A Natural Hair Story

Realizing My Natural Hair Texture

Relaxed hair: 8th grade into high school

I remember one day in elementary school taking cover underneath something to protect my natural hair from the rain. I realized my hair texture wasn’t the same as some of my classmates, who were still playing during recess.

In elementary and middle school I had beads, barrettes and ball hair ties in my hair. I hated it. Sitting still on the floor, while my mom detangled and styled my natural hair, was torturous. But on special occasions, my mom straightened my hair with the infamous hot comb. Anyone who’s experienced the hot comb will probably tell you grease and scalp burn are part of this process. But in the end, your hair is straight and you feel like everyone else. I had a love/hate relationship with the hot comb process. Hated the burn, but loved the end result. Also, hated that I couldn’t be active with my straight hair, but loved being able to swing my hair.

The Creamy Crack Epidemic

In 8th grade, I begged my mom to relax my hair. After a few months, she caved and bought one of the kid perm box kits. The scalp burn from the relaxer was far worse than the burns I endured from the hot comb. But afterwards, my hair was pin straight. And while I was happy, my hair was not. My hair felt dry and lifeless, but I thought I was the s***. After a few months of getting touch-ups, I decided to stop getting relaxers in my hair for good. Or so I thought…

In high school, I basically struggled being on and off of the relaxers. This was mainly because I didn’t understand how to take care of my hair. I was used to my mom always doing my hair. And while my mom did her best to manage my thick and curly/coily hair – her texture was different from mine. Her hair is thin, oily and wavy/curly. So having to learn how to manage my own hair was an intimidating, and complicated, process. I’d straighten my hair once, or twice, a week to avoid dealing with it. But also because I thought straight hair was prettier 😔. My hair suffered from the relaxer and constant heat I put it through. Not to mention, I began experimenting with clip-in extensions, which only made my hair worse.

Time for a Change

My curl pattern after a braidout (Feb 2017)

Entering college, I decided to make some changes to my lifestyle. I’d no longer waste my money on touch-ups, or my time sitting under the dryer. Only to end up with a headache 😒 . As a college student, I didn’t have the bandwidth to get those 3-month touch-up’s. From joining an organization on-campus, excelling in classes and enjoying my college experience. It wasn’t feasible to keep my relaxer. I also didn’t have the income to keep paying for touch-up’s. With books, supplies, bills – and alcohol costs 😏 #priorities.

I spent months watching natural hair gurus on Youtube. I learned how to manage my hair. When I first started my journey, I was transitioning. To avoid the big chop and retain length, I made sure to properly, and delicately, manage my transitioning hair.

I ended up buying the most expensive products when I first started out. I thought, “the more expensive the product, the more beneficial it’d be”. Or, I’d use products that Youtube gurus suggested, even though their hair texture wasn’t the same as mine. I struggled for months going from product-to-product trying to find the ones that my hair responded positively to.

Getting the Hang of it… or I Thought

Eventually I figured out what products worked well for my hair. I began deep conditioning every Friday when I didn’t have classes. Went to the salon for trims every 6-8 weeks. I also started doing low manipulation protective styles. In turn, my natural hair started to grow!

The next setback came when I studied abroad. I had no idea how to manage my transitioning hair in another country. I went back to researching and watching videos to see how I could manage my transitioning hair while abroad. But to little (or no) avail. I decided to get senegalese twists in hopes that would protect my hair from breakage at the demarcation line. The line of demarcation is the part of the hair where the transition is occurring. Little did I know, when returning from studying abroad, my transitioning ends would break off. This was due to lack of care when taking down the twists. This was a big disappointment, but I didn’t let that stop me from continuing on my journey. If anything, I was able to finally shed the rest of the relaxed hair!

My New Natural Hair Journey

Last thermal straightening & trim (Mar 2017)

I have now learned how to manage my natural hair and while I am still going through trials and errors, I believe I’m making great progress and feel very confident as a naturalista. One of the biggest things I’ve learned throughout this journey is to have patience. Had I learned the importance of patience early on, I’d have successfully taken out the senegalese twistsClearly I’m still a bit bitter about this. But, you live and you learn! Anyone who knows me knows I have ZERO patience. However, this process has made me realize that being patience has its own rewards. My hairs is now approaching bra strap length! And even though my hair gets tangled easily and is thick – I’ve learned to appreciate my hair. Not many women can rock curly hair one week, and straight hair the next. Black hair is just beautifully complex.

For all my naturalistas – what has your journey to natural hair been like? Tell me in the comments below!

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