All experienced naturals can look back on their first year and for a moment feel—excitement, fear, hopefulness, freedom, happiness and even at times discouragement—the very emotions that they felt early on in their new journey. This is my focus for this article. Finishing the first natural year is a great milestone that many have fallen short of because of a few reasons. Going natural often is a difficult decision for many and the scares and lack of social acceptance that they meet is enough to cause them to return to the relaxer and slam the door on such a great journey.
I have compiled a survival guide for all our newcomers. Please take heed to the advice provided and enjoy your journey to the natural side of hair.
Don’t be afraid to experiment—
the sad fact is that many of us never learned how to properly care for our hair in its natural state and find ourselves clueless once we decide to go natural. At first, some women note that it is complicated and that they are not getting results with the product that they used during their relaxed years. The truth of the fact is that natural hair still needs to be cared for and the new routines and product rotations that it requires are different from what you used in the past. So, until you learn what products work best for you, it is perfectly OK to experiment with various ones. It is also important to experiment with styles to see which fit you best leave your hair in an absolute state of awe. Wash and go styling was my top choice my first year, it was simple to achieve and looked great on my short curls. You will soon enough learn about your hair and stabilize your routine.
—you would not move to a new country without making every effort to learn the language and culture, if you want to succeed and adjust that is. Well, it’s the same principle. Natural hair is uncharted territory and increasing your knowledge about your hair is key to your adjustment. Thankfully, there are article repertoires online, like Naturallycurly
that provide wonderful educational materials. There are also useful books that you can add to your collection, such as Textured Tresses by Diane DaCosta and Curly Girl by Lorraine Massey. Dedicate time to learn about your hair and see how fast you fall in love with every strand.
Document your progress—
I can’t stress enough how important documentation is, especially in the early days. It can actually be the difference between continuing and returning to a relaxer. Hair with a natural curl pattern shrinks and without an effort to document your length over time, you might fail to realize that your hair is growing and thriving. Journaling will also show you how much healthier your hair is getting as you go on. Many naturals can see the results instantly after they stop processing, and our memory can trick us into thinking that our hair was always this healthy and full. And, with online journals (Fotki
, etc.) readily available there really is no reason not to. Journals also help track our good hair days and the styles that suit us best, so that we can survive the bad ones.
Find a support system
—going natural is not always a decision that is supported by our close ones. Personally, I remember the remarks and not so subtle disapproval that I met when I decided to, as one my aunts put it, “go bald”. I won’t even mention some of the horrifying experiences of other naturals. It is no question that our family loves us, but Lord, can they be cruel and discouraging! That said, it is essential to find individuals who share your same experiences and can provide support and comfort to you when needed. In addition, starting a new venture is always more fun when surrounded by like minds. Naturallycurly
, and now Texture Playground
are wonderful online communities with women (and men) who have had your same experiences and have embarked on the same journey. The advice you will find is invaluable and the friendships you can harvest are just a great bonus.
Keep negativity to a minimum—
this is an extension of the previous tip. Sometimes, it becomes necessary to let someone know that you do not appreciate their impolite and destructive remarks. If that does not work and it is a relationship you can do without, keep your distance. Hopefully, they will come to realize that their remarks have caused a divide and try to mend the situation, and if it doesn’t bother them any, now you know.
Keep your goal in mind—
there is a reason you wanted to go natural. On days when nothing seems to work, think of that. What was it that made you want this enough to stop relaxing and engage in a process that is so enduring? Our reasons can be a world apart, but I’m sure whatever it is that gave you the courage to venture into naturalhood is powerful enough to keep you going.
Bad hair days happen—
not because your hair is natural or kinky or curly! It happens because hair is expressive and opinionated! There are bound to be days when you wake up and your hair had a rough night and refuses to cooperate regardless of how well you care for it or how much you sweet talk it. Don’t take it personal! Just give it space and start over the next day. My experience is that fighting your hair will make it more furious. So, beware!
at Texture Playground
My two strand twists, ten months into my journey.
Video of my first year to come!