14 Black women share how they’re caring for their natural hair during quarantine

Our team is dedicated to finding and telling you more about the products and deals we love. If you love them too and decide to purchase through the links below, we may receive a commission. Pricing and availability are subject to change. 

I don’t remember when I noticed that my hair routine had changed while being home. I remember looking up one day and thinking, “Hmm, when did you start wearing your hair in buns?” Little did I know I had adopted my own low-maintenance protective style in the midst of quarantine.

What had been hours spent under a hot dryer in a crowded Dominican hair salon in Flatbush was now replaced with YouTube videos on how to braid my locs at home and preserve hydration. Somehow I had become a cook in the kitchen, concocting hair elixirs and potions with whatever I could find — jojoba oil, vitamin E, castor oil, water and more.

The relationship between Black women and our hair is a long, complicated but beautiful love story. For years we’ve used hair as a form of self-expression in a world that oftentimes asked us to shift and reframe our identities. There’s nothing like a good wig switch up, some out of personal desire and others out of corporate demand, that can leave one to feel that they somehow reclaim their power. Buzzing your hair, switching up your lengths or even watching your beautiful kinks and coils reach for the sky is a ministry we’ve all experienced in some way, shape or form.

But what does that reclamation look like in a COVID-19 world?

I began to wonder, “How have other people’s hair routines changed? How are others shifting their haircare around with the products they have?” To answer that, I reached out to the ITK community and 14 women had a lot to say about their hair, routines and misconceptions around Black hair in the culture. Read on to learn more:

Credit: Courtesy / ITK

I have coily, voluminous 4C hair. My hair is like cotton candy. I love how my hair can be whatever I want it to be. It can be styled into a sleek high-top knot bun or a pineapple puff. I also love wearing a middle part low bun style. Girl, my hair is fun and versatile.

Drop the products, sis.

I’m not a brand junkie. I like learning about new brands but I’d rather use what works for my hair. Once it stops working, I look into other options.

What does your hair need right now?

Moisture! The California weather dries out my hair. I deep condition every two weeks with Silk Elements Moisturizing Treatment and refresh my hair with water and olive oil during the week to keep my hair hydrated. 

What’s your ‘do nowadays?

I am the queen of the top knot. A top knot is a bun on the crown of your head. When I am wearing a top knot I feel beautiful, elegant, and royal. It really compliments my features.

What’s a common misconception on Black hair?

 Love the hair you have. Each person has a different hair texture, composition, and pattern. Therefore, products work differently depending on your texture and curl pattern. Don’t be disappointed when your hair doesn’t look like someone else’s. Make your hair look the best for you. Love your crown.

Credit: Courtesy / ITK

“My hair type is 4C. I would describe my hair as fluffy, like a cluster of black cotton balls. I love my texture — my hair is super thick.

After an accidental pixie cut in May 2017 (long story, which I wrote about in detail for Bustle), I started wearing a variety of protective styles in an effort to grow my hair out. Box braids, Marley twists, crochet braids — you name it, I wrote it.

The switch up:

I love to switch it up. I really enjoy wearing my hair in protective styles (my favorite are box braids). I like the ability to get up and go and still look effortlessly chic. Plus I can experiment with colors in protective styles without having to worry about damaging my hair (which has happened).

The entire process used to take me two hours, but now I have it down to a science and can do it about 90 minutes flat. Practice really does make perfect.

Drop the products, sis.

My hair type is notorious for being dry, and this line keeps it moisturized. And I finally mastered the twist-out!

What’s your ‘do nowadays?

My go-to has been the twist-out … I’m planning to experiment with DIY jumbo braids eventually, but I haven’t tried it yet. With the twist-out, I wash, deep condition and let my hair air dry a bit (shout-out to Pattern’s microfiber towel).

What’s a common misconception on Black hair?

