Navigating the Natural Hair World

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

From then to now. I've learned how to care for my hair.

In only a few short months, I will have been natural for 6 years. The experience has been wonderful to say the least, but I remember when I cut off my hair. With a fresh fade, I was thrust into the natural hair world forced to navigate all of the regimens, DIY products and curl puddings. It was overwhelming, to say the least.

I remember when I began research on going natural. I thought I was doing a lot of extensive research, but really I was only scratching the surface. I perused some pictures, looked at basic regimens, and learned about a few different product lines. When I cut my hair off a couple weeks later, I realized that the research I did wasn't even basic. Of course I have to clean my hair. Of course I have to style my hair. These were necessities. I didn't know about protective styles or anything beyond a braid out. So once all of my relaxed hair fell to the ground, I was in for a real wake-up call.

The first few months were easy...although, it was stinky. I made my own shampoo from a mix of castile soap, olive oil, and neem oil. And if you know anything about neem oil, it stinks a lot. But I put up with it because it has a lot of great qualities for the hair and scalp, including healing eczema and softening hair. I only used shea butter as a leave-in, and it worked well. And styling was a breeze.

During this time, since I didn't have that much hair, I did a lot of research on natural hair. I would peruse sites like Black Girl Long Hair, Curly Nikki, and Naturally Curly. I began to make a list of anything that was worth writing down for when my hair was longer; I wanted to be prepared.

You can see the product in my hair. As you can see, I threw out the notion that less is more.

During my second year natural, I finally had enough hair to begin to style and test products, but at the time, I didn't know that I was subjected to information overload. I remember I spent an entire Saturday looking at DIY leave-in videos on YouTube. By the time I shut down my laptop, I didn't know what to do. Which oil was better? Olive oil, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, castor oil? Was glycerin good to use in the winter? And should I use products with silicones? I tried everything...all at once, which in hindsight wasn't the best idea. I mixed together olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, shea butter, glycerin, and some conditioner and used it to moisturize my hair. And I used a lot. After all, these vloggers and bloggers told me that natural hair was dry and to use a lot of product.

The fluffy fro. I didn't know what other hairstyles worked for me.

I also was learning how to style my hair. At the time, I was only wearing my hair in a fluffy fro. I would watch braid out and twist out videos every night, following the directions to a tee. I went to bed hoping my hair would look perfect, but when I undid my twists in the morning, I was disappointed. It looked nothing like the style I saw the night before. I hadn't learned that my hair was an individual, and the same techniques that work for one person, wouldn't work on me. So eventually, I believed that my current style was the only style that I could have. The fluffy fro would be the style that defined me.

There were moments when I was almost sure I could never be the natural with a blog. Nothing worked for me, and my hair was, well, boring. Regardless of what I tried, my hair just wouldn't morph into that gorgeous style that I drooled over in the pictures or in the video. I was the fluffy fro girl.

I started to get. This was a twist out that actually made me happy.

By the time the summer rolled around, I had a few weddings to go to, and I wanted my hair to look great. I didn't want the fluffy fro. I began to try something different. Taking what I learned from all the videos, I began to tailor each of the steps to work for me...and what do you know, it worked. Twist outs, braid outs, and bantu knot outs were being recreated just for me. I also began to streamline my products. I was realizing that I didn't need a cornucopia of oils and products just to moisturize my hair, and I surely didn't need globular amounts of product for a small section of hair. And most importantly, I didn't need the smell of neem oil to waft around me.

At a wedding, this twist out was a success (though the humidity deflated it a bit)

As I entered my third year natural, my regimen began to drastically evolve. I began to understand my hair as an individual, not a recreation of my favorite YouTuber or blogger. I began watching videos and reading blog posts differently. The information I was receiving were like puzzle pieces; I had to pick through all of the advice, information, tutorials, and videos and find what worked for me and put it together. Slowly, I began to really learn about my hair. Before, I was trying to fit my hair into my perceived box of natural, when instead, my products and techniques should fit my hair, not the other way around. And I was natural regardless of my regimen, not because of it.

I look back on those years bittersweetly. It's an experience that changed my life. There was so much to learn and look forward to. But I don't miss the frustration and confusion. And I surely don't miss the anxiety of what my hair could be, I now know. And, I did become that girl with the blog.

1 comment:

  1. I totally relate this post and am so glad you became the girl with the blog. :) Great post!

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