WHAT THEY DON'T TELL YOU WHEN YOU TRANSITION BACK TO NATURAL HAIR
Withdrawl from the creamy-crack is real!
I've successfully made it through my first year of transitioning and growing out my kinks and coils… WITHOUT A BIG CHOP! I have 6.5 inches of new growth (yes, my husband and I measured) and no one can tell me nothing about my mini bun a.k.a Coily Crown that sits atop my head.
It was a long and annoying journey, to say the least but, I'm happy to have arrived where I am. The worst is behind me and it only gets easier from now on. Allow me to give you my hairstory.
I have been natural for most of my life. When I was a child, my mom would hot comb my hair for special occasions but my regular hair care regime was wash, grease, braid and decorate with colorful bubbles and clips. Moving into my teens, I ditched the seat between my mom’s legs, and started flat ironing my hair. It was my weekly regime and my hair grew pretty long. It was in my last year of High school, that a friend suggested I get a perm as boys would "like you more". Succumbing to peer pressure I reluctantly went along with it. As she applied the perm to my hair, I was convinced my hair was going to fall out. When it was time to rinse, I was shocked to see my kinks replaced by bone straight strands. Since the perm was not applied long enough, after a few months and no touch-ups, my hair returned to its natural state. Fast forward to 19, I asked my cousin to perm it and again, it faded. So I took myself to a salon and got the real deal. This was the beginning of the end. I went every 2 months for my root touch-ups and trims. Over the next couple of years, my hair flourished and grew well into the middle of my back. I continued this for about 5-6 years, then something changed. The shedding increased, it became very thin and uneven. I had no choice but to cut it into a bob, so that it can re-grow, however, once it grew out about 4 inches, it started breaking again. I tried Biotin pills, hair masks, changing my diet and fitness regime but nothing helped. The writing was on the wall. So after my wedding, I said goodbye (with some nudging from my hairdresser) to perm.
I dove into the world of "Naturalistas" and "Coil Queens", researching products, styling tips and growth charts. Yet nothing prepared me for the mental instability I experienced while transitioning. I have always been a pseudo confident person but this past year was challenging to say the least.
So this is what I have learned and I'm sharing to let you know that you aren't crazy and aid in diminishing and avoiding self-hate.
You need to unlearn everything you every learned about your hair
Raise your hand if you had green Dax pressing oil slathered on your scalp and hair, burned by the hot comb, cried out in pain when getting your hair combed/de-tangled and avoided water. These are just a few less than fun memories from our childhood. Unpleasant, yes, because this is all WRONG.
Dax and other hair oils containing mineral oils are the worst for Black hair. It coats the hair and prevents moisture from penetrating the strands. Our hair is naturally dry, therefore, moisture and hydration is a must! Cantu Hair Lotion is amazing and offers maximum moisture with no grease and sticky residue. Castor, coconut and tea tree oil are excellent for providing both moisture and maintaining a healthy, clean scalp. *Remember, healthy, clean scalp mean healthy clean hair.
Heat is bad. Blow-dryers, hot combs, flat irons etc. Of course, everything in moderation but daily heat use will kill your hair, leaving it dry, brittle and prone to breakage.
While detangling, you should always start by parting your hair into sections, use a wide tooth comb and start from the bottom and work your way up. Not following these steps will result in breakage and an irritated scalp.
Your hair will never be "laid" again
This is a big one and it took time for me to really "get it". I mourned my slick pony-tails, my sleek dark hair blowing in the wind and hanging low in my back. I fought with those memories as I struggled through the awkward, new growth stage. Of course Pinterest, Youtube and Instagram have great inspiration pages that provide a bunch of styles ideas but, nothing prepares you for the frustration of trying to get your edges laid in a straight hairstyle, to have it puff back up again. The struggle is real.
You will feel ugly
Imagine being told your natural hair is ugly ALL your life and consequently, you treat it with products to have it resemble what society has deemed as pretty and acceptable. After years of conforming, you decide to stop and let your natural hair grow out. Not only is this a huge shift in your psyche, because now you are re-defining pretty on your own terms but, you now have to deal with the outside world's critiques, comments and ignorance. This can cause doubt, shame and even depression. Being a Black women, it is ingrained from a young age that hair is beauty; long hair is EVERYTHING and straight is better. Some of us may not be told directly but, I was shown implicitly, that our natural hair is not pretty, nor desirable. That’s why most of us have war stories about hot combs, bad perms and the like. I used to watch my mom do her hair and wish I had her "good hair". So for a short period of time, I considered my natural hair journey as regressing back to ugly. Little did I know, like everything, with change comes growth! My feelings were only temporary.
You will discover/re-discover your curl pattern
Again, perm, hot combs and flat irons will destroy your hair and eliminate your curl pattern. We all have one. Maybe you haven't ever seen yours since you been hooked on the creamy crack but it's there. Going natural involves embracing your natural hair texture. This chart is super helpful in determining and understanding your texture, so you can use the best products. If you choose to do a "Big Chop", using products like Camille Rose Curl Maker, Shea Moisture Curl Enhancer and Eco Olive Oil Styling Gel, will help define your curls and achieve the ultimate twists outs and wash-n-go's. If I can master the wash and go baby-girl… you can too!
You will need to increase the time you allocate to your hair care/styling
Natural hair is time and energy, but with everything, you get used to it by created a routine. As opposed to allocating just a few hours for washing, it jumps to a whole day. The “take-down” of a protective styles can take over an hour. Then comes the washing, co-washing, detangling, air dry etc. I won't even get into styling. Yes, it's extensive but all worth it. As you start to feel and see the difference in the quality of your hair, you'll be encouraged and motivated to keep on keepin' on.
You will fall in love with your hair again
Pinterest, Instagram, blogs and other social media platforms will become your best friend. There are numerous natural hair pages, where you can share and get advice, ultimately helping you build confidence and take pride in your coily tresses. As I experiment with protective styles and natural products, I' m enjoying my hair more daily. The thickness and resilience is on another level. The versatility is pure magic. Your hair will go from your enemy, your hair will be your ally. It won't happen overnight but it will come… I promise you.
FYI: If you are looking for natural hair products in Montreal or need a free hair products consultation we recommend you the boutique and salon Inheritance.
Did I miss something? Let me know below.
Mel is an occasional grill-totin', lifestyle writer. She scouts movers, doers and everything in between.