I know a misconception I had was that it’s too hard to take care of and manage on your own. But what I’ve learned is that it’s actually been easier for me to take care of my hair being natural than it was when I wore a relaxer. Not to mention all the time (commuting back and forth to the salon every other week) and money doing my own hair has saved me.

I’ve thought about this a few times since being quarantined: thank goodness I’ve been wearing my hair natural so I don’t have to worry about how to care for it and how to style it on my own!

Credit: Courtesy / ITK

I’d say I have type 4A/B/C hair depending on the section of my head! My curls are super tight, much like the coil within a pen, so the shrinkage is REAL. With that, I LOVE that it’s bouncy, but often hate how short it appears. I’m guilty of stretching it more often than not to really get that length and volume I’m looking for.

I don’t switch my hair too often. Once I was able to put it into a bun, it was a WRAP. I’m faithful to the bun, but every now and then I do either a wash and go or braid outs.

Quarantine changing things?

Surprisingly, quarantine has changed my hair routine because it helped me get on a set schedule since my boyfriend is now home as well and I have to think about when I’m taking those hour-long showers. Before I would just wash my hair whenever I felt like it, but now I’ve been consistently doing the same regiment on the same day.

I think when it comes to prices on products, I can definitely see how more expensive products take to your hair. However, I will say the more expensive product won’t fix your hair problems unless you KNOW your hair and what it needs. I recently learned I have low porosity hair, so I learned to apply my leave-in conditioner in the shower and it made ALL the difference since my hair shaft was open from the steam.

Drop the products, sis.

I currently love rubbing raw aloe on my edges daily, coconut oil the night before I wash my hair to pre-poo, and rice water to rinse.

What’s your ‘do nowadays?

My go-to outside of a bun is a braid out! I basically wash my hair, section it into about 8 to 12 small sections, and plat it from root to tip. The great thing about working from home is I can leave my hair in this style for several days to allow it to relax and alleviate constant stretching/styling. I then undo the braids several days later and separate the curls to have a full, voluminous style.

What’s a common misconception on Black hair?

There are so many! I think one of the major misconceptions is that all Black hair is coarse and “nappy.” I’ve seen women with fine, loosely curled hair. I’ve seen women with thick, high density, kinky hair. Our hair is as diverse as we are, so I hope more people can learn that our hair comes in a variety of different patterns, textures, densities, etc.

Credit: Courtesy / ITK

“I have 4b/4c natural hair. My hair is sponge-like without product, and kinky with product. I love the flexibility and length of my hair.

I’ve been natural for six years. I went to a predominately white institution and this was the moment when I realized I wanted to embrace my roots. I was 19 years old when I decided to finally cut my hair. During this time I was in the stage where you’re discovering who you are and making mistakes along the way.

I am the queen of switching up my styles. One day I’m in a puff and the next I’m rocking two-strand twists. Since I began working from home, I’ve discovered a love for natural hair tutorials.

Does cost matter?

I have products for $5 that give me a better twist out than products for five times the price. I believe it’s more so important to try a product for your hair texture and not the price.

Drop the products, sis.

Frizz has always been my enemy, especially with the dryness I experience. The products above have three things in common: they prevent frizz, they’re great for styling and they don’t make my scalp itch.

What do you need right now?

Moisture! Type 4C hair is susceptible to dryness and I definitely struggle in that area. Arizona weather is dry heat, which doesn’t mix well with my hair type.

What’s your ‘do, nowadays?

Two-strand twists and finger coils. To achieve a two-strand twist style, I section my hair off (medium to large sections) and spray it with water. Next, I take cream or jelly and place it on the wet hair. I separate the hair into two sections and twist them together in a loop motion. The process of achieving finger coils are quite similar to two-strand twists. I section and wet the hair, place products on it and use my finger to twist the hair in a clockwise motion. 

To maintain my style I wear a bonnet. Currently, I am using one from Bourgeois Essentials — a Black woman-owned company. 

What’s a common misconception on Black hair?

