The dangers of prolonged chemical use on women’s hair and health and how to start the process of going natural – those were two of the issues discussed on Feb. 18, when the Sankofa Cultural Arts and Business Center, located at 5820 N. Chicago Ave., held a Natural Hair Care Seminar. Stacia Crawford the center’s founder and executive director, presented such questions to the panel, which comprised four natural hair care professionals, and the audience then followed with questions of their own.

Chris-Tia Donaldson, author of Thank God I’m Natural, recommended going with kinky twists or braids.

“You want to start with a style that limits the manipulation to your hair,” she said. “But the number one thing I stress to women is to be patient. Your new look is going to take some getting used to.”

The women also offered tips and information on what types of brushes, combs and hair products to use when going natural. They stressed there are many organic products on the market that will nourish your hair. With natural hair care products, they added, less is always better. If you can’t pronounce the words on the bottle you are reading, then you probably shouldn’t buy it.

Tawana Patrick of Nu Bgin N Holistic Hair Center, says natural hair care products may cost more, but it’s worth it for your hair to pay a little extra.

“Do it for your hair and do it to support black businesses who can’t always buy in bulk or have to pay much more to buy bulk natural products for hair care than more mainstream companies,” she said.

The effect that natural hair has on a woman is that it makes her more carefree, Patrick adds.

“They usually then want to eat better and then turn to natural foods. Men say their woman is happier once she has let her hair grow naturally. She’s not afraid to get in the water or to sweat. For many years because we have processed hair, we don’t get our hair wet for weeks at a time, when in fact our hair needs moisture every day.”

What you wear and how you dress will really need to be changed to accommodate your new natural look, the panelists said. But it’s how you feel on the inside that will pull off the look. Women add color to their hair to give it flair and they add new jewelry and new styles of clothing to complement their natural style.

There have been no long-term studies done on black women to determine the effect of inhaling hair-care chemicals for years or the effect it has on their bodies. But the same chemical that is found in relaxer is also present in drain cleaner.

The four women on the panel say that going natural is a process, and they always consult with their clients to ensure they are well informed about the journey that lies ahead for them.

They all agreed there is no such thing as good or bad hair and black women are beautiful no matter what their hair looks like.