I have been natural since 2010. At first, I just stopped getting relaxers but kept my hair flat ironed, and then I realized the damage I was doing to my hair. I saw the havoc that using constant heat, going to money hungry stylists who only cared about my coin and not my hair health, and experimentation with coloring my hair had done to my tresses and I finally said no more! I had a good friend who had recently done the big chop and I decided if she can be brave enough to cut all her hair off just like that, surely I can safely transition and learn to embrace my natural hair as well. It is now almost 7 years later, I am fully natural, and I would never dream of going back to relaxers and straight hair.
Although I know I made the right decision, and it was without question one of the best I’ve ever made in my life, there are some things that I wish I would have known before I made it. Here are 5 things I wish I would have known before I went natural:
1. Your life will change.
It’s so cliche. You hear every one talking about their “natural hair journey” and how it has affected their self image and awakened a love for themselves they never knew. I’m here to to tell you, it’s true. When you live your entire life trying to look like someone you are not , and spending so much money and time on creating and maintaining that image, and then, all of a sudden, you finally learn to love looking like yourself, it’s life changing!
2. You will be awkward.
I think every person who makes the decision to go natural, whether they transition or do the big chop, goes through that “awkward stage”. It’s the stage at the beginning of your journey when everything is new. You have no idea what you’re doing! You don’t know what products to use, what hairstyles to do, what order to apply the products or how to achieve the hairstyles. You end up watching a lot of YouTube and doing everything wrong. More than likely, you end up walking around looking like a hot mess for months. I think a lot of women do not understand this part of the natural hair journey. They think it’s easier than it actually is to achieve the bomb twistout or the curly, full wash n go. It literally takes months, maybe more to learn how to care for your hair and how to do it so that it looks beautiful. Because a lot of women do not understand how hard it is at first, many of them give up. This brings me to the third thing I wish I knew.
3. Your hair is different.
Don’t let your several failed attempts at recreating your favorite natural hair vlogger’s hairstyle that she did on her latest YouTube tutorial discourage you. Everyone’s hair is different. You can’t rely on YouTubers or anyone else alone to show you how to care for and style your hair. It will also take some work, research, and dedication on your part. You will have to learn about your hair; what it likes, what it responds to, how much product is too much, what brand of products really makes your hair feel and look moisturized, shiny, and defined, and what products do absolutely nothing for your mane.
4. You will get through it.
I’ve heard so many people say, going natural is not for everyone, or that everyone cannot rock their natural hair. I think that nothing angers me more. The fact of the matter is, whatever grows from your scalp is more for you than anything else possibly could be. Many black women/women of color, are just not willing to do the work. Maybe it seems to hard, or too time consuming, or maybe they aren’t ready to embrace the kinky, curly, or wavy gorgeousness that will grow out of their scalp. It may be too scary. However, it most definitely is for every woman of color. And if you stay the course, learn about the hair that God gave you, and nurture it, it will grow. As the popular saying goes, “If you water it, it will grow.”
Which brings me to my last point…
5. You can’t be lazy.
Sure you can get away with a little laziness every now and then when it comes to your natural hair… You can throw it in the infamous high puff when your day 4 or 5 hair is starting to look a little rough and you aren’t prepared to weather through wash day just yet. Or, if you’re rocking a protective style, you can go a few weeks without having to bother with your curls, but for the most part, especially in the beginning, you. cannot. be. lazy. You have to try new things, new products, new types, new techniques… constantly. When you’re used to someone else doing your hair and only having to run a flat iron over your hair a couple times every day to maintain the style, it is shocking when it’s all up to you. But then again, it’s part of the journey. And anything you work hard for is worth having!
When you look back at this post, you can understand why I believe the first point is the most important. It WILL change your life. Every other point refers to a way you will discover something new about yourself or rediscover why you are so beautiful. These 5 things I wish I knew before I went natural are things that I actually am a little glad I didn’t know, to be honest. The suprises that I encountered and conquered made the ride that much more rewarding in the end.