Black hair is difficult to manage. I think this is a daily topic of discussion. I always have Black women tell me they don’t have the energy to deal with their hair. I’m not one to argue but I always ask the same question every time: Have you tried? Most of the time I get a “no” with a “yes” here or there. Use what you already do to get the results you want!

Credit: Courtesy / ITK

My hair journey took the scenic route. During high school, I had a different haircut and color each year, and I did relax my hair during that time. I’ve had asymmetrical cuts, bangs, mohawks, pixie, bobs — you name it.

I officially went natural during my freshman year of college at Howard University. I did the big chop (I was rocking a fade) and dyed it blonde and I grew my hair out in an afro for about three years. On my 21st birthday, I decided I wanted locs, so I loc’d my hair. When my locs were still budding, I would do box braids and twist on top of them when I would get bored. So I’ve been loc’d for six going on seven years now.

Does price matter?

I don’t think more expensive means better quality. Personally, I look at hair care from a holistic perspective, because everything on the outside is a reflection of what you put on the inside.

Drop the products, sis:

I personally don’t think you should put a lot of product on locs because locs are like sponges and that can cause build-up, but that’s just me. 

What’s your ‘do nowadays?

My favorite style on freshly washed hair is just a nice set of curls, either using bantu knots if I want looser curls or barrel rolls if I want a spiral curl. To do a bantu knot, I simply take 2 to 3 locs together and swivel them around themselves toward my head until I have small mini buns all over. For barrel rolls, I take 3 to 4 locs and wrap them around each other going down.

What’s a common misconception on Black hair?

A common misconception people have about me is that my hair smells, it’s hard to wash and that it is heavy. People assume I smoke and burn incense (neither one of those things are negative but I’m often asked if I have a lighter). I will say with locs it’s just deemed as ‘unprofessional’ or ‘unkempt’ especially if you don’t retwist your hair. I’ve personally just let society’s expectations go because I don’t want to be or work anywhere where my full self can’t be accepted.

Credit: Courtesy / ITK

“My hair is 3B with high porosity and it’s very thick. I have had my hair described as ‘the sun’ since it grows so big. I love how my hair is full of volume but some days, I don’t feel like dealing with it. 

The switch up:

I do like to switch it up. I love wearing my hair in braids, buns and out. Now that I’m in the house, I have been twisting my hair more and letting it out for my Zoom calls.

Does cost matter?

I am a big investor in my hair. I am in the beauty industry and my appearance is an important part of my work. I don’t think if a product is more expensive that it works for textured hair. Each person’s hair is different from their hair type, curl pattern and level of care. Some expensive products that are not standard for textured hair that I love like Oribe and Moroccan Oil.

Drop the products, sis.

What do you need right now?

What my hair needs right now is a stream treatment, trim, and a hair bonder. My hair has some split ends and I did a DIY cut but, I am still in need of some professional help.

What’s your ‘do nowadays?

Styling my hair is easy right now. Since I am in school online, I am still using the afro style, twist out, and occasional bun.

What’s a common misconception on Black hair?

A common misconception that I get for my hair is that it’s easy to manage. I have the hair type that many people desire to have for curly hair. I still deal with hair thickness and heavy hair loss if I don’t take care of it properly.

Credit: Courtesy / ITK

“I have dreadlocks. My curl pattern is 4B, and you can see a bit of it around my hairline and the back of my head because I have an inch-and-a-half undercut. My locs are a few tones of cool brown and black, with my ends the warmest. It goes to the base of my shoulder blades and as short as my chin, so it looks layered when it’s down.

As a dark-skinned black girl growing up in upstate NY, I attribute a few of the things I disliked about my hair to a little bit of internalized racism learned from my times at predominately white institutions and unlearned from my family and friends and lived experiences.

Drop the products, sis.

What do you need right now?

I find that supplementing the hair with vitamins and nutrients from using oils and water outside of wash day is essential to cutting down on breakage and shedding. Wet brushing has quickly become my favorite thing to do in the day.

What’s your ‘do nowadays?

