The big transition to wearing your natural hair curly and proud is a process. Growing up in a "woke" generation has enabled us the ability to be more expressive with every facet of our bodies, clothing, sexuality, and hair. The beauty of curly hair is that everyone's transition process is different. How we started to embrace our natural hair, what we used, and how it's affected our perception of our hair is a significant journey for curlies.
My natural hair journey was inspired by my younger sister . . .
I grew up in an era where wearing your curly hair big, bold and beautiful without a pin, headband, or barrette was unheard-of. Mind you I am 26 and a millennial, but the natural hair movement as I know it, came to me at the age of 22. After a long four years of straightening my hair to no end, living with my sister allowed me to see her natural hair process up close and personal. It was long and expensive. I watched her take meticulous detail in putting this conditioner in her hair that made her curls moisturized and healthy. She finally convinced me to try wearing my hair down and to use her go-to, Kinky-Curly Leave-In Conditioner.
After seeing a hairstylist who informed me not to straighten or color my curly hair anymore for danger it could fall out, I began to research what products would revive my curls. I didn't feel confident wearing my curls down since they smelled bad and had no bounce. Instead, I would try up-do's during the day and wear it down around the house with my sister where I felt more comfortable. I began to experiment with other remedies to restore my curls and keep them healthy. I used Mane 'n Tail to help my hair grow and Garnier Fructis Length and Strength Cream Conditioner to assist with my breakage and split-ends. As my hair grew out, I would visit a stylist bi-monthly to cut the bad ends and google tips and tricks on what could get my curl pattern back. I became obsessed with my hair because I wanted my curls back to normal and to wear it down as my sister did.
Over the course of that entire year I slowly but surely started to see the bounce in my curls, shine in my hair, and the smell of burnt hair from my straightener slowly disappear. I began to move away from Garnier Fructis and upped my curls game with the John Frieda Dream Curls collection where I used the Shampoo, Conditioner and Defining Gel. I learned from my sister to not use hairspray or products with alcohol and started seeking products that were more natural. When I hit the age of 23, my curls were flourishing and I received compliments on how good my hair looked. I started learning that my hair didn't look wild, or unkept, it was blossoming. I didn't need a headband or ten palms of gel to slick it down.
If I could give you five tips for your transition to help you through the process here's what I suggest:
- Don't be ashamed! Acknowledging your need to get your hair back healthy is the first step and sometimes a hard one to face. Beating yourself up is no way to start your long curl journey, so take a deep breath and know it'll be okay.
- Do your research. I cannot stress enough the untapped power and vast net of knowledge that is on social media and the internet. Every curl type and pattern is different so researching what products are best for you to start with is vital.
- Headbands and scarves will be a lifesaver. Whether it's tying your hair up, locking in moisture, or putting a stylish twist on your outfit, think of these hair accessories as tools to enhance your curls, not hide them.
- Take pictures of your transition. Believe me, I'm the first one to admit getting in front of a camera was the last thing I wanted to do when my curls were lifeless. Now, though there aren't many, I'm happy for the progress pictures that help me see how far I've really come.
- Be patient. Your curls won't come back overnight. Everyone's bounce back is different whether you start with the big chop or are visiting the salon regularly to cut dead ends, getting your curls back takes time.
Now at 27, I love my hair. I love it big and curly and I am grateful that I was able to revive it. For those transitioning, doing your research is key. The product aisle can be overwhelming, but if you find yourself wandering around your local drug and beauty supply store, try the travel sizes from different brands. Be bold, be unafraid and know you have a huge curly army behind you!
Further reading about transitioning hair: