Naturally Me

Last Spring I wrote about wanting to be free from the bondage that is the hot comb for the Black woman! I was looking to embrace my hair in its natural state…but wasn’t really ready to commit to living the full on ‘natural’ lifestyle. Because I didn’t follow through with keeping up a natural styleย  when I first tried it last year, the desire has remained in me. A few weeks ago, all of those thoughts came creeping back: wanting to see my hair in a different style other than straight, washing it more often at home between salon visits, not being too chicken to walk out the house however my styling attempt came out, etc., etc.

I began to research online (read: watch youtube videos) and found that there is soooooo much information out there about natural styles for Black women! It was almost overwhelming. At one point I was low-key obsessed with watching online tutorials about natural hair. My favorite site so far is curlynikki.com. Her hair is gorgeous, she offers lots of info/education, and she’s pregnant, like me! Her site is a great resource for those thinking about transitioning from a relaxer to a natural.

I’ve learned terms like co-washing, two-strand twists, and big chop (visit curlynikki.com for definitions). I watched many demonstrations from women with all types of hair on hair styles, products, and the like. After a week or two of this ‘research’, I was finally ready to try it out for more than a day. I called up a friend of mind who has mastered her natural mane and curls (aka…My Little Songbird) and got some direct advice and encouragement. I headed to Wally world and picked up some conditioner in an attempt to finally become ‘one’ with my true-hair. No heat, no hot comb, no blow dry…just some conditioner, a wide tooth comb, and some bobby pins.

The first day I co-washed, then put in two-strand twists all over my head. I promised myself that however it looked in the morning was how it was going to look – and I was leaving the house regardless! I tied my hair up for the night and woke up to a pleasant surprise! It wasn’t perfect, but I made my new natural-curly-wash-n-go look work for me!

I put in a headband and walked out the house feeling free! I was a lot more comfortable with it than I thought I would be. Inspired, I decided to keep up a heat-less style for at least a week. I co-washed again a couple of days later, this time deciding to wear a slicked/wet bun. This style, I REALLY fell in love with! It allowed me to maintain not just clean hair, but a clean scalp, which is important because I have dermatitis of the scalp (it’s basically incessant dandruff and peeling of the scalp).

Here’s a quick photo summary:

Me with straight hair

My first day wash-n-go style

Wet bun with curly bangs

Another bun with twisted bang

Side view

A belly pic just for kicks!

Overall, this is my assessment on wearing my hair natural:

Pros:

It really is very liberating! It feels good to take control of your hair and get to know it in its natural state.

It was fun to try different styles other than the plain old straight press.

It’s good for people like me with dry scalp issues. It was nice to wash my hair more often and give it the moisture it so desperately needs. I’ve always been good to my hair and not my scalp.

It was great not having to worry about sweating my hair out while getting some exercise OR worrying about splashing water close to my hair line when I washed my face in the morning (mmm-hmm…it gets that serious!).

Cons:

Without the proper education or care, natural styles can be very damaging. The ends dry out and get all tangled with one another and you have to be careful with combing it out and manipulating it, so as to prevent severe breakage.

Natural styles can be A LOT of work! Twisting, braiding, re-twisting, pinning, spritzing with water, re-applying oils and conditioners…whew! It’s a job. A couple of times I just wanted to wrap my hair – which takes all of 5 seconds and just go to sleep! In my opinion, the time I spent in the salon chair letting someone else do the work was traded for me doing all the work of keeping the style up.

I didn’t find a lot of information on what it means to be a ‘heat-trained-natural.’ In other words, where does someone like me fit into the natural hair community? I don’t have a relaxer but I do get my hair straightened via a good old ‘press-n-curl.’ In the natural community, a natural is someone who went from having a relaxer to growing the relaxer out, to only wear the hair in it’s naturally curly state. Technically I’m a natural since I don’t have chemicals in my hair…but am I still considered to be a slave to the European standard of beauty in America because I get it straightened? Hmmm….lots to think about there, ain’t it? I found only one youtube video that commented on this. I’m sure there are others, but the woman in this one brings up some very interesting points. Click here to check it out! Her channel fully documents her journey…I enjoyed watching her vids.

