Updated: June 19, 2019
I have been on this natural hair journey of mine for a hot minute. It is amazing realizing how far removed I have been from relaxing my hair. As a matter of fact, I was very faithful with my relaxers to the point where I cringed whenever I felt my “new growth” at the two month mark. I lived by my wraps especially in high school and knew no other way at the time. Now, I do not know anything other than my natural curls and kinks (aka my head full of “new growth”…lol).
On this page, I will give a background of my natural hair journey, pictures, and basic regimen. A table of contents has been provided to help you jump around to points of interest.
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1. The Pre-Natural Years
To keep things short and sweet, I got my first relaxer when I was 8ish years old. That was the THING to do back in the 80s. Having chemically processed hair was supposedly simpler, right?
Until years of processing (and over-processing) damaged my hair until I got to chin length hair in my late teens. My hair has never been that short. With the mix of college work, extracurricular activities, social engagements, and improper self-relaxing sessions, my hair just could not hang. Literally.
In 2002, I decided to take a plunge and quit processing my hair.
You see, back in the early 2000’s, going natural was NOT the huge movement it has become over the recent years. I remember people literally asking me:
- When are you going to get your hair did?
- What’s going on with your roots?
- It’s that time. When will you relax your hair again?
- What are you doing to you hair?
Do any of those statements sound familiar to you? #teamtransitioners
To avoid much of the speculation, I decided to transition mainly with extensions at first. Oh those ever lovely micro braids. ::sarcasm::
Then when I could not take those braids, I started to get into wigs. They became my jam (and my crutch).
Once I reached 11 months post relaxer, I was done with the transitioning process. I went into my dorm bathroom with my scissors and chop, chop, chop those raggedy limp pieces of relaxed hair in 2003.
That was the end of my relaxer era.
2. The First Six Years as a Natural
When I was in my early twenties, I did a lot of experimentation with my natural hair. My favorite experiment was with color. Prior to being natural, the most I have done in reference to color was highlights in high school. Once I became fully natural, I could not wait to color my entire head. The fun was short lived as I started struggling with dryness and breakage for two years in. After I allowed for the color to grow out (and gradually trimmed away), I resolved to never color my hair again.
I Made Many Newbie Natural Mistakes
Moving past the hair coloring phase, I mainly focused my attention on how to style my hair and what products work best for my hair type. Still, at this time, I was clueless about hair to manage my hair. I did not know about the effects of mineral oil and product build up on my hair. Detangling was a pain because I was using the improper tools and methods. My hair was consistently weighed down with products because I was trying too many things at one time (hello product junkism!). On top of that, my hair was not as moisturized as I would have hoped after dropping much expenses on expensive and “promising” hair products (because I did not know about the LOC method). I had no consistent hair regimen or routine.
Going In With Wrong Expectations
I went into becoming natural completely naive to the fact that maintaining my natural texture would require work and consistency. I just assumed that leaving the creamy crack (aka relaxer) would result into long natural tresses automatically. Nope. When I did my big chop, I was at shoulder length in 2003. Over the next 6 years, I never grew past arm pit length.
Because there was not this overload of natural hair information back then as it is now, I was completely winging my natural hair care. And due to winging it hard and wrong plenty of times, I have done lots of trimming and chopping to attempt to rectify my many mistakes. Nevertheless, it was still a learning experience as it taught me a lot of things NOT TO DO to my hair if I want it to thrive. As the natural scene became more prominent in the late 2000s and women began sharing their hair journeys via YouTube and blogging, I began to buckle down on my own journey in order to strive for my own hair goals.
2. Beginning of My HEALTHY Natural Hair Journey
After I had my daughter, I struggled with postpartum hair loss. And it was BAD. My edges were gone and my hair thinned out quite a bit. As a result, I decided to get serious about my natural hair journey for real for real. Not only did I needed to learn how to properly care for my own natural hair, but I needed to be prepared to embark on caring for my daughter’s natural hair as well.
Consistency was the Key
The first thing I did on my natural hair journey was establish a simple hair regimen and scheduled my wash days in advance. For one year, I decided to put myself on a protective styling hair challenge. I mainly wore wigs and twists as my protective styling options from April 2010 to April 2011 while sticking with my wash day schedule. The focus was not on trying a whole bunch of hair products, tools, or gadgets but rather on maintaining consistency in my hair care.
And guess what? The consistency paid off. I gained several things over that year period: inches in length, better understanding of my hair, and more confidence in managing my hair. I was finally seeing progress!
Was it challenging sticking to the same routine week after week as a busy first time mom? No doubt! That’s why I had to plan my hair routine out on paper. Sometimes we have the right intentions in our minds but if we do not write them down and create a plan to accomplish such intentions, they can become out of sight and out of mind. This is why I put together the 4 Weeks to A Solid Hair Regimen packet to help natural women create their own hair regimens with a 4 week challenge included in order to create a habit of consistency.
Despite Success, Life Happened
I briefly mentioned my struggle with trichotillomania on this page. Despite accomplishing a huge feat in growing out my hair with minimal breakage for an entire year, stress and anxiety in 2012 lead me to relapse and undo my progress. I honestly was crushed. However, instead of wallowing in my disappointment, I decided to plunge into something I never in a million years thought I would do: cut all my hair off.
