If you have natural hair, you know how much of an emotional roller-coaster the process can be. My journey began about 6.5 years ago during my sophomore year in college. I had been a serial transitioner for as long as I can remember since my first relaxer in 6th grade. I’d feel motivated to embrace my natural hair, see my roots, then relapse to the creamy crack, and repeat the cycle for years. That is, until I noticed my hair length creeping up my face without a haircut.
I was mortified, because I hid behind my super thick, long hair my entire life. We all know it’s both historical and cultural how much weight the Black community places on hair. God forbid someone call you “nappy headed”, “beedeebee”, “bald headed”…or whatever equally insulting thing a child would have called you in sixth grade.
After watching way too many natural hair journeys on YouTube , I realized my story isn’t super unique. But after my hair crept above my ears and I felt like I had worms in my scalp, I went to a trichologist. She diagnosed me with alopecia and confirmed my pores were indeed clogged from years of oiling, scratching, perming, frying, and other abuse. So, my hair began to grow inside of my scalp! She prescribed me some of her specially formulated products for natural hair and several in house scalp treatments. Frankly, I went natural out of fear of losing the little bit of hair I’d retained during treatment. I didn’t like it (neither did my “old-fashioned” family), but I did it.
Eventually I figured I’d thug it out and endure this journey to learn more about myself. And that’s exactly what happened. I transitioned for a year then big chopped. After big chopping, my hair became a totally different hair. And through the ups and downs and failed protective styles I learned a thing or two. Whether you’re just going natural, stagnant in your journey or feeling discouraged maybe you can learn from my experiences. I broke them down into about 8 pointers:
Don’t compare your hair
Comparing your texture to natural hair bloggers in order to find suitable products is one thing. But never…I MEAN NEVER…compare your hair to the next natural in a negative light. Everyone has their own unique hair struggles, and your hair is beautiful the way it is. Go into your journey being positive and open-minded. You might be pleasantly surprised by your texture(s). Going natural is embracing pure, unprocessed, unadulterated you from head to toe. So just concentrate on making your mane healthy and great. Everyone has their struggle so don’t feel some type of way because your kinks don’t match your silky bundles.
Pay attention and learn YOUR hair
This part is crucial. It’s super tempting to go on YouTube and fall in love with a fro and do everything your fro idle does, but it may not work for you.
Example: Dry finger detangling. I tried it for 2 months and it was the most painful, time consuming process ever. I would literally want to cry like I did when my mama used to pull a fine-tooth comb through my edges. I gave up on that. Alternatively, I did shower detangles with oil and conditioner while my hair is wet and a lot more cooperative.
Your hair might like aloe and being washed once a month. Creams, oils, or both? High or low porosity? To use or not to use sulfates. Water wash? Coconut oil? Whatever the case may be, your hair is as unique as your fingerprint. Sure, use blogs, etc. as a point of reference, but your hair (and scalp) is yours. It’s going to be trial and error. Take notes and don’t be surprised when your hair’s needs change as it gets longer. I suggest re evaluating you regime every season or at maximum 6 months.
Finding your staples can be very expensive, or inexpensive
Remember I mentioned trial and error? Well…I spent a lot of mullah buying natural hair products my 1st few months only to end up with Cantu Leave-In, and Ampro gel, vegetable glycerin, antibacterial shampoo, and conditioners (1 for detangles, and 1 for deep conditions). I was constantly lured in by shea moisture’s new lines (before they had one like every week lol). Now I have a mixture of expensive and inexpensive products that I use depending on my style. Now I try to buy in bulk. I spend about $70 every 2 or 3 months.
The Struggle will be REAL
Sometimes you get discouraged waiting for the fro you see on your fave naturalista, sometimes I wonder how in the hell they have enough time. I always tell myself my hair could be longer if I didn’t go through phases of “hair abandonment” and let it become a big lock on top of my head. Stay strong during periods of no or slow growth, it’ll show. You’ll have those awkward phases. Just Be patient and try protective styles so you’re not obsessing over length every time you touch your hair.
When it comes to natural hair, balance is key. Strengthening/moisturizing, up-dos/down-dos, wash-n-go/protective style, yin/yang, whatever. My biggest mistakes at the beginning was constantly doing protein treatments on my already strong, coarse hair. I should have been focusing on locking in moisture, and less on strength because my hair is already thick and strong.
Just like nails and skin, your hair is a reflection of how your body feels. Hair vitamins (Hairfinity review coming soon) are fine, but diet and exercise made my hair grow like grass. Consider your healthy hair journey an opportunity to get your entire body health in check. When you have one the other will follow suit. Scalp massages, deep conditioning, removing split ends, etc.
Don’t break rules, make your own rules.
I cannot say it enough…It’s your hair, it’s unique, it’s diverse, and it’s beautiful. The great part about going natural is accepting your raw self. So do you, boo! Remember this is your journey and it’ll take time to learn. Expect you natural hair build you character and your biceps.
What are your natural hair staples and what’s something you wish you knew before going natural? What advice would you give someone who is on the fence?