The Road to Natural

*Originally written for Women's Elevation Magazine*

Unless you have been under a rock for the past few years, you are more than aware of the tons of women stepping out of the box and embracing their kinks, curls, and coils as freely as they flow from their heads, or in short, going (returning) natural.  Personally, natural hair is not a trend, but an awakening!  In no way am I dissing my sisters who wear weave (because I love a good sew install) or continue to relax their hair, because that was me!  I’m just the messenger here to offer you practical information on going the natural route.  Let’s take the complexity out of it, and examine the road I took to get back to my natural hair.

What?

Natural hair, simply put, means that your curl pattern has not been chemically altered.  There are different curl patterns, and like many women, I have different hair types around my head.  The stigma that natural hair is dirty, unkempt, and unmanageable is nothing other than false!  Natural hair requires that an effort is made to protect, moisturize and detangle your hair to promote optimum health.  Nothing works unless you do. There is so much fun to be had with natural hair as you venture into it, and unmask it’s versatility.  Some women go natural for length, though for me, health is the ultimate goal.

Why?

Before you do anything, know exactly why you’re doing it! When I decided to stop relaxing my hair, it was because my hair was thin, lackluster, and lacking body, and I was tired of wearing a wrap.  So I did what most people do when they embark upon a new journey…I bought a book.  “Thank God I’m Natural: The Ultimate Guide to Caring for and Maintaining Natural Hair” by Chris-Tia E. Donaldson was a lifesaver, filled with education on hair growth, recipes, tips, and styles.  Reading and uncovering all of these truths about my hair only encouraged and inspired me to further this experience, and here I am four years later with a hair full of kinky, thick hair.  I have heard people say that natural hair isn’t for everybody, which makes no sense, seeing that no one was born with a relaxer or a weave.  It doesn’t get any more natural than that.

When?

The time is now! There is so much information available to us on how to care for our hair.  In the era of YouTube, blogging, and other social media platforms, we are inundated with knowledge, styling options, and a burgeoning market of product lines.  By no means am I saying that you should superficially jump on a bandwagon, because someone suggests it.  Being a natural hair enthusiast, I find myself encouraging women, especially young girls, to love and embrace their hair and all of its glory.  I transitioned for two years, meaning I let my natural hair grow, gradually cutting my relaxed ends, and I preferred it to big chopping, cutting off all relaxed ends at once. Because this is a learning experience, know that it is going to take time for you to see length.  A major part of the process is learning your hair, and as I did that, I learned a lot about myself.

Who? Where? How?

Natural hair is for everybody, period.  There are so many natural hair communities sprouting around not only the U.S., but the world.  They’re on college campuses and local organizations often have meet-ups.  When I started, I saw someone post on Facebook about a meet-up, and I went alone, relaxed hair and all.  I listened to all of the presenters (including the author of the book that I mentioned) and there are so many fly vendors at these events! I met some really cool women at these events, that I still talk to, now. Natural hair is a conversation starter, and I find myself sharing the information with people at work, stores, basically anywhere!  How did I go natural? I started watching YouTuber CharyJay’s videos, and doing the styles as she did, and trying the products she used.  There is going to be trial and error when starting anything. You have to learn what products your hair likes, and what styles work for you. Enjoy the journey, I miss the time when my hair was shorter, and stuck out, opposed to it being weighed down by length. Relax, get a few products, sit in front of your favorite YouTuber, and start trying out something new!

Going natural, the one thing that I had to teach myself was to build myself up before I walked out of the house, because there will always be someone outside tearing you down.  The same works with compliments.  If someone compliments your hair, but you hate it, no amount of compliment is going to make you love it.  Before you ever pick up a product, do a twist/braid/bantu-knot out, or watch a YouTube video, realize this journey starts on the inside of you. Continuously build yourself up, ladies whether you’re relaxed or natural, and be affirmed because of what you know, and not what someone tells you.

Love yourself, ladies.