My natural hair journey started off as something that was needed, to something I now have fun with. I made MANY mistakes along the way though, and most of my methods and regimens were learned from trial and error. I had always relaxed my hair from as long as I can remember. At least since the age of 10. I remember going to the hair salon with my mom and sitting in the chair. My mom and the stylist walked over to the other side of the station and talked for a little while. My mom was smiling and all excited so it made me excited too, but I had no idea what was about to happen. The stylist soon came back over to the chair and asked me what my name was and told me I was going to love my hair by the time we left once she was done. She put the little cape over me, ran her fingers through my hair a little, placed a towel around my neck and began to part my hair into four sections. At this point, I did not know what she was doing because I was used to my grandmother washing and conditioning my hair first and then drying it, and proceeding to hot comb it out straight for my braids. Once the stylist parted my hair, she began to grease my scalp and edges. She then took out a big white bucket, by this point I was a little nervous and didn’t know what to expect next. She never pulled out the hot comb so I knew by then we weren’t about to go through with my normal process of getting my hair done. Once she completely greased my hair, she began applying this cream like substance onto the roots of my hair, starting from the back of my head to the front. The smell of the cream is what I hated the most with my first encounter of getting my hair relaxed. It was very strong and chemical like. Once the stylist covered half of my head, she asked if I felt ok which left me a little confused because I thought I was supposed to feel ok with getting my hair done. I guess she could read my confusion by the expression on my face, so she reassured me that I was fine and explained how I was receiving my first permed hairstyle and that the chemicals can sometimes burn your scalp if left on too long. Out of fear, I told her “yes” even though the back of my head had already began to sting. By the time she was done with the top and front of my head, the back of my head felt like someone had lit my hair on fire. She asked again if I was ok, and that’s when I had to tell her it was stinging a little even though it was stinging way more than just a little. I thought that I would get into trouble for telling her I wanted it out of my head, that it hurt and burned, so I lied. She said for me to sit for a minute and she would be back. After about 5-10 minutes she came back and took me over to the shampooing station of the salon. It stung so bad when the water hit my head, I could have cried right there in the chair. I know you are reading and thinking, wow I wonder if she left the perm on too long and now all her hair is gone, well no that is not what happened. My hair was already really thick so it did no immediate damage to be left on that long, plus it was my first one so it took some time to take all the way through anyways. The stylist ended up curling it under for me and placing it into two big ponytails with these pretty bows. Pretty good experience for my first go around.
I never really had any immediate problems with my hair while relaxed, other than breakage from time to time. I always kept my hair straight and in a wrap, sometimes I would add some rollers for volume during special events, but that’s it. Of course, I have been a very heavy weave supporter, so I would get a sew-in done here and there as well, especially in the summertime as a protective style.
[December 2012 – Big Chop]
Things completely changed during the years of 2011 to 2012. Due to health complications along with lack of care for my hair while in college. I ended up having to cut it all off just to save what was still left through all the damage that had already been done over the years that I could not see and recognize for myself. So I began my natural hair journey in December of 2012 with the Big Chop. I wanted to go natural at the time but I wanted to still be able to keep my hair straight, so I opted to begin with a straight short hair cut. The entire time between 2012 to 2014, I constantly used heat, trying to achieve that typical natural straight hair look and I ended up failing. This led to me severely heat damaging my hair for two years. I didn’t realize it was damaged until I started to notice it was not really growing. It seemed to stayed at one length no matter what, plus a lot of breakage was happening every time I used my flat iron to straighten it. The breakage was ultimately me burning my hair off and not realizing it. It became VERY brittle and crunchy when I combed, just a horrible mess.
In 2015, I decided to eliminate heat in my hair right along with the relaxer. I think this was the hardest decision I ever had to make. I was so stuck in the routine of keeping my hair straight, even going back to hot comb days with my grandmother, that I overlooked any other hair style that could be done that did not require heat at all. I set up a hair appointment in June of 2015 to get my hair blown out and trimmed so I would know at what length I was beginning this stage of my hair. The thickness of it never left and wasn’t damaged but again my hair was not growing.
[June 2015 – Blowout]
All throughout 2015, I experimented with different natural hairstyles including protective styles of braids and twists all while keeping the heat at a minimum. By April of 2016, I became fully natural. My real hair texture can be seen clearly, in which I learned my hair type is 4A. Another thing I learned once I hit the fully natural mark after transitioning for the second time around, is that my hair shrinks really, really bad. It sucks water up like a sponge, but can become extremely dry if not taken care of properly and moisturized daily. I have also limited my usage of tight protective styles including sew-ins. I didn’t even realize that my edges were almost completely gone until they really started to grow back during this time period of no heat. When I got sew-ins on a regular, I would normally get a partial sew-in, which is where half of your hair is weave and the front is actually your own hair, so it makes the hairstyle look a little more natural. Well with me opting to go that route instead of a full sew-in, I would be forced to use heat on the front of my hair constantly. With increased heat in hopes of keeping the hairstyle fresh, this lead to breakage and burned hair around my head.
[April 2016 – Afro Puff]
Here is a look at a then and now view of my hair growth so far from 2013 on the right until 2016 on the left. Hopefully during this year of 2017, I will see a little more growth and progress. Right now I have continued to eliminate heat from my hair, even my weekly wash routine does not include any heat, not even a hooded dryer which is a major consistency for me. I also have slowed down the usage of weaves, if I do a weave it is only a temporary wig or a loose bun but that’s it. Stay tuned for more updates! Happy blogging everyone!