I’m clear in that there were definitely more pros than cons. Ultimately, whether you wear your hair straight or curly, it’s a personal choice that should be made just for you. I found that getting my hair pressed and wearing it curly both had their fair share of responsibilities…it’s just managed in a different way. At the end of the day we still do some of the same things, like slick our edges down with product then a scarf (you KNOW you know what I’m talking about! lol).

I’m very happy that I tried it out and accomplished what I set out to do. I will definitely add my ‘wet bun’ style into my normal hair routine in between salon visits.

So what about you, ladies? What’s your take on natural hair? Do you have a press, a relaxer, or weave?

I want to hear from you!

XO,

TPOG

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Posted on July 6, 2010, in Life. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. charity bailey

    Am…sooo true as a child I wore my own hair and mostly natural! Lol as u know as the years have gone by I’ve fallen in love with my weaves and wigs! I can’t help it. My little sisters often encourage me 2 wear my own hair because its soft and has a nice length 2 it but I can’t (lol more like I don’t want to do it). My hair is very soft and curly and thinner than I’d prefer…and did I mention that it doesn’t stay in place? I love my wigs and weaves…they stay right where I lay them lol…different textures,colors and styles without the breakage and pain of growing it back after a spontaneous cut! :)…the misconception is that weaved divas don’t embrace the beauty of their hair’s natural state! Not true I love my natural hair but I love the creativity of my weaves and wigs 2!

    At the end of the day its about self love! What looks good on u and expresses who u are as an individual! There are so many stereotypes surrounding natural hair and weaved hair or permed hair! They’re mostly false! I say do u…love u…”Sistahs” let’s love each other and embrace our diversity and ability 2 stay fly in any style!
    Lol Amber I will end with this: “DIVAAAAS!” ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. For me I started off w/ the press and curl. When I was younger, I didn’t need a relaxer. As time progressed my mom decided to try a relaxer. Listening to my granny! Big mistake!! My hair became dependent on the chemicals. My hair changed and it fell out too!!! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ So here I am as an adult using relaxers b/c its what my hair needs to be “manageable”. Now I have stopped using relaxers so my hair can grow back healthy. I love weaves, braids etc!! I want to try to wear it natural but I have this ” kunta complex” about my hair w/o any heat applied to it. It just doesn’t work for me. I would try it but I know I will end up looking crazy ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I’m lovin’ it, ladies!

    @ Charity…you are the perfect example of the benefit of weaves! They offer so much versatility and that is really needed with a personality like yours! LOL (Adult ADD comes to mind! hahaha!) But I totally agree that we have to embrace our ‘hair-diversity.’ My goal was to be and feel comfortable in my own skin with my hair in it’s natural state. Now that I’ve acheived that, I’ll rock that look just like I do my wrap!

    @ Maddy…lol at the ‘kunta complex’! I personally think that living in Southern California, we don’t really need relaxers because of the climate – there’s not a lot of humidity. I got my first relaxer in junior high school because we lived in Texas and by the time I walked to school, my hair was one big cotton ball! A perm was the only way I felt like I could manage my hair, so I begged my mom for one. After moving back to California and seeing my first long-term stylist, she encouraged me to grow the perm out because I just really didn’t need it. It was doing a number on my scalp and my hair texture is already very fine. I did that almost 10 years ago and have never looked back! And you will NOT look crazy if you decide to go natural…that’s the thinking we have to get away from! I celebrate you wanting to have healthy hair, whether it’s relaxed or not!

  4. Hey Amber-i am a hybrid of natural and relaxed…for the past coupl years I have continued to get my hair texturized (you don’t keep the relaxer on as long so you can keep some natural curls but it does straighten your edges and your mane isn’t as tightly curled as it would be naturally) every 8 wks or so. I wear my hair straight or with curls from the shop for 1 wk, then spend the remaining 7 wks on my own-wearing my hair curly or in a bun or ponytail. This does tend to dry your hair out more so its important to find the right products and apply moisturizers and hair oil daily, and use satin pillow cases or hair ties. I do get frustrated at times feeling like I don’t have a hair style or not being able to think of any creative ways to style my hair. At times I think about going completely natural (no chemical at all), but tried the grow out process for about 6 months and it was so hard to manage my hair on my own that I gave up. Well I thought I would share my hair challenges.

