Now, I would be lying if I said that I decided to go natural just out of sheer concern for the health of my hair. Sure I wanted my hair in a healthier state after years of abuse and neglect. But the real final straw in my decision to go natural is my wallet. Yes ladies, hair maintenance is just too freaking expensive! Sew ins, braids, relaxers and seeing my hair dresser every 3 months took on a toll on my wallet that is truly heartbreaking. I did a few calculations and the average amount that I spent on my hair annually totaled to roughly $800. Let me repeat that: Eight hundred dollars that I could have spent on tuition for graduate school, student loans, the car note…you know, things to live.
So I decided last fall that enough was enough. I pulled up my sleeves and started doing research to decide what hair regimen was right for me once I took my last sewn in out for good. I went out and bought almost every product that I saw in YouTube videos and on November 16th, 2013 I started wearing my natural hair for the first time in almost 4 years.
Now, I’m not proud of it but I did become a bit of a product junkie. I went out and bought:
- Pure Unrefined Shea Butter
- The Brown and Pink Eco Styler gels
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Flax Seeds
- TreSemme Naturals® conditioner
- Cantu® Shea Butter Repair Leave In
- TerrEssentials® Lavender Mud Wash
- Soy oil, olive oil, and vitamin E oil
And for free (compliments of a friend in cosmetics):
- Carol’s Daughter® Hair Milk Starter Kit
- Carol’s Daughter® Monoi Repairing Starter Kit
Yes, my products were all over the place. I wanted to go heat, organic, silicone and paraben free! So I clarified with the apple cider vinegar, detangled with a water/conditioner mix, washed my hair with the Hair Milk kit, and sealed the moisture with a homemade shea butter mixture. I put my hair into about 14 two-strand twists and went to bed pumped up to see the results of my hard work.
Guess what didn’t happen.
The second day I woke up and took the two strand twists out of my hair and was greeted by a hot mess. My hair was a dry, greasy, and frizzy ‘fro of destruction! I couldn’t figure out where I went wrong, I thought that I had followed all of the rules. Clean my scalp, seal the moisture and style. Apparently I was wrong. It took over a month of trail and error before I realized that my hair simply doesn’t like the same things as my YouTube guru’s.
To start, my hair hates the Hair Milk line. Sorry Carol’s Daughter® but I just can’t, it wasn’t meant to be. Shea Butter is good…in small quantities but these days, I prefer Castor Oil. And thick leave in conditioners with Eco Styler gel are my best friends.
I used to laugh every time that I heard the phrase “natural hair journey”. Seriously, it’s just hair, how can it be a journey? What I’ve learned in the past 5 months is that the journey is more of an experience and exploration of yourself. Sounds cheesy but it’s true. Over the past few months I’ve finally learned to accept the hair that I have rather than being ashamed of it. I had never worn my hair in its natural state before without having some type of straightening treatment beforehand. Afro and curls = bad while straight = good. Kinks = nightmare while waves = perfection. These are the principles that unfortunately many young women of color have drilled into their heads before puberty.
For the record – I had no intention of being “unique” or jumping on the naturals bandwagon. I just wanted a cheap way to care and learn about my own hair. Growing up, I never knew how to care for my own hair, so that just turned this into an even larger learning experience. Going natural should be a choice that you make for self learning, empowerment and, of course, beauty (it’s okay to be vain sometimes or else we’d all be bald). You don’t have to go out and buy every product and read every book to find out what works for you. Just learn what your hair likes and go with the flow.