Women cite numerous reasons for going natural. For Tauri Laws-Phillips, Tigi Haircare's media and public relations manager, transitioning to natural hair after 16 years of relaxers was prompted by her upcoming wedding.
Her blonde, blue-eyed fiancé looked much different than her, and she realized her children were probably going to have hair that wasn't like hers. She thought about her own biases about her kinky hair, and how they had come from her mother's views about her own hair. She wanted her children to grow up with a more positive attitude about their hair, whether it be wavy, curly or kinky.
"I have a family where in which we have the full range of color and texture of hair you have in the African-American culture represented," Laws-Phillips says. "I remember my family's negative feelings about their natural hair texture. Such an importance was put on having straighter hair. All of us were relaxed so young—subscribing to what other's views of beauty was. If I couldn't embrace who I was, how could I teach my children to accept themselves? If I'm changing things about me, how can I help them accept who they are, exactly how they were made?
"I made the decision I wasn't going to do another relaxer," she says. "That's when I started to fall in love with what it could look like. A lot of CurlyNikki and YouTube brought me to that realization.She started transitioning immediately.
She wore braids and roller sets for a year. Then, for a friend's wedding, she let her straighten my transitioning hair.
" Afterwards, I was pulling out masses of hair," she says. "When I got home, I made decision it was all over. After work, I got out the spray bottle and I cut the front first. Then, I cut all of my hair. I took a picture of my now husband as he came through the door.
"It's beautiful," he exclaimed.
"I thought 'I can't do that,'" she says. "I thought there was no way I could look presentable. I thought I would look terrible."For most of her life, though, Laws-Phillips thought going natural was something other people did.
Today, Laws-Phillips is celebrating her 2-year natural hair anniversary, and has no regrets about
Laws-Phillips says transitioning to natural hair is both emotional and physical. It's about changing your views, confronting your bias and getting up close and personal with the idea of how you're going to look with natural hair.
"It's about getting comfortable in your own skin," Laws-Phillips says. 'As your hair is growing out, it's a great time to look at pictures and re-pattern all the thoughts you have about your hair."
For so many years, she says her natural roots were the "big bad wolf"—signaling another trip to the stylist for a relaxer.
"When you're transitioning to natural hair, you come to think about the new growth as something exciting," she says. "It's exciting to see whether you're going to be a 3c or a 4a or a 4b. It's kind of like the birthing process."
"For the most part, my family is supportive," she says
Her husband loves her natural hair.
"He knows everything possible about black hair," she says. "He went to see the movie 'Good Hair.' He helped me take out my braids. He can tell anybody what product I'm using on any given day. It was really good for us because he went on the journey with me. It was important for him to understand what I was doing and why it was culturally important. Important especially for him to help understand how to support his children in the same way."
It took her mother a little longer to get used to her new look. "When I was getting married, my mom asked if I was getting a relaxer for the wedding," Laws-Phillips says
"Are you getting a straightener?" she asked.
That wasn't an option for Laws-Phillips, who said she wasn't about to go back. "For the wedding, I wore it in a twist-out puff," she says. "It ended up raining the entire day so I though there was no reason to try to fight nature. I looked like me."
Laws-Phillips joined Tigi in March, and is loving the opportunity to discover new product combinations.
"There's no better job for a product junkie," Laws-Phillips says.
Find transitioning trips and product recommendations from this tried and true transitioner on the next page.