Natural hair does not always mean healthy hair, Pt. 1

I’ve technically been natural for almost a decade!  Wow.  It was 2000 when I shaved my head (literally, I had a fade) originally for cathartic reasoning, but it wasn’t until 2006 that I started to really focus on growing healthy natural hair.  When I refer to my BC, I’m always pointing to September 2006.  And when I talk about my journey, I tend to focus on the period since then.

But I think I owe it to myself, newbies, and everyone else that is struggling with some of my past issues (you’ll know who you are in a sec) to talk about my six years of wandering before reaching my own follicular nirvana (not saying it’s perfect for every one to try, but my routine works for me, I like it, and I’m sticking to it).  At the very least, I can outline some of my past tribulations in an attempt to offer lessons learned even if only one doesn’t have to suffer.

Let’s rewind the tape for a moment for a little historical analysis…

Denial.  Deemed Sigmund Freud’s most notable defense mechanism.

  • de·ni·al
    a. A refusal to accept or believe something, such as a doctrine or belief.
    b. Psychology An unconscious defense mechanism characterized by refusal to acknowledge painful realities, thoughts, or feelings.

When I started growing my hair after my original, I did everything imaginable…

  1. Used every product in the book listed by every head of curly hair, not focusing on those with similar traits as my own
  2. Straightened, straightened, and straightened some more (I had a weekly standing appointment at one point)
  3. Never used heat protectant when I straightened
  4. Washed my hair looking for the squeaky clean feeling
  5. A few times, while a super duper rush, I actually flat ironed my still damp hair.  Sizzle.  Sizzle.  Sizzle.
  6. Never knew what “protecting my ends” meant

But you couldn’t tell me a thing.  Why?  Because I was natural.

I remember once when I had an appointment to get my hair twisted.  The stylist told me that I still had some relaxer left on my hair and that the style would hold better if I finished cutting it out.  I turned, and vehemently stated she was mistaken because my hair was fully natural.  And she replied that it wasn’t possible and that stylists could tell the difference between relaxed and natural hair.  I was appalled.  How could she claim to know the difference given that there was not an iota of relaxer remaining on my tresses.  I vowed to never return to that salon again, upset when I overheard a general conversation about “these girls that don’t want to give up their dead, relaxed ends”…how could that be talking about me in ear shot like that!  Rude, gossipy conversation aside, I just didn’t get the flashing lights that were right in front of my eyes.

I would say it was probably another year before I finally gave up the routine straightening and started experimenting with twists.  And I would rant about my “pesky straight ends” and complain “about the way my hair grew”.  😐

Really?  It’s hard for me to actually type this without laughing.  I really and truly believed that my hair somehow, magically grew this way.  That it defied nature and went from textured at the roots to straight near the ends.  At that time, in my head, my hair was simply the ultimate example of extreme, multiple textures.

It actually took a lot of research, even more time, and a few more BCs to get to a very short, but finally fully natural AND healthy state.  Given that my hair keeps growing with each chop, I imagine I could have had waist length hair by now had I known then what I know now.  But, you live, you experience, you make mistakes, you move on and you grow (figuratively and literally).

In Pt. 2, I will post some pics of the old journey vs. the new and outline the mistakes I’ve made in the past, with the hope of enlightening someone somewhere.

Good luck to all and happy growing (or whatever your goal is!!).

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8 comments

  1. I was speaking with my aunt and she said ” was transitioning for atleast 4-5 months and thought my hair had grew so much but to my surprise it only grew about 2 inches with the permed ends still attached to my new growth. Surprisingly enough in the same time spand 4-5 months my aair fro has grow tripple!!!!”I saw that with my own eyes is it because you have a full head of just natural un damaged hair ??? I see alot of people ask does having the big chop grow your hair faster? after seeing so many people go through the previous situation its hard to say no to that question!

  2. I have to chuckle at this! Lord knows I’ve used and was still trying (wasting money I don’t have with pay cuts and furlough days in education) tons of products, lol! I straightened every two weeks, religiously, and nobody could tell me I was not “natural!” It wasn’t until April of last year that I got the guts to even try a twist out! I went from April to August (I think) without pressing! I had so much heat damage from the previous presses that my ends looked relaxed! I got some of the cut and wore twist outs until my college homecoming came around. While talking to my best friend we were discussing how I was going to wear my hair for homecoming. I told her probably in a frohawk! She asked what that was. When I told her she said, oh no it’s so pretty when its straight! Eek! She truly meant no harm and has only been used to the relaxed person she’s known since 1993 when we were in college. A stylist also recommended me wearing it straight to “set off” my outfits! Oh how weak I was! Against my better judgement I got my hair pressed that Thursday nite! It rained something awful that Friday as I traveled to my college homecoming. That Friday night I hit an alumni party that wasn’t even crowded, didn’t seem humid-nothing! A trip to the ladies room proved different! When I looked in the mirror to my surprise my hair was a big, huge, BUSH! I was so mad and dissapointed! Like a big dummy when we returned to our friend’s house what do we do? Press the hair again! The girl who was making sure she got the roots probably did the additional damage to my hair:( Whose fault is it? MINE because I knew better. Now I await the warm spring weather so that I can cut the damaged ends (seems like half the length of my hair on the left side:( ) and rock a wash and go! Until then its twist outs, ponytails and puffs- no twists til the ends are gone- way too thin!

    SMH and LMBO at sizzle, sizzle, sizzle! Love the descriptions!

  3. OH MY! After reading your blog on Dec. 30, 2009, I said “that’s me!” Like you, I’ve been without a relaxer for several years. However, I always had a standing appointment to get my hair pressed every 2 weeks. When I decided to stop getting my hair pressed and wear natural styles, I noticed that my hair didn’t match any of the hair types pictured on the various websites. Like you, I thought my hair just grew curly at the roots and then straight on the ends. I was constantly complaining about my straight ends. After reading your blog I got my first BC the very next day, Dec. 31, 2009. I wanted to start the n ew year off right. I absolutely LOVE my natural curls. I had no idea how beautiful my curls are. It’s kinda sad that I don’t remember my hair being this beautiful when I was growing up. So, thank you for the blog. It helped at least one person and that’s me.

    1. Rock on Serita! We’re gonna have to start up a little spotlight in your honor. I want to see some pictures! Not only do I love a good BC, I love someone loving their natural self even more.

      Stay fierce and kink out!!!!!

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