Hair Journey. What does this mean? For me it’s a journey of learning about myself. Learning about my natural hair texture and how to care for it. A road to learning new techniques and letting go of the old in favour of the new. My hair journey has opened up to be so much more than just a discovery of my natural hair, it’s become a journey of acceptance. Accepting who i am. Who God has made me. FULLY. Not partially, but in whole.
My Own Hair Journey
When i was a little girl my mother kept my hair natural, mostly. I see a few pictures of myself at a young age with a curly perm but that didn’t last too long. My African mother used to wash my hair and thread it into a style (well… not really a style, kinda just down and back), i would keep it like that for the week, going to primary school and playing out. At the weekend she would take it out of the threaded style and do two cute ponytails, one at the back and one at the top with the ends twisted and with lots of ribbons to go to church. lol. Funnily enough my hair was really thick and long. I remember when my hair came out of the threads it was so soft and stretched out, like a blow out. seriously.
When i got to secondary school age i begged my mum to get my hair relaxed. To me natural hair meant threaded hair, young girl hair and i wanted to be a grown up now. So, my aunty who is a hair dresser relaxed my hair at the age of 11. The problem i had from the outset was that my hair was incredibly ‘coarse’. After a while i switched to ‘super’ strength, but i still had to sit there for AGES with the cream on and even then it was never fully straight. There was always a slight kinkiness to my hair.
My hair of course, broke due to excessive relaxing. It always remained long but it became very thin. I’ve actually grown my hair out several times because of the damage but have always returned to relaxing. It was just the way it had to be. The way it was. It never occurred to me to NOT relax my hair. My whole family had relaxed or permed hair. My mother’s hair has always been long. She’s gone from a curly perm to relaxer to curly perm back to relaxer and now natural (yay).
I’ve also cut my hair several times. I’ve always loved the super short cuts. where the back is practically shaved off and you have to use the smallest tongs you can find to curl the hair. I loved the slicked gelled down hair do’s as well. But i soon became tired of the constant upkeep of it all. To have short relaxed hair requires some serious maintenance. It has to be relaxed often as any amount of regrowth makes it look pooffy. You can never just leave the house. There’s is no ‘fling back’ into a ponytail and done. So i decided to grow my hair back to shoulder length. Which i did. But it began to break excessively, again.
I stopped relaxing my hair once i got pregnant with my first son. I put it in braids until he was born. At the same time i began to learn about the true principles of health and how to really take care of your temple (body). I was to present my body a living sacrifice to God and this meant to ditch all the un-healthful things and learn to live a life of love and sacrifice. So i decided from that time to never put relaxer in my hair again. The dangers of using it far outweighed the benefits for me and there was no justification for torturing myself (the burning, sore, seeping scalp) all in the name of beauty anymore.
I began to do some research but it was very limited. I learned to wash my hair in sections and to not use too much heat, but that was about it. I transitioned with braids and cornrows mostly and gradually chopped off the relaxed ends. Once my natural hair got to an acceptable length i chopped off all the remaining relaxed ends and began to twist my own hair, which i kept for a while. I suffered with some hair loss due to some kind of hormonal imbalance during pregnancy (twice now) which grew back the first time with no real problems but has persistently annoyed me this time as it really didn’t want to grow back.
My hairline suffered greatly because of all the braiding and cornrows i did repeatedly.
One day i went to a friends house after church and she (who has been natural her whole life) began to share with me some natural hair care tips, like washing your hair more often. HA HA HA. You’ve got to be joking me, i said. My hair gets washed once a month, if that. I’m a hairdresser and i know that washing black hair too often will dry it out, blah, blah, blah. She just smiled at me and said just try it.
That day i went home and really dug my heels into researching natural hair care maintenance, and the rest is history. Through forums, blogs and YouTube i’ve learned to master the art of the natural, kinky strands and have grown to love and appreciate it. To handle it with care and attention. How to properly wash, deep condition and moisturise it. I now represent me. I represent the handiwork of God. I’m proud to be of fully African decent with no mixed blood (well, not immediate). The way i feel right now, i will never return to relaxers. I may press it in the future but that’s now an option which i can play around with. I’m free to believe that i am truly fearfully and wonderfully made and that includes my hair. I love it now.
Start Your Own Hair Journey
If you are thinking of starting your own hair journey i would recommend you begin with some self reflection. Why are you doing this? What is it that you hope to accomplish? Then go fill your head with knowledge. YouTube it, forum it, Google it, whatever you can to learn more. And then with optimism you can reach for your goals and step out into the unknown, conquering and to conquer. You are not alone. We are here. I am here. We can do this, together.