I had a perm for about 15 years, so it took me a minute to decide to go natural. The majority of my friends in college were curly girls, or as I liked to jokingly call them, “broccoli heads.” Even though I was intrigued by their natural hair journeys and all the different curl patterns, I just knew that I would never give up my creamy crack OR my flat iron!
Well, on June 10, 2016, all of that changed. That was the day I had my beautician do the dreaded BIG CHOP! So I’m not going to lie, it was weird seeing all my hair fall to the ground. It was even weirder looking at myself in the mirror knowing that the ponytail holder on my wrist was now useless. I was literally at a loss of how I was going to style my hair.
Now I’m almost a year relaxer free and I have no regrets! I’ve embraced my thick curly hair and it’s finally to a length where I can do a few fun things with it. I must admit that this road has not been as easy as the youtube videos make it seem. I have had my struggles and I’ve learned a lot about proper hair care. These are my top 5 lessons that have really had an impact on my natural hair journey thus far.
The transitioning phase plays a big role in healthy curls. So I may have cheated a little bit. I transitioned while I was in Basic Training for 5 months so I didn’t have the temptation to relax my hair or put heat in it. I was washing it, conditioning it, and pulling it into a bun everyday. The low manipulation gave my hair a chance to rest and the lack of heat pretty much ruled out any chance of damage. Once it became noticeable that I had 2 different textures in my head, I knew it was time for one to go. It’s difficult trying to take care of 2 different textures because they respond to products in completely different ways. When I went to my beautician to get my chop, my perm had already broken all the way off in the back so I knew I had made the right decision.
I’m so NOT about that product junkie life! So before I did my big chop, I’d done my research on which products I wanted to use on my curls. I had watched youtube videos, looked up reviews online, and made my list; HOWEVER, when I got to the hair product aisle, I had to do a double take on some of those prices. So in order to save money, but also keep my hair moisturized and healthy, I make sure to use my products until the bottle or jar is empty! If I buy a shampoo, I’m going to use that whole bottle of shampoo.Whatever curl cream I decide to try, I’m going to use that whole jar. I’m not gonna lie, it definitely takes some discipline (lol lots and lots of discipline). Because I do my research ahead of time, I pretty much know what items I plan to pick up so I’m not running out buying every hair product I see. It saves counter space AND money!
Everybody’s curls are different! My hair is naturally curly and naturally thick. And when I say curly, I mean loose little corkscrew curls that do whatever they want Lol. I’ve realized what works for me, may not work for the next curly girl and vice versa. Sometimes I like to watch my curl twins’ (girls who have similar hair texture as me) videos on instagram and youtube for tips, but at the end of the day, their hair is not my hair. For example, some girls swear coconut oil is the savior when it comes to natural hair, but I absolutely HATE the way it makes my hair feel. You really just have to take the time to see what types of products and formulas work for your specific hair type and not someone’s hair who you see as “natural goals”. That will get you so discouraged, and may cost you more money buying products trying to emulate a specific look.
Using heat is okay, if done sparingly! So since I’ve been natural, I’ve only had my hair flat ironed once and my beautician did it lol. The curls came right back after I washed it, which I was so excited about! I have not flat ironed my hair by myself yet, and the truth is….because I’m scared! When I had my perm, I would flat iron my hair 4-5 times a week. I would use heat protectant to try and prevent damage, but I lost my whole curl pattern in the process. I just haven’t gotten brave enough to try it yet post relaxer because of all the horror stories. I would be devastated if I had a setback after all of this progress. Maybe one day I’ll get the courage to do it…so stay tuned 😉
Healthy Hair MATTERS! Out of all the lessons I’ve learned so far, keeping a healthy hair regime has been the most important. I make sure that my hair stays conditioned and moisturized, and I’ve been getting a little more consistent with my wash schedule. Protective styles have really been my best friend through all of this. Braids are my Go-To when it’s time to give my hair a rest, and I only let one person do them. It also helps with length retention. When I take them down, it’s always a pleasant surprise to see how much my hair has grown. I also make sure to get my ends trimmed every 5-6 months. When you wear your hair curly the majority of the time, it’s a little harder to detect those split ends, but trust me, they’re there. Just because we’re making that transition to the other side, doesn’t mean we get to neglect proper hair care. We have to protect our curlies!
Now, these are only some of the many lessons I’ve learned so far because it’s honestly not enough space to put all of them lol; and I’m sure I’ll learn many, many more along the way. The most important thing I’ve realized is that you definitely have to show your hair some TLC and exercise patience! Whether you choose to fully transition, or do the big chop, it’s still going to be a lifestyle change. Whatever our reasons are for deciding to go natural, I’m pretty sure the end goal is to have our hair at its healthiest state. That’s why it’s sooooo very important to make sure that you’re doing what is best for YOUR hair!
And if you have any lessons that you’ve learned throughout your natural hair journey or know some tips and tricks to keep our curls poppin’, we’d love to hear about them! Comment Below! 🙂