I’ve been very hands off of my hair since quarantine began. Most of the time I’m working or at class in a studio, so I would have it in a high messy or tight bun with a scrunchy at the top of my head with the locs loosely forming a slight bang. Since I’ve been working from home, I’ve been either wearing it completely down, in a ponytail, in fishtails (two-strand plaits) or buns. The goal for the duration of my time in quarantine is to just leave my locs alone.

What’s a common misconception on Black hair?

I think a common misconception people have around black and textured hair is that it cannot be business professional in its natural state and that there’s no maintenance or care involved. There’s so much implicit bias in the idea of black hair being unprofessional because the accepted visual aesthetic of current American society is rooted in Eurocentric conventions of beauty. This creates a false perception about why blackness, with black hair and facial features, is seen as unprofessional and unkempt in current society. Most of the positive representations of professional success seen in the most accessible forms of media are rooted in the visual aesthetics of whiteness and racial ambiguity. 

Credit: Courtesy / ITK

“My hair is a mixture of 3b, 3c, and 4a. My fro consists of mostly big curls with a few ‘s-coils’ that frame my face. The curls in the front half of my head are tighter than the back half. I love that my hair is so bouncy and soft without having to do much. And when I give it some extra TLC, it shows me even more love and acts right.

The switch-up:

I currently have knotless braids, which is a big accomplishment for me because I’ve always been afraid I wouldn’t “look right” with them. I was completely wrong and I absolutely love them! Next, I’m trying a lace front wig.

Quarantine changing things?

Absolutely! About two weeks into quarantine, I began a strict schedule of activities to do every day so I didn’t become bored. On Saturdays, I do beauty lessons and watch Youtube videos on the latest makeup and hair trends.I’ve learned how to finally lay my baby hairs (which is quite shameful to admit), style my curly hair, and style my braids. 

Drop the products, sis.

What do you need right now?

I’ve pretty much conquered my hair needs so now I’m focusing more on my scalp. My scalp is so confusing because it flakes a lot but is also super oily. Trying to find a good balance for my scalp has been my main focus. I’ve been using a lot of oils like tea tree and castor oil along this journey to a balanced scalp.

What’s your ‘do nowadays?

When my curls are out, I will throw my hair into a top-knot, refresh my curls with oil/ leave-in and water, or braid it into two flat braids. After wearing my hair in the braids, I’ll take them out and rock the braid out waves until it’s completely frizzy and time to wash again. 

What’s a common misconception on Black hair?

When people touch my hair (which 99 percent of the time is unsolicited), they’re always surprised it’s so soft. Black hair is soft. Get over it. 

Credit: Courtesy / ITK

I would describe my hair as 4C with tight, kinky coils.

Natural, for me, means hair free of chemical processing (a la relaxers). I’ve been ‘natural’ since I was about 11 or 12 years old. Before my mom sought out a consistent hairstylist, I was a regular in my aunt’s kitchen, as well as in whatever hair or braiding salon my mom enjoyed. I was very active in my youth, so I begged for relaxers or braids to maintain an easy style on a daily basis. I still know the “Just For Me” song from the pink cassette tape that came in the box.

Luckily for me, by the time I was 12, my new hairstylist, Andrea “Buffy” Brown, refused to give me a relaxer. She was truly ahead of her time when it came to concocting natural hair remedies. I have to thank my mom for making haircare a priority. She actively sought out a stylist who would employ natural methods.

The switch-up:

For a long time, I was loyal to extensions and one hairstyle. This was mostly out of convenience (if properly installed and with proper upkeep, extensions can be one of the most low maintenance styles) and the inability to find a good stylist in the different states I lived in, especially being natural. But I’m a lot more likely to change my hair these days — a silk press, different types of braids or twists, flat twists, a twist out, or extensions just to name a few.

Drop the products, sis.

What’s your ‘do nowadays?

