Is Natural Hair Really Harder to Manage Than Relaxed Hair?

I recently had this conversation for the fifth or so time this year so I thought I’d give my two cents about it. The other day, one of my colleagues and friend from work came up to me at lunch and told me he finally read some of my blog posts and was so interested in the content. He said he hadn’t realised that there was so much debate around hair. And that sparked off another debate on the lunch table.

Upfront: I don’t believe that natural hair is harder to manage than relaxed hair. But hang on Aisha, haven’t you spent the past almost four years trying to figure out how to? Yes, but that doesn’t mean that I think it’s harder. My thoughts are that whenever I hear someone say this, it’s because most of us are used to having relaxed hair. Anything we’re used to is automatically easier right? It’s different but I wouldn’t say it’s harder. So when going natural, we have to press the reset button and get used to our natural hair. Doing something completely different to your norm gives the impression that it’s more difficult.

Plus, there are several ways of managing natural hair – one is better than the next woman’s method for her own hair. It’s hard if you haven’t figured it out and if you’re still fighting – eg. insisting on combing your hair dry when your hair clearly doesn’t like it. Sleeping without any braids, twists and scarf so that your hair’s not matted in the morning. The list goes on. Constantly fighting with your hair will make the journey much harder.

Relaxed hair also needs managing by the way. To have a healthy head of hair whether relaxed or not needs managing. I think many think relaxed hair is also easier but in fact, many aren’t taking care of it. Think about it. When relaxed (and not just slap on the relaxer every 2 months and ignore it in between), but healthy relaxed – you also need to deep condition your hair, be careful of the products you apply to it, avoid or reduce heat use, go to get a touch up every 6 – 8 weeks, go for treatment etc. etc. etc. So again, not harder. Just different. And I don’t think going natural is for everyone. Because sometimes women go natural and think they need to do the same things and apply the same techniques and practices as when they had relaxed hair when in fact it’s a different beast and they aren’t prepared for that or willing to make the necessary changes. Different. And sometimes your mentality hasn’t done the 180 to catch up with your hair’s 180. Four years on, I think I’m getting there.

What do you think? Is natural hair harder to manage?



  1. May 9, 2015 / 7:53 pm

    Ask me again in a couple of months. I just came out of the closet (had protective styles for the past 18 months) and rocked tiny 'twist outs' to the office last week. Got a lot of 'your hair looks so nice' and 'this style is the best you have ever had'. Considering the fact that the twist out was my first attempt and did not come out exactly the way I wanted – they had a bit of frizz and I had to turn it into a 'pineapple' style from day one. Not sure if that means all the weaves and other styles I have put so much effort into for the past 5 years were rubbish but I'll take the comments in good faith. LOL!

    The down side is I used to stay in bed till the very last minute cos I knew I could throw a wig on and leave home in a jiffy but now, I have to allow extra time to do my hair. Lazying in bed time is drastically reduced. *sigh* LOL!!

  2. May 7, 2015 / 12:55 pm

    Hey Aisha

    I had relaxed hair for majority of my life because I couldnt imagine dealing with natural hair. It was thick when I was relaxed and the thought of it being natural scared me cos I was like "I wont be able to manage all that thickness". 2 years down the line I am managing my gorgeous fro'.

    I think the major issue is that most women find hair to be a trivial matter and then to view having natural hair as time consuming and they cant be bothered with it so get a relaxer. Unfortunately most women with relaxed hair dont know that its just a matter of relax it and thats it. Relaxed hair takes a lot of work just as much as natural hair. In fact you have to work hard to get relaxed hair healthy because its chemically processed. I used to spend a lot time looking after my relaxed hair and it came out looking healthy. However I didnt like the overall look and flatness of relaxed hair. I find my face looks better with natural hair. The volume balances my face and I get to do some great updos which I wouldnt normally be able to do with relaxed hair.

    So both sides are time consuming and require patience.

  3. Anonymous
    May 6, 2015 / 9:30 am

    Hi Aisha,

    Quite a topic indeed and it’s always a question I don’t know how to answer for a very simple reason…I have been natural for most of my adult life (in years, it’s been 10 years and I am 30yrs old) but then again I only had relaxed hair for only 2 years of my life thanks to my mother’s no chemicals allowed regiment until matriculation.

    With that said, I think there is nothing hard about both. It’s truly a mental change that warrants the hard/simple mentality. Both needs managing regardless; the choice of products and what’s in them plus their intention on your hair is part of healthy hair maintenance.

    However most of my relaxed hair friends think they wouldn’t manage their own hair in its intended natural state. I strongly feel it’s a matter of finding simple things that work for your hair- be it relaxed, natural or weaved up. It is that simple! But we get it twisted in our heads the minute the word “natural” before “hair” is used.

    If we asked ourselves is hair maintenance difficult without the “natural”/”relaxed” words, am sure we will all come to the same answer. No, it’s actually simple!!
    Loving the progression on your blog and all your Magazine features (great thing are yet to come am sure, keep at it!!)


  4. May 6, 2015 / 4:44 am

    I agree with you that I think its different, not easier. For me, I think relaxed hair is QUICKER to style. when I had relaxed hair, I could just slick my hair in a ponytail and be done with it within 2mins. But with my natural 'fro, even a ponytail/bun takes planning that involves slicking my edges down with gel/scarf the night before, much brushing etc. great debate!

  5. May 4, 2015 / 11:08 pm

    As much as I love my fro I definitely think relaxed hair is much easier to manage. I've been natural for 3yrs and at first I had NO clue what to do with it. Back then Wigs and Weaves saved my life. lol I'm still trying to figure it out. But I have to say with natural hair blogs like yours it has now become a bit easier. So thank you, you've inspired me to soldier on with my fro.

