SA, an great writer and one of my first regular readers, has agreed to share her story with us for this series! This girl has some beautiful hair! Check her out at her blog, The Monotonous Life.
Why did you go natural?
I gotta tell you guys, I think I’m the one person that went natural on a whim. For real. I didn’t think about it for long period of time. I didn’t seriously consider it. I didn’t think about the pros and cons of what being natural would be. And I didn’t have bad after bad experiences with relaxers (or perms as I’m prone to saying every now and then). I literally woke up one day, didn’t like my hair, googled ‘natural hair’, and decided on that day I was going to go natural.
Although what I intend to tell people is that while I think it was a whim, subconsciously I knew I need to learn how to do my hair and the best way of that was going natural. That sounds good, right?
What have you learned during your first year?
That everyone else’s experiences won’t be your experiences. I’m sure there is someone somewhere who talked behind my back about my hair in a negative light. Bully for them. Because the women in my life that matter most (mother, grandmother) both like my hair and have been supportive. And I have to say it’s been great. I honestly don’t think I would have been strong enough to do this (and continue) if they were against it. And I feel incredibly sorry for the women who say that their family wasn’t supportive. I think everyone doing this at first needs someone in their corner 100%.
Also, there was a time that I searched frantically for a hair twin. I haven’t found her. And I’m okay with that. Just because there isn’t someone out there who has the EXACT same head of hair as me doesn’t mean there aren’t gorgeous women whose hair I admire and look up to and think “when my hair gets that long…”
And hair typing isn’t for me. My hair is a mix of 4a, 4b, and…? I have at least three different types, maybe more. And I honestly don’t care about it anymore. My hair is my hair. I used to obsess over what type of hair I had so I knew what type of products to buy because of course only the products for “Type 4 Hair” could work on type 4 hair and what if I didn’t have type 4 hair but type 3 does that mean I needed products for type 3 hair and so on and so on and blah blah blah. I honestly think too big of a deal is made of hair type. Yes, there are products that work amazing for 3a hair that 4a’s and 4b’s just shouldn’t look at. That doesn’t mean you should drive yourself crazy getting something for your kinky hair in the front and your looser curl hair in the back.
I don’t know, I just think I’m over it. It’s all hair y’all. It’s all hair.
Lastly, I’ve learned to actually do my hair. I didn’t know about deep conditioners or SLS in shampoos or co-washing or airdrying or any of that. I didn’t know how to french braid. Didn’t twist. Didn’t do anything even somewhat different then wash, 3-minute conditioner, products, blow dry with EXTREMELY HOT HEAT, and ponytail. Now I have to do my hair. And it’s been pretty awesome. Do I do it well? No. No no no. Does it take all day. God yes. But I’m getting better with styling and learning more and more about ingredients and what things does what when and why with hair. And as the years go by I’ll learn more and style better.
What do you love about your hair? What is your favorite thing about it?
I know I just railed above about it, but I love the fact that I have about several different types all in there-4a in the back, 4b in the front, and a middle piece that just…weird. It’s thinner than the rest of my hair, doesn’t have as much of a curl, no kinks or coils in sight, and doesn’t hold any shape whatsoever. It’s just there. It looks almost wavy. And the fact that I have this piece of hair that’s just sitting there in the middle surround by all these kinks and coils and napps (own it!) just makes me laugh.
I love that my hair, after a year, has almost grown back to the length it was pre-BC. And no, I didn’t have a very short style or the like. It was almost to my shoulders and that’s where it is now. Suck on that relaxers and the companies that make them.
Advice for newbies?
1. You are not alone. I know there were times where I definitely felt alone. I saw all those fotkis and blogs and pictures on hair boards of women who had long natural hair and then I’d read they’ve been natural for two years or five years or longer and just felt that there was no one who knew (or remembered) what transitioning or having a twa was like. Just remember that there are others like you, others who are just going natural and going through the same struggles as you. And know that no matter how many years someone may have been natural or how long their hair is they still go through hair struggles.
2. Look around. When you get some extra money buy a new product you want to use. Try different things. You never know when your hair will love something. And just because something doesn’t work for one person (even if you do find a hair twin and it doesn’t work on her hair) that doesn’t mean it won’t work for your hair. The only way you’ll know for sure is to try it out.
3. Deep Conditioners are your best friend. This will save your hair. It did mine and I’ve heard A LOT of other naturals say the same thing. I honestly believe it’s the most important thing you can do for your hair.
4. Forget Time. Well, not quite. There are times when you’ll be able to do your hair gets done is 10 minutes or less. (I’ve never been able to do this but I’ve heard others have.) There are times when you’ll spend a few hours on it. Just get used to this.
5. Cutting it off is good. I just got a trim last week. I’ll admit it upset me at first. But now I’m fine with it because Lord knows I needed my horrible ends cut. Here’s my advice-once you either do the BC or do a dusting or get a trim or whatever you do, after wards just forget them. Your hair is shorter and now it’s time to dwell on what’s on your head, not what’s in the waste basket.
6. Try try again. Just because a product didn’t work like you wanted it to at first doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. I had to use Kinky Curly four different times before I got the results I wanted. After I read how Curly Nikki used Lustrasilk Shea Butter and Mango for her famous TnC I surely ran right out to Sally’s and bought me a jar. Let’s just say my twists (didn’t do the curl) wasn’t looking too good that day. However, after reading someone on Curltalk say how she used it as a DC I started mixing it with some oils and other conditioners and honey and viola! I had a pretty good homemade DC with something I had thought just wasn’t for me. Play around and try different things with the stuff you have. Go on Youtube or a hair board, use the search features, and read how others use a product. You might get a new use for it. But with that said…
7. Know when to leave a product behind. You’ll know when something doesn’t work. Even after playing around with it a few times. If it doesn’t work no matter what you do it just doesn’t work. Go on to the next product. Sell, swap, toss-whatever you want. Just don’t keep using something that doesn’t work.
8. Sit, Play, and Learn. Afrobella did a great post on the many different resources for naturals (new or otherwise) these days. Read read read. Blogs, boards, fotki’s. Watch youtube videos. Go to a natural meet up. These are all valuable resources to learn different things. And when you see something you like-a style, a product-experiment. Play with your hair. You’ll soon find something(s) that works and looks fantastic. I promise.
9. Don’t dwell on length. Yes, there are women who have long natural hair. Maybe one day us newbies and one year-ers will as well. But we can’t keep harping on it. We can’t make length our sole purpose of going natural. It didn’t grow for them overnight. It’s not going to grow for us overnight.
10. Chronicle your journey. I just saw this post on Texture Playground and Fleurzty said to chronicle your journey. Now, I haven’t written a hair journal nor do I have a fotki. But I do have some pictures of me when I first started and…wow. There is a big difference. I mean, I can definitely see a difference in length and health and styling. And it’s encouraging. Start to take pictures if you haven’t already. Write in a journal. Start your own blog.Cause you’ll look back a year from now and say ‘wow’ yourself.