Have We Replaced Relaxers With Twist Outs Instead Of With Natural Hair?

Woman braiding her kinky afro hairThe other day I looked up the definition of natural hair because sometimes with all the chatter about it, I forget. The definition I found was hair that is ‘uncolored unadorned and otherwise in its natural state’. Another definition that is slightly more fancy is  ‘a filamentous bio-material  that grows from follicles found in the dermis’.

The definition that I have always used, is hair that has not been through any kind of chemical processes that will alter or change the hair from how it naturally grows from the head.

I have heard some strange rumblings from some areas of the natural hair community that some of us with more kinky than curly textures are way too obsessed with seeing our hair in curly styles and we are failing to wear our hair in truly natural styles.

While I clearly don’t agree with this, I do however want to humor the idea, because for some, relaxers are not just relaxers. Some believe that relaxers signify a certain mental breakdown when it comes to the appreciation of what our natural hair is. For some people the choice to permanently alter the structure of the hair is a means to an end. It is an attempt to glorify what is considered beautiful from a European standpoint and deny how we view ourselves as a people.

For others it really isn’t that deep, some black women just happen to prefer their hair straight and since adding heat to natural hair consistently can cause damage in the form of breakage and significantly less length retention, they opt to just relax the hair and care for it in a state that is permanently straight. Really it is just a matter of choice.

Twist outs, as a matter of fact lets not stop there, braid outs, bantu knot outs, roller sets, twist and curl sets are all just hairstyles that much like a relaxer in theory are just a means to an end. For some women wearing their hair in its naturally curly state at maximum shrinkage not only encourages tangles and knots but can lead to some serious breakage which can be counter productive to healthy hair goals.

Originally posted 2013-04-10 15:00:08.

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About Petra

Hi I'm Petra Lomax , a staff writer and editor for BlackHairInformation.com . I am Jamaican born and raised and moved to the United States in my early 20's. I have a BA in Political Science and International relations as well as an MBA and a Masters In Project Management. I love travel, culture and anything that has to do with creative media and business.

About Petra

Hi I'm Petra Lomax , a staff writer and editor for BlackHairInformation.com . I am Jamaican born and raised and moved to the United States in my early 20's. I have a BA in Political Science and International relations as well as an MBA and a Masters In Project Management. I love travel, culture and anything that has to do with creative media and business.


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  1. Synamon

    Isn’t the whole point of wearing braid,twist or bantu knot out is for low manipulation hair styling. Since our nautral hair is prone to breakage the more we put our hands in it. Sounds to me this article is discouraging the natural hair ‘movement’ while claiming to encourage it. If not wearing your hair the way it comes out of your scalp, you might as well get a relaxer.Shampoos and conditioners can change our hair texture should we cut those out our hair regimens as well? Whatevs!

    1. Alma Ruddock

      I’m pretty sure that the author came to the same conclusion as you did, if you had read the post until the end. They are just styling options.

  2. Nena

    I’m always tryingto find out who I am in this whole question. Well, I can’t wait to have my hair styled. It’s too short yet to get good results and I’m waiting and waiting. But I’ve already confessed here I don’t like shampooing and go. Solange Knowles’ hair is not my favorite style and believe me, my hair just looks like hers. If I don’t accept myself/my hair as I am / it is… Big problem. I’ve thought about this question for a long time and I think yes, twist outs are the new relaxer TO ME. I like curls. Can’t have them yet but I can’t wait to have those results. Each one must find what makes her fell better.

    1. Aliyah Morrison

      Twist outs are a natural style ! Relaxed is a chemical which breaks down the bonds in your hair to straighten it . Twist outs are NOT relaxers .

  3. Dominique Higgins
    Dominique Higgins

    There r way too many definitions and arguments in regard to what constitutes natural n that is only the brim of the discussion. Then we have arguments about what you can and can’t put in ur hair, relaxed vs. natural and so many others. These discussions are enlightening n encouraging, it shows that natural hair has a platform. However at the end of the day hair is hair, it will grown back, it’s yours do as you want, have an opinion when it is solicited, but uplift all of our natural woman. I just want to keep the airways clear.

  4. Shawnnita Larkins
    Shawnnita Larkins

    Wtf…. natural hair is what grows directly from your scalp with out altering it with a chemical…. simple as that sounds ppl still continue to miss use the word… its not a black thing its a every race thing…. any one race can have natural hair , and wth does a twist out/braid out/ roller set/ blow out/ flat ironed has to do with having natural hair!!! This natural term is becoming a ridiculous. Ppl around the world were already walking around with chemical free hair, but because they kept it styled no one knew…. but now we gotta use the word, ” Natural ” gtfoh i love my twisted non relaxed hair and forever will

    1. Tk Tatum Richey
      Tk Tatum Richey

      Natural means non chemically altered but ppl dye their hair and still think its natural its not dye is a chemical

  5. Miriam Correa
    Miriam Correa

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Lol am I dreaming ? Or am I really reading this ? Ridiculous.

