I was born with a full head of hair.
Hair that kept growing and growing. By the time I was 8 years old, I was certain that the reason why I was the smallest in my class was because my hair was sucking up all my nutrients.
My Mom combed my hair for school, and every day I went with one long plait down my back. If I was lucky, I got two plaits! Sometime during Form 1 (first year of secondary school), Mom went away so I was left to my own devices with my hair. I remember seeing a Pantene Pro-V commercial and wishing that my hair was layered like the model’s. So, I got the scissors.
I started doing my own hair after that, and instead of a plait everyday, I wore my hair in a bun. I got scissor happy a few more times, and by the time I got to Form 5 (my final year) I was tired of fuzzy hair and breaking combs. I longed for a ponytail that looked like a pony’s tail and not Santa’s frizzy beard, so I begged Mom to let me relax my hair. Everyone else had straight hair, so why not?
I loved my new shiny, straight hair. I was finally able to comb it! Eventually, though, I realized that my hair wasn’t really that straight, and only stayed that way for a few days after I visited the hairdresser. Throughout my undergrad years at SGU, my hair existed, for the most part, in this weird state that wasn’t curly but wasn’t straight either. I didn’t own a flat iron then, so I used Mom’s curling iron to straighten my hair. Ouch.
In early 2009, I decided to stop processing my hair and in December of that year, I cut most of it off.
Even though I’ve been “natural” for more than three years, I’ve only recently started caring for my natural hair. After I cut my hair in 2009, the wash and go was my go to hairstyle. I slapped on product to keep the frizz away, but my ends were always dry and damaged. Let’s not talk about the tangles.
My hair went into shock shortly after I moved to DC in 2010. It was probably the change in climate, DC’s hard water and my obvious inability to take care of my hair that did it, but my hair started shedding…badly. It was too cold for wet hair, so I relied on my flat iron. Holy heat damage. I suffered from a dry scalp and split ends. This continued for almost two years and I really was not happy with my hair. It took a few visits to my friends in Richmond to set me straight.
Shakira has always been great with hair, and I looked forward to visiting so that she could give my hair some TLC. Most of what I know about caring for my hair, I learned from her. Sealing, deep conditioning, protective styling – a year ago I had no idea what these meant, but she has been an excellent resource. I sometimes wonder if she gets tired of my questions, but at least she gets to practice with me.
You see Shakira recently opened her own business – Curls Essentials – where you can get premium hair products for natural and processed hair, so all of my questions are good practice for the questions she’ll get from her customers! I was lucky enough to have her send me some products while I was in DC, and Shakira, I really like them!
So, about my hair now. My hair is huge…
I have a huge fro and handling it can be very frustrating, but I’m finally happy with my hair. It requires a great deal of effort, but what I’ve learned from this adventure is that natural hair is about trial and error. You won’t know what works until you’ve tried it, and I have tried a lot, including sitting outside with a concoction of honey, olive oil and lemon juice in my hair in an attempt to lighten it. There was also an experiment with cinnamon. I love trying new products, which I hope does not lead me down the path of becoming a product junkie.
In hindsight, if I had known then what I know now about my natural hair, I would have never relaxed my hair. I love my frizzy, curly mop of hair and while it drives me crazy sometimes, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m still building up the confidence to rock my fro in all its glory (after swimming doesn’t count), hopefully soon you’ll see it.
P.S The honey, olive oil and lemon juice didn’t work to lighten my hair. I eventually sucked it up and went to the hairdresser. Honey and olive oil is a great deep conditioning treatment though!