Some People Excel At Natural Hair and Some Don't - Which One Are You?
Updated: Sep 23, 2019
You've heard me mention my bout with the "Wiz Khalifa blonde patch in the front" phase that everyone went through between 2011 and 2013. I loved having my hair a different color for the first time in my life. I just knew that I was the shit when I pulled out my curling wand to throw some curls in my hair every Friday night (mostly because the expensive cheer hair that my mom bought didn't match the blonde streaks throughout my hair). I loved having blonde in my hair, but sadly, it was always too much to maintain. My natural hair color is somewhere between dark brown to this brownish red color and I hated it. When I would bleach my hair, it would stay a fairly light blonde color for a while and then it would eventually look like the color of peanut butter.
I didn't listen to my mom when my roots got too rough to maintain and I took a chance on perming my hair. After bleaching my hair. Anyone that knows anything about hair knows that perming your hair after bleaching it is like a death sentence. Like, you're just asking to be bald. I don't know why I was so surprised when I saw my hair coming out in gobs at my feet when I rinsed out the perm in the shower. But I didn't think it was that bad.
By September of 2013, I was back to black hair because in my mind, the blonde was just a phase and a thing of the past. For homecoming that year, I curled my hair the way I always did and went on my merry way.
But within the next month, more and more of my hair came falling out and I had finally learned a valuable lesson. When I tried to straighten it, my ends were uneven and fried. Some pieces were long and some were incredibly too short to where they just stuck out in all different directions. Since my ends were so fried and destroyed, I just had to take scissors to it all and cut until I got down to the healthy pieces. By the time I was finished, my hair was barely long enough to cover my ears and neck. It was like 90s Missy Elliot short. I was so self conscious and embarrassed of what I had done to myself.
I couldn't even curl it, so I had no choice but to learn how to braid to try and get my hair back on the right track. That was the first time in my life that I really took charge of taking care of my own hair and it was rough. Several months passed and I did everything I could to maintain my braids (my maw maw would always braid my hair when I was a kid and it was an absolute nightmare. The last time she braided my hair was when I was 15, back when I USED to have a widows peak. Needless to say, it fell out from being braided so tight and my hairline receded).
My hair started to make a come back, but I didn't realize back then that perms were still bad. Perms are as destructive to your hair as a bottle of Nair (they smell the exact same so that should have been a red flag). Why put something in your hair to straighten it out when it has almost exact same smell as a hair removal product? Seriously though, I would spend days picking scabs from my scalp whenever I would get a perm. That wasn't half as bad as having to wash my hair over and over again because the burns on my scalp were draining fluid. It was so bad that I would wake up with my hair matted to my head and my pillow would be soaked.
My hair got a little stronger toward the end of my junior year. I had entered a pageant that my school was hosting and that was when I got my very first full weave and I loved not having to deal with my hair every morning. All I had to do was take a light hair lotion and fluff out the curls every morning and away I went. I'll admit, the weave gave me a 100% boost in my confidence. With my little round face, the curls framed it perfectly and I felt beautiful. I didn't need to worry about anything coming out of place and compared to having braids, I didn't have to worry about my god awful dandruff causing a snow storm on my shoulders after a week or two.
And then softball came around and as a catcher, the hair couldn't fit underneath my mask and it was beginning to look stiff and tangle. I was sad to see it go, but back then, softball was more important.
My hair grew out and I kept my ends trimmed and my scalp greased. I was always repeating the cycle of washing it, braiding it back up, and going on about my business.
Whenever I kept it down, I still permed it but I was very mindful about it. I had to go to school and if I wanted to wear my hair down, I had to perm it because I couldn't wake up every morning and run the straightener through it. I figured that would put me right back at square one. I took advantage of conditioner when I never used it in the past. Conditioner is your absolute best friend when you've got wild and coarse hair.
When I graduated high school, I had just squeezed out my first baby and with a newborn, you don't have the time to deal with your hair and as a single teenage mother, I didn't have the money to pay somebody to take care of it. On the day of my graduation, I took some bobby pins, put in a few blonde tracks, blended it with my natural hair, and left it at that. It was quick and easy.
