“Our hair fashions might be just a trend, but if we investigate, we may find that we have been depriving ourselves of one of the most valuable sources of energy for human vitality.”
People often ask me what made me decide to “go natural“. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t something I planned or even had a desire to do at first…I unofficially decided to stop relaxing my hair seven years ago, when I left the U.S for the first time to study abroad in London. In my ignorance, I thought the Brits wouldn’t know how to properly handle my hair and generally didn’t trust anyone to do it. So, I went months straightening my hair with a flat-iron, but couldn’t stop the roots from growing in thicker and thicker. The moment I officially decided to “go natural” though, happened six months later when the relaxer had pretty much grown out. I was washing my hair in the shower and noticed something different about its texture I hadn’t noticed before. It was thick, soft, a little curly and when it dried turned into a full-on fro, unprompted by a blow dryer. I was honestly surprised because I had grown so used to how straight the relaxer magically made my hair that I had forgotten what its natural texture felt like. Furthermore, when I realized I could straighten my hair and achieve the same results unassisted by a relaxer, it was an “Ah-ha” moment and pretty empowering to say the least.
Since ditching the relaxer, I’ve managed to build a strong bond with my hair. I like to call it a healthy “hair-lationship”. I tell people all the time, going natural is really like building a relationship with your hair. You have to get used to this new look, learn what your hair needs, what products work and don’t work and that alone can be challenging, frustrating and a little scary. It has taken me years of trial and error and experimenting with different products and styles to finally reach a comfortable place where I have a routine that works. And even still, I’m learning new things all the time. There is no real manual. You have to do what works for you. I’ve reached this place from being patient, experimenting, learning new tricks from other women and listening to my hair.
I’m going off track a bit…but someone introduced the idea to me that hair carries energy. Your hair is like antennas. It picks up on everything and is a part of your intuition and who you are. Deep right? At least that’s what I thought after hearing that. Hair energy is something I’ve never considered before and now I’m open to the idea. It makes me wonder if I’ve blocked off certain energies in the past from processing my hair or when I wear weave. I just remember a time when having straight hair was such a big deal. It was a huge part of me and if I went too long without a perm, I would feel less attractive or less like myself. Now as I reflect back, I realize that mindset and level of dependency wasn’t serving me and made me too afraid to try anything different.
So, maybe this natural hair journey is more beneficial to me on a deeper level than I imagined. Deva Kaur Khalsa, in his article, “The Spiritual Nature of Hair” writes “From a Yogic perspective, hair is an amazing gift of nature that can actually help raise the Kundalini energy (creative life force), which increases vitality, intuition, and tranquility.” Now, the purpose of this article is not to teach a lesson on “Hair Philosophy”, but I do think it is something worth exploring, while understanding and caring for my hair. Maybe there’s something more to hair, other than appearance…like can the state of my hair actually affect a spiritual part of me? Is the hair on my head, in some way, really connected to my intuition that is connected to a Divine Entity? Something to ponder…
People are always curious about what I do to my hair…what’s the trick…how I manage to make my “natural hair work”. I hear comments like, “I don’t know what to do with this mess. So, I just throw on a wig until it grows out a little…” “I just don’t have the patience…” “You do all that?! I don’t see how you do it girl…” “Natural just doesn’t look good on me. I tried…” “If I could get my hair to look like yours I’ll do it”. Trust me ya’ll, I completely get it. Not everyone is willing to deal with the challenge of natural hair and everyone’s hair is different. I’ll admit, every once in a while, I will rock some Senegalese twists or box braids when I don’t feel like dealing with my hair. But just to give you an idea, I’d like to take you through a simple step-by-step process of how I achieve my usual look. Keep in mind, it took me a long time to establish this routine. I’m hoping, however, my experience may spark a little inspiration or give you some ideas to explore:
Step one: Wash
I wash my hair with a co-wash or sulfate-free shampoo. Right now I use Argan Oil Moisture and Shine Shampoo. I do a couple of rounds of this. Note: If your hair tangles easily, like mine, I highly recommend you comb/brush it out before washing. It’ll make the process much easier, trust me!
Step two: Detangle and Condition
I apply leave-in conditioner (doesn’t have to be leave-in) while my hair is still wet. The more wet your hair the better because it helps detangle while combing the conditioner through. I suggest you use a wide-tooth comb, especially if your hair tangles easily. For those who use a conditioner that requires a rinse out, I would recommend just leaving a little in your hair to add a little extra moisture. Right now, I’m using Cantu Argan Oil Leave-In Conditioner. Remember to comb through most of your kinks. It’ll pay off later.
Step three: Clean As You Go
I put my nicely conditioned hair in a shower cap (or plastic bag, let’s be real) and let it sit, while I clean up shed hair, spilled shampoo or conditioner, comb or brush etc. Just get it out-of-the-way so you don’t have to worry about it later, once your hair is done.
Step four: Dry Hair/Set Station
I pat dry my hair with a regular cotton towel and then fully wrap it in the towel. Note: I don’t completely dry my hair because it helps the curl if I twist while my hair’s still wet. From there, I set up my station with all of the different products I use to twist my hair. Of course I don’t use all of them at once. I just pick and choose depending on whether or not I’m in an experimenting mood. My “go to” usually is:
1. Shea Moisture Coconut Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie
2. Shea Moisture Hold and Shine Moisture Mist
3. 100% Virgin Coconut Oil (sometimes)
These products are reasonably priced and usually last me a good two to three months. Definitely worth the investment!
Step five: Double Check That Everything Is In Place
Hopefully in step two you properly detangled your hair and for the most part are free from annoying knots. Your station should be set. You may have to style your hair in the mirror if you are a beginner and that is perfectly fine. It took me a while to get used to it. If you already know how to do a twist-out and are comfortable, you may not need to be in front of a mirror. In my station, I include my laptop with one of my favorite TV shows playing to distract me while I twist. Once you get the hang of this, you’ll realize how much having something to watch or listen to help pass the time along.
And now for the final step…
Step six: Twist Away!
Now you are ready to do your two-strand twists. Repeat after me: Part. Product. Comb. Twist… So, you’re going to part your hair one row at a time, starting at the back. The left over hair goes up in a hair tie. Apply the product(s) to the parted hair. Comb through. Depending on how large or small you want your curls to be, will determine the size of your twists. I usually do medium to medium-large just to be safe. Also, the larger the twists, the longer it’ll take to dry. So, if you have a couple of days to let your hair dry, then go as large as you want. I usually take my twists out the next day. So a medium size is good enough for me. You will repeat this step for each row until completion. After you’re done, break down your station and relax while your twists air dry. The next day or when your hair has dried, pull them apart one twist at a time and Walla! Check out those curls!
Repetition plays a major role in getting this routine down, but patience and commitment are key. It really pays off in the long run. Now years later, I can proudly say I have a healthy hair-lationship and have no desire to relax my hair, even on bad hair days. Even more, it is fulfilling to be able to offer advice and share my hair journey. It took me a very long time to reach this place of confidence. So, for those of you struggling with hair confidence, as you are transitioning out of relaxed hair or just trying to figure out what to do with your hair, I encourage you to just be patient, open yourself up to experimenting and commit to getting to know your hair. Try not to be too intimated and just embrace the part of you that is your hair!
I’m curious to know how your HAIR-lationship is working out. Don’t be shy. Comment below! 🙂