Growing up in the 80s, neither my mom nor I had any idea what to do with my biracial hair. My mom, who is white, raised my brother and me, so hair care duties were all on her shoulders until I got older and was able to do something with the “mess” on my head.
My mom, bless her heart, tried all kinds of products, never really knowing how to use any of them. I remember the horrendous smell of Pink Lotion (a cross between car grease and burnt hair) being gooped into my hair..
The last time I was in Sally’s about a year ago, I picked up a bottle just to smell it and reminisce. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t too keen on the smell twenty years ago, because it has since changed for the better.
Then there was the S-Curl stuff for Jherri curls. I even had the “no-drip” bottle. (Seriously, “no drip?" Bleck!) Although we weren’t exactly aiming for Jherri curls, it seemed “logical” to attempt to use that stuff on my hair.
Enter the early 90s when I discovered that people with curly hair can straighten their hair! I would literally sit and dream about what I’d look like with straight hair. I fantasized about how my hair would flow and be easy to brush through (and free of any “no-drip” hair goop).
We found a friend in the church we grew up in who was African-American, because African-American women know how to do relaxers, right? Wrong! We assumed she’d know how to do a relaxer, but my flaming hot scalp and half-relaxed hair would prove this assumption to be faulty.
In the late 90s, when I was in tenth grade, I met a professional stylist and decided to try letting her relax my hair. From 1995 until 2011, I religiously made trips to the salon to have my hair relaxed. Then in early 2011, I stumbled across NaturallyCurly.com. While I couldn’t fathom how anyone would actually WANT to wear their hair curly, I kept reading and learning.
Curly Hair Reform School
One of the first things I learned was that not all curly hair is alike. Standard information for most curlies. However, I hated my curly hair, had no idea what to do with it and hid it under the veil of a relaxer for close to 20 years. As a result, I had no idea how to manage it, much less that it was as unique to me as my finger print!
Once I learned that there are actually different types of curly hair, my first endeavor was to figure out what kind I had. It turns out I have a mixture of 3C and 2C depending on the day. Looking around the forums on CurlTalk, I was also able to see pictures of people with hair just like mine. The paragraph long signatures on these photos detailing what hair products they used showed the great care they took in keeping their curls beautiful.
I had no idea about the products mentioned when I first came across the site, so I started reading and learning all I could. I learned what to look out for and avoid in hair care products (such as sulfates and detergents) and what would be good for my curls.
The most important thing I learned, however, was to ENJOY my own curly hair. Before stumbling across the site, forums and articles, I would have laughed at the idea of wearing my hair naturally. I payed good money to have my hair straightened; why would I wear my hair curly? Besides, it’s just a big poof ball and looks horrible. I could never wear that out in public.
Learning to Love Being Natural
Nonetheless, I took to heart a lot of what I learned at NaturallyCurly and decided to have a go at wearing my hair curly. And you know what? I love it! It’s true, I do!
Now, I won’t say that I wear it my hair curly every day of the week. I paid good money for a professional relaxer, and I'm not about to throw that down the drain completely. However, I’m able to wear my hair however I want, both curly or straight, on any given day. I’ve even had days where I’ve worn it curly in the morning and straight in the evening. I’ve had days where I’ve worn it fresh out of the shower and down in the morning, then dry and in an updo in the evening. Common sense to most curlies, but a brand new experience for me!
While it’s taken me several years to learn how to wear and enjoy my curly hair, I’m so glad I have finally learned. I only wish I would have learned this information sooner.
Learn to embrace your curly hair and don’t try to hide it under the disguise of a hair relaxer or flat iron all the time. Enjoy the versatility of being able to choose how you’ll wear your hair that day, or even that hour!
Want more transitioning tales and tips from those women going through it? Read all about Lisa Michelle's road to natural hair, and her tips for why you should do it, too!
My natural hair journey has only just begun, but I’m excited to see where it will take me from here!
What hair routines do or did you follow as you were transitioning from completely straight to natural? I know you have advice to give; I’ve seen it in the forums!