As far back as I can remember, like most little black girls, I wanted the flowing straight hair that looked picture perfect like the girls on the Just for Me relaxer boxes.
Despite having a relaxer I never was allowed to leave my hair out and blowing in the wind, it was always in braided styles using extensions. My hair did great for years, especially in my secondary school days when I’d go months without retouching my new growth. Those years were my first experience with my natural textured and the first times I really questioned why I wanted relaxed hair and why I never grew out and managed my natural hair.
During this time I wore mostly corn row styles, mainly Ghana braids in all sorts of beautiful styles. And when I did leave my hair out to breathe I would have my classmates and friends ,who otherwise thought I was bald-headed due to my constant use of extensions, complimenting my relatively long hair.
It wasn’t until a bad experience with removing some tiny pick’n’drop braid extensions in the summer of 2007 left my hair severely broken and began the downward spiral of the health of my hair, that I started thinking about the health of my hair. I tried as much as possible to grow it back by hiding it away in more weave and braided styles, while relaxing it more frequently than I’d ever done before. I endured a small bald patch in the back of my head and the overall obvious limp and uneven state of my hair due to all the damage it had experienced.
It was at the end of 2011 that I started to come across healthy relaxed hair videos on YouTube and decided to embark on my own. I wanted a long thick straight ponytail that would swing back and forth with every movement I made. I wanted to be part of the community of black girls proving that we too can grow long beautiful hair. I started paying attention to the products I used and actually deep conditioned my hair at home, on my own, for the first time. For the first time I would witness the luxurious feel of my natural regrowth after a good deep conditioning session and day dream of having a full head of coily curls as I did as a secondary school girl. I began to rethink. Why not go completely natural?
My natural hair journey started in 2012. My hair was still relaxed but on its last legs. I wanted to transition but couldn’t wait to feel my hair and love on it. I had my last two relaxers in February and April and went on to big chop in May. I had never felt so free, liberated and most like myself.
In the four years that I’ve been natural, I’ve experimented with Henna, DIY conditioner mixes and masks, DIY Moisturising creams and butters, been a product junkie, been scissor happy, experienced heat damage, dyed my hair, wigged out, learnt how to braid my hair with extensions by myself, become a first time mother and dealt with post-partum shedding, perfected my wash and go routine and now I’m on the road to being a black Rapunzel (well at least trying to).
And I’m excited about sharing this marathon of a journey with you all.)