I currently live in Central Alabama. The natural hair scene in my area is flourishing. It is not uncommon to see at least 7 to 10 natural haired women in passing at one location. On a smaller scale, there are 11 women in my office; 3 are completely natural, 1 attempted to go natural and 1 started having open dialogue about the possibilities. Before I came, the natural hair percentage was 14%, the day I arrived it jumped to 25% and the next year it rose to 27%. This sample is evidence that natural hair is on the rise.
Also, I have seen where stylists are becoming more open to serving women with natural hair- it’s not a “relaxer only” operation. This openness offers natural hair women a greater range of styling options. Imagine my delight when I audited a local not-for-profit organization and the new director to my surprise was a woman with locs. They were long and beautiful. She was extremely professional and her locs were neat and well maintained.
Before transitioning I relaxed my hair all four years doing high school. During the summer of my senior year, I just decided to chop it all off. However, after three months of trying to figure out what to do with my hair, I relaxed it again. From that point, I relaxed my hair for the next eight years and began transitioning in January 2007. I transitioned for 16 months by using a flat iron to smooth out my new growth every 2 months or so. I did not flat iron to make my relaxer straight but only to blend my natural hair and relaxed hair better so the hair would not break at the line of demarcation.
Around month 10 in my natural hair journey, my new growth was greater than my relaxed hair; I was flat ironing less and less and began trimming more of the relaxed ends. Over all, my experience was not bad, just different and new. I approached it open-mindedly because I wanted to succeed at wearing natural hair and I did not want to relax my hair anymore.
In the beginning, I did not receive any support because I did not tell anyone. The reason I did not tell is because I did not want anyone to try and talk me out of my decision and I was not prepared to handle the criticism or the questions. Once I became confident with my decision, I was better equipped and able to handle the “why did you do that to your hair” or the “what about your job” type questions that ultimately came when I revealed that I was growing out my relaxer. At this point in my journey, I felt that my reason for going natural was solid and I believed in it with all my heart. I had to believe in my reason and stand on my reason so that I would not allow anyone’s disapproving comments or comments that were not 100% supportive to sway my journey. Fortunately, I was surrounded by people who supported me even if they did not totally understand my passion.
Fortunately, I have not had any negative experiences or at least I have not had an incident so negative that I could not view it as a positive because in the end, I actually helped them understand a little better. During my journey, I have found that an ounce of confidence can make the biggest difference. So, I have learned to take the compliments and criticism all in stride.
First and foremost, my natural hair website. Through my site, I have been able to help women with their natural hair journey as well as creating a supportive environment for natural hair women. Second is education. I am a lifelong learner and through my four and one half years of being natural, I have learned so much about natural hair and the science behind it all.
I feel that life is complicated enough, so I pursue the road of simplicity therefore I love protective styles and I wear them the majority of the time. Wearing protective styles allows me to accomplish three things: moisturize my hair daily, no to low manipulation and protection, especially the ends of my hair. I co-wash or wash when my hair begins to respond differently or not at all to products. On a monthly basis, I henna and deep condition with heat.
On special occasions or when I am getting burned out on protective styles, I will wear my hair out. I keep my product list simple as well- shampoo (Aubrey Organics: Blue Algae (hair mask) or Glycerin Protein Balancer (moisture/protein) or Kinky Curly Come Clean (clarifier), conditioner (Giovanni Smooth as Silk or Kinky Curly Knot Today), hair rinse (Aubrey Organics Green Tea or ACV rinse), moisturizer (almond or avocado oil/water mixture), sealer (shea butter)
I have a free eBook: Going Natural: How to Transition from Relaxed Hair to Natural Hair in 7 Simple Steps- The introduction starts with renewing your mind about your natural hair. This part of the journey is often undervalued and overlooked until it is too late.
Any final thoughts ?
I would like to thank you MotownGirl for your pioneer efforts that make it possible for natural hair communities like mine.