  6. May 4, 2015 / 7:11 pm

    most of us think natural hair is harder to manage because until we became natural we didn't really take care of our hair. had we put the same energy and time into our relaxed hair as we do in our natural, i doubt anyone will think one is more difficult than the other.

  7. May 4, 2015 / 4:00 pm

    Hey Aisha! Thank you for this great post. 🙂 I've just discovered your blog and I love it :).
    Natural hair are not harder to manage. They just required another care routine.
    I grew up thinking that natural hair were too difficult to manage because my mum, my grand-mother and I didn't know how to take care of them.
    But when you know it's so easy and now with Internet and social media we have so many tips and tricks on how to take care of them.

    Thanks a lot again for your post. 🙂

  8. Anonymous
    May 4, 2015 / 3:03 pm

    I can only speak for my own hair, and relaxed hair is 100 times easier. Still, Im committed to my fro for so many reasons, its worth all the effort.

  9. May 4, 2015 / 2:41 pm

    Yip, its certainly a subjective answer. However, relaxed hair requires more work in terms of maintenance if health and length is the overall goal. Plus attaining more length largely depends on how well we take care of our already chemically processed hair as we (relaxed girls) have to deal with two textures during our relaxer stretches.

  10. May 4, 2015 / 10:48 am

    The answer to this question is subjective. What's "easy or difficult" for one person is completely different for another person. Whenever people ask me which style is easier, I always say—neither. Both take the same amount of effort honestly. I loved my relaxed hair—I love my natural hair. I've had good hair days and bad hair days in both styles.

    Thanks for sharing chica!

    KLP @ SavingOurStrands

  11. May 4, 2015 / 10:03 am

    I never thought I could successfully manage my natural hair, while growing up, making my hair was a big deal, it was really painful and the hair-maker usually comb my hair in its dry state, the pain was horrible. My mum started relaxing my hair at age 13… But now in my thirties I know better, what has made the natural hair journey for easier and fun is find out what works for me, I started out with the basic rule – LOC (Liquid-spritzing my hair with ordinary water or tea rise, Oil-my DIY coconut oil and Cream-my plain natural shea butter), my hair stayed moisturized for days, then gradually I added some good leave-ins into my regimen… The key thing is to keep your hair moisturized, then it becomes very easy to manage. BTW A'i I love your blog, you are an inspiration. Well done dear.

  12. May 4, 2015 / 9:20 am

    I honestly think that relaxed hair is easier to manage. i used to have it lose in the morning and randomly make a bang and tie it up in the afternoon. With my fro, the way i have it in the morning i worked damn hard to get that look so i cant change it randomly.

    With the maintenance aspect. they both need conditioning and alla that jazz. but on a day to day My fro takes a lot of work to look the way i want it to. 😉

    • May 11, 2015 / 4:46 pm

      Fair enough, and each person has their own struggles with both. I think it depends on your goal for either. With relaxed hair if your aim is to grow it long, you need to pay more attention to it and the managing is harder/more time consuming. Same with natural hair. Think it depends on why you chose either texture.

  13. May 4, 2015 / 8:49 am

    Great topic, thanks for sharing. I had to learn the hard way with natural hair. I actually prefer my natural to relaxed hair. It all gets better with practise and time.

    • May 11, 2015 / 4:44 pm

      Thanks Solo! Yup, practice and patience and consistency 😉

  14. Anonymous
    May 4, 2015 / 7:59 am

    Hi Aisha

    I have 5z hair type. It's not even on the hair chart. Nothing seems to work. Leave in conditioner, Oils nothing works. You know whats funny my hair idol is Esparanza Epalding

    • May 11, 2015 / 4:44 pm

      Lol @5z hair! You need to try out other products and also re-look your practices. It's not always the products that are the problem.

  15. May 4, 2015 / 7:03 am

    growing up i thought i would never be able to deal with hair, with my relaxed hair i had more stresses in trying to get it manged and then i did the big chop, everyone says to me "oh i love how yo style your hair, how do you do it?" so i've realised i manage my natural hair better and that's why i chopped. and that being said i'm not expert but i love what i can do with my natural hair, which i could not do with relaxed hair.

    so i would say, whatever works for you!


    • May 11, 2015 / 4:43 pm

      Versatility is definitely a surprise perk of having natural hair. Had no idea I could do so much with it. One day it's shrunken and kinky, the next it's fluffy and straight. It's hard to get bored!

  16. May 4, 2015 / 6:51 am

    Hi Aisha.
    Wonderful blog dear I always read it every time as its exciting. I dnt think natural hair is hard to manage as I was on my natural hair journey too and I struggled with my natural hair because I couldn't find the right products but the practices were good that I was applying,hence my two and half year daughter 's hair has grown a lot and she started with very little hair. Tried to apply the same principles but.was struggling because I did not have a night routine and I thought my hair was not growing and I decided to texturelax and was the worst mistake of my life suddenly after that my edges where suddenly going ohk one sided and I got so frustrated that I ended up big chopping again. decide to retrace my steps and see what is it that I did wrong as my hair was growing but a slow phase…just had false expectation about my hair that in six months or nine months my hair will be a big afro but forgot that our type 4c hair suffer from a lot of shrinkage. And when my hair was texturelax I applied the same natural method. And I thought it would be easier but it turns out differently Ooh K my hair was big just was breaking alot and that made me really frustrated and ended up to my fourth big really natural hair is not hard to manage than relaxedl hair it's basically the same. The sad part I was also figuring out how to care for my texturelax also. Lol story of my life

    • May 11, 2015 / 4:41 pm

      Hey Berlinda. There are a lot of things we do 'wrong' when we first go natural, key thing is to learn from them and also be patient with your hair and resist resorting to chemicals to ease it. Thanks for sharing your story 🙂

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