On September 4, 2015, I went to the hair salon to get the rest of my relaxed ends trimmed off. I had just graduated from college four months prior and was ready to take on my first “big girl” job in NYC. My hair, after the relaxed ends were trimmed, was shoulder length and I was nervous, but ready to embark on this new journey.
I believe starting my natural hair journey in NYC worked in my favor and is a naturalistas dream. You’re constantly seeing women who are confidently rocking afros, braid-out’s, senegalese twists, and more. My job also encouraged rocking your natural hair, and even created events around celebrating black beauty (e.g. EssenceFest). Embarking my journey in NYC was the most empowering experience. I learned so much from other naturalistas and felt, for the first time, confident in wearing my natural hair 24/7.
My first year was all about learning what products, techniques, etc. worked best for my hair. This year was definitely my most creative, as I was trying to find styles that I not only liked, but could also do with ease.
September 4, 2017 – I’ve learned how to care for my hair and gained an appreciation for my hair texture. For so long, I wished for my hair to be straight. I thought straightening and chemically altering my hair would make me happier, but it didn’t. My hair is now around bra-strap length, and the healthiest its ever been!
This past year I focused more on growth and ensuring my hair stayed as healthy as possible. I’ve mastered some of my favorite go-to, low maintenance styles (e.g. twist-outs, braid-out’s, Bantu knots and flat twists).
My hair is currently around bra strap length and my hair puff game is amazing. I remember a time when I couldn’t get a full ponytail, or bun, out of my hair. And now, I have so much hair which could be credited to my hair care regimen, patience, and overall consistency.
Reflection on my Natural Hair Journey
1. This Journey has SAVED me 🕛 and 💵
In the two years I have been natural, I’ve saved so much money than when I was relaxed. Think about it, you go in for a touch-up on your relaxer almost every eight months. Depending on the salon and the length of your hair, this can run you between $60-$100 every eight weeks. In between that time, you still have to take care of your hair, so you’ll dish out money for products, styling tools, etc. Don’t get me wrong, natural hair products can be very expensive, especially in your first year when finding products your hair likes. But, it doesn’t compare to keeping up with a relaxer. Once you’re in your second year, you’ve probably found your staple products, meaning you’re not wasting money on products you might not use. Also, natural hair products can last you a while depending on the size of the bottle/container.
I’ve also saved a lot of time on hair care. When first starting, it can be fairly time consuming to maintain your hair. But once you get into the groove of it and start learning techniques, you’ll started to save time. In my second year, I learned how to do quicker techniques and styles to save me time. My go-to styles are twist and braid-outs, because I don’t have the time, or energy to do different styles to my hair. Besides, I treat my hair once a week to a therapeutic wash day.
2. This Journey has taught me how to retain length
When starting this journey I made a goal to at least get my hair past my shoulders. This may not seem like the biggest goal, but I’ve never seen my natural hair pass my shoulders – only my relaxed hair has done so. However, overtime I totally forgot to check the length of my hair and just focus on keeping my hair healthy. I think that is what shifted my journey, because I no longer focused on the length and focused on whether my hairs health was good. That, in turn, helped me retain length (don’t you just love the irony). Two things that helped me with hair health and length retention are:
- Moisturizing Properly: Natural hair needs constant moisture. This is one of the first things you’ll learn when starting your hair journey. From pre-pooing, shampooing, deep conditioning, using the LOC/LCO method when styling, using water-based moisturizer, etc. There’s many ways to give your hair the moisture it needs so that it isn’t dry and brittle.
- Eating Right & Drinking Water: this should be a priority in your everyday life, but this might be an incentive for those who want to see their hair grow. Eating fruits veggies, whole grains, proteins, etc. aids in hair growth. Drinking water also helps with hair growth – as well as flushing out toxins, clearing your skin, and other benefits. I always carry a personal water bottle that I can use throughout the day at work, or wherever I am.
Are you natural? If so, how many years have you been natural? What have you learned through your journey?