Watch and Share!
So lately I have been approached from strangers, family, and friends saying, “I have decided to go natural, what do I do now”? I have found myself repeating my tips over and over again. Finally after having this conversation 1,000 times I have decided to blog about it. As you all know this is based off of “my” experience of transitioning back to my natural hair. The methods that worked for me may not necessarily work for you. View returning to your natural hair as a journey of trial and error and self-discovery. There will be great feats of success and substantial moments of failure but they all will be educational.
1) Decide exactly how you will return to natural. Are you going to transition or do the big chop? If you decide to big chop are you going to cut your hair, let a friend cut your hair, or go to a professional? Research these options and decide which one is best for you. If you choose to do it yourself or call a friend over to cut your hair, make sure you have researched how and where to cut. Take into consideration how much hair you are comfortable with rocking. I recommend wetting your hair and look for the place where the straight hair ends and the textured hair begins. This place is called the line of demarcation. This will give you a general idea of how much hair will be left on your head. If you are comfortable with that, then you or your friend can commence to cutting. If you aren’t willing to take any chances and would rather a professional cut your hair then begin calling around to salons asking them do they know how to cut textured hair. Most will tell you yes but ask them will they cut your hair wet or dry. If they say dry, run! No seriously, say thank you, hang up, and continue your search for a qualified stylists. Doing your big chop dry will only result in them cutting more hair than necessary or not enough. Also, unless you want it cut into a style, tell them you are only interested in getting rid of your straight ends. I chose to go to a professional and that’s exactly what I requested along with making it even all around. Keep in mind if you request it to be even they will cut off more hair.
Let’s say you wet your hair and you are not comfortable with the amount of hair that will be left. Then you can simply transition with various heatless styles until your hair grows long enough for you to be comfortable. When I decided to return to natural, I transitioned for 5 months and then big chopped. It took me that long to be ok with parting with my length and it was difficult for me because my hair was healthy and chemical free but it was heat trained or damaged however you choose to look at it. Personally, I don’t think of it as damaged since my intentions were to straighten it and keep it straight. Anywho, after 5 five months I grew tired of dealing with 2 textures and decided it was time. Your next option is long term transitioning. This is where you trim your straight ends a little at a time while wearing various heatless styles until you trim the last of your straight hair. This option gives you the opportunity to learn your natural hair over time. You will also have time to master all the of the natural styles and seeing what options work and do not work for you. This path is the for the extremely patient and determined to keep their length natural. Please note that no matter what path you take they both involve scissors in your hair!
2) Research, Research, and more Research. Now that you’ve decided how you will return to natural it is time for you to learn about natural hair in general. Read books, google, and join forums that teach about the properties of your natural hair. Find out what your hair type is and I say this loosely because you really shouldn’t get caught up on hair typing but you will hear about it so I will address it here. More importantly learn about the density, porosity and texture of your hair. These are all important when it comes to what methods you will implement as well as what products you choose. Speaking of products, you will try lots of them and that’s ok. It is not ok to go broke, but start off with a little at a time and as you figure out what works and what does not work, adjust accordingly. Also, make a mental note of the ingredients that are in the products that work. They will be an indicator of other possible products you may want to try in the future.
Accept the fact that trial and error is apart of the entire journey. Some products will cause your hair to scream yay and other products with cause your hair to scream what is this!! Don’t give up. This is what every new natural experiences. Use tools like youtube and the knowledge you’ve gained to narrow down products and styles that work for you. This is also the time to develop a regimen. A hair regimen is ideal for keeping focused on nurturing your tresses so that you can reach your natural hair goals. It will help you keep up with what is going on with your hair at all times. This is crucial for when you have a hair faux pas. You can back track and figure out exactly what you did differently or what you used that you do not normally use. It also works for your triumphs as well.
3) Own it Honey! Love and appreciate YOUR hair. It is a must that you learn to love and appreciate the hair that grows out of your head. I always encourage new naturals to watch as many youtube videos as possible to glean information and tips that could enhance their natural hair journey. However when you start to compare your hair to another person’s hair problems occur. The purpose of your journey is to get to know and love your natural hair. Be inspired by what you see and learn how to make it work for you and your hair. Also accept your hair’s limitations and realize that where you are limited in one area is only an opportunity for you to be creative in another area. Remember… Comparison in any form is an act of violence against the self- Iyanla Vanzant.