I giggle as my husband commented how my head was smaller than he expected. He never shamed me but supported me as I dealt with this challenging phase of my life. And you know what?
My hair grew back but in a much better state than before due to the knowledge I had gained on how to take care of it with tender, love, and consistent care. And since then, I have applied what I have learned in order to finally grow my hair past arm pit length.
Do I still experience setbacks? You betcha! But now, I come at them with a more positive spin. I can now recognize earlier when things are getting sidetracked and I need to veer back on the road. You will miss some wash days or tear a knot or two while trying to rush through detangling or even go to bed with your hair uncovered for a week because you are just that tired. And, that’s totally okay. I am all about grace here. But do not abuse it or you will never achieve your hair goals if you do not make the necessary changes to get back on board with you hair game.
3. Natural Hair Styles Gallery
Here are examples of the various natural hairstyles I have worn over the years. I am a sucker for protective styling (buns, updos, and twists) but also enjoyed wearing my hair in other styles as well such as twist outs.
Twist Outs and Puffs
Twists and Updos
Yarn Wraps and Marley Twists
4. My Natural Hair Journey Over The Recent Years
Being a Low Maintenance Natural Mom
Over the last few years, my natural hair journey has been mostly comprised of maintaining my wash day regimen and keeping my hair low key whether it is in a protective style or under a head wrap (or wig). As a busy mom of two, I do not have the time to do as much to my hair in regard to styling like I did in my earlier years. Besides, my daughter’s natural hair journey definitely keeps me occupied in the styling and maintenance department especially as we approach her tweens.
Current State of My Natural Hair
Currently, my hair is hovering between mid-back and waist length. However, my hair is on the thinner side as a result of postpartum shedding the second time around in 2017 with my son. The shedding seemed much worse than it was with my daughter; my hair shed for over half a year postpartum in crazy amounts. I will note that while I was pregnant with my son, my hair was simply glorious, full, thick, and shiny. I do not even recall dealing with the typical amount of shedding during this period. The amount of shedding I experienced was likely a reflection of that fact. Regardless, I am just grateful I have what I have left.
My Natural Hair Focus for 2019
For now, my focus for 2019 is to let my hair rest from any heavy manipulation while doing weekly deep conditioning to maintain the health of my hair. I plan to trim my hair on a schedule until next June to help rid myself of whispy ends to give a thicker and healthier look to my hair.
5. My Natural Hair Regimen
My weekly hair regimen consists of the following components:
I like to dilute a few squirts of shampoo in an applicator bottle of water to help cleanse my scalp thoroughly. While shampooing, I also give my scalp a nice massage to stimulate blood flow and promote growth.
My Shampoo Recommendations:
- Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Shampoo
- Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Shampoo
I aim to deep condition weekly since I am nursing my hair back to health and thickness. Therefore, I want my hair’s moisture to be on point. However, if I do not have time for a good deep conditioning with my flaxseed heat cap, then I will opt for a quick conditioning with my Trader Joes Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner to get me through the week.
Our Product Recommendations:
- Shea Moisture High Porosity Moisture Correct Masque (Our favorite)
- Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Treatment Masque
- Cantu Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque
- Shea Moisture Superfruit Complex 10-In-1 Renewal System Hair Masque
- Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Treatment Masque
Our Indirect Heating Source Recommendations:
I detangle my hair right after my conditioning session. Either I will detangle my hair in sections after removing my heat cap outside the shower or I detangle while in the shower, using the water to aid with the process. Since I wear my hair in protective styles most times, I really do not experience crazy tangling. Therefore, detangling runs smoothly these days. My favorite detangler tools are my Tangle Teezer and Denman Brush. Check out our Ultimate Detangling Natural Hair Guide for more details about this process.
Our Detangler Tool Recommendations:
- Denman Cushion Brush Nylon Bristles, 7-Row
- Tangle Teezer Salon Elite Hair Brush
- Crave Naturals Glide Thru Detangling Brush for Adults and Kids
- Diane Wide-Toothed Comb
- Conair Shower Comb
While my hair is damp, I employ the LCO method. I found that the LCO method works better for my hair than the LOC method. Water serves as my liquid, conditioner cream or whipped shea butter as my cream, and coconut oil as my oil. This layer combination leaves my hair moisturized for days following my wash day session.
Our Moisturizing Product Recommendations:
- Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Style Milk
- Cantu Coconut Curling Cream
- Shea Moisture Coconut Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie
- Shea Moisture Strengthen & Restore Leave-In Conditioner
Protective styling is what it is for the most part these days. I may wear the occasional twist out for a day before washing it out and starting over again with another protective style. My main go-to is twists in a bun or ponytail. Whenever I am strapped for time, I will band my hair into two low side sections and wear that for the week. Whatever keeps my hair stretched is ideal to help cut down on detangling time.
A satin bonnet or scarf is a must. Every. Night.
To thicken the look of my ends gradually over the course of the next year, I am trimming 1 inch off my ends every other month. I like my current length so the focus is expanding my hair outward rather downward.
6. The Wrap Up
I hope this gave you a good insight of my natural hair journey and my present status of my hair. I will still make hair update posts to document my progress, setbacks, and goals as the year moves on. To keep up with my hair updates (along with my daughter’s) and more, subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
Drop a comment or question about anything regarding my hair journey below!