Devri Velazquez

As a woman, keeping up with my outward appearance has always felt like a necessity. My daily beauty routines focused more on my face and skin while I relied on flat irons and relaxers mostly to maintain my hair. I had no knowledge of the damage I was causing.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, simply running my fingers through my strands often resulted in clumps of hair in my palm. This made styling my hair both difficult and scary. Coloring my hair also started becoming an issue. Instead of using just one box once a month, I started doubling up on color twice a month.

Not only did my hair become weaker, my body did too. I started experiencing fatigue, even on my less physically active days. My diet wasn’t the best, but I did not think this had any negative impact since it had never been a factor before.

Taking care of my appearance everyday became more of a chore and required greater effort. It was also becoming less fun. When I washed my face, I would notice a lot of dryness and change in the feeling of my skin. I started bruising easily elsewhere on my body (legs, back, and stomach). Nothing changed in my beauty routine, so I wondered what could possibly trigger this sudden change.

Living alone, no one had a chance to witness firsthand the everyday physical challenges I was facing. At 21 years old, going out to parties and having fun with friends was supposed to be the norm, but with the flakiness and irritation on my face and skin, the noticeable fragility of my hair and general fatigue, I felt anything but normal. My self-esteem began to wither away like an old stone. Hope was running away from me and I didn't have the stamina to catch up with it.

MORE: Natural Hair Envy Brings Devri to Big Chop

Devri Velazquez

As summer 2011 was approaching, so was my family’s annual reunion. I forced myself to purchase a boatload of hair products, face creams and lotions in hopes of restoring the Devri everyone was so used to seeing. Little did I know I was weakening my hair and skin even further.

However, I chose to not give up! I had faith in restoring my straight hair to a beautiful smooth and silky mane before the big event. Batches of hair continued to fall out and my edges were fried. More split ends arrived by the day. My skin started to yellow. I cringed at the thought of family or friends seeing me like this.

Every morning I stared for minutes in the mirror and I could see the emptiness in my eyes. The weariness I was experiencing on the inside started to protrude onto the outside. I was losing grasp of the confidence I once had.

Each day it became more and more clear that something was seriously wrong with my body and I could no longer deny it to anybody, especially myself.

MORE: Devri's Health & Hair Journey: Symptoms