Natural Hair Journey: My Transition from Relaxed to Natural

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The summer before I arrived at Clark Atlanta University, I decided to go natural. I wanted to stop getting relaxers and let my beautiful, curly hair grow out. A relaxer is a chemical treatment designed to permanently alter the hair's natural curl pattern into a straightened state. My mom has been taking me to get relaxers since I was about 7 years old so I was very nervous to her about my decision. To my surprise, she supported my decision all they way and even said she regret relaxing it in the first place! I was so thankful I would no longer have to sit in a salon chair while the chemicals burned my scalp. Most little black girls go through this because sometimes it might be easier for parents to manage their hair, or straight hair might just be more socially accepted. If I could have had the choice to say something when I was younger, I wouldn't have gotten a relaxer. My main reason for becoming natural was because I was tired of having damaged hair. Throughout the years I have relaxed, dyed, color rinsed, and extremely heat damaged my hair. If I didn't stop soon I'm pretty sure I would have no hair left on my head. My hair was already short so I thought "why not just cut it?".

Starting college in a different state gave me a chance to reinvent myself and start a new reputation. During this time I started transitioning from relaxed to natural. I was way too scared to do the "big chop" because I was very insecure about whether my hair could compliment my facial features. I wanted to start school and recreate myself while having a new start for my hair as well. So for anyone going through this, I would like to share a few tips.

First things first: go to a salon and get a trim. This step is crucial to the natural hair journey because it is the first step. It is okay if you don't want to cut it all off, but at least cut 1-2 inches to get started. Next, try to wear protective hairstyles so that you can give your hair a break and it will grow. While transitioning, most people will do length checks frequently but  are disappointed by the lack of progress. The average person's hair grows about a quarter of an inch per month, so you will not see the results you want that quickly. By wearing protective styles such as weaves, wigs, boxed braids, twists, and faux locs, you can give your hair a rest from heat and breakage while also promoting new growth. After doing this for a few months, my hair was half natural and half relaxed. The transitioning period is an awkward one, so I just decided to cut off the relaxed hair as it grew out. 

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I spent most of my freshman year of college wearing weaves and wigs. I just wanted my hair to grow and I was very impatient. I started to doubt whether or not I made the right decision to cut off my hair. Fast forward to the summer of 2017. I had finally cut off all of my relaxed hair and wore my little afro out for the first time ever. I love running my fingers through my hair and feeling little spirals. I had no idea how beautiful black hair could be. All my friends and family back home were very surprised when I debuted my hair for the first time, but I got positive feedback. Spending a year at an HBCU really helped me embrace my black girl magic and I became much more accepting of my hair. Seeing other women on campus with their natural hair out made me so excited to wear mine out too. It was nice having friends who could help me with my new hair (and also Youtube tutorials). I am currently in the middle of my sophomore year of college and my hair prospering! It is a big blonde afro, (yes, I dyed it again), and it is shoulder length when stretched out. Cutting my hair was the best decision I could have made for it. It grows faster, it is healthier, and I no longer have any split ends.

The last thing I want to talk about is maintenance. Whoever said that going natural is easier than having relaxed hair lied. You can't just go to sleep without doing anything with your hair because you will wake up to a matted mess. The number one thing to remember is to keep your hair moisturized. Our hair tends to be dryer than other hair types and required much more TLC. SheaMoisture, Castor oil, and Eco styler gel will became my best friends. Wash days and I have a love-hate relationship. On one hand, I love washing and conditioning my hair. On the other hand, my arms trt to cramp up after I start twisting my hair. Which brings me to my next topic, styling. Twist outs and braid outs are usually the go to styles for natural girls. Not only are they great protective styles, but they also elongate and define beautiful curl patterns. A tip to avoid frizz when taking down a twist out is to apply oil to your fingers before you begin. Being natural is a commitment.

I hope these tips help and good luck with your natural hair journey!

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Credited sources:

StyleCaster, KhamitKinks, CurlyNikki