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When Long Natural Hair May Not Be for You

When Long Natural Hair May Not Be for You

My husband said I was bored. Maybe I was. Okay I definitely was. But it was more than boredom. It was the need for a major change. And what prompted this need was a feeling of not feeling comfortable in my own skin. Literally. I was looking tired. Real tired. I needed to feel that passion for life again. I needed to get my confidence back and feel great about myself again. I needed a boost. And when women need a change, what do they usually “change” first? You guessed it. I’m so over it. I’m over the desire and need for long natural hair. I’ve been there and done that and if I’m completely honest with myself, it wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I say this because I’ve always had this strong need to have long hair. I know exactly where it comes from. Growing up in a majority Caucasian town and being made to feel as though my hair was inferior led me to desire long, straight hair. The only thing is that my hair never was long. Oh it was straight thanks to some chemical modification! However, it never grew to the lengths I wanted it to. It reached my neck and that was it. Breakage city after that. Which led to a lot of tears and drama from me. I wanted long hair. I wanted desperately to fit in and be accepted. When I did the big chop several years ago I didn’t really have a plan for my hair. Do any of us really? Most of us are just enjoying the freedom of being natural, experiencing the ups and downs of having natural hair, and going through the process.

As a result I just let it grow. The ends were clipped when necessary but that was it. It just grew and grew. And the more my hair grew, the more tired and unimpressed I became. Sprinkle a little frustration and exasperation in there and you have a recipe for a hot mess. A hot TANGLED mess because that’s what my hair would be most of the time. Especially since my wash “day” was actually a wash weekend which started with shampooing, detangling (oh Lord!) to twisting to the final style reveal. All of that time and work spent on my hair. It got to a point where I would just wash and condition my hair, quickly put some gel throughout my hair and slicked it back in one. And Lord knows I could stretch a wash. I would wash my hair every 2, 3 even 4 week. Because honestly, who really has time for ALL of that? And washing and styling both of my daughters’ hair as well. Towards the end of it all I found myself cutting some major corners with styling, and not taking the care I needed to in order to minimize breakage during the wash process. I didn’t care. And once I didn’t care I knew it was time for a major change. Whenever I conduct workshops on hair care I always ask the question of the attendees:

“How many of you want long natural hair?”

The majority of hands go up. My most recent workshop was attended by women with type 4 hair that wanted to know all about how to take care of their – ah hem – unmanageable hair. And most of the them wanted long, natural, type 4 hair. Why do I stress the hair type? Because it’s not secret that it has it’s fair share of challenges. And while there are many beautiful type 4 curlies with long hair, I’m not one of them. On purpose. Why? Because I’m not willing to put the time, dedication and work into protective styling and the host of other practices I would absolutely need to employ for length retention. And I don’t care. Not anymore. It got to a point where I would look at my hair and feel completely unmoved and uninspired. It was so blah. And I felt like how my hair looked. Now don’t get me wrong. I could get it together when I needed to. I would pull off a wicked twist out for a few days and then the hair would go back in one. And I would accept the consequences of it eventually becoming a tangled mess with single strands knots, mid shaft splits and – you get the picture. So I had a huge decision to make. One that I definitely wouldn’t take lightly. And I thought about it for months and searched for the perfect style. And before I chopped it, I asked myself one important question:

Do I really care about having long natural hair?

And the more I thought about it, the more I was repulsed by it. If I’m to be honest with myself, I can’t handle it. Not at this point in my life where I’m the busiest I’ve ever been. And the reality is that in order for your hair – especially type 4 hair – to retain length, a lot of time, dedication and care has to go into the process. And I just couldn’t do it anymore. I didn’t care to. What I wanted was to feel inspired and excited about my hair and about myself. I needed to feel and exude confidence. And while many will say that hair doesn’t make you who you are, when you have a wicked hair style it sure helps!

So I booked an appointment for a transformation. Colour and cut. I put my hair in the hands of a very capable and talented stylist who knew natural hair. And the final style blew me away. I finally have my “signature hair style”.


I didn’t really understand the importance of finding a hairstyle that encompasses who you are until I actually got one. And at that moment I truly understood what my photographer meant when he told me that I need to find my “signature style”.

That style to allows me to confidently rock my curls without apology. That styles that says “here comes Susan and she looks fabulous”. The style that allows me to really feel myself. Because truthfully I am! And I’m allowed! So are you by the way.

The style that took me from drab to fab. After all isn’t that what being natural is all about? The ability to embrace who you truly are with confidence? For me, somewhere in all of hair growth and the lack of any sort of plan I lost who I truly was. I may have always wanted long hair but when I had it, it didn’t truly feel authentic.

Don’t misinterpret what I’m saying now. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t want to have long hair or that you shouldn’t attempt to do everything you can to ensure your lengths add up.

What I am saying is to put some careful thought into your hair care goals and lifestyle and evaluate. Here are a few things to consider.

Hair Texture
What is your hair texture and curl pattern? This is important because certain hair textures before more difficult to manage when the hair gets to a certain length. Curly hair challenges include tangling, single strand knots, mid-shaft splits and breakage. How you wear your hair and handle it as it begins to get longer can influence how great those challenges are. For example, if your hair is prone to single strand knots, wearing it in wash n’ go styles can contribute to more knotting.

How much time do you have to realistically spend on your hair? Are you willing to wear protective styles to minimize manipulation of the hair and retain length? Are you able to spend hours washing and styling your hair if that’s what’s necessary? I know for me as my life became busier I didn’t have time for all of that .

Hair Goals
Lastly, what are your hair goals? You may not have put any thought into what they are but you likely have some. Are your goals for healthy, long hair? To minimize breakage and damage? To increase moisture? Or perhaps you’re not overly concerned with the length of your hair. You just want to be able to effectively take care of it and not have your hair take over your life.

After considering all of these factors, perhaps long hair isn’t for you. Or maybe it is. Only you can make that decision. For me, it was easy. My type 4 hair requires special love and care since it’s so fragile and prone to a lot of tangling, knotting and breakage. I knew I wasn’t willing to wear protective styles most of the time. I’ve worn them before but I became bored quickly and as a result, my style would change frequently. As it grew longer I didn’t have the time to put into it no matter how hard I tried. Other things were higher priority than washing my hair. For me long hair wasn’t as important anymore. What is most important is loving my hair, not viewing it as a burden and being stressed out caring for it, and feeling comfortable and confident enough to rock a style that showcases my personality. For me, a short, funky textured style complements who I am. And I love it.

So long natural hair isn’t for me and I am completely okay with it. I’m enjoying the freedom of rocking my natural curls. And isn’t that what being natural is truly about? ;)

About Susan Walker

Susan is the CEO of Earthtones Cosmetics, a licensed Naturopathic Doctor and certified Trichologist with the World Trichology Society.

She has been a speaker and workshop presenter at various national and international conferences including the Taliah Waajid World Natural Hair Health and Beauty Show in Atlanta, the Toronto Natural Hair Show, The Canadian Naturalista Hair Expo and the Natural Hair Congress in Montreal. 

Susan performs hair, hair loss and scalp consultations at TrichoSpa by Earthtones in Ajax, Ontario, a holistic skin, hair + scalp spa and curl care boutique. We specialize in corrective curl, scalp and skin care using trichological treatments for various scalp and hair concerns, and corneotherapy to correct skin issues. She has obtained various certifications in hair loss and scalp conditions.

In order to help her clients she has received her Laser Technician Diploma and certificates in Chemical and Mechanical Exfoliation, and Microneedling and Collagen Induction.

She is currently pursuing her Masters in Science in Cosmetic Science. 

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