use oils on our scalp, [but] we don’t do any scalp exfoliation. When this happens, it simply means that there is so much skin built up on your scalp that it’s hard for the hair to push through during the hair growth cycle.” Cop a good scalp exfoliating brush, and once every two weeks, use it gently in a circular motion, followed by a clarifying shampoo, to clear away any built-up dead skin and layered product residue.

Keysha Davis, former editor of the United Kingdom’s BlackHair magazine says what you eat and how you style your hair can also play a part in its growth. “Pay less attention to length and more attention to creating a healthy hair regimen. Ensure you are washing and deep conditioning regularly,” she says. “Avoid too much heat styling, i.e. blow drying and applying straighteners. Trim your ends every two to three months, and ensure you consume a diet rich in protein and vegetables.”

And be patient. Your hair may not grow as fast as you’d like, but if you care for it, Davis says, it will thrive.

“I love rockin’ braids and frontals, but they ruin my edges. Why?”

The only thing that should ever snatch your edges is a bomb episode of your fave drama or the latest Bey record. You can still wear some fire braids and weaves from time to time, but make sure they’re not installed too tightly, or they can cause major damage.

“Traction alopecia occurs when you place too much tension on your edges through hairstyling, particularly protective styles like braids, wigs, extensions, and ponytails,” Davis says. “Be mindful when installing protective styles — that [they aren’t] too tight — and avoid keeping these styles in for too long, as this contributes to compromised edges.”

Friction can also lead to hair loss. The lace material on that beloved frontal or wig? It can literally rub your hair out over time. Peep your hairline’s condition after you remove certain styles, and adjust your choices and wear-time accordingly. “We need to do what they call the on-off method. If I’m wearing [a protective style] four weeks or six weeks on, what do I need to do? I need to wear my own hair six weeks off,” Bullard says. Wearing protective styles for an extended period doesn’t allow you to wash and condition fully, which can lead to the breakage and porosity struggles discussed earlier. “We have to have a healthy balance in between if we want to keep our hair healthy. Just imagine not brushing your teeth in four weeks and wearing a grill. You can wear your grill, but you need to take the grill out and brush your teeth!”

“After I wash my hair, it feels mad dry. What’s up with that?”

It’s probably time to switch up your wash day routine. Never do a pre-poo? Get on that. Use a cleanser that strips your strands of hydration? Make a change. “Some say their hair feels less dry after washing if they apply a pre-poo, which means applying an oil or conditioner prior to washing to keep the hair nourished and soft,” Davis says.“[Also] invest in a quality cleanser that includes nourishing ingredients [such as water, oils, and shea butter] that will keep your hair moisturized whilst washing it.”

Be wary of buying products based on brand names or social media influencers, too.

“We attach to brands and brand ambassadors, but our hair is not like the brand ambassador that we follow, right? And you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh! I’m going to buy this,” and then, you get it, and it makes your hair dry,” Bullard says. “If your hair is dry after using a shampoo that means you are using the wrong shampoo. Point blank.”

Main Image: Julie Meme/Stocksy


Quarterly print teen magazine for Black girls ages 13 to 19. Covering The Black Girl's Mainstream™