Is Going Natural Less or More Expensive to Maintain?

Monday, 05 November 2012 21:50 Written by  Kim Shine

With unemployment rates and gas prices fluctuating more than some Hollywood marriages, the last thing women need to stress over is the price of hair care. Yet, before the recession, a constant debate existed over whether natural hair is more or less expensive to maintain than a relaxed mane.

The answer: there isn’t one. Depending on the regimen, a natural style can cost less, more or about the same. But, perhaps money is not the real issue. According to Mintel Group Ltd., a consumer spending, marketing and research firm, 36 percent of black women say they do not use products to chemically relax or straighten their hair. With a 17 percent drop in relaxer kits sales between 2006 and 2011, it seems more women are simply spending their monies elsewhere.

Like entrepreneurship and investing, going natural is a risk at first. It involves research, the willingness to experiment and a commitment to finding (and embracing) your niche. This can be more difficult for many African American women because we define beauty in our hair. It’s a tangible asset that we control and use as a way to define ourselves.

The transformation from relaxed to natural can signal an array of negative responses such as public ridicule, corporate/job issues and the disapproval of loved ones. The process of overcoming them, and more importantly accepting our new look, can make this change seem an unwise investment. But, change can be a good thing.

The “natural renaissance” is not new, but it has gained steam in the 21st century. This spotlight on this trend made the process easier and more budget-friendly than ever. Selecting the proper product for your hair is key, and the hair care community constantly introduces new options, both in-store and online.

National beauty brands continue to take notes as they make conscious efforts to supply the rising demand for these products. In March 2003, Proctor & Gamble’s Pantene line launched Pantene Pro-V Relaxed & Natural as “a new hair care collection created to meet the unique needs of women of color.” The following year, the award-winning Miss Jessie’s product line was released.

Caucasian brands such as Herbal Essences work to enhance their products to cater to more than one hair texture, and many of these products are less than $10.

Whether you’re doing it yourself or going to the shop, maintaining natural hair is possible and can be inexpensive to maintain. Regardless of which side you choose, there are options for you to save money and maintain your style. The true advantage of being natural is the freedom to rock your hair your way. You may have to switch products, but that’s just a part of the fun.


Any woman can be natural, so which one are you?

The Dependent Natural:

She’s always at the shop (or in a friend’s kitchen). The dependent natural woman always gets her touch ups. Her wrap stays laid, and this is her first (or second) time going natural. Because she is discovering her regimen, she may spend more until she finds what works.

Her motto: “I NEED my relaxer. I don’t have time or money to manage a natural and I am not chopping off all my hair.”

The In-Between Natural:

This woman determines her costs and savings. She has found a successful, cost-effective regimen, but makes appointments for trims and the occasional press/length check. To her, salons are secondary, but sometimes necessary. She is either fully natural or she gets relaxers once or twice a year.

Her motto: “Relaxed is cool, I just prefer less chemicals and I sometimes like to style my own hair.

The Independent Natural:

This woman saves the most money in the debate. (She might actually make a profit too!) Proudly wearing her fro, twist-out or Bantu knots, she has thoroughly researched natural hair care and designed or discovered a perfect regimen of homemade shampoo, conditioner and oil treatments.

Her motto: “I love my natural hair and enjoy learning new ways to take care of it. I make and sometimes sell my own products.”

 Kim Shine

Kim Shine

Kim Shine is a GlossMagazineOnline (GMO) staff writer. A multimedia journalist, she has reporting experience in entertainment journalism, health and local reporting. Kim is currently pursuing her MS in Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She has written for Medill News Service, the Northwest Indiana Times, Level-Up Magazine and Chicago Hip Hop Connects.

She can be contacted at