In the Beginning… The Relaxer
I continued to work at the hair salon and the various stylist began teaching skills and techniques for me to learn to manage my short hair. I learned how-to press-n-curl, and most importantly to the press n curl process was…. The Blow Dry. With a good blow dry, a stylist only had to press a women’s “edges” because the ceramic flatiron was extremely effective and straightening and curling hair in one motion. I continued to wear the non-pressed, press-n-curl until my college friend called me and said she was “Going Natural”. At this time, I had been wearing a weave to grow my hair. I had started going to a new stylist and back to wearing a press-n-curl. At my last hair appointment, he said we needed to complete a major trim because the ends of my hair were damaged. I lost 2 inches of hair that day. All the weave wearing became a waste of time. The decision to “Go Natural” became real.
Ironically, back then and still to date the term “Going Natural” is confusing. Some believe it means using natural hair products to manager your hair. I have heard it just means not having a perm or relaxer. I embraced going natural as a heat-less journey of learning to successfully manage my hair. And the struggle begins…
Keeping it Real… For Real!
I began searching for natural hair videos on YouTube. There were two youtubers that stood out to me Alicia James, Chary Jay and Kim Love. I became an avid follower of these ladies. Alicia James had similar hair texture and thickness, Chary Jay has amazing skills and techniques for styling and Kim Love is a true educator.
I went to Sally’s Beauty Supply to get products for natural hair. There were not many products for natural hair back in 2019, and most of them did not improve the manageability of kinky hair. Thankfully there were a few books that discussed how to grow and maintain Afro Textured hair. Most of the product types mentioned in the books were not “natural certified organic products”, which lead me to a heat-less and sulfate free journey.
The journey of Going Natural became and educational experience for me. I thought I had one texture of hair which changed after a year of being heat-less. I learned my hair was thermal relaxed. The struggle became even more real. I read about the importance a products PH and the proposed outcome of a product with a low or high PH. I Ph tested every product in my arsenal and learned most of the product and the PH results mattered. I threw out everything that had a high PH. Everyone thought I was crazy but felt I was on the right path.
I started going to natural health stores buying raw shea butter, oils and aloe Vera. I found success making my natural hair products in my kitchen using a hand mixer and boiling Flax seeds to make hair gel. My confidence was restored. I could not get the exact results all the time, but when I wanted to go out, I planned to have time to ensure my hair was right. Men stopped me regularly to tell me they appreciated my natural hair.
Planning is the Key to Successfully “Going Natural”
Many Youtubers talk about various methods and routines. I agree, you need a method and routine, but it has to be personalized. My friend who I embarked on this journey with has completely different hair than I have. Her hair is much finer, and she has a less aggressive curl pattern despite the fact that according to the hair typing chart her hair is considered a 4B/4C. She was able to come up with a successful routine within 1 year and her hair grew to Bra Strap Length within 3 years.
I watched videos, tried countless products for years and to date continued to make natural hair products for my hair. I have been 9 years natural and I still make changes to my hair routine just make sure my current routine is most effective for my hair. I have learned a lot and still use many of the products and methods I learned over the years on YouTube.