My Natural Hair Journey

Despite my mother’s warnings, when I was in middle school I was determined to perm my hair, so it could lay straight down my back. I’ve always went to predominantly white schools and I wanted my hair to look like my friends instead of always being in braids. I still regret this decision to this very day. So much of my long curly hair had to be cut off because it was damaged from the perm. From then on, I had short straight hair that was consistently damaged from being flat ironed. It wasn’t until high school that I decided that I wanted to return to my natural hair again. I stopped getting perms and began to cut off my damaged ends.

However, my natural curl pattern returned and I soon learned after doing research on natural hair that my hair type was often looked down upon. My hair type is type 4, this curl pattern is categorized as being “kinky” or having very tight coils. In the natural hair community, especially online, more loose, uniform curls that are type 3 hair were seen to be more beautiful. I remember wanting to try to change my curl type and feeling discouraged about my natural hair. Plus, it didn’t help that my classmates were confused on why I stopped straightening my hair and made rude comments about it or touched it without permission. At this point, I went back to straightening my hair and had to cut off more of my hair. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I got back into dealing with my natural hair without using heat. After looking up youtube videos about caring for Type 4 hair, styling tips, and learning about protective styles, I felt more encouraged to give my natural hair another go.

Today, I love my kinky curls and I am glad that I finally learned how to take care of them and keep them healthy. However, I would like to note that natural hair is very expensive and time consuming. The products that I use for my hair can cost twice or triple as much as hair products that are widely marketed such as Garnier or Head and Shoulders. These black hair products are even harder to find in local grocery stores. My walmart has rows and rows of hair care products for straight or wavy hair and one small section in the corner for black hair products. Also, for protective styling I usually end up wearing wigs because they allow for my hair to rest and not be constantly manipulated. This stops it from breaking off, helps it keep moisture, and allows it to grow faster.  However, wigs, at least good ones, can be expensive to purchase. As for the time consuming nature of natural hair, a typical wash day for me takes at least 5 hours. I have to detangle my hair multiple times, but if I don’t take my time detangling, my hair could get knots and break off. Type 4 hair, due to its curl pattern, is very delicate and it is prone to breaking off if it is not properly detangled and moisturized. Outside of washing my hair, styling for me could take up to 3 hours as I usually have to detangle my hair and then either braid or twist it to keep it protected.

I am continuing on my natural hair journey and it is a “journey” as I am always trying to find new, better ways to keep my hair healthy and happy. I am proud of myself for being able to love and care for my hair in a society that often looks down on my type of hair, saying that it is “nappy” or “unprofessional”. While I do wear wigs too, that doesn’t mean that I hate my natural hair or that I am ashamed of it. I should be able to do whatever I want with my hair and change it up sometimes if I feel like it because it’s mine. For the people out there that do perm their hair or flat iron it, this article is not an attack on you. Permed/flat ironed hair didn’t work for me, but maybe it worked for you and that is perfectly fine! However, if someone reading this decides that they want to go natural, I encourage you to do some research on it and if you want to give it a try you should go for it! Natural hair, while a lot of work, was worth it for me and it may be worth it for you too.