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Natural Hair Problems: Defining Curls and Two-Strand Twists

I enjoy giving tips to others about how to style natural hair.

As I Am Natural Hair Product

As I Am Natural Hair Product

So, you've decided to go natural or are new to natural hair. Wherever you are in your hair journey, you will find there's much more to taking your hair back to its natural state than just relaxing it and moving forward. If you're like most African-American women who spent most of their lives learning to care for relaxed hair, natural hair is a mystery and even more, what to use in natural hair is a mysterious, exciting, scary, and frustrating adventure. That's why the best advice for newer naturals is to try, try, and try products again.

As with personalities, no two heads of hair are alike, meaning the products one head can get away with using, another can't. That doesn't mean a product is no good. And if you're not into researching, mixing and matching an array of oils and butters to create a personalized hair care wardrobe, then you may want to heed this review of one styling product called As I Am.

From the makers of products like KeraCare, As I Am is a product line inspired by hair care specialist Dr. Ali Syed. Dr. Syed realized that although a product like KeraCare is used in salons, many natural-haired women wouldn't dare subject their hair to chemically-based products. So, Dr. Syed introduced As I Am for women who desire effective hair products solutions without the problem of damaging already fragile strands by using products not designed with the fragility of natural hair in mind.

The Problem

Inconsistent and Unmanageable Hair Strands

For instance, hair on the crown is straight and is difficult to braid or twist with or without product (especially if short). People with a head full of hair with different patterns is not uncommon. For those who do, the issue of a product that works the varying patterns for one uniform after effect doesn't seem easily solvable. So, those of us, especially the natural hair newbies, struggling to find a home for our hair's future go on a product search tougher than Ed McMahon's job.

The Solution

As I Am Twist Defining Cream

The cream is a miracle for difficult hair. Unless you're an obsessive perfectionist, this cream will do just fine taming those crazy straights, keeping them closed enough to give you the best twist-out style you'll probably ever see with a reasonably priced product. What you will definitely experience for your straight strands is a creamy (please feel free to use the Zohan voice here) silky smooth hold that gives your hair days of shine and softness. At the end of your twisted days, untwist that still soft mane for a few more days of an awesomely defined twist out. Yes, even the straight parts that may not have responded to other products are now nicely coiled with As I Am Twist Defining Cream.

Two Strand Twist using As I Am Twist Defining Cream

Because the product was used from a sample packet, As I Am was used on the trouble area, the hair on the crown.  Typically, the straight hair here is difficult to remain twisted with most brand products.

Because the product was used from a sample packet, As I Am was used on the trouble area, the hair on the crown. Typically, the straight hair here is difficult to remain twisted with most brand products.

Twist Out Result

Having straight hair on the crown makes it difficult to get a uniform twist out look with many products on the market.

Having straight hair on the crown makes it difficult to get a uniform twist out look with many products on the market.

Most pleasing results for a twist out style goes to As I Am Twist Defining Cream

Most pleasing results for a twist out style goes to As I Am Twist Defining Cream

Comparison to Other Products

Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie

Shea Moisture is a product line growing in popularity, being found in everyday places like Walgreens and Target. Similar to As I Am Twist Defining Cream, Shea Moisture's Curl Enhancing Smoothie is creamy and less messy. Unlike As I Am, the smoothie doesn't appear to have the victory over the more difficult parts of the hair, i.e., the straight hairs. Additionally, in comparison to As I Am, the cream is not silky in texture and doesn't leave the hair feeling soft and shiny for days after application. It is still a good product and works for defining curls.

Stray Hair That Won't Lay or Stay

You've gone to YouTube and found an array of videos showing you how to style and care for your natural hair only to find you're having the most difficult time getting your hair to comply. Your hair won't lie down with this product. It won't come together with that product. Another product is not in your budget. You're trying and trying but to no avail. You've tried flat twisting on wet and dry hair with gels, creams, and oils yet they never look fresh. Now what? Stop trying? Go to a professional? Not yet. Try this first.

The Solution

As I Am Curling Jelly

Talk about saving grace. As I Am Curling Jelly is just that for the amateur trying to learn her own natural hair and how to style it. Not only does the curling jelly do wonders on stopping those stray hairs from running away from being styled, but the jelly also leaves the hair shiny and smooth for days after application. It probably works best on hair that is slightly damp or dry but it's not completely ineffective on wetter hair.

Flat Twist Using As I Am Curling Jelly

Flat Twist Using As I Am Curling Jelly

Notice the thickness of the hair. Even on the crown where the hair is straight.  As I Am allowed these flat twists to happen on the first try after its application even after trying multiple times using other products.

