I began my journey to natural hair around August 2008 when I found out the dangers of using chemical hair relaxers. At that point in time, I had been putting a relaxer in my hair pretty much every 8 weeks since I was about 11 years old. I had been relaxing my hair so long that I didn't even know why I had chose to start doing so, and I continued the process out of habit. It wasn't until January 20, 2009 (Inauguration Day) that I wholly accepted my natural hair...and I haven't looked back since!
In 2006, when I was in my freshman year of College, my hair was healthy (for relaxed hair) and was down to the middle of my back. My Hair Stylist, at the time, was fantastic and she took great care of my relaxed hair. However, this is also where my downward hair spiral began. It was my first year in College and I wanted a "new look", one that lightened my hair color. My Hair Stylist didn't agree because she felt my hair was too soft for permanent color, but against her recommendation and being rebellious, I went against her better judgement and had another Hair Stylist use a permanent hair color and lighten my hair to a chestnut brown.
I loved the color, but over the next few weeks, my hair started shedding really bad and began to break off, causing split ends. In order to save some of my hair, my normal Hair Stylist had to cut half of it off. I went from having hair that flowed to the middle of my back to having it little over shoulder length. Talk about "new look". Yet, during this time, I was still getting relaxers and doing protein treatments to get my hair back to the strength it had prior to the permanent hair color damage. The combination of relaxers & permanent hair color, unnatural and structurally altering processes, pretty much damaged the majority of my hair and I continued to have to cut it every 4 weeks about an inch or so to avoid split ends and further damage.
After the color damage experience, I vowed to never put unnatural permanent hair color in my hair because, like my Hair Stylist said, it was too soft to handle it. However, I never thought twice to what the relaxer was doing or how it contributed to my hair damage. After a few years, my hair was strong again and all the permanent hair color was out of my hair, but then I was posed a question that changed my whole mindset. "Why did I put a relaxer in my hair"? That seemingly simple question led me to look into what a relaxer was and what it did to the hair. What I discovered completely shocked me!
This is the one statement that really solidified me beginning my natural journey:
"A relaxer contains chemicals that can kill you if they are inhaled and can burn your skin enough to cause permanent damage; yet we put it on our scalp. Just like the rest of your body, your head is covered with skin (i.e the scalp). And you put lotion on your skin because you know it will absorb the properties of the lotion; just as the relaxer you put on your scalp will be absorbed into your skin. Therefore, all those dangerous chemicals that can kill you if inhaled or cause skin burns are being absorbed into your body, close to one of your most vital organs, your brain."After reading that, amongst other things, I vowed to never again relax my hair and encourage other women not to relax their hair either. I began my transition to natural hair by styling my hair in Flexi-Rod sets, Flat-Twists, and Soft sets. I chose styles that required the least amount of manipulation because as you are transitioning you have a major breaking point between the two textures; so the less manipulation, the better. I transitioned for about 4 months before I decided it was time.....
The Big Chop
On the evening of January 20, 2009 after seeing the Inauguration ball and noticing people throughout the day with natural hair, I just decided it was time to cut the relaxed ends! My sister and I went into the bathroom and she helped me to cut all the relaxed ends off. At first, I felt awkward, but quickly got over that, and I loved my hair! The next morning, my mom was shocked but loved it and throughout the day I got so many compliments; not only on my hair but how well I carried my "new look".
Unfortunately, bathroom hair cuts aren't always the best method to do the big chop. And when I saw my Hair Stylist she said that I cut a bunch of little uneven patches all over my head and in order for it to be even she had to cut it low, to about 1 in. I didn't mind, and actually I was happy because I felt like I was starting fresh and learning my hair from its roots!
My Journey to Sisterlocks
After almost 2 years of wearing my hair in its loose natural state, I decided it was time for me to get locs. My decision to get Locs was based on a lack of time for styling my loose natural hair. As much as I LOVE my loose hair, I didn't have the time that I wanted to dedicate to keeping it healthy, so with that I chose to get locs. Then another hard decision arose, Traditional Locs or Sisterlocks. I battled with this for about a month or two and did research on both. In the end, I chose Sisterlocks and I think it was one of the best decisions I made in my natural hair journey....aside from going natural of course! :-)