Here it is. My photo journal of this journey I’ve been on since Feb 2014. I started out using relaxers (since I was 12 I guess) & had never been able to get my hair past shoulder length. Well, it was about an inch or 2 below my shoulders at the longest. Oh yeah, this post is long. Thought I’d let you know in advance. Back to the post.
This is how long it was for years. And it just looks this long because that was a stand up collar. So sad. I’d tried everything. Braids, weaves, wigs, treatments, etc. but it just didn’t work. I got to the point that I mentally & emotionally couldn’t deal with my hair. I went to the salon and got flat twists (the ones with gel) for about 2 months straight. When they were taken down, I had FOUR INCHES of new growth! Oh, let me back track a bit. My hair grows QUICKLY. No, I mean QUICK-LY. One of the reasons that I couldn’t grow my hair with a relaxer was because my hair was in need of a retouch every 3 weeks instead of the minimum 4 required by most salons. So I’d be walking around looking wooly & my hair breaking off. It was a catch 22. So I found a stylist who specialized in natural hair & when she saw me she broke it all down. She suggested I do a big chop. I refused, citing the fact that I planned to remain married. You know how husbands are with long hair. Jesus, help. So I took a while to think about it. In the meantime, she gave me blowouts. O-M-SWEET-JESUS! That was the BEST thing ever!
But I had my concerns about heat damage and it was just as EXPENSIVE!!!! Oh yeah, did I mention that finances was the other reason that I was having issues with my hair? Let me do the math for you. If you get a $60 relaxer every 4 weeks (like I was “supposed to”), that’s $720 a year. If you get a $60 relaxer ever 3 weeks (like I NEEDED TO) then that’s $840 a year. Um, that’s a lot of cash, player! Like an extra mortgage payment, 4 car payments or a mini vacation a year. Naw, cuz. I had to figure something better out. So off to YouTube I went. I watched some of everything. It was dizzying. Thank God YouTube is free. I could’ve put someone’s child through college. Twice.
Anyway, here’s how it went. I decided to go natural. But with 2 different types of hair (natural & relaxed) I had to make a choice to chop it all off or not. I decided to transition. So I grew out my hair for another month or so & kept my hair in bantu knots to maintain moisture & length. By that time it was February 2014.
Side note: If I could have changed anything I did it would have been this: I never would have told anyone but very close friends about my choice to go natural. You’d be shocked at the amount of haterade that came from the haternation. You’d think I set the entire Dudley family on fire! People have issues about hair and they need Jesus. What you decide to do with your hair is your business. Don’t let ignorant folk dissuade you from what’s best for you. Besides, why do you need to answer to them? Are they getting up at 6 & 7 am to tackle your tresses? I. DON’T. THINK. SO. Tell them to take a stadium of seats. Let me sip my tea and move forward…
Transitioning wasn’t always easy, fun or cute. There’s a learning curve when you’re doing this. Mine looked like this:
But I got better! Enter 2015…I had to learn how to rock different styles at different stages.
I wore crowns/halos when my hair was fully stretched. (Y’all my hair was so full of pins & so tight that if I would have sneezed, my face would have torn and blown off in a breeze. Why do we do this to ourselves. But I looked super cute, tho, right??!) I wore Bantu knot outs with 2nd and 3rd day hair.
This is when my hair was really long and fully stretched, but I realized it was super dry.
I’d tried a ton of products & it was getting super expensive & it kept acting crazy, getting frizzy and not holding moisture.
That’s about the time that I started investigating other ways to infuse moisture. I kept reading articles and they all said: MOISTURE. And more specifically, WATER. I was getting super frustrated. The only product I could find to hold moisture was castor oil. And I couldn’t get the ratio right. So it was either still not holding moisture or I looked like I had a Jheri curl. I couldn’t take it any more. I cut it again.
Well, yeah. Shrinkage is real. But I think at this point I’d cut off 2-3 inches and that was AFTER my chop! So it was growing because I was no longer using relaxers, but it was breaking off due to dryness.
2015 was a challenging year. But it gets better! That summer in July we were going on vacation & I had to figure out what to do with my hair. So I kept searching YouTube. And that’s when I found it. I think it was around April of 2015. I found water only hair washing. Literally, that’s the name of the channel. Water Only Hair Washing. It was my oasis and the answer to all my prayers! I watched videos for hours on end and after a bit of trial and error, I found great success. I took a break for a month while I tried out crochet braids.
Mistake 1: The braids were too tight. Mistake 2: I didn’t cleanse or rinse my hair often enough and got single strand knots. But MAN, DID MY HAIR GROW! I gained around an inch in a month. It’ll grow it you leave it alone, y’all! But they were cute, right? Yeah, the hubby almost cried when I took them out. He got over it. Poor thing. His wife really put him through some stuff. Almost 20 years with hair, then this. God bless him for staying.
2015 was another year of growth. But I ran into another bad habit. Cutting. I mean on another level. I’d cut half an inch 1-3 times a week. It was ridiculous. It got so bad that my stylist friend had to tell me to stop. She asked me, “Girl, how are you gonna know if it’s growing and how much it’s grown if you keep cutting it?” Oh yeah. Dag, I hadn’t thought about that! I knew I was cutting it like a psycho, but I hadn’t kept up with how much. If I had to guess, I’d cut over 3 inches off that year. I wish I’d used more restraint. Funny thing is, when my hair was relaxed, I’d fight you in the street if you mentioned scissors and my hair in the same breath. Funny how wearing your hair naturally is so freeing. You KNOW it’ll grow back, so cutting it is no big deal. Anyway, here’s some shots from 2015. Varying degrees of stretch and various hairstyles. Enjoy!
Here’s where I was by January of this year. It was just touching my shoulder when fully stretched. Pretty good! I was trying twist outs. It was still a bit dry, but nothing a trim and adding another water wash during the week didn’t fix.
March 2016 (my fabulous 2 strand twist out)
This week! The measurements are in. Below the collar bone! About 6 1/2 inches. It was 4 inches last year.
The sides are 8 inches!! They were 5 last year. No joke. Even with all that cutting!
The front is down to my bottom lip, about 6 1/2 inches. It was down to my nose last year. Big improvement!
I’m happy with the results & have no plans to stop any time soon. In case you’re wondering if I miss my straight, silky hair, nope. I had it blown out and flat ironed recently for a haircut (an absolute must by the way) and I hated it! I was exhausted with trying to figure out what to do with it! Then when I thought about it I was like, “Let me get this straight. I took my curly hair, straightened it and now I need to spend more time curling it AGAIN!?” Oh ….. no! And people wonder why there’s an uproar over us having to do our hair to make it look like other races. Nope. I’ll pass thanks. And if I decide to change my hair, it’ll be my choice. Not because of some company’s or government’s regulations. Foolishness. Ok, the soapbox is away now.
So here’s the before & after shots. Ooh, the little thinning part in my temple even filled in!
Oh before I forget, I finally perfected the wash & go! How? Changing my shower head to one with a filter (see my last post), ditching all products & going completely to water (except a few choice natural DIY mixes involving all natural oils & foods) & by not using towels on my hair. So, I hope this answers more questions. Let me know if you have any that I haven’t addressed!
Til next time,
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