Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My First Year Natural

Do You Know What Today Is? It's My Naturalversary!

Natural air in ponytails at the age of 5On January 30, 2012, I was sitting in the salon getting a relaxer and some fresh color put into my hair. A few weeks later, I decided I wanted to give this natural thing a try. My hair story is not much different from other stories, but since it's my Naturalversary, I'll share it.

Historically speaking, I've never had too many problems with my hair; it's been long and healthy MOST of my life. I can't remember being natural as a kid. I have a hand full of pictures, but my hair was always braided or in ponytails, so I don't know what my natural hair looks like at all.
The earliest memories I have of hair are of my sister and I going to a barbershop to get our relaxers! I remember going through something in middle school with my hair...where I ended up with a mullet-like hairstyle because SOMEbody thought that was a good idea!

After leaving the barbershop we visited a few salons but not regularly so my mom started doing our hair. She would put in bothy my relaxers and color (which was just a rinse). Don't get my wrong, she did a wonderful job...

Healthy, long, relaxed hair

but she's no cosmetologist! She did this for a number of years and we were doing well until August 2008.

The damage done to my edges after a bad relaxerMy prognosis is that we bought an old, expired box of relaxer but that August, whatever the cause, my hair came tumbling down (and off) my head! I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was letting the relaxer sit when I went to scratch my head. I looked down at my fingers and there were strands of hair there. I felt around my hair some more...and more hair was coming out. I was devastated but I tried to stay calm. After I washed the relaxer out, I knew something was wrong. The outlines of the four sections I had my hair parted into had fallen out; so basically, I lost most of my edges and a good chunk of hair in the middle of my head.

Thin hair after getting into a bad relaxerMy best friends were so comforting when I ran to show them this disaster. I did a good job of hiding it, but I needed somebody telling me it didn't look as bad as I knew it did!! All three of them were supportive and that's one reason why I love those ladies! After that mishap, my mom told me she was no longer doing my hair and that I needed to start going to a professional. So, in a city where I wasn't too familiar with the hair salons, I had to find somebody to do my hair.

A partial and full sew-inThankfully, a stylist was recommended who did hair for a lot of the college ladies. To make a long story short, I stayed with her for about two and a half years. We started with two different sew-ins. The first one was a half sew-in and the second one was a full sew-in. I was graduating from grad school, so I wanted hair to put my cap on!

Then there was a haircut. At this point, there was no sense in trying to hang on to what little bit of hair that was left. And, if I must say so myself, I rocked that style!

Bob hairstyles on my Ruby Red hair cut

My hair grew back beautifully but this is when the cycle begins.

Cut it.

How I styled my bob hair cut

Grow it.

Relaxed hair in the growing stage

Wear it.

Relaxed hair in a long and healthy state.

Then the thinning out would begin:

Thinning relaxed hair

The cycle was vicious. I would mention my thinning hair to my stylist, but I wasn't getting the answers or comfort I needed. I was tired of going through the cycle and as much as I said I would never go natural, it was starting to look like the most viable option for me.

The first person I watched go through this journey was one of my best friends. After seeing what she had to do to her hair every night, I knew going natural was not something I wanted to do or had the patience for. A year into her journey, my thoughts changed. Others close to me started doing it, ladies I didn't know but would see out and about were doing it, and it was really starting to look like a better option for me as my hair was starting to thin out, AGAIN! On top of my hair continuously thinning out, I was very curious to see what my hair looked like natural more than anything.

When I was getting relaxers, I stayed in the salon every two weeks. Weaning myself off the salon was hard, but I stayed out for about...hmm...three months! I did well doing my own hair, but my hair was very long and fighting with the two textures made it even harder to handle.

Hairstyles for transitioning hair

I didn't have the patience and I didn't want to pull all my hair out in the process. Now I was facing the same dilemma, different rules. I needed to find someone who specialized in natural hair and was good at it. There was one salon name that continued to come up, so I figured I would check it out. I went in for a consultation and the rest is history.

Salon styles for transitioning hair

I know it's supposedly cliché to go to the salon to get your natural hair done. Some perks for having natural hair are supposed to be saving money and learning how to do your hair yourself. My goal for going natural is simple. I want healthy hair! My hair isn't that long and it’s not that short so it’s fairly manageable for me to do it but I still don’t have the patience for it!! Additionally, I’m not a cosmetologist. There’s no way I can accomplish some of the styles my cosmetologist creates. I like having someone who knows what they’re doing see my hair every two weeks; I like having somebody who knows what they’re doing answer any questions I might have about my hair, and I like having somebody to just vent to when my hair is not cooperating with me! I do my hair in between the two-week visits. That's good enough!

Styles for teeny weeny afros

When I don’t feel like doing my hair, I often get protective styles, which prevent me from having to touch it.

Updo hairstyles for natural hair

Next, was the big chop. This was something else I resisted as much as possible. I've always had long hair, so I was very nervous about cutting off my relaxed ends. Towards the end of my transition, I was getting 2 to 3 inches trimmed off at a time. I was trying to hold on to my hair for the holidays. I told myself I would cut it off before the New Year so I could start afresh. But again, curiosity got the best of me.

My hair after the big chopI couldn't take it any longer and was so ready to see what my hair looked like. I did the big chop on November 13th, 2012 after having transitioned for 41 weeks (or about 10 months). I was more excited than nervous, which was a surprise to me! When I went in the salon that day, my stylist kept asking me if I was ready...I had one little statement of doubt...and before I could finish the sentence, she cut a chunk of hair off so I couldn't change my mind!! Everyone else in the salon was more shocked about my hair cut than I was. That seemed to be the overall consensus of people that know me. They couldn't believe I actually cut my hair.

I want to put this disclaimer out there: the pictures are not in chronological order. My story had a flow, so I stuck the pics in where they fit. The big chop came between doing my hair on my own and my discovery of a good natural hair cosmetologist.

I can say I've definitely learned a lot about my hair and myself this past year. My hair has changed so much that it's even surprised me. I've had excellent support from people who wanted me to go natural before I was considering it and I've appreciated every second of it. I want to give a shout out to you all. I love each and every one of you for being there to listen to me go on and on about my hair! I've got a good 'fro on my head and I can't wait to see how my hair continues to change.

This year, I'm hoping for many changes to take place. I don't have complete control over a lot of the things I want to take place, but my hair is mine!! I have a few hair goals I want to accomplish. To be honest, I'm ready to get some hang time! There's nothing wrong with my hair now, I love it, but I'm used to having long hair and I miss it. I also want to work on learning how to define my curls. With these things in mind, I will become a master of my hair!

January 30, 2012: Me, then

A picture of my hair the day I received my last relaxer


January 20, 2013: Me, now

Getting my hair straightened after being natural for one year

It's my Naturalversary and one year later, I can honestly say with 100% certainty that my hair is healthy!

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