Notice the thickness of the hair. Even on the crown where the hair is straight. As I Am allowed these flat twists to happen on the first try after its application even after trying multiple times using other products.

Kinky Curly Curling Custard

Kinky Curly is a very popular natural hair product. If you've never tried the custard, the best description of its consistency can be compared to the "hair gel" scene from the movie There's Something About Mary. It's sticky, it's gooey, but it works (without giving you the stiff hair look of course). The custard's consistency leaves your hands extremely sticky and easy to attract dirt and other particles while you style your hair. As I Am's Curling Jelly is thinner than the custard, but thicker than gel. With one use, you should be pleasantly pleased with your styling progress, ease, and clean up.

When you're new to taking your hair back to its natural texture, you have to understand a few things quickly.

  • You cannot waste your days comparing your hair to anyone else.
  • You must give your hair time to tell you what it likes.
  • Finding the right product is a test of enduring trial and error.
  • What works for most, may not work for you at all.
  • You cannot allow yourself to get caught up in the natural hair craze.
  • Your hair loves you and will show its appreciation for you taking time to love it back.

Those things being said, styling natural hair can be fun, frustrating, and exciting. Most of all, it's a process. Just like everything in life that's a process, having someone to help you through can make a big difference in your success. As I Am is one of the few products actually designed to help you through a less strenuous process of learning to style your natural hair.

Personal Note

My most difficult hair is on my crown, and every product I use is measured by its ability to control the seemingly uncontrollable top of my mane. Because of the straightness of the crown of my hair, flat twists are my secret to the best-defined curls but are impossible to do on short hair without product help. Until I tried As I Am, my flat twists never looked neat or fresh and were difficult to complete while keeping my parts straight. As I Am was a breath of fresh air after spending two years trying many products for styling my hair and finally doing a second big chop. The only warning I have is not mixing the product with any other, as doing so caused my hair to flake. As I Am promises no flaking, so mixing products doesn't give the product's promise fair advantage.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Keneesha M Hodge


Ann810 from Sunny Cali on May 17, 2016:

Cool article, the braid-out hairstyles are beautiful. The best hair products for Afro textured hair are the organic moisturizers, I use Whipped Orange Citrus Shea Butter Hair Cream Moisturizer We need more Afro textured hair articles on Bellatory.

MelStie from San Francisco, California on February 12, 2014:

I think the best you can do is keep your hair healthy and constantly moisturize so that going natural doesn't turn into a problem. I've been moisturizing my hair with the pro naturals hair repair mask and I highly recommend it! It smells good and it hydrates the hair bette than most treatments out there.

Keneesha M Hodge (author) from Chicago, Illinois on November 19, 2012:

Thanks for reading and commenting Alecia. I do dislike the attitude of natural hair as a fad and not an acceptance of true self. Like you, I decided to go back to my natural hair, but I had no idea what I was headed for. I really wish the black community as a whole knew more about caring for our hair as it is and not after we've strained it chemically. I learned so much about my hair and myself when I went natural. And I wished my mother knew enough to keep my hair natural from birth.

Alecia Murphy from Wilmington, North Carolina on November 18, 2012:

I think the natural hair phenomenon is positive but like with any change in cultural norms, some people take better to it than others. I decided to go natural after being tired of constant breakage, itching, and shelling out unnecessary dollars for a certain look. I'm still transitioning but overall it's a great learning experience.

I just bought some Miss Jessie's but I think I'm going to try Kinky Curly next to see what works best. I like this hub and how it's helping many of us keep our options open. Great job!

Keneesha M Hodge (author) from Chicago, Illinois on November 12, 2012:

Thanks for reading and replying faithbuilder. Yes, my hair is far from the days of a staying wrapped and for me, even slicking back into a ponytail is a job. But as you said, my hair is also in it's healthiest state ever and I don't think I'm interested in losing the sides and back of my hair just to have a more easily manageable mane. For me, going natural was a struggle probably more because of self acceptance than anything else, but I get more compliments wearing my hair natural than I can remember being relaxed. Every purple moon when it's taking me 5 hours to finish my twists, I get that thought, "relax and release", but I don't want to go back. I get the same result from a good blow dry. You're like me, you like versatility, but I find that not all styles are MY style, so for now I just stick with what works.

faithbuilder23 from Pennsylvania on October 30, 2012:

Nice Hub. I'm a former weave addict myself..been natural for 2 years..I love it although like you said it is just as much work as having the weave or relaxer. I love my hair..I just get bored with the same fro style and twist out. I'm trying to hold on especially since my hair is in it's healthiest state ever!!!