With my Senegalese twists, I’m still creating fun styles on a daily basis to keep things interesting. Low or high ponytails and buns are favorites – they work great if I plan on working out during lunch and hopping back into work shortly thereafter.

What’s a common misconception on Black hair?

It is a gross misconception to assume that Black women care deeply about what others think about our hair. I wear my hair how I see fit — whether it’s a twist out or straight extensions — because it is MY hair.

However others feel about my hair is not my concern. And I recognize the privilege in that, especially considering how conservative corporate America can be and how self-conscious I once was in professional spaces. But as long as it’s healthy and in a style that is convenient for me, that’s what is most important.

Credit: Courtesy / ITK

“I have type 4 hair. I think it’s a mix of 4A and 4B. My curl pattern is tight spirals in the front and waves in the middle. I currently have my hair shaved on the sides and in the back. The left out hair has grown out black roots with magenta-pink ends. I usually wear my hair in a twist out or a wash ‘n go look when I’m not wearing a protective style.

I get bored easily, so I love to switch up my hair. I recently took down these jumbo, neon pink box braids with a horsetail like leave out. I dyed my hair for the first time magenta pink last August. I’ve worn super short pixie cuts, bobs, wigs and braids. My hair is one of my best accessories.

Does cost matter?

This is a hard question because I work with hairstylists and write about pro beauty products all day. I don’t think the cost makes a product better or worse. I have salon-quality products that I love and drug store products that I love too (much to the dismay of my hairstylist). I think textured hair is so versatile that what may work for one curly girl might not work for the next, based on curl pattern, porosity, hair thickness, etc.

Drop the products, sis:

What do you need right now?

I think my hair needs protein where it’s been color-treated, which is why I added the Redken Color Extend products to my regimen. My scalp gets dry really easily, so I apply jojoba oil to it every other day.

What’s your ‘do nowadays?

My go-to hairstyles are the two-strand twist out and wash and go. My hair thrives on the least amount of manipulation possible, so I find that simple twists or running the product through my hair to accentuate my natural curls works best.

What’s a common misconception on Black hair?

People tend to think black hair is coarse when it’s actually the most fragile hair texture of them all. The curlier it is, the more susceptible it is to breakage.

Credit: Courtesy / ITK

My hair is 3C/4A and three to four inches past shoulder length. I love the texture and color of my hair. I feel that my hair growth is stunted and I truly hate that. I’d like for my hair to reach my bra strap, but no luck — yet!

I’ve been natural my entire life. My mom was a beast at doing my hair! Growing up, every Saturday evening she braided my sisters and my hair with the flyest braids. Talk about hair on FLEEK. However, there was a time my mom grew tired of doing my hair and we decided to get a texturizer in the 9th grade to senior year. 

Then when I entered college in the fall of 2009, I joined the swim team and got braids to help make my hair more manageable especially when it came to the chlorine. Looking back, I was actually transitioning without realizing it. I haven’t had a texturizer since.

The switch-up:

I love switching up my hair. From curls, braids to a nice neat top bun or low bun for my interviews, I’ve always used my hair as an expression of myself. I love showing my versatility through my hair. 

Does cost matter?

That is a great question. I base this on how often I’ll be using the product, what it does to my hair, and if I can find another of cheaper value.

Drop the products, sis.

What’s your ‘do nowadays?

I currently have my hair in three rows of plated twist outs just so if I have a call or I want to take a selfie my hair is ready to go.

What’s a common misconception on Black hair?

A common misconception that I feel people have about Black hair is that it’s fun, easy to manage and maintain. However, it isn’t, especially if you don’t know what hair products or styles that work best. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE MY HAIR. However, it isn’t fun. It takes lots of planning especially if you have upcoming trips, interviews or even photoshoots. 

Credit: Courtesy / ITK

“I have a head full of 4C hair which I love! I’ve always described my hair as a puff. I often wear it up and it just works for me. I love that my hair can be easily manipulated. I can spray it with water, moisturize and seal it and have a style ready in two hours.

