In 2008, after nearly ten years of trying to erase all traces of kinky curly locks from visibility via relaxer, I decided it was time for a change. It wasn’t to follow a trend. It wasn’t to make a statement or to embrace my “true self.” It was because, like most college kids in America, I was broke. As much as I loved the way my hair looked straight, I couldn’t afford to give up $50+ every few weeks for my fabulous stylist to make it happen. And so my road to curly-hood began.
The big chop was never an option in my mind. For starters, I always admired short hair, but I was convinced my face was too round to pull it off. Most importantly, I’m style challenged, so I didn’t think I would be able to make it look presentable once it grew into that awkward stage of “too long to just leave it alone, but too short to pull it back.” It became my mission to transition from relaxed armpit length hair to natural armpit length hair. So I simply stopped getting my relaxers. Much to my surprise, the whole process was much easier than I thought it would be.
That was until I had a big mixture of kinky hair and straight ends. I was at a loss and felt I was destined to look crazy with two drastically different textures in my hair until it all grew out. On of top that, I was getting discouraged with my curl pattern. After being relaxed for so long, I had no idea how I would look with natural hair. Needless to say, I was quite frustrated and started to rethink the whole thing.
Finding a Support System
Luckily, I stumbled upon great advice from my friends of LongHairCareForum.com and Naturally Curly. They suggested protective styles for girls with two different hair textures. From time to time, I got a deep conditioner and a blowout from my stylist at Jul’s Studios. But because I didn’t like using excessive heat on my hair for fear of heat damage, I lived in a bun to hide the textures and protect my ends.
In less than a year, I finally made it to armpit length completely natural. However, I continued to keep my hair in a bun because I didn’t know how to style kinky hair and wasn’t comfortable with it once I realized my texture was different from the girls on television. I admired big hair and decided the only way for me to admire my own hair was to enjoy it and LIVE with it. Slowly but surely I began to embrace my curls while sporting puffs and defined curls until I was brave enough to rock an afro. It took some getting used to, but I finally LOVED the big hair I was born with.
I learned that being natural wasn’t just about a new hairstyle. It was about accepting everything about me. I loved the skin I was in and realized nothing else was necessary. And of course, I always knew this, but at that moment, I truly believed all the lessons my mom gave me about good hair being healthy hair.
Learning to Live Natural
My mother has always been into accepting true beauty and doing things the “natural” way. Therefore, it was no problem for me to totally revamp my hair care products from mostly synthetic ingredients to all natural ingredients. I went from using products such as Just for Me and Paul Mitchell to Shescentit, Kinky Curly, and coconut oil. I really saw a difference in the health of my hair once incorporating them. And I felt so much healthier for some reason.
Now my focus is on retaining length, rather than maintaining the same length. It’s been my dream to have long curly locks for my wedding day. That day is in a little more than year, which doesn’t leave much time for me to actually make the progress I desire since I seem to have a split end problem. Hopefully, in time, my religious use of natural hair care, eating healthy, and weekly deep conditioner treatments can help that. But for now, I’m enjoying the cost-cutting practice that changed my lifestyle. Turns out budget cuts can do a lot more than keep money in your wallet.
Terri Huggins is a Freelance Writer/Journalist in NJ who specializes in beauty, relationships, education and business topics. She also writes marketing paraphernalia such as brochures, press releases, blogs and newsletters for local businesses. Connect with Terri on Twitter: TERRIficWords or stop by her blog, www.terrificwords.