In the 5 years that I have been natural, I’ve become incredibly proud of my natural hair journey. Even though it’s had its ups and downs, it has truly been a major part of my introspective journey of self-rediscovery. Exploring my natural hair texture and appreciating all the beautiful ways I get to style it has helped me learn to love even more what unique gifts I possess as a black woman.
Before I went completely natural, I was definitely NOT taking proper care of my hair. Intuitively, I knew that my hair was not healthy. I didn’t have a solid conditioning regimen, dreaded getting trims, and ignored signs of breakage and dryness. I know, I know, I was a. MESS… I talk a lot about believing in my intuition and its signs and I knew that if I wanted to achieve healthy hair from the root, I would have to start from scratch.
That’s right. The Big Chop!
I was so proud of the leap I had taken. I had listened to my gut and had shown myself enough self-love to take charge of how I had neglected my hair, and was excited for the journey ahead. But as my hair grew and I encountered some difficulties in styling and some awkward hair lengths, my confidence began to suffer. Our hair is such a large part of our identities and how we perceive ourselves, so when I wasn’t confident in my hair style, I didn’t feel secure in myself.
After years of feeling this way, I decided that I had to take action. These are some are the lessons I have learned, that have allowed me to not only work with the tresses I’ve been given, but have contributed to the love I have for my hair.
First and foremost…
I blame Youtube tutorials and Google images for this one! With natural hair love being a trending topic the last few years, we’ve been exposed to images of all types of beautifully coarse textures. When I was feeling insecure about my texture, I found myself imitating styles and becoming frustrated when they didn’t end up exactly how I expected. Even when the vlogger had a completely different hair texture than mine. I even found out that some of the images I had searched for of twistouts and braidouts were wigs and sew-ins, not natural. Nothing is how is seems so I believe it is best to feel blessed with your natural texture, density, color, and style, and to work what you’ve got. No one is as unique as you!
Love Your Length
It is so important to give your curls time to grow! Obsessing about your hair length can take a hit at your confidence, especially if you’re comparing yours to others, like I have. Patience and healthy maintenance will allow your hair to thrive much better than worrying about every inch. However, I do document a few length checks a year, just to make sure my hair is growing at a normal rate. It has actually helped me discover when certain products, methods, and styles have actually hurt, not helped my hair in the past. Remember that your hair will grow, just stay patient!
Use Products That Work For YOU
With embracing natural hair becoming so popular, soooo many products have come on the market and it wasn’t long before the “best” ones were determined. Although some of the most popular brands are great and inexpensive, such as the Shea Moisture line, not all of them work well on everyone. I’ve tried almost every gel, butter, and cream available and with time, observed how my hair responded to them. If a month passed and my hair experienced any signs of major breakage and/or dryness, I moved on. Even though these products all claim to benefit natural hair, they don’t all work the same way for everyone, so it is important to figure out how your particular strands react.
Natural oils and butters like coconut oil, and raw shea butter and the moisturizing effects of water have had the most beneficial effect on my hair and have made styling a breeze. Keep looking, you’ll find something that your hair will love and your effort will be worth it!
Keep It Healthy!
This seems so basic, but often times are the most common reasons why we struggle with length retention. Over the years, I’ve realized that regular trims, less strand manipulation, attention to moisture retention, and protective styles have been my holy grail for healthy, resilient, strong hair. Hair that has gracefully withstood multiple color treatments, braids, twists, harsh winters and drying summers. I used to ignore when I KNEW I needed a trim, because I was so protective of my length. But what is length if your hair is so obviously unhealthy and lacking in moisture and shine? Protecting your hair from over-manipulation such as heat styling too often, daily combing (especially combing through dry hair), and frequent and long-term protective styling will keep you from experiencing unnecessary and frequent breakage, less volume and bounce, and heat and follicle damage.
My favorite summer/fall protective style-lightweight Senegalese Twists!
Listen To Your Hair
I believe that self-love is listening and responding to your needs and that includes your hair! Keep a close watch on how your hair responds to different products, techniques, and styles and discover what works well for your specific hair type. Maybe the latest hair trend may not be right for your hair’s charactertistics. Don’t rely on the claims of advertisements, reviews or even tutorials. Do the research yourself!
I’ve come to appreciate every single curl and coil in my unique blend of textures. I still watch style tutorials and Google trends, but I make them my own. Instead of trying to make the style look like the picture, I use it as inspiration, not imitation. With that has come even better styles that now look much more natural and true to me and my personal style.
If you’re struggling with your natural hair transition and journey, I hope my experiences will help you feel more confident and accepting of your own curls. There is nothing that demonstrates self-love more than loving your natural self! Like and share your own journey. I’d love to hear about it!
Having issues with dry, natural hair? Read about my fool-proof ways to retain moisture!
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Peace & Love!