Every relationship has its own set of rules, and dating a woman with natural hair can add a few more regulations to the list. We love our hair, and taking care of it plays a major role in our daily lives, which means it may also play a major role in your life if you're dating us. Our quirks, routines and lingo may be a bit hard to understand, but it means so much that you put up with it. You've gotten used to oil-soaked hands after running your fingers through our coils, and you know better than to make any comments about our Celie braids. You've learned right along with us from those first days of transitioning to tutorial-worthy twist-outs. We appreciate you, and major shoutout for learning the terms, listening to the tutorials and reminding us that every day is a good hair day.
Below are some of the changes we know you had to get used to from dating a natural-hair woman.
Shayna Watson is a freelance style and beauty writer who can be heard saying “Natural hair is a lifestyle” at least once a day. A Pittsburgh native, she currently lives in a shoe-box apartment in Brooklyn, N.Y.—which is fitting, since she really loves shoes. You can check out her personal style musings on A Nu Creature and follow her on Instagram.
1. You can identify oils by smell alone.
Argan, coconut, olive, eucalyptus, avocado—your nose becomes expert at sniffing out which oil was used to nourish our strands that day. Many concoctions go into these coils, and while most natural oils have very little smell, after a while you can pick up on even the most subtle of scents. Extra points if you're able to piece together the very complicated seasonal-oil-change algorithm.
2. You get the restrictions of “wash day.”
“I have to wash my hair” used to just be an excuse to get out of an unwanted date, but for naturals, wash day is an event. We will not be leaving the house and will, in fact, be spending the entire day washing, detangling, trimming, deep-conditioning and styling. By now you know not to expect any outside plans, and maybe give a day-or-two cushion before expecting normal activities to resume; it takes a few days for the curls to pop back.
3. You find bobby pins EVERYWHERE.
You don’t even question how that bobby pin got into your refrigerator. You're dating a natural now, and this is your life. Believe us, sometimes we aren't even sure where they’re coming from. We buy a pack and two days later we have none, so we buy another pack. If you really love us, gather all the ones you find and regift—we need them!
4. You know our natural-hair gurus by first name.
“Whitney, Fran and Taren all put out new videos today!” You know these aren't names of girls in our crew—these are our natural-hair besties in our mind. These gurus took us from TWAs to fluffed ’fros, and we have followed them every step of the way. We may not know them IRL, but you get that these girls are part of our tribe.
5. You wake us up when our silk bonnet slips off.
When you know enough to shake us awake when that scarf has slipped off, or to remind us to retwist to avoid a flat ’fro in the morning, you're a keeper. We will be so disappointed when we wake up with dry strands, and you know you'll have to live with that disappointment, too. Better to wake us up now so we can all benefit from the twist-out perfection in the morning.
6. You understand that surprise dates require some hair warning.
We love surprises, but we wouldn't have worn this dusty, two-day-old twist-out in a pineapple if we’d known you got tickets to a show tonight. A few hours’ notice to research an updo or retwist these curls could make all the difference between an Instagram-worthy night out and running from any attempt you make to take a pic.
7. You don’t even flinch at finding stray hairs all over.
You've come to expect that a cuddle session on the couch will result in you accidentally chomping down on our ’fro at least once. Being the little spoon puts our hair right at mouth level—and unless you plan to stay silent the whole night, these coils will make their way in midsentence. Not ideal, but with great curls comes great responsibility (or maybe a mouthful of stray strands).
8. You know that products are the new flowers.
Hearing, “Babe, I saw you were low on curl custard, so I picked you up a new one” is a natural girl’s dream come true. You know that those “just because” flowers can easily be replaced with the new DevaCurl curl kit we have been eyeing for months. Flowers are so thoughtful, but swinging by the spot that sells the whipped shea butter that we love is next-level.
9. You’ve learned terms like “pre-poo,” “co-wash” and “single-strand knot.”
There is definitely natural-hair lingo, and the deeper we get into the movement, the more likely we are to use these words as if they’re common knowledge. You know the dangers of parabens, the benefits of bentonite clay and the hassles of thinning edges. You watch tutorials with us and picked up on all the terms that naturalistas throw around in conversation. We are nothing but heart eyes when you nod knowingly at our rant over the lack of products for 4c kinks, or mention a new stretching technique that you read about.
10. You would never pat down when playing in our hair; lift and fluff only.
We spend a lot of time ducking and dodging hands that try to smash down our ’fros. So it's always nice to come home to someone who knows the rules of playing in coils, and that patting from the top is never the right approach. You deserve a gold star for knowing that rubbing from the forehead and lifting from the roots are the only options—and extra kisses for the fluff and shake; we get cuddles and a fuller ’fro at the same time.