It began with a question. "Why can't your hair stay that way all the time?" The speaker was my mother and as I frowned up at her in surprise. I had an epiphany. What if my hair could stay this way? I'd never have to wrestle with a blow dryer and round brush again. I dashed off to have a look in the mirror, and I was stunned by what I saw. My hair was hanging in perfectly symmetrical curls all around my head. That's when I decided to take the journey into the unknown. I decided to go back to my roots.
I started life with a thick full head of curly hair, and I have the baby pictures to prove it. When I was about two years old my mother started braiding my hair. I know what you're thinking and no she didn't know any better. I wailed for years as my poor tangled hair was thrust into tight plaits on a regular basis. My curls disappeared over the years and I feared they were gone forever. When I was ten years old, my mother started getting my hair straightened, and at the age of seventeen, I got my first relaxer. I had no memory of my curls and my hair had never been conditioned until after I got relaxer. Time moved on and I went away to college and changed hair stylists and my new stylists changed the relaxer they were using to suit my sensitive scalp. Beforehand, I'd burned constantly every time I got a relaxer whether I scratched or sweated or not. The gentler relaxer allowed me to either straighten my hair or scrunch mousse into it and leave it curly.
After about four years of having a gentler relaxer used on my hair, it got harder to straighten my hair out when I washed it at home. It would either frizz mightily or refuse to straighten. My hair would start curling immediately after I put product in it. I was at my wit's end and couldn't think of a solution. Even anti-humidity hairspray didn't help. I'd started researching going natural, but I had only received discouragement from my mother, who thought that relaxers were the only way to go for a woman of color. On that fateful day when my mother asked me if my hair could stay curly, I took it as a sign. It was now time to take a leap of faith and hope that my new hair would be fabulous. That's how my natural journey began. Eight months and several products later I'm still happily on my way to being natural.
The first four months were easy, but then my roots got thicker and tighter. Thankfully, I could still blend them with my hair. The problems seem to come out of the woodwork after a blissful beginning. First, I found out that the hair products I was using were making me breakout. Yep, I discovered that I was allergic to formaldehyde, which is used in most beauty products to keep them from spoiling. I'd heard about Shea Moisture, so I decided to give them a try. The products work great, but it's hard to afford all the products I need to take care of my hair as I transition. I have to settle for whatever can be squeezed out of the budget, which means no deep conditioner, elixirs, or other helpful items. That's one of the reasons I entered the contest. The other reason I entered was because of the difficulty I've had finding a "curl twin". Even though my hair is type 3b, it does not handle the way most other type 3b curlies' hair handles. Once you toss NA into the mix, it becomes a different hair ballgame. I wanted to start blogging, so I could help any other curlies transitioning or not with their hair woes. Like the fact that protective styling is not for everyone. I was counting on protective styling to help me stretch my roots a little. It's been a huge no-go. I look like I have a bob but my hair is about mid-back at its longest.
Now months 4-6 were rather trying but I finally got my hair routine down. I'm a WNG girl all the way. I've tried pixie curling, but it dried out my hair. These days I stick with old faithful. This was the first time I felt like big chopping though. The idea was scary but I was reaching my breaking point. My mother's support was waning, and I felt miserably alone. I'd tried reaching out to big names in the natural community, but despite claiming a three business day response I got nothing...not even a thanks for writing. I was at the end of my rope when I received support from the most unlikely of sources, my best guy friend. We'd reconnected after not being in each other's lives for about a year. He's become my biggest supporter, and he even does research from time to time to help me with my issues. Ladies, it is so important to have that emotional support even if you can't get it from family. I think that's been the hardest part, not battling tangles, but struggling with my emotions.
I'd love to tell you that months 7-8 were a piece of cake, but I won't lie to you. It's been hard even with the emotional support. My mother rejoined the pro-natural team after seeing how beautifully curly my roots are. The shrinkage is ridiculous, but they're coming along nicely. I've decided to wait awhile before getting rid of the rest of my processed ends. Unlike most stories I've read my ends aren't straight. They behave more like type 3a curls which is interesting. I'm looking forward to the rest of my journey, and I'll keep fighting the good fight no matter how good those scissors look. If you'd asked me 8 months ago if I thought I'd be here today, I'd have looked at you sideways. The funny thing about being transformed from straight-laced maven to curly-haired siren is that I'm happier than ever.