Natural Hair Debate | Relaxer Free vs. Chemical Free

Natural Hair Debate | Relaxer Free vs. Chemical Free


I’m so over the natural hair hype.  Before all my hardcore naturalistas crucify me, please give me a chance to explain!  I admire and appreciate healthy hair no matter what type or texture – straightened, relaxed, natural, wavy, kinky, curly and everything in between.  However, I’m tired of the division it has brought to black women and the self righteous indignation some women think having “natural hair” qualifies them to feel.  Lastly, I’m exhausted of all the natural hair debates – okay lets call a spade a spade, sometimes they are outright arguments.

Natural Hair Debate Relaxer Free versus Chemical Free - Longing 4 Length

I’m currently about 33(?) weeks post relaxer and as you know I have decided to transition.  However my main focus is keeping my hair healthy and breakage free as I continue growing towards my length goal.  Will I be natural at some point in the near future, yes.  Do I suddenly see relaxers as the devil reincarnate?  Of course not.  I may even return to relaxing my hair at some point, who knows?! I see my hair as an extension of myself, yes – but a hair style.  A temporary choice for however I want to wear my hair at the moment.  That’s all.  I’m not negating the importance hair plays in my life – after all, I did start this blog right? But at the same time, its not worth arguing with anybody over.

Now, as for this whole what qualifies you as natural thing.  I think its so silly.  First of all the words “natural hair” have been overused so much that I almost have an aversion to the phrase.  I just focus on healthy hair.  Yes there are different needs, techniques and in some cases products for natural versus relaxed hair but as a whole none of that matters if your hair is unhealthy either way.

So, what is natural hair?  Everyone has a different definition.  Some of the biggest and loudest natural hair advocates have dyed or bleached their hair.  Some never wear their hair in its natural texture – choosing weaves or heat straightened styles.  Some wear their hair in a completely unaltered state – no stretching, twisting, braiding, etc.  Does one mean you are MORE “natural” than the other?  Not in my opinion.  Nope.  Just as having  relaxer doesn’t mean your hair is automatically unhealthy.  I believe as far as this “natural hair” thing goes as long as all your hair is free of relaxer – not just your roots – then you are officially a member of #TeamNatural.

Natural Hair Debate Relaxer Free vs Chemical Free - Longing 4 Length

That being said, I absolutely think the phrases relaxer free and chemical free are much more accurate.  Natural hair has become a buzz word and again I hate the exclusion it gives relaxed haired ladies.  What it really means is your hair is unrelaxed.  Some ladies who consider themselves natural undergo Brazilian keratin treatments.  They are relaxer free but definitely not chemical free.  And as far as hair health goes, research has proven bleach is MUCH more damaging to hair than relaxers are…so how “natural” is a woman who bleaches her relaxer-free hair?  It’s all just so silly to debate about who is the most “naturalest” of them all!

For some people wearing their hair free from relaxers is more than just a style choice, it does mean something much more and that is okay also.  I’m not judging anyone or their reasons for choosing to wear their hair a certain way.  That is why Longing 4 Length caters to women of all hair types and textures, the goal is for Black women to have healthy hair first and believe that if they desire, long hair is possible.

So, overall my preference is to describe hair as being relaxer or chemical-free for accuracy sake but I do use the term “natural hair” since it is what is most widely accepted.  What about you?

Where do you stand on this natural hair debate?

  • healthyandlong

    I’m so with you Ebony! The whole ‘natural’ thing is making me feel sick! And wow! At your reason for transitioning, cos that exactly why I’m doing so. I’m about 26(?) Weeks post, and yes, I might still relax in the future. I just feel transitioning for me is what my hair needs for now to be healthy. And hey! Just have long healthy hair and I’m good to go!……#teamhealthyandlonghair#

  • Am with you on this one, ‘who is the naturalest of them all’. I have just closed my ears at the whole thing. I was reading some natural posts, and I have seen the troubles don’t end there, after you are natural the who discussion about ‘if your hair isn’t a certain curl pattern then it’s not being done right’…wow… give people a break! #teamhealthyhair

  • Lisa

    Firstly, hair is dead materia. Something that is dead can never be alive, let alone healthy. So putting relaxer on your hair won’t affect your health more than putting it on your shoes. Putting relaxer on your scalp is something totally different though. Secondly, if the hair has grown out of your scalp it is natural. It might not be naturally straight or red or what ever but it is your own natural hair. As you say, if you artificially straighten it whit relaxer, flat iron or wrap it. It will become unnaturally straight, but it is still your natural hair.

    I can’t believe people are being so aggressive about it.

  • I agree with you 100% and I flat out refuse to debate the topic, thus I never participate in the arguments. It’s quite silly and I don’t get it tbh. We’re all on a hhj so we’re connected by our focus. Can’t we just all get along? Healthy hair should be coined the catch all phrase as that best describes everyone on their hhj.

  • Lizzy F

    i don’t think i’ve commented on your blog before but i’ve been reading for at least 6 months now. I could not agree more with what you’re saying. i’ve had this discussion with my girlfriend many times before

  • Can I just give a HUGE round of applause for this post! Healthy hair is what’s most important in my book. Whether you be relaxer free, bleached, relaxed, etc. If it works for you and your hair is healthy then by all means do you boo! *insert snap*

  • Keoshia

    This was a fantastic post, very well said!

  • ShivaD

    I so agree! The ONLY “real naturals” IMO are rastafarians. Lets love our hair and all of the wonderful things we can do with it. Idk about anyone else but when I look into ancient Africa hair what I saw was variety and creativity…it is in our blood!