Unlike most of my friends and cousins my age, I got a relaxer relatively late in life. I begged my mom for a relaxer from the moment I started middle school, but she denied me the “luxury” until I was about 15 years old and going off to high school (I would later thank her for what seemed like punishment”>.

I can still remember getting my first relaxer and being so captivated by how my hair had made a complete transformation from big, thick, wild and unmanageable to silky, smooth and long! My days of having a relaxer were actually pleasant. My hair seemed to take to the chemical and it’s straightening properties. I never suffered much breakage or damage and my hair was actually growing even longer.

When I turned 17, I was again at the age where another hair request was being made to my mom; this time the plea was for highlights. At that age, every single girl I knew had highlights and I felt left out without them. After much deliberation, my mom agreed to the highlights, and my hair was now streaked blond. This fascination with color was short lived, because a year later, when I turned 18, I decided to get a permanent color over the highlights to make the bleached color disappear.

After getting my permanent color, my hair was never really the same. The relaxers didn’t stop, and the damage began. My hair proceeded to fall out in clumps right before my eyes. With each relaxer, it got thinner and thinner, and soon my thick ponytail was a stringy clump of hair in a hair tie.

It was then that I decided to cut my hair to a short bob right below my chin before I went off to college that summer. I thought this cut would help in allowing the horrible color to grow out. Nine months later, my hair story would forever be changed.

I went to Atlanta for spring break and went to my sister’s salon, and the stylist convinced me that I didn’t need a relaxer anymore. Her homemade honey treatment and pressing techniques blew me away, and I never looked back.

It’s been almost four years since I’ve been completely natural, and I must say, my hair has never been healthier. It was a difficult transition in the beginning because I had no idea how to do my own hair. But soon, everything became routine, and through the process of elimination, and tons of practice, I found what worked best for me.

Researching and finding natural hair platforms for encouragement was what kept me going throughout the process.