My Natural Hair Identity Crisis! Help Me!

Most often when we refer to “natural” we’re talking about relaxer-free, naturally-textured hair.  That’s what this movement is all about, right?  Giving up chemicals in order to set our kinky, coily, curly heads free.  But there are certain hair practice techniques that call my own personal definition of “natural” into question.  In particular: COLOR.

I’ve never colored my  hair.  Ever.  Sure, I’ve added in streaks of vibrant color for fun, but nothing permanent that I couldn’t remove with scissors and a little unbraiding.  I’ve always been a fan of my own natural hue, a deep, reddish brown with with lighter brown highlights that pop in the sun.  While I appreciate platinums, reds, golds, and event purples on other people, color has never been something that interested me.

That is until last week at America’s Beauty Show.

On the second day of the show, we had Avlon’s Keracare models do a demonstration on our stage, and I quickly became obsessed with one of the model’s cinnamon-copper color with golden highlights.  I thought it looked amazing with her skintone and even better with her texture.  I immediately texted the images to my stylists and set away to snapping a bunch myself.  I loved her color.  And I wanted it for myself.


I’m the type of person that once an idea gets planted there’s no turning back.  That’s how I wound up with things like a hot pink bed or my newest tattoo or The Damn Fade to name a few—the concept takes hold and WILL NOT RELINQUISH IT’S DEATH GRIP ON MY SOUL UNTIL I HAVE IT.

That’s where I’m at with this gorgeous color.  I want it.  In fact, I already have an appointment to get it.  (My stylist Marie is more than totally on board with this!)  My issue is that color is a chemical process and as a natural hair blogger, I’ve been preaching the virtues of a chemical-free existence.  While color will not necessarily alter my curl pattern, it certainly will compromise the natural integrity of my hair.  Once colored, I will no longer be wearing my hair just as it grows out of my scalp.

I know that lots of naturals out there color, but holy bajeeze am I conflicted on this one!

What are your thoughts on color as a chemical process?  Is it natural or not?  We’ve got a week before my appointment, so let’s discuss!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Bookmark the permalink.


  1. I don’t think that color qualifies as going against being natural, at least not to me. Sure, the color is not natural, but when *I* refer to natural, I mean the texture of my hair. Color isn’t like a relaxer – you don’t have to get touch ups (not if you don’t want to, just ask my roots, lol) and unless your hair has been bleached/heavily processed, you won’t have a line of demarcation. It’s not a big deal, at least to me. I mean, henna is a color but it’s not a “chemical,” but the result is still the same…I dunno, I feel like with color people are just looking for a way to throw shade, grasping at straws – it’s only adding a bit of pizazz to your already awesome hair!

  2. I will say this. Whether its “natural” or not, your colorist is going to have to lift your natural color several levels to get you that shade. It will definitely change the texture of your curls because your hair shaft will be broken down somewhat in the process making it more porous.

    My good friend is a hairdresser and I’ve been chocolate, blond, orange and red all at the same time! It was fun and looked great but the damage was done and my curl texture was never as healthy and the pattern more frizz than curl. Now, I’m not against color but I use Herbatint which is natural and vegetable based which improves the quality of my hair. Even Herbatint only recommends a shade or two up.

    So, I doubt the so called “purists” want to run around with a head full of graying hair just for the sake of being natural but just know that a change that drastic may change your hair’s texture.

    Best of luck to you and I can’t wait to get the Parisian posts!

  3. Just so you know:

    Bleaching is a chemical process for removal of some or all natural or synthetic color from hair. Hydrogen peroxide and ammonium hydroxide are common bleachants. Any color treatment to change to a lighter color requires bleaching. Subsequent to bleaching, a light colored permanent or semi permanent dye or toner may be applied. Bleaching has the side effect of raising of the cuticle, making the hair more porous.

    • Janene you are correct that bleaching raises the cuticle for the color to seep in.
      In black hair, the cuticle is already raised. So its usually more prone to damage by adding these products. This is why hair stylist tend to use gobs of creme moisturizers and hot oil treatments to repair and close up the cuticles as it loses moisture fast.

  4. If you want to color your hair, I say color your hair. Its just that, your hair and you have every right to do with it what you want. With that said, I say go for it! :)

  5. I think you should go for it, I am biased because I’m planning on getting highlights this spring. But really, while some people can pick a side and hold their position without negotiation, it’s difficult for me to take a hard black or white line on these types of issues.

    I also think ‘natural hair’ is as much about attitude and knowledge of self as it is about specific processes.

    Do your research, be confident of the informed decision you make and then rock it!

  6. Color your hair, like Elle said its does not change the fact your still “Natural”. BTW the color will look fierce on you.

  7. I’m on the fence with this one. I would still consider it natural but it does change the texture of your hair (well it changed mine at least). I haven’t dyed my hair since I BC’d but in the past I had a chunk of hair bleached and dyed blond, at the time I didn’t have a relaxer but I got my hair flat ironed regularly. I noticed when I washed my hair it wouldn’t curl up in that area anymore. I’m debating on dying my hair as well, I just haven’t decided on a color. I love the color I get from henna but it makes my scalp itch like crazy

    • When our naturally curly hair resist curls….its the proteins it the hair which gives the hair its curl, is depleted. For itchy scalp…mix 3 drops of Oregano oil, 3 drops of peppermint oil in a tablespoon of Olive oil to oil your scalp…no form of grease will do.

      • Hi this may sound crazy but when you say olive oil, are you referring to the olive oil you would cook with or is there one specifically for the hair?

