I stopped relaxing my hair back in November 2009, and cut off the last of my relaxed hair in February 2011, if i can remember correctly. Natural hair back then was still relatively new in the UK and I relied heavily on blog posts and youtube videos of women with kinky curly afro textured hair across the pond for advice. Kimmaytube and Naptural85 were my saviours! Now, black, brown and mixed race women across the globe are embracing the hair that grows out of their scalp, and it's a lovely thing to see.
Here are some things I wish I knew when I first went 'Natural'…
1.) Your hair might be more kinky than curly and that is OK. Boy oh boy, was this a shock to me. During my transition I had assumed that my hair would be more of a type 3 texture rather than the 4a/b texture it is (tight kinks and pencil shaped coils) because type 3 hair was the type of hair texture that was presented to me over and over again on the internet, and this is actually a discussion i'll maybe talk about in another blog post as it's been on my mind during the past six months or so. So surprisingly to me, when my hair wasn't immediately defined after a shower, or when it dried into a shrivelled H.A.M of a wash n go rather than bounteous shiny curls down my back, I was quite upset, and hid my hair in wigs, braids and straightened the crap out of it until suporise surprise, I got heat damage and my entire head of hair was gone in a haze of blunt scissors and looking at too many pictures of Solange when she big chopped.
2.) Your hair can be coarse AND thin. Because we've been presented with a slew of luscious thick haired naturals with kinky hair, there is a common misconception that kinky hair is naturally thick, but that's not always true, a lot of naturals bulk up their fro's by letting shrinkage play it's part, or simply by using clip in's to give the illusion of thicker hair, a good option if your hair is coarse and thin because most natural clip in's I've seen blend very very well!
3.) You don't have to use a million and one products. I got caught out by this one SO badly when I first went natural and bought about every product under the sun. Months of lurking on various hair forums and hearing women who swore by this product and that had me on a mission, running back and forth from varying hair shops trying to find the new miracle product from Shea Moisture or Dark n' Lovely. My wallet wasn't happy and neither was my hair to be honest. Now I just have a few main products in rotation and will occasionally try out a new release to see how well it works but for the most part, I stick to my ride or die products.
4.) You don't have to focus on length. There is a length obsession in the black hair community, and almost this defiance that yes black women can grow long healthy hair, but why do we need to prove anything? This isn't to say that growing your hair out is a bad thing, but i think there's a fine line between enjoying longer hair and obsessing if your hair hasn't hit waist length in four years like some naturals, despite your most valiant efforts at deep conditioning twice weekly and protective styling 24/7. Yes long hair is pretty, but hair is beautiful at every length. Enjoy the journey because when your hair is waist length you'll probably miss the ease of it being short!
5.) It's just hair. This is one of the most important ones i've learnt. I find myself… attached to my hair sometimes. My hair, it's texture, it's shape, it's size, everything about black women's kinky natural hair is politicised. "You can't wear your hair in a puff it's unprofessional" "You should hide your hair" "Why would you cut your hair off it's so long" "People who colour their hair aren't natural". Honestly. It's not that deep, hair is hair. Have fun with it, and most importantly LOVE YOUR HAIR, Natural, Relaxed, Texlaxed, whatever.