Sunday, June 9, 2013

You No Longer Have Natural Hair If It Is Chemically Colored

Decrystalle Williams writes:

"I'm just curious if you are going all the way natural chemical free why would you put color on your hair? Isn't that a chemical as well?"

Kurlee Belle Answers:

To back up the title of this blog post, I realized that I needed facts, because at first glance it may seem a little outrageous. The dictionary defines the adjective "Natural" as 'existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind' or to be more specific when referring to a fabric, 'having a color characteristic of the unbleached and undyed state.' Hair is defined as 'any of the fine threadlike strands growing from the skin of humans, mammals, and some other animals.'

Pairing the two definitions, Natural Hair, would be defined as 'fine threadlike strands that grow from the skin of humans, having a color characteristic of the unbleached and undyed state.' Therefore, one's hair which has been subjected to chemically processing through manmade bleaching or dying is technically not considered natural.

The main ingredient in Lye and No-Lye Relaxers, respectively, are sodium hydroxide and guanidine hydroxide.  These chemicals work by raising the pH of the hair so that the structure can be altered. Relaxers destroy the peptide bonds in the hair so that the hair becomes straight. Peptide bonds create strength in hair, so essentially adding a relaxer to your hair destroys it's strength. Once the peptide bonds are destroyed, they can never be repaired or restored no matter how many conditioners or deep treatments are used. Relaxers also deplete the fatty acids found in the natural sebum produced by the scalp which attributes to hair thinning, dryness, and breakage. The pH levels (pH of 7 is neutral, pH of 0 is very acidic, pH of 14 is extremely alkaline) of lye relaxers range from 12 to 14 (Draino which is used to unclog drains has a pH of 13. Scary right?)

The main ingredients in bleaches and permanent coloring are hydrogen peroxide or ammonium hydroxide. These ingredients work at a pH of 8 or more to the lift the cuticle so that the melanin can be altered. Bleaching affects the hair's strength because it disrupts the cuticle. Semi permanent color however does not include bleach but includes ammonium to lift the cuticle. Bleaching/coloring the hair involves high pH levels that lift the cuticle and destroy melanin to add pigment.

The effects of using a relaxer or coloring the hair are irreversible, therefore the hair is no longer in it's natural state. Depending on what your reasons are for going natural, you may want to avoid coloring. If you went natural because you wanted to grow healthier hair then beware of using color because it weakens the hair. If you went natural because it is in 'trend' then coloring is not a problem.

What does natural hair mean to you?


  1. I really just don't understand why a lot of colored treated naturals get so offended by this? I chose not to color my natural strands. i had bad experiences in my relaxed days I had trouble with dyes,bleaches. It not natural hair if you alter the hair with chemicals plain and simple. It's just science it dosent make you less than another woman with natural color hair. I think women tend to get hung up on the " natural" term. If they have color in there curly hair they are now not "team natural"'s really silly and disturbing no wonder some people view this as a cult. Why can't some women see that if you color your hair it's not in its natural state? Because there not deemed fit or take offense there not all of sudden not Natural. They may be natural but there hair isn't anymore I guess it's a shock and they all of a sudden think us natural without color are looking down on them..this saddens my heart. I hope one day women of color can just learn to get along and not compare ourselves to each other.

  2. My natural hair is highlighted. Does that mean only parts of my head are natural? How silly. This is the new age brown paper bag test, I guess. I don't understand why women of color are CONSISTENTLY trying to be divisive. If you don't put chemicals in your hair to straighten it, you are natural. The end.

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  4. So if I use a natural hair dye to color my natural hair what does that keep me natural? The folks with colored locs, are they no longer natural? Presently, the color I have on my hair has grown out so that it is only on the ends. So are the tips of my hair no-longer natural while the rest of it is? Ladies if you have decided to go natural or have been natural all of your life, please continue to make your own decisions when it comes to your hair. If you feel that coloring your hair will somehow how make you un-natural, then please don't do it. Being that the color did not alter the texture of the hair growing from my scalp, I'm going to continue to color it whether they believe its natural or not. That is all.


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