  8. I say go for it! It can change the texture of your curls but that damage can be handled. I once bleached my 4abc hair up to white blonde for a show (i later dyed it hot pink) and it gave me shirley temple curls! However the next day after a deep condition my texture reverted a bit. My curls were loosened – more cottony than coily- but it wasn’t the end all for me. Also I did this in a friend’s kitchen, going to a pro should help you keep your curls as safe as possible. Like Elle I think that natural is more texture than anything.

    • FemmeFox, the cottony feel is the protein in the hair breaking down from using colors. Its like boiling pasta and its overcooked…it loses it original form. Hair loses its original form also and not as springy as it would be in its natural form.

  9. My hair is colored, and I consider myself completely natural. Go for the color! It looks beautiful on the model and yours will probably look just as lovely. Unlike you, I dislike my natural hair color – I call it “mud brown.” Once the greys started coming in quickly, that was it! I have locs, and I made the color transition gradually. First I had a few of them highlighted blonde, then a few more. Now, I have a caramel color on all the locs except the blonde ones. The caramel makes my grey hairs a reddish blonde. It was a shock at first to have such a change in color, especially since most of the grey was in the front, which of course frames my face. It took me about a week to get used to it, but I love it.

    • As we get older, because of less melanin around the cells we get grey…not sure why its always from front to center. The melanin provides the hair with moisture also…that’s why greys tend to stand out in the crowd and look brittle.
      A good clarifying shampoo to clear off the buildups from previous color is great before coloring again……..and lots of great moisturizer.
      I like Neutrogena as a shampoo that’s keeps my hair squeaky clean.

  10. Your natural, your not a preacher if your being true and consistent then people will see that, if they don’t it’s their problem not yours. You probably have thought about this but if not tips: weigh your (pros and cons) and decide will you deep condition and do protein treatments to keep your overall health up of your hair. Also once your stylist checks the health of your hair she can probably tell you if you should gradually add color and see if you like how your hair responds or just go for the whole color job. Do you!

  11. Altering the hair with any chemical makes the hair “unnatural”. Period. However, I was under the assumption the whole natural movement was more about moving away from relaxers.

    In any case, agreeing with a previous poster, the chemical process you would have to undergo to achieve that particular color would render your hair unnatural. It will change your hair texture. What you should think about, since you are as headstrong as you say you are, is what are you going to do if you color your hair and hate the color on you? lol

    If I were you, I’d get a wig first, or one of those wash out powdered hair colors (just saw it on Today this morning) for a trial run.

    Did you ask Lola what she thinks? ;)

    • It is not true that the color will definitely change her texture. There are several things that determine whether textures change and the results are not consistent. Otherwise, there would not be women walking around with platinum blonde 4b afros. Yes, there is a possibility (as there is with any alteration to the hair), but to say it’s definite would be incorrect.

    • The natural hair movement should be about moving out of the dependency on chemical products that change the natural shape of the hair. If you have brown hair, that appears brown. You can rest assured that under strong lights, you will find, reds, brown, yellows and black hair strands…..but if you use lemon juice in your rinse….real lemons…then you can gradually change the color of your hair…..and it looks sparkling and alive….shows up beautifully on locs.

  12. I’ve been following your blog for yonks and love your approach to hair styling. I think you ought to do what pleases you, natural hair movement or whatever. It’s all part of the journey. As a blogger, colouring your hair will also give you further inspiration. You could write about your experiences with colour and then have further input to provide based on your own experiences. (Just in relation to blogging here, holistically colouring your hair will be great for other reasons.)
    I have kinky tight coils, similar to yours but tighter. I have coloured my hair professionally on 3 occasions. And each time, my texture loosened. Not dramatically, but still loosened all the same.

    • Again, the natural coils are loose..because of protein loss. This is why a lot of moisture is recommended as well as steam caps. Kinky hair loses moisture faster than it can retain it and coloring strips it further.

  13. I love the idea of color but I honestly don’t feel it natural for me; the colors I see girls rock you included I think its gorgeous and fun but I plan to just add gloss rinse is that natural?

  14. Wow is this post timely!?? Our experience and curiosity on the issue of hair color is on the same plane right now. I am scheduling a consult with a colorist next week! And I’m finishing up a blog post at this very moment about the issue of coloring natural hair. I too have all of a sudden gotten the itch to color for a similar reason. But my thoughts on color as a chemical just that a chemical “process” its not not chemically “straightening” your natural hair, although some do claim that it will loosen texture, that is not why many people choose to color their natural hair. I still consider women who color their natural hair to be natural, because truth be told, most of us are not celebrating the freedom from an un-natural hair color. It is the “textures” that we are celebrating. The term “natural hair” has been coined as the universal term for naturally “textured” hair for most of us. I will say that anyone who is interested in chemically coloring their hair should do a lot of research on the different types of coloring processes, and understand the maintenance that will be needed to properly care for chemically colored hair. I would also do a few test patches before committing to a full head. : )

  15. I found your site while browsing the interenet.
    I have a new book on and called Stepping Out
    by Mariam Ibrahim
    Use it as a guide and a tool because locs and natural hair is here to stay.

  16. Pingback: Hair Color is TOTES Happening for Me. TODAY.

  17. Hi

    I am new but reading up to this –i just did my bc a week or so. At 33 yrs old i have some gray hairs and i am not ready to accept that. I love my natural hair texture but the gray hair is not cool w me ( as of yet ) so i am seriously considering the color. I dont think coloring hair would exempt anyone from the NATURAL HAIR club. We should love our natural hair at any our own discretion

    • Well—the fact is, I went through with the color and LOVED IT! For the past year I’ve been a honey-hued natural and it was great! Only recently did I start really CRAVING my natural color and so I did another big chop. I think what I’ve decided is that it’s all about the TEXTURE. As long as we’re embracing our TEXTURE we’re loving ourselves!! :)

Leave a Reply