  5. AMBER!!!! I’m so excited that you are considering retiring good ole faithful (aka the hot comb). You haven’t seen me in a while but I stopped pressing and flat ironing my hair a few months ago and love it! We are the same in that I do not have a relaxer but my hair was heat damaged so right now I am just trying to have my hair as healthy as possible. I have actually been considering doing a big chop but I don’t know if I’m there yet. I love curlynikki and since you mentioned being a “heat trained natural” and that you were not really sure where you fit in you should go to the discussion boards on blackhairmedia.com. There is a thread that I look at from time to time called Hot Girls or something like that he-he. If you have not been to blackhairmedia please do! I learned a lot about my hair there. Ok and I couldn’t help but say “awwwwww look at the belly!” Ok I’m done now. LOL.

  6. @ Elvira…thank you so much for sharing! I’ve always loved the way you go back and forth between straight and curly styles. It definitely is a big step to go completely natural and it really does take time. Kudos for finding a routine that works for you and gives you the best of both worlds!!!!

  7. @ May…yay! Thanks for commenting! Let me say that I’m not retiring the hot comb! I’ll just be using it less – reducing my salon visits to once every 4 weeks instead of three. I still really love getting my hair done. I just wanted more versatility in my routine. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I was wondering who would be the first to mention something about my belly! That’s actually my first full body prego pic that has seen the light of day! LOL

  8. Hey Amber!!! So I figured I’d give my two cents as a newly natural beauty ๐Ÿ™‚ So ok, I felt the same way that Maddy felt, when it comes to the “Kunta Complex.” I knew that my hair wouldn’t do right and that I wouldn’t be able to self-manage it. However, as time went on, my hair started to go from somewhat healthy to breakage. Coming from two parents in cosmetology, this was UNACCEPTABLE! So instead of continuing in my routine of relaxers (and in the meantime doing it myself) I mustarded up the courage to grow it out. it took all of 1 year and 5 months until I could say my relaxer was completely gone, gone gone!!! So 2.5 years later, my hair is healthier than it’s ever been, and my regimen is visiting the salon every 2 weeks for a condition and that good ole faithful “press ‘n’ curl.” AND I LOVE IT!!! It’s growing at an incredible rate and my natural color is back. The relaxers were stripping it of its natural sheen and vibrant color but now it’s bomb.com again! Like Amber said, you have to do what works for you, but relaxers can be the detriment of some people if not properly neutralized. That’s what was happening to me. As the actual chemical makes the hair extremely acidic, you need a strong neutralizing product to take the pH balance back to a 7, and in most cases that’s not being done.

  9. @ Ashley…drop that chemical knowledge, girl! LOL Thank you for sharing you hair story with us!

  10. Thank you lady for posting this. So after reading this and recently wanting to wear my hair out el natural again….I did it! I love my long hair straightened because wearing it “curly and free” is always a huge feat for me. There is so much product and upkeep ( as we discussed the other day) that goes into maintaining natural, healthy, beautiful hair. My SO always asks me to wear it curly but I always tell him that he doesn’t understand the work behind wearing it that way. With that beind said I do wish more women would stop using the creamy crack and embrace what God has given them but I understand why they don’t. Kudos to you for trying something new. Your ponytail-bun-thingy was cute!

  11. Amber,
    I Love all the Yeyo Diary Post! ๐Ÿ˜‰
    After reading your “Natural Me” post it has inspired me to embrace my natural curls even further. So I’m sure you heard I moved to Orlando, Fl. talk about humid!! It is extremely difficult to wear a press and curl out here so I have been wearing a wet ponytail. I am going to review the site you posted to get more ideas on how I can wear my natural hair. I have always wanted to explore more natural options so thank you for this post. God Bless you and the entire family.
    Love Christina

  12. @ Lee…thank you for keeping the conversation going! Cheers to do for doing your ‘natural thang’! LOL

    @ Christina…omg, it’s so nice to hear from you! Yes, that Florida humidity ain’t no joke! Here in California a climate that is great for presses and flat irons! Definitely check out curlynikki.com – you’ll find lots of great ideas. And don’t be stranger, missy!

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