Is The Natural Hair Movement Dead? The Rise & Fall

Kaycee MurugiNatural HairLeave a Comment

natural hair movement decline

Is it dead, is it over? Has it failed black women? Why suddenly all the noise about the natural hair movement?

Ever since I joined Instagram about 6 years ago, my explore page has never lacked natural hair content. Whether it’s vlogs of wash days (washing dense hair is definitely quite the task!) or carefully curated photos with women rocking their natural curls.

Lately however, things have started to change. More wig installations and relaxing videos are popping up. I’ve come to realize that my Instagram algorithm was governed by the natural hair movement whose light is slowly dimming.

The History

The natural hair movement first emerged in the 1960s during the civil rights movement in the United States. The goal was to encourage women of African descent to flaunt the curls our ancestors gave us.

Some activists of the time like Angela Davis wore their natural hair to create political grounding. In the early 2000s, it made its come back when bloggers started to put down the hair straighteners and let their natural hair pop. YouTube also bolstered the movement allowing content creation on natural hair.

Up until 2017, the relaxer industry saw a sharp decline while natural hair products boomed to the extent it has become overwhelming to settle on a product.

This movement, has resulted in major wins. The most outstanding being the CROWN ACT legislation in the United States. This act stands for Creating A Respectful And Open World For Natural Hair. The bill was first introduced in 2019 by California State Senator Holly Mitchell, and later signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsome. [1]

This act prohibits race-based hair discrimination in places that may limit a Black woman’s ability to wear her natural hair how she pleases such as the workplace and in schools.

The Decline

natural hair movement decline

In an unexpected turn of events, we are starting to see the return of relaxers and overemphasis of wearing wigs. So, what’s really happening? are we tired? are we giving up on all the gains we’ve made?

Let’s find out why.

Too many rules

Within the natural hair community there has been a lot of hair policing. Apparently when you go natural, you go 100% natural. No using blow-dryers, no using inorganic shampoo, no gel, no grease… like well maybe I want a ponytail for today. Breaking these rules seems to aggravate the natural hair police.

It does get a bit claustrophobic conferring to each and every rule in the name of being natural. This can push some people away from the natural hair movement and go back to the relaxers. Let’s be honest its exhausting and draining confining yourself to given styles just because you are natural.


It’s no secret that maintaining natural hair is tedious. A typical wash day could take hours with pre shampooing, shampooing, conditioning, drying and styling. It’s exhausting just visualizing it! The process of neatening your hair up in the morning is not a walk in the park either.

Having a packed schedule makes it almost impossible to set aside all this time to take care of your hair. Therefore, a good number of women resort to perms and relaxers which are much easier to handle.


For a long period throughout history, looser textures have always been an embodiment of sophistication and elegance.

This notion has been carried into the corporate world where your afro stands out. Your curls shout a little too loud but relaxed and permed hair blends in a lot better.

Even in a lot of African schools like high schools, there are rules on how girls are to style their hair. The “golden regulation being that the hair should be straight“.

This ideology seems to live on and pushes many to go for looser hair textures so as to fit in in their various institutions of work or learning.


Most of the natural hair content featured on social media platforms and adverts showcase hair textures ranging from 3B to 4B.

4c hair texture is usually the most neglected. It is the most coily hair type and definitely needs a lot of care and attention. However, a lot of brands focus a lot on the curls and less on the kinks and the coils.

It is quite unfortunate that those with 4C hair are constantly left out of the movement. They need their share of the spotlight but due to lack of recognition, they often go for relaxers and texturizers. One can easily understand the loss of morale because there is hardly any content for these people to relate to.

As content creators, we should do better. This blog included 🙂

Not kind to the pocket

Most of the natural organic hair products are definitely at a hiked price compared to the regular products. The thing about natural hair is that it needs an array of products like shampoos, detanglers, oils all of which are costly. To make matters worse, some of these natural products only claim to work on denser curls but are actually ineffective. We cannot afford to lose precious money just like that.

The cost of getting your hair down should you chose to do so is not exactly cheap and for sure your pocket will feel it. This makes it quite frustrating to maintain natural hair making a lot of people revert back to permed or relaxed hair which is much cheaper to manage.

Glorification of relaxers

Numerous times have hair stylists recommended relaxers to their clients with thicker hair. The convincing line is always that it will be very easy to comb through and your hair will be much softer.

Relaxers are the quick fix everyone needs from their tangled textured hair. After all, all you need to do is give it a quick brush and you are good to go. You can even go swimming and there is no massive shrinkage so it’s a win for very many women.

Can we recover?

rise and fall of natural hair movement

Yes we can, if we take the right steps. So what can we do?

Less commercialization of natural hair

Hair companies should shift their attention into the formula of their products. They should ensure that what they put on the shelves is actually viable and effective for even the kinkiest of hair.

Some companies should cease manipulating customers by stating a product as natural even though it isn’t. That way the natural hair movement can be revived as there will be availability of products that actually work.

Inclusivity of all hair types

Ensuring that all hair types are recognized in the natural movement including looser curls and tighter coils, will be welcoming to many. Everyone will find someone they can relate to and walk through the natural journey with.

Encouragement from mainstream media

The media has the power to influence many that their natural hair is gorgeous and that it is ok to have their hair as it is. The impression that natural hair is informal ought to be put to an end and no hair texture is placed in higher regard to the other.

The natural hair policing should be rebuked as everyone has the freedom to wear their hair as they like. This will most definitely attract people back to the movement.

Final thoughts;

All things considered, your hair is stunning whether it is natural or not. Nonetheless, never shy away from your own natural beauty due to negative beliefs. Show off those natural curls then go forth and run your world.

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