I always told myself, “love your relaxed hair and watch it flourish.”
It was 2010 when I decided to finally take charge of my hair and grow it long and healthy. For most of my life, my hair had been nothing but trouble; it was hard to shampoo and condition, and even harder to style. Coupled with a relaxer that was placed on my hair from five-years-old until last year, my hair was in a constant state of “what the heck is going on.” I wanted – no, needed- to make a change after years of feeling inadequate about it. I was about to start college full-time, and I knew I wanted to start it on a good note.
“I had castor oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil, oh my!”
Fed up with the state of my tresses, I jumped on Youtube and researched women who had flourishing relaxed hair. I discovered Traycee from K.I.S.S, ulovemegz, Hairlicous, and more. Bugged-eyed and bushy tailed, I watched their videos for hours, making list upon list of products I needed in my new haircare arsenal. I threw out old shampoo and conditioners, got rid of the grease; grease clogged pores, duh. Biotin flowed through my house like water, as well as other supplements in order to get my hair to grow. I had castor oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil, oh my! I became a product junkie and I didn’t mind it.
Over the course of seven years, I had many, many ups and downs. I went through haircuts, busted trims, growth and hair loss. I documented my hair struggles to those close to me, as well as showing photos on my facebook page. When I really got into blogging, most of my posts were about my hair; protective styling, relaxer updates, the whole nine.
“If I could make it there with my relaxed hair, I was sure that I would feel happy.”
Wigs and crochet braids were my styles of choice, but I could never keep crochet braids in past a month due to an itchy scalp (soak your braiding and or crochet hair ladies; major key). I did whatever I could to grow my hair and make it healthy. My efforts over seven years got me to APL, or armpit length. MBL (mid-back length) or WL (waist-length) was my goal; if I could make it there with a chemical relaxer, I was sure that I would feel happy and accomplished.
The week of Hurricane Irma, I installed yarn twists into my hair. Previously following this protective style, I intended to do yarn locs, but in an effort to save my edges from pulling, yarn twists became my style. I loved my twists. I did them in a deep wine (Cabernet) and black. It was so lightweight and not a big problem to maintain. When the frizz took over and I could no longer gel down my fly-aways, I took down the style.
“I assumed it would be a breeze to do my hair.”
My hair was tangled and filled with buildup. After all, I let my twists stay in for three weeks. To aid in detangling, I took my Soultanicals Plait’num Roots oil and got to work. I coated my hair with oil, placed on a plastic processing cap, and sat under the dryer for an hour. I also slept in the oil (it was late) and I planned to figure detangle in the morning. So that’s what I did. Finger detangling seemed to go well, and I *wrongly* assumed it would be a breeze to do my hair.
Boy, I was wrong.
My straight, relaxed ends were tangled and matted. It was hard for me to work through my hair to section it off. No matter how gentle I was, I could hear my hair ripped with each slight tug. I didn’t have time to panic; it was time to figure something out.
“I didn’t have time to panic; it was time to figure something out.”
I warmed my deep conditioner and slapped it onto my hair, trying to work it in as much as possible. Placing a shower cap on my head, I sat under the dryer for 20 minutes to allow the product to seep into my hair. After 20 minutes, I sat down at my vanity, staring at my reflection in the mirror. My hand inched towards the scissors on my desk…
I’m making this more dramatic than it was, haha. I grabbed the scissors, separated the wet hair the best way I could and cut off my straight, matted ends to reveal bouncy, soft, curls.
I was natural. That one snip inspired me to cut the rest of my straight strands off. By the time my love returned home, I only had three more snips to make in my hair. He helped me cut the rest of my locks, and helped me with rinsing the deep conditioner from my hair.
There were no tears, no loud gasping from seeing my natural hair after twenty years.
My type 4 hair was finally revealed to me, with only centimeters of relaxed ends still left. To say I felt free in that moment is an understatement. Because my hair was wet post big chop, I took that opportunity to style my hair and twist it up, gazing lovingly at the juicy twists I created. From that moment on, I knew my afros were about to become everything my life needed.
Strangely, since the date of my big chop on September 30, 2017, I feel more comfortable rocking my natural hair without shame. And I’m finding it easier to manage than the two textures I had before.
I’m happy with my hair now. I’m happy being natural. I cannot wait to grow this mane of mine as much as I can and fool everyone with my shrinkage. I’ve returned to my natural texture with more knowledge of how to care for it. Cheers to the journey; I’m ready for whatever it throws at me.