  6. Sandra Ifeoma Orimilikwe
    Sandra Ifeoma Orimilikwe

    Twist Outs Instead Of With Natural Hair? – please explain. One of the natural hairstyles is twists out…not sure what this statement means…I second that…this article is ridiculous

  7. Candia Pavy
    Candia Pavy

    So i guess when other races flat iron or curl their hair they aren’t natural n e more

  8. Jo Anne Sullivan Smith
    Jo Anne Sullivan Smith

    I define natural as being free from chemicals that will or have altered the original hair. My natural is what I was born with…my plans of transition is to get back to the original. Twist outs, etc. is a style and has nothing to do with being natural.

  9. Kelly Hall
    Kelly Hall

    I knew from the garbled ‘headline’ that this article might have some issues. I was unprepared for how many and how bad they would be. I agree with an earlier posters observation, that the slant on natural hair is always a negative and a push for relaxers. Occasional heat is equally as damaging as caustic chemicals leaking into your bloodstream every 6 weeks??? Really??? Roller sets and twist outs equate a European mind set??? GTFOH!! I’ve held my tongue a loooooong time over some of the BS on this page. TO THE AUTHORS AND ADMINS: You do yourselves and women of color GREAT disservice with these ill formed, ignorant opinion laden ‘articles’. You are disseminating half truths and outright lies and should be shamed!

    1. BlackHairInformation.com

      A push for relaxers? Really? At what point in the article did you get that. Not to mention that it’s pretty obvious that you didn’t read it at all if you thought that the title of the post was the conclusion.

  10. Carrie Laura-Lee Howe
    Carrie Laura-Lee Howe

    Ok listen, sometimes I like my hair curly, sometimes strait, right now it’s in box braids cause I want to keep it protected while it grows out. I did relaxers from age 12 till last year cause I was raised to believe that my natural hair was “bad hair” which is a terrible thing to tell any young black female! I actually only decided to grow my own natural hair out because I went a little too long without a touch up and actually saw what my natural hair looked like! I was like ” damn I don’t have bad hair” decided then and there I wanted my natural hair to grow out! For me my hair has nothing to do with digging deep or European influence, I simply didn’t know any other way! Now I’m experimenting with different things, but one things for sure, I love my natural hair, strait hair, extensions, whatever! I will not be defined by how I choose to wear my hair!

    1. BlackHairInformation.com

      And that my dear is exactly what the post is about, it isnt about a’new relaxer’ it is a celebration of the fact that natural hair is a great from of expression.. and all our styles do that for us..

  11. mzthang0519

    This really is a stupid point that is being made. Natural hair is hair that is not chemically altered & that is that. When a white woman roller sets her hair or braids it at night for beach waves in the morning. ..is she no longer natural. Let’s not get caught up in the unnecessary gibberish regarding letting go of the harsh chemical processing of our gorgeous hair. We have hair that when we’ll taken care of gives us extreme versatility regarding styling. Contrary to popular belief…If I were to choose to regularly straighten my hair with heat…I still would be natural (ok, I’m going to pause for a second to allow you extremists to sit down& BREATHE)…………. The real question that should be; as women of color, where are we regarding self/public acceptance when wearing our hair in an unstretched state?

  12. Lyndsay Johnson
    Lyndsay Johnson

    Yes. If the only way that you wear your hair is in a manipulated state but doing twist outs is just another plus of having natural hair, the way that it can be manipulated like no other type of hair

  13. Lyndsay Johnson
    Lyndsay Johnson

    Calm down angry balack women! Nobody’s saying you’re not natural. A twist out is just not your hairs natural state or your natural curl pattern. That’s all thats being said. I think the ones of you that are the most offended are the ones that dont accept your natural curl pattern.

    1. Miriam Correa
      Miriam Correa

      But its still YOUR hair in its natural state. A twist out on my hair and a twist out on someone with a 4a texture is going to come out differently.

    2. Aliyah

      Um I’m 3c and 4a and when I take my cornrows protective style down I wear it in a braid out . Many of us do styles like twist outs and braid outs to stretch our hair plus our hair shrinks and breaks off if we wash and go .

  14. Joyce Callahan
    Joyce Callahan

    This is just ridiculous. Let’s start with our children. No one, and I mean NO ONE sends their children out without doing something to their natural hair! Braids, twists, ponytails, etc…So why is it frowned upon when adults opt to make their natural hair more manageable? What it looks like your criticizing women of color for doing is the equivalent of women of other races just washing their hair, and going. No blow drying no ponytails, just wet matted hair until it dries! That’s equally ridiculous! We get judged so much for the dumbest things!! SMH….

