Hello ladies!! It's been AGES since my last post and as you can see I've changed my hair once again. After three years of swearing I would never go natural again, about three months of painstaking decision making, and watching several hours of YouTube natural hair videos I decided to transition for 3 months then big chop.
Why I Returned to Natural
I have a lot of hair. A.LOT. And when it is in its natural state it can be overwhelming to handle (even when working in sections). I remember spending hours every Saturday washing, conditioning & styling my hair; re-twisting every night to maintain definition and moisture, never being able to straighten my own hair (I tried once and it took 12 hours), and honestly feeling like my styling options were limited to twist outs. I wanted curls y'all! I'm talking ringlet, Shirley Temple curls, and although I didn't mind using rollers or other styling tools to get those curls, it took hours and I my styling attempts were rarely successful.
After three years styling got to be boring and as I advanced in Corporate America I honestly started to feel uncomfortable being in a room full of straight haired white people with my huge afro. It wasn't until years later that I realized I was only uncomfortable because THEY were. Fast forward to 2016 and after unarmed black man # 567 was gunned down by police I started getting angry and feeling like I needed to make a statement. I no longer cared if I stood out or if my textured hair caused my co-workers discomfort. Wearing my wooly hair was a power play, a way of saying "F-you" to the system and my first step towards liberation and walking in the Truth.
The Transition Process
I transitioned for three months with box braids. Because I was already rocking short hair and I've had a TWA in the past, I wasn't worried about how I would look and the change from relaxed to natural was not a drastic one for me. I decided on a short transition period because I knew I wouldn't like dealing with two different textures over a long period of time and I find the whole idea of transitioning to be too much of a grey area for me, I need a set style to work with.
While my hair was in box braids I 'shampooed' weekly using a bentonite clay mixture that I applied only to my scalp and rinsed thoroughly. I consider this to be by far the best thing I did for my hair because it removed product build up and allowed me to begin my second natural journey with a clean slate. For those of you transitioning or thinking of returning natural I suggest the following:
- Opt for a short transition rather than an immediate big chop - the first time I went natural I shaved my hair completely off and started fresh. I jumped in head first with products doing what I saw others on YouTube do, this was my biggest mistake. As a result I never learned what products my hair liked or how MY hair actually worked (texture-wise). Transitioning for a few months and truly offering your hair a blank slate will allow you to immediately see the potential of your strands and what you are working with.
- Bentonite, Bentonite, Bentonite!! - This is a staple in my product regimen and I will honestly probably never use anything else to cleanse my strands. I also credit the use of bentonite clay with curl clumpage and therefore curl definition. My first time as a natural I could not get my hair to clump or curl. I knew that my hair was curly so I could not figure out why I never saw any definition outside of the shower once my strands dried. With continued use of the clay I am beginning to see definition from root to tip without the use of curl defining products like gel.
- Oil isn't necessarily your friend - One of the things I discovered about my strands is that they are low porosity. I'll do an id-depth post on porosity at a later date, but for a low-po curly, oil can actually further prevent moisture from entering a strand that already struggles to accept it. I would suggest holding off on the use of oil or trying it sparingly and analyzing how your hair truly reacts to it.
I big chopped in February of this year and haven't looked back. I visit my stylist regularly because I am keeping my hair in short tapered cut for now, and she is constantly commenting on how great my texture looks and asking what products I use. This time around I have been successful in my quest for curls and I love the fact that I can wash and go without matting, knots, extreme shrinkage, and excessive dryness the next day.
I am super excited about my second go around as a natural, and even more excited to share what I have learned with you all. I am still trying to perfect my wash and go method and look forward to what I imagine to be infinite (and easier) styling options as I master my strands and learn my texture.