It’s time to let loose – and let your natural hair shine

Curly, straight, long or short, it’s time to flaunt your natural hair. Here’s how to make the most of the locks you’ve got.

The days of taming, tinting and straightening our hair into submission may be over as many of us opt to let loose and show the world what we’ve got.

Rumbie & Co’s Natasha Fountas is all for the growing societal movement to embrace natural hair.

The Sydney-based salon general manager has seen a greater willingness among clients to work with “the hair’s natural state, instead of constantly fighting against it”.

Embracing your natural hair – quirks and all – requires an understanding of its true condition.

So don’t wig out, let the experts explain how it’s done.

Benefits of embracing your natural hair

Hairstylist and creative director Melissa Van Aalst says the benefits of embracing your hair’s natural state are two-fold – healthier hair and saving time and costs.

“By keeping your hair natural, you reduce the risk of unnecessary damage potentially caused by heat styling tools and chemical treatments,” Melissa, of Lekeyah Rejuvenation Centre in Victoria, says.

“There’s also the reduced time and money spent on styling products, salon visits and upkeep.”

The starting point is to determine your hair’s natural state and texture, particularly if you’ve been actively working against it.

“A simple test is to wash your hair, apply a leave-in cream, run your fingers through your hair and let it air dry; then see how it looks,” Natasha says.

Hair texture is categorised into four general categories: straight, wavy, curly or coily.

Using the test, if the hair dries with no bends, it’s straight, while an “S” shape is considered wavy.

If it dries with a defined curl or loop pattern, it’s curly, while a more tightly curled spring or zigzag is coily.

How to work your natural hair texture

Queensland salon owner Meg Bates, of Elvarl Hair Artistry, says once you’ve established your hair texture, you can adjust your haircare and styling techniques to best accommodate it.

Straight hair

This hair is typically smooth and shiny but can lack volume or become greasy.

Meg recommends a lightweight shampoo, conditioner and styling product to “encourage movement and enhance natural shine, without weighing it down”.

Melissa adds that straight hair should be washed every few days and refreshed with dry shampoo to avoid greasiness, and brushed using a soft-bristle brush or wide-toothed comb to avoid excessive pulling and breakage.

Wavy tresses

This hair type is more voluminous than straight hair due to the different-shaped cuticles, but Meg notes it requires “extra moisture as it’s prone to flyaways and dehydration”.

Melissa says hydrating wash products, along with a quality leave-in conditioner, can assist with nourishing and defining the waves while also reducing frizz.

To encourage a natural wave, try curl creams or mousses followed by a smoothing serum.

Both Meg and Melissa recommend letting wavy hair air dry over blow-drying it to avoid frizz.

Curly mane

“Curly hair is characterised by well-defined, distinct and spiral-shaped curls,” Natasha says, adding that the texture’s propensity for frizz and dryness means you need to show it “lots of hydration love”.

Meg recommends shampoos and conditioners specifically for curly hair, “because the ingredients are designed to amplify curl and encourage cuticle shape”.

Natasha and Meg agree that a curly hair styling arsenal needs a quality leave-in curl spray and a lightweight curl gel.

Coily locks

“Coily hair is also known as afro-textured or kinky hair, and the key to embracing its volume and texture is to keep those coils quenched with moisture,” Natasha says.

As with curly hair, moisture-heavy haircare and styling products are essential to help naturally coily hair maintain its unique definition.

“A leave-in curl cream will deeply moisturise and nurture those tight coils, providing all-day softness and shine,” Natasha says.

“And to make those coils pop, a strong hold curl gel is the go-to.”

Consider your hair’s natural length

Natural hair texture is only one piece of the puzzle as there’s also natural length and shape to consider.

“I recommend having a professional analyse your hair to determine where it will comfortably grow to,” Meg says.

And finding your natural length is particularly beneficial for those dealing with a cowlick.

“A cowlick is a growth pattern from the hair follicle that cannot be changed – however, the length of your hair can influence how your cowlick behaves,” Melissa explains.

“The right length, combined with part placement and certain weight distribution such as a layered haircut, best accommodates a cowlick.”

The right haircut matters

Natural hair texture, shape and length are the foundations of embracing your natural hair state – but they are not the only considerations.

“During a consultation, your hairdresser will consider facial features, lifestyle and styling routine in addition to how your hair naturally behaves,” Melissa says.

“They will then guide you in understanding your hair type and talk you through the best shapes and hairstyles that will enhance these attributes.”

More on haircare and hair trends:

Written by Sharon Hunt.