Keneesha M Hodge (author) from Chicago, Illinois on October 26, 2012:

Thanks YoLex. I've heard of Black Earth but have yet to try it. I always try recommendations and I will definitely try that one. You're right, natural is best for black hair. It's so much better I feel like shouting it from the mountains for everyone to leave the relaxer alone and be natural. Before my 2nd BC my hair was to my shoulders for the first time in my entire life. I stopped dealing with breakage in the back and sides of my hair and I can truly say my hair is smiling.

Keneesha M Hodge (author) from Chicago, Illinois on October 26, 2012:

Thanks Old Albion. The thing I love most about HubPages is learning from the various writers on the site.

Keneesha M Hodge (author) from Chicago, Illinois on October 26, 2012:

Natural hair is a crazy journey, but you'll get there. I wish it was as easy as buying a product, using it, and having this amazingly beautiful hair. But since its not, trial and error is how I get to my final destination. Not to mention, it takes major time and effort to get your hair in a place where you're less frustrated and disappointed. Stay encouraged. All the naturals are with you. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Keneesha M Hodge (author) from Chicago, Illinois on October 26, 2012:

Thanks for reading and commenting Esther. When I used the product, my hair was already so short shrinkage was not an issue. I haven't used the product since my hair has grown, but from what I could tell, the product keeps your hair soft and moisturized for days so your hair could react to extra moisture, but every hair is different. Since my hair is longer now, I'm still working on shrinkage issues, but I'm happy with my twist results anyway.

Keneesha M Hodge (author) from Chicago, Illinois on October 26, 2012:

Thanks Janshares for reading and commenting. I'm looking forward to celebrating 24 years of my hair just the way God made it. Sometimes it gets a little frustrating and saddening that after all these years black women have no relationship with our hair. I really feel like I'm dating a new person at times, but at least this person is easier to get along with, lol. I will try that Optimum moisturizer I need a daily moisture.

Janis Leslie Evans from Washington, DC on October 25, 2012:

Great hub, thecoffeewrite. Very organized, well-presented review. I have been chemical-free (including no color) for 24 years. I use heat (electric comb) to straighten every couple of weeks and wrap every night. I wear twists when it gets hot and humid for weeks during the summer but it doesn't happen often. Products I use most often include: Optimum Oil Therapy (daily moisturizer), Hask Placenta shampoo and conditioner, Pantene for Women of Color shampoo and conditioner, and other products for wrapping and moisturizing. Thank you for celebrating natural hair. Voted up and useful.

Esther Strong from UK on October 25, 2012:

Thanks for an interesting hub - am wondering if you have any observations regard As I Am and hair shrinkage caused by moisture in the air.

Cynthia B Turner from Georgia on October 24, 2012:

I loved your article. As for the hair, I'm working on mine, searching out products that will agree with my hair.

Graham Lee from Lancashire. England. on October 21, 2012:

A really interesting informative hub. Well presented and your photographs added so much. Thank you.


YoLex on October 15, 2012:

I always love seeing articles about natural black hair. My hair has been natural for about 8 years now (I'm 21) and it's really the best thing for your hair. The best hair product that I've found for getting out the tangles Black Earth Products - Protective Mist Bodifier. It's so good and it smells amazing! I always get compliments on how good I smell when I use it. Great hub!

Keneesha M Hodge (author) from Chicago, Illinois on October 08, 2012:

Thanks for reading, replying and the product referral RoseHelen. I haven't heard of Nuka Beauty brand, but I will definitely look into it. I use things like olive oil and shea butter for my skin and hair because they're easily found and not very expensive. It's good when we can tell each other of products that work well for us. I know we all have hair as different as fingerprints, but I figured if As I Am helped me with some of my styling issues, there may be some other people who could benefit from trying the product as well.

rosehelen on October 08, 2012:

I used Nuka Beauty Organic Argan Oil,I feel good.Grown in North Africa and mainly in Morocco, Organic Argan Oil is rich in antioxidants and omega 6 fatty acids, and is believed to contain twice as much vitamin E as olive oil. I feel it is Gentle enough to use on all skin types,

Help with skin conditions including acne and diminishes wrinkles and

Easily absorbs into hair to give shine and reduces drying time.

