What inspired you to start growing natural hair?
I wouldn’t say there was one specific thing or another. However, I do know that as far back as secondary school I considered switching from my relaxed hair. About 4 years after I first relaxed I entertained the idea of locs, but that never materialized. Then before ending secondary school I thought of returning to my regular natural hair, but I suppose I just wasn’t ready as it didn’t happen then. All through university in Washington DC I would admire natural hair styles, even my sister had grown out her natural hair, but still, it eluded me.
Years later, I discovered websites and blogs devoted to Healthy Hair Journeys, I became captivated (some would say obsessed) viewing reviews and tutorials, and reading updates, learning about ingredients and products, and tips and regimens.
I started out with the goal of healthy hair, as I dug deeper and became more conscious, I adopted habits consistent with a natural lifestyle. It came in stages, and my hair is now the stage that I’ve embarked upon.
How long have you been natural?
I have been fully natural for 3 months. On June 17th I had all my relaxed hair cut into what is now popularly referred to as a TWA.
What styles did you wear before this decision?
Prior to deciding to go natural I had been relaxing my hair for 20 years. During 2013 I started stretching my relaxers [increasing the time in between each relaxer]. I used braids, mostly for convenience, and they also helped in elongating my stretch time. I still relaxed after removing the braids as I hadn’t committed to growing my hair out natural, at the time it was about maintaining healthy hair. Finally at the end of 2014 I did my last relaxer, I followed with 2 consecutive braided styles before deciding that wasn’t a long term option for me.
What were the responses you received in response to your natural hair decision?
There were the full spectrum of responses, of course. But from the people that matter, those whose opinions I consider and who are actually involved in my life: My family and friends, were all very supportive. In my family there are naturals, relaxed, loc’d …and they all complimented the cut and the look. Even some random ‘folks on the street’ would comment positively to me on the look. My family and friends never questioned why I did it, but that was consistent as they never question my actions, but rather encourage.
How often do you wash and style your hair?
I only style my hair after washing, and I wash every 5-12days. It’s a big range but it all depends on how well my hair looks and feels, with my activities and the weather.
What are your favorite styles to wear?
I’m still experimenting and discovering what works. For the first 2 months I basically did ‘wash n go’s. In the last month I began doing flat twists outs, finger coils and comb curls.
What are some things you’ve learned about your hair during your journey?
I consider all the experiences I’ve had with my hair a journey. I had been relaxed for 20 years, didn’t frequently use protective styles and cut my hair into various styles over the years. I believe I always took good care of my hair, I never had major setbacks or extreme damage. I wasn’t against trimming for hair health and maintenance, didn’t dye (in the early days at least) and did deep treatments regularly. I learned early on that these practices were best for maintaining healthy hair.
With the advent of YouTube, Blogs and sites like kinkycurlycoilyme, directed to Natural hair, I began to truly understand the reasons for the practices I had followed. I learned why my hair responded to certain things differently, and how to identify and address issues before any damage was done. In the short time I transitioned, the most important thing I learned, was that my hair would do as it pleased, and only when there was something lacking, what my hair pleased didn’t equal what pleased me.
My hair defined a great portion of who I was. It was part of how I presented myself to the world and there couldn’t be a hair out of place. If I wasn’t happy with what I saw in the mirror it was reflected throughout everything for the entire day. It’s very much the same now, if not more.
What advice would you give to women contemplating growing natural hair?
DO IT! It’s worth taking the chance. Just choose the way that works for you: transition long or short term; protective style all the way or not; …or just cut it all off and start fresh.
Understandably it’s not for everyone, we’re not all the same and we weren’t meant to be. Maybe you’ll love it and maybe you won’t. But give it a chance, otherwise you’ll never know. And when you do, don’t be hasty, be patient…very patient, because it’s going to test your patience. It’s going to test your creativity, your research skills, and your aversion to risk.
I guarantee however, that once you’ve tried you’d look back and be happy you did.