August 2015 marked my 2-½ year post-perm anniversary and the beginning of my natural hair journey. I took this picture after cutting off about 1-2 inches of my chemically damaged hair. It was super dry and lifeless, because I hadn’t yet figured out my hair care routine (we’ll talk about that soon).
I hate that I didn’t get a picture before the cut, but I had no idea how long I would be #teamnatural or that I would eventually end up sharing my journey with you all. I started documenting things now, and 90 days later, my natural hair has come through! With a little trial and error, product hoarding, DIY’ing it, narrowing down what works best and what my hair loves, my 3B/3C/4A curls
are now poppin’! Please note that the shrinkage is real though lol! Thankfully, my hair is stronger, healthier, thicker, and way more moisturized than it has ever been in my life!!
For those of you who may not know what a perm (for black hair) or hair relaxer is, by definition, it is a type of lotion or cream generally used by people with tight curls or very curly hair which makes hair easier to straighten by chemically “relaxing” the natural curls. Basically, a hair relaxer, breaks down the hair strand and chemically alters the hair’s natural texture permanently.
Depending on your hair texture, those chemicals can cause breakage or thinning of your hair and potentially stunt your hair growth. Not to mention the side effects, which are not limited to scalp damage or irritation, chemical burns or hair loss. All of which my fine hair and super sensitive scalp experienced—especially the nape and center—to some degree, at some point, over the 20+ years that I relaxed my hair (whether it was done by a stylist or by me, with one of those DIY home relaxers).
I was also dying my hair jet black or blue black, often time using the over-the-counter permanent hair dyes. I hated my natural sandy-brownish hair color that lacked luster and always looked dry and dull.
The only thing that I ever learned about my hair from licensed cosmetologists was that my hair type was “fine,” which in my eyes was the equivalent of thin, especially after heat application. Ironically, the hair texture that I was beginning to embrace and abhor, all at the same time, was not my natural hair texture at all, it was the result of the chemical damage that my hair and scalp was subjected to religiously—every 6-8 weeks—without fail.
In all fairness, I can’t blame it all on the relaxer, surely the additional self-inflicted chemical damage from the hair dye, heat damage from the hair dryer and marcel irons, as well as the lack of proper moisture, regular deep conditioning, hot oil, and reconstructing treatments, were also reasons why my beautiful black mane deteriorated over the years.
Unfortunately, there were three generations of women, my grandma, my mom and I, that really had no clue how to take care of our black hair or how to embrace it in all its natural glory. As I’m writing, I can’t help but to think that a lot of the reasons behind why we seemed to gravitate towards hair straightening methods, whether temporary or permanent, are much deeper than I intend to go with this post. I’m not a Psychologis, but from conversations I’ve had with my mom, on the very surface, these methods then, seemed to make our kinky, coily, curls much more easier to maintain. However, internally, it was a way to fit in or imitate this “picture of perfection” that society was painting for us.
Honestly, I believe that if we all knew to do better by our hair, a lot of us most certainly would have. Unfortunately, there weren’t any Black hair communities, let alone the world wide web to glean from. Thank God for the plethora of resources that’s available to us now, it’s literally at our fingertips.
Okay Ladies, now we’re getting somewhere! This needed to be said, because it is the truth, and not just my truth. I know what I’ve shared is going to resonate with someone. Please repost or share this with your friends and family! I’ll be posting part three soon! If you’re really serious about embarking on a natural hair journey, you don’t want to miss any of this! To Be Continued…
Hope you’re feeling inspired today!
Until next time beautiful Mommies,