Ladies, how many times have you heard a new natural go down the list of natural hair don’ts like it’s the Bible? Now, how many of you were once that new natural? Don’t be embarrassed, I was once that natural too. I believed that everything I did to my hair while relaxed, was absolutely not allowed with my kinks, coils, and curls. Flat irons were the devil, blow dryers were a close second, and coloring/lightening my hair was out of the question. Now that I’ve been on this journey for a while, I’ve come to the conclusion that every natural hair commandment can be broken and nothing is ever set in stone. Here are 5 natural hair rules I’ve totally decided to ditch!

Co‐washing is better than Shampooing

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this from both new and seasoned naturals. In fact, I was a sucker and fell for the co‐washing, but I realized that my hair didn’t like it all that much. While co‐washing was great for locking in moisture, my hair wasn’t clean. I have the kind of hair that traps everything that I put in it. So after a week of butters, oils, and gels, I need shampoo. Not just any shampoo, but shampoo with sulfates — think V05. Yes, I said it. I use shampoo with sulfates and my hair isn’t thirsty or brittle.

No flat ironing

This is another rule that should be ignored. I think it’s been proven over and over again that you can safely flat iron your hair without damaging your natural curl pattern. Of course if you flat iron every other day, damage will be a given. However, using a flat iron a few times per year shouldn’t create worry. As long as you prep your hair prior to flat ironing and use a gentle heat setting, you will be fine. Courtney Adeleye, CEO and creator of The Mane Choice, is famous for getting her beautiful natural hair flat ironed twice per year and her curl pattern always returns.

No tension styles for extended periods of time

Here is another rule that should be taken with a grain of salt. The theory is that if braids, weaves, or wigs are worn for an extended period of time your hair line will weaken. In theory, this is true. Pulling on the hair line excessively and constantly will weaken your hair line over time. However, I’ve been known to wear protective styles (braids, twists, crochet braids, corn rows, etc.) throughout the spring and summer, without a break. My hair line has never suffered because I always make sure that my stylist is aware of how important it is for me to keep my edges. I make sure that my styles aren’t too tight and have no problem asking my stylist to loosen a few braids. If you make sure that your hair isn’t so tight that it’s giving you a headache, then you should be able to rock your braids or weaves repeatedly.

No blow drying

I figured out a while ago that my hair thrives if I blow dry it before styling it. My hair actually ended up matted and tangled from styling it while wet. What works for one will not work for all, but it works for me. I talk heavily about my experience here.

No coloring

Most believe that if you are natural, then that means no color. For years I was afraid to lighten or color my natural hair due to fear of hair breakage and a change in curl pattern. But last summer I lightened my hair a little and put a rinse in it. Guess what? I still have hair! Of course you have to take care of your hair a little differently than before your color, but it really isn’t that difficult. It’s possible to have thriving hair after coloring.

Trimming Every 4 months is best

This is a rule that I started breaking years ago. I don’t believe that everyone needs to adhere to the 4 month trimming rule. I think how often you trim your hair should depend on how it grows. My hair grows at a normal rate, so I trim my hair once per year and that’s usually in the spring/summer. I once tried to trim it every 4 months and ended up cutting off hair unnecessarily. This is why it’s important to pay attention to your hair’s health and growth rate. You will easily be able to figure out when you need a trim if you’ve taken the time to truly get to know your hair.