I have been natural since 2010. During my sophomore year of college, I was washing my hair and decided I was over it and went straight to the barbershop. I cut off my short permed pixie cut and haven’t looked back since. I’ve done three big chops.

The switch-up:

I keep it the same, my husband calls it the Ariana Special, LOL! It’s either in a puff or in a fro.

Drop the products, sis.

  • I have this entire bundle from Earthborn Organics

It leaves my whole family’s heads smelling good and feeling soft. The product is made in Maryland, so that’s a bonus. I still use Eco-styler gel for extra hold and I have a few shampoos from the Mane Choice that really clean my hair and scalp. Eden BodyWorks Coconut Shea Edge Glaze is my go-to for any puff.

What do you need right now?

My hair needs more moisture. I’ve been deep conditioning with a mask from Earthborn Organics masks or Aunt Jackie’s deep conditioner at least once a week, then putting leave-in conditioner in it and sealing it with some sort of butter.

What’s your ‘do nowadays?

Sometimes I’ll braid my hair at night instead of twisting it and take them out in the morning. It usually ends up at the top of my head like a puffball though (boring, I know). 

What’s a common misconception on Black hair?

That our hair is unmanageable and always hard to do. 

Credit: Courtesy / ITK

My curl pattern is 3C/A. I have medium-tight curls and thick texture hair. I would describe my hair as bright red curly hair with full thick curls. 
I love that my hair is so big, thick, and full, but one thing I don’t like is the occasional shrinkage.

I have not always been natural. I started getting perms around six years old but stopped while in college. That’s when I decided to go fully natural and transition my hair. I tend to keep my hair the same style ( wash ‘n go) because it’s low maintenance and it lasts a long time. 

Quarantine has definitely made me a little lazier when it comes to my hair routine especially since I’m not traveling for work. Now I’m getting back into creating natural hair content, so I’ll be back on a routine soon. 

Drop the products, sis.

What’s your ‘do nowadays?

I’m continuing to style my hair as a wash ‘n go and making sure to wrap it at night, holding it in a pineapple to keep it out my face.

What’s a common misconception on Black hair?

A common misconception is that it’s hard to maintain or unmanageable, which isn’t true. Natural hair is beautiful in any state. 

Credit: Courtesy / ITK

“My hair is 4B, high density, thick strands and coily! The thing is, my hair is very dense, so I have to separate my hair into smaller sections to achieve styles, which take more time than less dense hair.

By the time I was in 8th grade, I had been natural my entire life. However, the on-trend hairstyles were sleek, relaxed hair, wrap styles with a little ‘bump’ to it. I begged my mom for a relaxer because that’s how I wanted to wear my hair.

I tried to go natural a few times but living in the south for college was not conducive to my sleek wrap with natural hair. I eventually succeeded in going natural and started wearing protective styles immediately following college.

Drop the products, sis.

What’s your ‘do nowadays?
I am currently loving protective styles like knotless box braids. This style is accomplished by adding synthetic hair into individual braids. It’s super cute, convenient and low maintenance. I can style the braids in a ponytail or bun and wear them down. I love that they protect my natural hair and I can shampoo, condition, moisturize and keep my healthy hair regimen.

What’s a common misconception on Black hair?

One common misconception is that black hair doesn’t grow. Regardless of ethnicity or hair texture, hair grows 1/4 to 1/2 an inch per month. The challenge for those with textured hair is that they’ve been caring for their hair historically from the point of someone else’s straight hair texture which prevents length retention. With this in mind, build a regimen that promotes length retention and use products that support your hair goals.”

If you liked this post, check out the best anti-thinning hair products on Amazon under $30.

More from In The Know:

This bar is getting pretty creative with its socially distanced ‘tables’

People are raving about this $15 anti-aging oil on Amazon

This $15 Lodge cast iron skillet has over 15,000 5-star reviews on Amazon

Over 340,000 Sephora shoppers love this K-beauty lip mask