note: These facts are based entirely on my experience, studying and research from the internet and a few close friends.
First off let me start by saying that my hair is as normal as any other Afro there is out there. My hair has been termed 'tough' and trust me It's not always as 'soft' as It looks. As a testament to this, I had permed hair from the age of 8 and not once has my hair fallen or cut. I stayed with permed hair for close to 15 years! I maintain my hair by washing, moisturizing and deep condition(treatment) all at home. I do the Bantu Knot-Outs to make my hair as curly as it is. For this hairstyle you don’t need to have short hair, Afros shrink no matter how long one’s hair is. But this often depends on one's hair texture.
This particular method is best suited for natural hair and transitioning hair ( that phase when you are moving from permed hair to natural)
I have had my hair cut a lot in the past , I liked and still love funky haircuts. You also DO NOT have to shave off your hair to turn natural(however this highly depends on your hair, of course in cases of breakage you just have to, or an alternative method is to plait your hair) There is the option of just letting your hair be, that is, transition from permed to natural, one of the best hairstyles to maintain this is the Bantu Knots.
Here is how my hair appeared as I transitioned- during this period; I maintained my hair using Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil shampoo, Olive Oil treatment,Motions Protein Reconstructor and lots of YouTube videos. Lucky for you there's me! ;)
And this is how it appears fully natural,
For those with longer hair:
Another superb way to have curly hair without use of chemicals is the straw set, this is whereby, straws or rollers similar to straws are used to create curls on your hair. There is use of gel to maintain the curls. I have done mine at the salon. For the curls to hold there is use of gel and going under a dryer to create the curls.
This is how it's done, before you go into the dryer. Your hair is sectioned and a straw roller is used to curl the sectioned hair.
for those with longer hair( that is past shoulder length) this is how It turns out
Below is how It turned out on my hair, note; this was before my hair was fully natural, this was around 8 months without the retouch. However this hair is also suitable for permed hair.
This hairstyle lasts for about 2-3 weeks and maintenance is pretty simple, sleep with a silk scarf , upon waking up just arrange your curls with your hands and when your hair is dry spray it. All this, as long as you avoid water.
Hope I have been of help, do let me know If you have any more queries.