Keneesha M Hodge (author) from Chicago, Illinois on September 29, 2012:

First of all TD..thanks for reading and replying :) Second, it's my pleasure to help someone who may be struggling with developing a relationship with the hair they just met, as I have for the past two years. Third, I use raw Shea Butter and even though I've run out and haven't replaced my tub in about a month or two, my hair still feels good and I can tell it's happy. Since Shea Butter is a natural product and not greasy (I use it on my face), it should be good for all hair types. As you've read, I have varying hair types as well and before using the Shea Butter, my hair felt brittle, looked horrible, and did nothing I wanted. For all the uses Shea Butter has it's good for you, your parents, grandparents, children and probably your pet. Just buy it raw. I have nothing to compare this to, but when doing my two-strand twists I used raw Shea Butter with some $2 hair gel from Target called La Bella. For me, the two worked the same kind of magic I got with the brand name products. But "healthy" hair (especially natural) is a tedious journey of trial and error. Good luck to you.

TDhair on September 27, 2012:

Thank you for your review on "As I am" and "Kinky Curly". I too have been natural for about 6 months. I really don't want to do a huge chop so I am trying to be patience with my hair. I found that Kinky Curly is sticky on some parts of my hair (down side) but it makes my hair softer (go figure) and As I am products, left my hair hard and brittle. However, I liked the Twist Defined Cream no fly aways. Question for you what kind of Shea Butter did you use? Pure or a product that is mixed up? Is Shea butter okay for someone like me with tight, kinky, coarse, and wavy head of hair that I have to use? Well it seems that I have all these types LOL!

Keneesha M Hodge (author) from Chicago, Illinois on September 11, 2012:

Charla. Thanks for reading and commenting. I too had hair that was extra dry and the Shea butter really helped me get more control of that. I also bought some glycerin to add to my hair every now and then. I wish I could've kept my hair length from my transition and got my hair to cooperate better, but all was lost so I had to big chop. With just the small number of products I use on my hair, my hair began to turn around within months and it keeps my pockets from crying as well. I will look into the Shielo though. Not trying to turn into a product junkie, but I'm always up for trying a good product. I also want to try WEN and see if my hair likes it.

Charla M on September 11, 2012:

My hair is VERY processed (bleached and highlighted) and tends to be dry and brittle, especially on the ends. I've used other treatments, but nothing seemed to really make my hair look healthy for any extended period. My stylist just got the Antioxidant Leave in Protectant from Shielo, and the Shielo Hydrate Conditioner. He used it on my hair and the difference - I felt immedicately! So I bought my own. My hair hasn't looked this good in years! It's soft and natural feeling and looking. I love this stuff and look forward to using it every day!

Keneesha M Hodge (author) from Chicago, Illinois on September 11, 2012:

@ChiChi. All you can do is try. I was so afraid of what my hair would look like natural, I transitioned at first. My hair grew long and nicely, however, I messed up my hair so badly I ended up with two hair types. I got tired of having so much trouble doing certain styles to my hair and I wanted to see and get to know my REAL hair. I had some trouble working with my big chop at first (with the exception of using the As I Am) but it has grown quite a bit since I did this hub and adding Shea butter to my hair on a regular basis has softened it and given me more manageability. A good conditioner helps as well. Try Herbal Essence Hello Hydration conditioner and/or Cantu leave in Conditioner. Learning our hair is like learning a new mate, it takes time, patience and endurance. But we'll make it. Thanks for reading and commenting.

chichi on August 30, 2012:

Very honest information about black hair. I transitioned about a year and a half ago and scare to try anything else on my hair but wigs and braids. It seems like you r talking to me. I don't know what I will look like or my hair being that I am African. We shall see.

thanks for all the advice.

Keneesha M Hodge (author) from Chicago, Illinois on July 19, 2012:

Thanks @KySmith for reading and commenting. I really appreciate when people take the time to read my writing. It's still so strange to me, and I'm still picking up how to work Hubpages so validation from another writer feels good.

Kyndall Smith from Milwaukee on June 30, 2012:

Cool hub! Your hair looks great! And I agree with your comment to makeupoohlala.

Keneesha M Hodge (author) from Chicago, Illinois on May 18, 2012:

Makeupoohlala. You think the women are bad, the men are worse. It is a strange phenomenon, and unfortunately, it stems from the days of slavery where we were separated from each other and favored over one another based on skin tone and hair. Our whole "need" for relaxer derived from the ignorance of our own hair needs. Still, relaxer has come a long way since it's creation. But it takes a strong woman to decide to ditch the relaxer and even the weave and learn to love and care for her REAL hair. Believe me when I tell you though, we've come a long way as a people, and so have the products available to us. Thanks for the comment.

makeupoohlala on May 18, 2012:

I am from Africa and I am amazed at how African American women do not like to have their hair natural. When I came to the states black girls were telling me to get a relaxer as if I was representing black women in a negative way. It is really a strange phenomenon

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