Natural Hairnamix: What Not to Your Natural Hair
February 19, 2014By Rossette Allen

Beautifully styled hair often requires the use of one hair accessory or another. Natural hair, in order to realize its full styling versatility, needs to be set or held in place with objects that will uphold a particular style. In an effort to do so, care must be taken so as not to compromise the health of your hair. There is a plethora of tools and accessories that naturals use to achieve that drop dead gorgeous hairdo. These range from something as unconventional as an old stocking foot, to something as technical as a Croc Jaw hair clip.


There should never be a time when you become comfortable with trading your hair’s health for a "cute do.” Stay away from those accessories or styling aids that may cause damage to your edges, roots or strands. Sometimes the item itself is not the cause of the damage but the incorrect way in which it is applied.


I remember as a child I used to literally see stars while my hair was being styled into several small ponytails with the use of those stretchy clips with the balls at the ends, known to me as "bubbles.” My hair was pulled so tightly that my face would resemble that of an Asian princess. Not long after the "bubbles” were installed, the perimeter of my head would be visibly decorated with small, unattractive bumps, forming as a result of the drastic tension placed on my roots. The hair accessory, in this case, was not to be blamed for the damage caused. It was, however, the way it was installed that led to the unpleasant results. Thus, the issue of What Not To Wear in your natural hair is not just limited to the item in consideration but how it is used.  


Avoid the following four items in your struggle to maintain a healthy head of hair and prevent unnecessary damage:



1.     Chipped or Headless Bobby Pins


Bobby pins are a staple for most naturals and it is the go-to hair tool for styling natural hair in pin ups, updos, ponytail buns, etc. Bobby pins are easy to use and despite their small size, are able to secure natural hair effectively. Depending on the quality of the brand that is used, or how long they have been in use, Bobby pins can become damaged over time. The tiny balls at the tip of the pins sometimes get chipped, torn, broken or totally removed. Avoid using the hair pins if any of these have occurred. The balls are placed at the ends of the Bobby Pins to cover the sharp ends and prevent potential injury to the scalp. If the head or ball happens to fall off, then the hair pin should not be placed in your hair. It also makes it more difficult to insert because the smooth, rounded ends make glide easily through the strands. Likewise, the broken section of the pin can snag your strands and possibly break them off or pull them out from the root.



2.      Rubber Bands


Whether your hair is natural or processed, who doesn’t at some point or the other just grab a rubber band to secure their ponytail? Whether sitting at your desk in the office, or in your classroom at school, sometimes your hair just happens to get in the way or just suddenly decide it doesn’t want to act right. In those cases, sometimes a rubber band is the only thing handy and we usually don’t give a second thought to making it our styling tool of the moment. However convenient and readily available rubber bands may be, they are not the best option unless extreme care is taken when installing and removing them from your hair. This seemingly harmless object has a unique ability to just grab on to strands of your hair and wrap them around itself so tightly that it often leaves no recourse but to break off the hair in order to detach it from the rubber band. This kind of risk associated with the convenient access to these makeshift hair-fastening tools is not worth the potential damage that using them may bring.   




3.      Banana Clips


A banana clip is a hair accessory resembling, as the name suggests, the shape of a banana. I personally loved wearing banana clips, especially in high school, because the shape of the clip allowed me to pull my hair into a ponytail without compromising the length of my hair. The clip somewhat follows the natural contour of your head and since all the hair is not gathered together tightly in one spot, it gives the illusion that the hair is longer than it really is.


As cute as they make your hair look in an updo, there are a few potential dangers. The clip has a snap closure that is used to secure it in place after the hair has been gathered. If you are not extremely careful your hair can get clasped into the clip when it is being snapped shut. Hair caught in that closure can easily break off causing undue damage to your natural hair.  Depending on the manufacturing quality of the Banana Clip, it may not be well constructed enough and bear rough edges around the teeth and closure areas. These edges can easily snag your hair. You don’t have to totally avoid wearing this very dynamic accessory but be sure to exercise caution while using it to ensure that no hair damage is encountered.




4.      Cotton-Like Hair Accessories


It is proven that natural hair and cotton-like fabrics are not the best combination. Any cloth-like accessories used in the hair causes friction and if the fabric from which they are made is on the rough side then when the hair rubs against it, it can cause breakage. Accessories such as headbands and scrunchies that are made from cotton material should not be worn in natural hair. Headbands usually sit close to the hairline which is one of the most fragile parts of the hair and if the fabric is constantly rubbing against it, there will be a risk of experiencing breakage. It is not only the friction that we need to worry about, but also the cotton-like fabric sitting on the hair, pulling moisture from it. As moisture retention is one of the primary goals of any natural concerning her hair, it is wise to avoid anything that will seek to interfere with achieving that goal. Opt to wear similar accessories made from more delicate fabrics such as satin or silk.




When considering styling options for natural hair, consider the tools required to achieve them and make a conscious assessment as to whether or not they are safe to wear. It’s all good and well to aspire to look cute as long as it is not at the expense of the health of your hair. Before you grab the next hairstyling accessory, give some {C}consideration the four items "not to wear in your natural hair."





Candie's Natural Hairnamix was birthed a few months after Jamaican native Rossette "Candie" Allen began her natural hair journey in May 2010. She gears this column toward naturals, transitioning naturals, aspiring naturals and the naturally curious, sharing experiences, expertise and experiments while celebrating emancipation from chemical slavery.






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