The Joys and Pains of Being Curly in College

By Jamilla of For the Fabulous and Frugal

This post is dedicated to the joys and pains of having natural hair in college. Let me know what you think of the list, and share your experience!




easy transition: Transitioning to college is a great time to transition to natural. I found that it was a lot easier to make the transition from relaxed to natural in a time where most of my life was, well, in transition. College is a time where you establish new parts of your identity, new friends, new interests, etc.

liberal environment: Depending on your college/university, the environment is generally going to be more liberal than that of a professional workplace. You can wear a funky updo one day, a fro-hawk the next, a twist out on the weekend (etc) without feeling constrained by a more conservative environment.

support system: If you have one, this can be a tremendous joy. Having other naturals around you for inspiration and support is really great. A natural hair support system is great for product swapping and style ideas, and it’s always great to have someone who understands your struggles…misery loves company!

time to experiment: College is a great time to experiment with different looks. Like I mentioned before, you can wear a variety of styles throughout the week. Your lifestyle in college is usually hectic and all over the place, one day you’re at in internship, the next day you’re volunteering, the next you’re going out with your friends, etc. College is a great time to experiment with versatile styles to suit your versatile lifestyle.

forgiving of your crazy life: College is about the only time where it’s (somewhat) acceptable to wear the same style for three days straight, or throw your hair into a puff in the morning and go. Time is money, especially at school…so if you need to rock with that wash-n-go for a few days or keep your twists under a bonnet during exam times, you can do that.


living in a dorm: Trying to do your natural hair is one thing, trying to do your natural hair in a communal bathroom is an entirely different story. I’d love to be able to rinse out my deep conditioning treatment in the sink (without having to get back in the shower), or to be able to do a henna without getting the side eye from folks brushing their teeth. What should be a fairly private and personal routine becomes public super quick. Feeling compelled or pressured to explain your hair to people who, uh, don’t look like you can be annoying. Being made to feel like a zoo animal is never fun, and it’s almost certain to happen living in a dorm.

being the only one: Depending on what school you go to, being the only one (or one of few) people with natural hair can be really isolating. Getting weird looks and strange questions or comments (from “do you wash your hair?” to “it looks good on you, but I could never do that!) can be exhausting and really annoying. It’s awesome to have a support system, and feeling like you don’t have anyone to talk to about your natural hair just kinda sucks.

[no] time: This is one of the biggest pains of having natural hair in college. When I so much going on, sometimes a deep conditioning treatment is the last thing on my mind. I can’t be bothered with daily styling and maintenance. I literally have to plan when I’m going to do my hair, because if not– either it or something else won’t get done.

[limited] budget: This can be a pain, but it doesn’t have to be. I have those days where I really just want to try a Heutiful steamer, or get a Deva cut...but my wallet won’t allow it. It takes a lot of willpower not to spend my on every product I see (though itis tempting!) Finding what products work best for your hair can be an issue when you don’t have any money to buy products to try…or running out of a tired and true product and having to wait until you get paid or your parents show mercy on you and help you out…not a good look.

lack of access to resources: if you live in a College town like mine, finding a salon or a stylist who doesn’t scream and run when you walk through the door is a rare privilege. If you don’t have a car, finding a way to get to the store to buy your staple products (like conditioner) can be a struggle.

What are some joys and pains of being a College Curly?

Help me add to the list!

About Jenell B Stewart

Jenell Stewart MS, the founder and editor in chief of the award winning website KinkyCurlyCoilyMe.com dedicates most of her free time educating and uplifting women with natural hair by way of her extremely popular website and YouTube channel. Jenell has been featured in Essence Magazine, Black Enterprise.com, and starred on the Dr.Oz television show as a Beauty Expert. In 2012 she was named one of Essences top Instagramers and that same year KinkyCurlyCoilyMe won an award for “Favorite Website” of the Natural Hair Community.
  • Nkem

    Thank you Jenell for this platform for naturals.
    I am a Nigerian currently in my final year at one of the Universities in Nigeria. Am a law student.I hope it still counts.I began my natural hair journey in July 2011. I remember when i had fully transitioned

    I was happy and impatient with my hair at the same time,i had those moments when i felt that my hair was just not growing and…

    …to the present…

    am glad i have not gone back to the relaxers despite the challenges which am experiencing

    *having to be dressed up in a manner(..in decorum and dignity) which is appropriate for a law student

    having other students (from other disciplines including law )look at you as though you are poor and unable to “make” your hair.

    Am not bothered by their attitude so i maintain my hair by

    1.Deep conditioning with olive oil… lol.Its softens my hair and makes it shiny

    2.Wearing weaves to keep prying eyes away from my hair

    3.Following “you” up on your site.
    4.Applying castor oil under the weaves for maximum growth

    You have been an inspiration to me.I want to thank you and other lovely ladies who have shared their hair stories,challenges and results of your castor oil hair challenge. I was so inspired that i did my own personal hair challenge from 12/14/12-1/14/13 and the results i got where amazing…i will be posting pics soon.
    THANK YOU SO MUCH JENELL for choosing to help other naturals.
    I know my post is looong forgive me.Just excited.Smiles

    • http://kinkycurlycoilyme.com/ Jenell : BlakIzBeautyful

      You’re so very welcome!
      Thanks for sharing. Good luck in law school!

      • Nkem

        Am glad i did Jenell.

  • kiyla

    washing my hair. now that i am a upperclassman i no longer have to use communal bathrooms but my sink pressure sucks so its hard to wash the shampoo and conditioner out and i hate jumping in and out the shower. smh oh the struggles lol

    • Nkem

      Oh dear.Those struggles will birth a beautiful admirable hair.

  • Kia Imani

    I would really have to agree with the lack of time being a HUGE pain ! Sometimes i have to plan my days around my hair because I may not have time to do it or it decided to do what IT wanted to do and not what I had in mind. Natural hairis extremely time consuming but I wouldnt trade my curls in for the world :)

    • Nkem

      Your post is inspiring…

  • http://www.facebook.com/zinnada Zinnada Hodges

    LOL This was so cool. Thanks for posting this.

    • Nkem

      You are welcome. Zinnada

  • Nkem

    Hello everyone, trust you are doing well. These are the pics for the personal castor oil hair challenge i embarked on .The dates i had provided earlier were not the accurate ones.Am sorry about that.
    However the pics contain the actual dates(the two main ones) at least.

    06 Dec 2012 -18 Jan 2013.Thank you.

  • Del Natural | All Things Hair

    I’m starting college in fall this year. I have been transitioning for about 2 months now and plan to Big Chop soon! Was really happy to find out that there are a couple of ‘naturals’ in the school I am going to, so at least I’ll have a couple of people to look up to and seek advice. Thanks for this post!


  • Miss Bell

    Joys: When you get a set routine it becomes a lot easier to maintain your natural hair and budget out how much you need for products. If you have other naturals at your school (I go to an hbcu) you can link up and trade advice and products (bonding and making new friends!)
    Pains: MONEY. TIME. Sometimes I want to be silky straight for a certain party/event without heat damage. (im saving up for an rpgshow wig for this)