Monday, February 2, 2009


The Journey to Natural Hair

February is a special month not only because it's Black History Month, but also because it is the month in which I celebrate my anniversary of breaking free from the "creamy crack." This year will mark my sixth year of being au naturale. Although I am thrilled to be relaxer free, the journey I took to get here wasn't easy. For some, the decision to go natural is deeply thought out, as it symbolizes a statement of one's identity as an African American with no European influence. There are a lot of people who believe that those who are relaxed are trying to be white. Perhaps some are, but for me, the issue really wasn't that deep. As a child, I saw relaxers more as a right of passage than anything else. My grandmother was relaxed, my mother was relaxed, and my older sisters were relaxed. In addition, most of my friends were relaxed, so of course, I wanted to be relaxed too.

I begged my mother to give me a relaxer at the age of 13, and I remained relaxed for a good eight years or so. However, the entire time I was relaxed, my hair was never silky straight. I used children strength, no-lye relaxers and only touched up my hair once every four months. Also, I didn't flat iron my hair because I thought the chemical process was enough torture. Thus, I often allowed my hair to air dry, and only wore it down for special occasions. Before my hair broke off, I often wondered why I continued to get relaxers, as I didn't see how it was benefiting my hair style-wise or health-wise. When my hair did break off due to overprocessing by way of dye and relaxer, I knew I had to do something different. Initially, I was scared to go natural, for I think a lot of us reach a point where we forget what out natural hair looks like. Sure, we know how new growth looks and feels, but that is often a poor representation of what our overall curl pattern will be like. Because I was scared about what I would possibly be getting into, I remained relaxed for a good year or so after the breakage.

After a year or two of hiding behind hairstyles that masked my damaged hair, such as interlocks and braids, I finally decided to go natural. My once long, thick tresses were now short and thin, and I wanted my old hair back. It's funny because before the damage, I often got frustrated trying to find ways to tame my long, thick hair. Yet, when it was short and thin, I realized that you really don't miss what you've got until it's gone!

For me, the decision to go natural was made more out of necessity than anything else. I was determined to get my hair back on a healthy track, so I began treating all of my hair as if it were natural the moment I decided to go natural. In other words, I kept it well moisturized and experimented with heat-free styles such as buns and "phony ponies." I didn't flat iron my hair much during the transition process, as I really wanted to give my hair a break from any form of styling that I felt would add stress to my already damaged locs. Many ladies go for the "Big chop," otherwise known as the "BC." Yet, I simply evened up my ends and gave myself a bob, for going any shorter would have been too devastating for me. From there, I stayed on top up my regular trims until eventually, all my relaxed ends were cut off. I understand that the big chop is not for everyone, and I am living proof that you can transition out of a relaxer without chopping off all your hair.

It's been six years since my last relaxer, and my hair is now long, thick, and chemical free…minus a few red copper highlights in the front ;). I advise all women to go natural, not because of style, but because I believe that it truly enables us to have the best of both worlds: You can rock a kinky, curly do' one minute, and silky straight tresses the next. Whether your hair is curly, kinky, or somewhere in between, I strongly believe that with the right research and a little bit (okay, a lot) of patience, you can find products and techniques that work for your texture. Natural is a great journey, so take that leap and embark on it today!


P.S. For more details on my natural hair journey, check out "My Hair Journey" video and my "Transitioning From Relaxed to Natural: A Few Tips" video.


Megan said...

Thank you. This is a very inspirational testimonial that you have written. I'm 18 years old and I've basically done everything one could do with their hair! I made the decision to go natural In February of this year; and I'm glad I chose to do so. My hair is currently to the nape of my neck and parts of it is bleached (yes yes...what was I thinking!?)

I'm very glad I made this decision because my mother has been perming my hair since I was 3 years old, so I pretty much had no say in whether I wanted to do it or not. However; my mother has approved of my decision and is even thinking about taking this journey with me. I am not cutting my hair though (It would be way to devastating for me to do so). So I would just like to say, thank you for writing this testimonial; it is a real encouragement and I can't wait to see what my beautiful natural hair will look like!

Gena said...

I have long relaxed hair but i am not happy with it. I want big, full of body hair and i know my natural hair is like that. I got my first perm in the 6th grade, I am a freshman in college now and want to go natural. I won't do the big chop because I cry when they clip my end(i know crazy right?) but I think I am ready for this journey. I'm a really impatient person so hopefully i wont give up and perm it back again. Thank you so much for the advice and tips!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your story, your blog, and your videos! I am 18, and i started perming my hair at 16, which was the lowest point of my hair health it was extremely heat damaged, and went from being center back length to being shoulder length (which is where it's stuck at now, i plan on changing that lol)

My last relaxer was September 29th 2009, and i plan on going all the way with this transition, yea I've tried b4 but i didn't have the info i needed to do it, but now thanks to you i do. Thank you so much!!!!