Your hair is like your inner self; sooner or later you have to let it be!
– Candace, CurlyAfro.com
I fell in love with the idea of going natural – free of relaxer/texturiser – over three years ago. I was going through a difficult time in my life, taking inventory of the basic components needed to effectively live my life – faith; (healthy) relationships; economics; overall wellness – you take your pick; nothing was spared! Kicking the one/two decade addiction of relaxing my hair was just an extension of how I was striving to live my life (operative here – striving!). However, putting all the necessary components in place – commitment to being natural, know-how of products for my natural hair, etc. – was yet another thing altogether!
I remember prior to breaking the addiction, I’d have that recurrent theme play out in my head – the one where I’d have that 2.5 second pause of “clarity” during the chemical processing of my hair; you know, after the fumes start to straddle your throat and just about the time your scalp feels fire! (Yep, the clarity that brings with it pain that inevitably makes you want to pass out; but not before you start to breathe like you’re in child birth…yeah, that type of clarity!) Of course, this rational thinking would last but a moment. Before I knew it, I’d give myself a look-see in the mirror, and without skipping a beat (and with a smile on my face to boot!), I’d ask the person next to me – “how’s it look?” After much approval and validation, off I’d go; without another thought until the next hit. (Good times indeed!)
I knew from an individual/ healthier perspective, natural was the way to go. From a practical and comfort-level perspective, however, was where the concern was. For me, it was not the inevitable shock of having no hair touching my shoulder (I was sporting a short pixie/ Halle Berry cut for almost a decade prior to going natural; the issue/trauma of not feeling the hair on my shoulder was not one I had). Rather for me, my concern with the big chop (cutting off all processed hair) was this: would/could I embrace the texture the Good Lord gave me – kinks, curls and all? (No excuses; no apologies!)
(Enter the reality of the big chop!) My texture after big chopping was anything but glamorous or manageable. No matter what I did to my mane, I couldn’t shake the dry/thirsty look (and feel) and overall lack of styling ability (and this is putting it mildly!). Add to this, the disrespectful and disparaging comments (and looks) made by – no-less – family members, only heightened my anxiety during my transitional period. (No worries; you know who you are, and you know I still love you despite all of it! It’s all good!) Regardless of the mixed emotions I felt upon my new do, I knew that given I had absolutely no desire to grow my hair down to my navel or bra strap – or anything in between (and I was at a loss – literally; my hair was falling out at a terrifying rate!), I needed to sort my “situation” – fast!
After initially working against my natural hair texture, I started to give into my natural short hair – kinks and all – and began to use products (and styling techniques) to work with my curl pattern. In essence, I realised like my inner self, I had to be true to my hair and allow it to be. This meant getting back to the basics – no sulphates, no silicones, proper haircuts – essentially adopting Lorraine Massey’s Curly Girl Method. Through trial and (much) error, I realised the less fuss and chemicals (even from the day-to-day products!) I added to my hair, the more manageable my hair became, and the more my healthy, natural hair texture was realised (type 3c/4a/4b). Three years into my hair journey, no matter which products I choose for my hair, I can never go wrong if I remember the basics of what I deem most important for short curly a.f.r.o. hair:
- Acknowledge (and accept) your natural texture.
- Get frequent haircuts specific to your curl pattern and shape of face.
- Use real, simple products – nourishing to the hair (hint: think hair health; not just hair appearance).
- Use products that have optimal pH range (4.5-5.5).
Thanks so much for stopping by CurlyAfro.com – a site while touching base on natural hair, it is by no means just about hair. (I would like to think I am more than just my hair!) In addition to hair tips, there will be lots of sharing about life in general – for better or for worse! My hope is that this site will be one of community – with individuals constructively contributing to our community (via the “Leave a Reply” section at the end of each post) – one positive comment at a time. Feel free to contact me should you wish to ask a question outside of post discussions.