4) Have fun! Last but not least have fun learning about how your natural hair is versatile, fragile, strong, and one of a kind. It’s relearning who you were all along. Allow this entire process to inspire and educate you so that you can inspire and educate someone else. Once you have gotten into your natural hair groove, you will receive the question, “Girl, how do I return to natural too?”
What advice do you have for new naturals and those who want to go natural? I want to hear from you.
This year the bestie and I hosted our first International Natural Hair Meetup Day event in our town Jackson, Tn. It was alot of hard work but I can honestly say that our mission was accomplished. We met so many beautiful natural bellas and we were very pleased to see how many actually existed in our area. We made sure our ladies were enriched in each area of their lives by offering workshops such as ” Enhancing Your Natural Beauty” with MUA Sheila Nixon who taught our naturalistas how to go from an everyday face to an evening face in no time. Dr. Timothy Glenn, life coach/life mentor expounded upon the true power behind the phrase “If you believe it, you can achieve it,” by explaining to the ladies that in order to be successful and show up in their own lives they must deal with the unconscious parts of themselves that are sabotaging their goals. Next, Betty Tignor of Naturally Herbs taught the ladies how to use natural Chinese methods to help them live a healthy life. Lastly, Takeisha Berry-Brooks owner and stylist of A Natural Affair Beauty Lounge answered all of the burning questions the ladies had about their natural hair.
We also had vendors that sold amazing products and ended the event with an awesome giveaway by some pretty cool sponsors! I am so excited to see what comes of this experience and after all of the long sleepless nights and burning eyes from staring at my computer screen, I can’t wait to do it all over again! Check out our recap video of the event:
As I close out my first year of being natural and embark upon my second, I’ve come to realize one thing…YOU have to take the time to know YOUR hair. That’s it. There is honestly nothing more to say but I’ll take the time to elaborate further. Embarking on a natural hair journey begins with excitement and apprehension. You have no idea what to expect or how to deal with the hair that is growing out of your head. Many research by watching natural hair videos on youtube, following their favorite youtubers on every social site they have, and reading natural hair blogs, threads, and books. These avenues are very inspirational and very informative. However, you will have absolutely no idea what will work for your hair until you get your hands in it and develop a consistent regimen for yourself. Every product that works for someone else will not work for you. Even that statement is layered in its accuracy. For example, it may not just be the ingredients that makes your hair hate it. It could be the way you place it on your hair, the amount of product you used, putting it on damp hair versus soaking wet hair. All of the combinations are many but the point is the same, experiment for yourself. If you have seen or read how someone used a particular product on their hair, it is okay to use that as a guide to get started. The key word being ‘started’ because that is what a guide is, a starting point. The purpose of a guide is to assist you in helping you reach a destination.
Take note of those awesome moments when you have hit your hair out of the park. Remember what state your hair was in, was it freshly shampooed or did your use cleansing condish? Was it on damp, wet, or dry hair? How did you apply your products, in what order? You will be surprised how much these things matter or not depending on you. You’ll never know unless you try will you? Lastly, be consistent and patient. Ignoring your hair for several weeks at a time then watching a youtube video and deciding I want my hair to look like that will make you take several seats every time. Your hair thrives on the proper balance of moisture and protein. When these are not in place any attempted style is going to be a disaster. So spend a lot of time learning and understanding protein and the different types as well as learning the difference between a moisturizer and a lubricant (oils, butters). Having the proper protein/moisture balance sets the foundation for an excellent style.
Also, learn why you are using a product, oil, etc. Don’t just use something because someone else used it and their hair looks great. Research the benefits and the cons of using each product you are considering adding to your regimen. Use products purposefully not because they are new and popular. Understand that in the first 2 years of your journey that your methodology can and will change as you get to know your hair better and the things it likes and dislikes. Be intuitive and listen to your hair and those little ideas that come to you while you are doing your hair. I’ve found that that is when I’ve had the best ideas to help me when there was an issue I just could not figure out. Lastly, there are products that can make your hair look great but it doesn’t feel great. Don’t sacrifice looks for the integrity of your hair.
I hope you have noticed that the central theme of this post is that YOU are the driving force behind a successful natural hair journey. Whatever you put into it is what you will get out of it…