Reading the Buzzfeed article, 17 Reasons Why Natural Hair is Not a Good Look, reminded me of all the reasons why I didn’t initially choose to wear my hair in its natural state. I work in health care operations management and as a fairly new administrator at the time, I always wanted to maintain what I thought was a professional image. I just didn’t see how wearing my hair naturally would fit into that image and as a result would alternate my hairstyles between hair extensions, chemically relaxed hair, and other protective hair styles.
My hair journey didn’t start with me making a declarative statement of going natural with long healthy hair or that I wanted to stay away from chemically treated processes for health reasons. It took time and significant hair loss for me to realize that I needed to make very different choices about how I managed my hair.
My journey manifested around 2013 a few months after having my daughter, Ella. As I review old pictures, I noticed that my hair slowly lost its volume during that year. I essentially ignored it and continued with my usual methods to style and maintain my hair. It wasn’t until January 2014 that it was more obvious to me that my crown was in trouble.
By February 2014, it was evident from my birthday pictures that I was holding onto a bad relationship that clearly should be over. But just as bad relationships go, I was the last one to realize it.
I waited until April 2014 to finally cut my hair. I don’t have a picture to show my tresses at its absolute worse (as it my birthday pictures weren’t bad enough), but by this time, I probably had about as many long strands of hair as the onions do in this picture.
Yes, it was that bad. I visited my stylist,TaLauna Beverly, to undergo the BIG CHOP and her response was “ Girl, what happened to your hair?!” What did happen to my hair? The combination of hormonal changes; the stress of trying to balance being a first-time mom and working full-time in a demanding job; continuing to expose my strands to tension and chemical relaxers; and then not using proper techniques to care for my hair left me with very little to take care of.
I was initially angry that I had to cut my hair. I had never worn it naturally short on purpose in my life. I worried about what the surgeons, staff, and senior leadership would think about me now that I had very little hair. I felt insecure, less attractive… Would my husband like it? How would I manage this? How soon could I perm my hair so I could go back to my usual routine? Those were the many questions that circled through my mind as I learned to deal with this new short hair scenario. I was so out of my comfort zone.
I had reached the crossroad in my hair journey and had to make a decision which path to follow. I could perm my hair again and eventually return to the same way I was managing my hair or I could explore the unfamiliar path of wearing my hair in its natural state. I decided to try a more natural approach especially since my current predicament was a result of my “status quo hair care practices”. I quickly realized that I had to let all of that initial self-doubt and insecurity go! Internalizing those types of negative thoughts would only make me appear insecure, self-conscious, and unhappy. Moreover, they had the potential to totally ruin my life if I were to let them. I decided that I would OWN my current hair state and focus on finding a regime for healthy hair, no matter the length.
And so I made a conscious decision to only wear my hair in its natural state. I washed my hair at least once a week using Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter shampoo and conditioner and style it with various curl custards or crèmes from Shea Moisture, Miss Jessie , Kinky Curly, and Jane Carter Solution to name a few. I would also deep condition my hair at least once a month with Kinky Curly Stellar Strands thanks to my sands, Monique (shout out to Monique for giving me those samples!). My current regime includes Shea Moisture shampoo/conditioner/gel soufflé, Coco Girls Moisturizing Style Cream, and the Kinky Curly deep conditioner.
As to be expected, my hair grew but it’s now healthier, fuller, and longer than my hair has ever been. I won’t say that I will never wear hair extensions or protective styles again, but I will always place more emphasis on the health of my hair and not jeopardize that just to meet a certain standard of beauty. My advice to those considering the natural transition or if you are like I was, holding on to unhealthy hair and maintenance practices, let go and make the transition! There are so many resources and hair products available to make the transition less awkward. If you have doubts that it will look good, it will—you will do all that you can to make sure you’re fly rocking your hair in its natural state. If you think your hair won’t curl a certain way, it will— you will find the right products to enhance your curl pattern. Ultimately, I’m here to tell you that all the self doubt and insecurities you may feel about wearing your natural hair will eventually be unfounded once you decide to travel down that road. So Just do it!