As is the case for many ethnic women, caring my hair has always been a “labor of love.” My ever-faithful hair has endured many years of extreme perming, hot pressing, flat-ironing, blow-drying, and occasionally braiding. It wasn’t until a mere three years ago when, after going through an illness that caused a bit of hair loss (and a major blow to my self esteem,) I decided to chop off a few inches of hair and ditch the “creamy crack.”
Frankly, ditching the relaxer was the easiest part for me, mainly because my hair has always been thick to the point that I would sweat it out after a day or two. I spent the next couple of years relaxer-free, but still continued to blow dry and flat-iron my hair regularly (I was flat ironing as much as 3-4 times a week!) Then, a little over a year ago, I started backing away from the heat tools, and tried what I would later discover was a wash & go method. I couldn’t get over cute little waves and poorly formed curls I never knew I had! In retrospect, my hair was probably still pretty sad-looking, but it was the first time in my life that I found it within myself to start embracing my hair and my appearance without fear of how the world around me would react. A true coming of age moment there, LOL.
Fast forward to late March / early April 2014. After moving in with my S.O. and attempting to ease him into the heat and hairspray fueled hair routine that I had been accustomed to my whole life, I started toying around with simply washing my hair and letting it curl up and air dry again. This time around, I was happy with the way a few curls turned out, but my biggest problems were dryness, frizz and a real lack of styling options. How was I supposed to turn this curly, kinky ball of fuzz atop my head into something that looked attractive, or better yet, professional?!
Trial and error became the name of the game, for me. I still cringe thinking about the money I spent within a months time, trying out different products that I read about on Facebook or Pinterest, or saw other style icons using on YouTube. Some products were too lightweight for my hair= non effective. Others weighed it down or were incredibly sticky and had to be washed out immediately. I couldn’t stand any of the gels; they all made my hair entirely to crunchy and even flaky. Products began to take over the vanity in the bedroom as well as the shower. (On a slightly unrelated note: any man who remains supportive while his house is being taken over by hair products, is definitely a keeper!) Thankfully, the storm passed, and although I am still keeping my eyes open for new or different products, I’ve finally hit a happy hair plateau!
After finally finding a few “staples” that I feel I can utilize long-term, I’m finally beginning to take a longer look at my hair and appreciate the great change that has taken place a midst the confusion of transitioning my hair to its natural state. I’m in my mid 20’s, and just now discovering (and loving!) my own natural hair. Sometimes, I still wonder what my journey would’ve been like if I had truly done the big chop instead of partially chopping and then transitioning. I can still tell the difference between the relaxer remnants towards the ends of my hair, and the true new growth that is the majority of my length. As my hair continues to grow, I plan to continue trimming off the last of the previously relaxed lengths so my hair can be completely natural root to tip.
It is a slow-going process, but I hope that my story, as well as everything else on this blog, will encourage you to embrace the kinks and curls and twists and twirls that make up your lovely mane!