  15. BlackHairInformation.com

    Your argument is a bit harsh I would venture. Especially considering that the article’s idea came from one of our readers who said that they thought that the whole point of having natural hair was to wear it natural instead of adding curls with twist outs and other such techniques. You may not think it’s not a valid question but someone obviously did and I am loathe to put down anyone’s opinion without a deeper look. Emily who wrote the post was quick to say that she didn’t agree with this idea at all and without putting shooting down the question asked she proceeded to say that twists outs, braid outs etc are simply styling options for our versatile natural hair.

  16. Courtney Brown
    Courtney Brown

    Everyone styles their hair. Styling has nothing to do with not excepting ur own natural texture. Even after getting a relaxer u have to style the hair, it doesn’t just bump it’s own ends. We’re empowering each other by learning to love our hair, just leave it that. Who ever said she thought natural meant no manipulation she was incorrect point black period.

  17. Felicia Grant
    Felicia Grant

    I understand what you /are Sayn I cut off most off my hair tryn to go back natural it’s been 4months now n i just had twist braid for a month I wash it I can c my natural hair comin in but it’s so hard to comb an do some to what should I try anybody help am bout to give up an get this good old relaxer

  18. LaTasha Strahan
    LaTasha Strahan

    I’m 6 years natch and I dye my hair an obscene amount of times depending on my mood, the seasons and how much grey may have shown up recently. Do I consider myself “natural”? Affirmative. Are dyes considered chemicals? Sure, they are. Do I chemically straighten my hair permanently? Nevermore. My hair’s too fun. Do I alter the curl pattern by twisting or braiding stretching? All the time. Hair is decoration, is it not? Mine is, at least.

    If I buy an organic apple and alter the flavor by sprinkling on some salt….or sugar….or cinnamon, is it still not organic because I enjoy it in different ways?

  19. Danielle DanDan Ross
    Danielle DanDan Ross

    From the looks of the comments many either did not read the article and assumed or didnt understand it. From what I gathered its questioning if “naturalists” rely on twist outs, braid outs, etc to alter their natural curl pattern because they dont feel their own natural curl pattern its acceptable or is it truly for the sake of the variety in hairstyles and protective hairstyles. I don’t think it was meant to down talk anyone who chooses to wear those hairstyles but lets be honest how many of you are content with your own natural curl pattern and would rock it with no alterations I.e curl definer, rollers, twist/braids/bantu-knot outs? How many try this product or that style in hopes to “loosen” or “stretch” their curl to prove their length or because “that” curl pattern is prettier? I admit I fell into these ideas in the beginning of my journey and its funny because just this week I decided I preferred my natural curl without any alteration. I wet, condition my 4b/c hair and go. No definer, no twist. That’s just what works for me. So if you’re doing what works for you and what you like not what you think appeals to others, then carry on!!

  20. Violaine

    I am transitioning from relaxed to natural and find my hair more manageable in twists, because Type 4 hair needs alot of TLC and i dont have alot of time on my hands. Women are finally accepting their hair textures and stepping away from the relaxer now the topic is about colouring hair, twist outs, braid outs and everything else other than the relaxer. if you want to curl your kinky hair do it , if you want to colour your hair do it because it is your hair anybody else who has anything to say about it are just jealous because they want it . No one wants to be a plain Jane so do with your hair what you want as long as you love it .

  21. Mary Howard

    I love the fact that Solange Knowles embraces her natural hair. She is beautiful with it. I like the fact that Beyonce’ doesn’t follow the norm when it comes to her baby’s hair. Decide what you want to do with your hair and stick with it. Allowing others to decide for you is a cop out. I decided to go all natural almost a year ago. My hair is different in that I have to take time to ensure that it is healthy and moisturized. I did the BC in Feb 2014. I felt the weight of the world fall from my shoulders. I loved it, and now that it’s grown out I take the time to keep it healthy. EMBRACE YOUR HAIR, YOU ARE THE QUEEN OF ITS BEAUTY.

  22. Aliyah Morrison

    I have to stretch my hair because I have two textures and shrinkage and I don’t have 4c kinky hair . I have 3c and 4a and it’s so hard to manage two textures. Stretching my hair in twist outs is the best thing for me and i dont have to constantly manipulate my hair every day . Whhen I big chopped I could rock a wash and go everyday well I have more length now a year later so I have to keep it stretched and moisturized . If I washed and go again my hair would look good wet but once dry it will look like a frizzy puffy dry tangled mushroom mess . That’s why I don’t do wash and gos anymore uugh i wish I had only one texture like Naptural85. I love my curls but managing two or more textures is a nightmare .

  23. Aliyah

    Ok I protective style with cornrow braids . Every time I take my protective style out I wear it in a braid out then I get it rebraided . Anyway twists outs braid outs Bantu knots roller sets blow outs etc are just low manipulation styles ! A lot of us dont wash and go because we get a lot of shrinkage and it tangles up and breaks off ! Also many of us want big stretched natural hair . We want to see our hair at it’s best in a cute style not a shrinked up curly Afro . So that’s how I feel about it . Twists outs and other low manipulation styles are NOT the new relaxer. They are temporary styles . By the way I have 3c and 4am hair .

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