Honestly, when I first had Draven, I didn't give a single shit about my hair. You would do good to see me wearing a scarf. I would only wash it, air dry it, and put the scarf on. At one point, I couldn't even run a brush through it. I always loved doing hair whether it was mine or someone else's, but I hated the detangling even more.
I didn't need to go to school, so perming it and taking the easy way out wasn't necessary.
That was when I decided to give up perms all together and started doing research on how to transition from relaxed hair to natural hair. When going natural, you can either let it transition and let it grow out on its own, or you can do the "Big Chop" and cut off every bit of your relaxed hair (I was never bold enough to just shave my head).
I ended up wearing yarn braids (where you use acrylic yarn and braid it into your own). That was also what led me to create my own personal "hair crack".
The mixture included :
Water: simply because your hair needs the moisture. Black women have an incredibly difficult time with making sure their hair is well hydrated. If you can stretch a single strand of your hair while it's wet without it breaking immediately, you probably have an adequate amount of moisture.
Green Tea: It acts as an odor eliminator and helps control dandruff. I have psoriasis and when it was at its worst, I would take a green tea bath and the dry patches I had on my skin wouldn't bother me or flake as bad.
Moisturizing lotion: Most moisture lotions for hair have a great deal of water and oils in them and usually give your hair some shine. Personally, it's a might lighter alternative to using regular hair grease.
Coconut oil: It's also lightweight and it gives your hair the fat it needs. It also seals in moisture if you use it immediately after washing it.
Conditioner: Because it's also got an insane amount of moisture and the smell is incredibly refreshing. I always used V05 because it was like straight water and it's also very light weight.
When I gave up perms for good and finding cute natural hairstyles, I took a chance and dyed my hair again (bleaching it until it was almost white and then adding red. It's true what they say about changing your hair after a bad breakup or traumatic event in your life). I looked like Ronald McDonald (ya'll don't love me for letting me walk around like that). It wasn't bad when I touched it up, but it was still a hot ass mess. To keep it from looking fried, I cut out using shampoo and just washed it with apple cider vinegar (vinegar also helps with moisture and it makes it shine). I ended up avoiding shampoo for at least a year and my hair felt so much lighter.
And then crochet braids saved my life. I would buy the $1 packs of hair from Dollar General, curl it with curlers and sit it in hot water (that's the only way you can curl synthetic hair) to get the curly hairstyles I wanted. You just use a regular latch hook after braiding your hair back and looping each individual piece of the synthetic hair through your braids. It came out looking like I had gotten a sew in but it did a better job at protecting your natural hair.
My hair is finally healthy after years of what seemed like a never ending battle. I haven't permed my hair in five years and it shows. I haven't dyed it either even though I really want to. On a daily basis I have my moments where I want to dye or cut it thinking that I want something new. I also laugh and tell myself that life hasn't been that rough and I don't need to give in to my impulses.
I still can't believe how long my hair has gotten. It's about 13 inches long with the help of:
Nature's Bounty Hair, Skin, and Nail vitamins (the gummies work a lot better than the pills from what I've seen so far).
Coconut oil immediately after washing it
not using any heat whatsoever
detangling it in the shower
I'm incredibly shocked that I actually decided to wear wigs. People always assume that just because you wear them, you don't have any hair (uh, no bitch. I just don't want to deal with this shit). I seriously look like a tumbleweed when I brush my hair out and occasionally blow dry it. It's beautiful when straightened and I don't walk around with a childish ass ponytail. With the wig, I had a bit of a challenge. I got a regular lace front from Amazon for only $60. I had no idea how to achieve the natural look that you're supposed to have with lace fronts. I had to learn how to blend the baby hairs from the wig in with my natural baby hairs.
I still have a lot to learn about the wig industry and techniques, but for now I've just been excited about the fact that I can just slap that damn wig on my head every single day and it only takes 5 minutes at the most. And when you have two kids and work an incredibly demanding job, it's more convenient than you could ever imagine. I just put on my wig cap, spray some Got 2B Glued hair spray on my part and then wrap a styling paper around my head to lay down the edges. I do my make up and let it sit for about 10 to 20 minutes and when I'm finished, I can just take off the wrap and fluff out the curls and I'm done (Isn't that amazing?!).