Before You Go Natural: Advice from A Girl Who’s Been There Before

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Today, I am going where this blog has never gone before.

And it’s got plenty to do with my experience during the past few months. In short, I’ve had a temperamental time with my tresses.During 2013, I decided I wanted to become a naturalista. I had been chemically straightening my hair since I was 10 years old, so this was a monumental decision. Yes, monumental.

You see, when I was a child, only a handful of people had success in taming my massive mane: my mom, one or two brave cousins, and my aunt, who was a hairdresser. Most people would back out after realizing that it was so much thicker than it appeared. As one hair stylist at a popular D.C. salon recently put it: my hair is “dense.”

So you might not find it surprising that, about eight months into my transitioning, I quit. After trying product after product, late nights detangling my hair, and bad hair days, I decided that a chemical relaxer was in order.

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At the salon, contemplating a big chop or chemical relaxer, and possibly annoying the heck out of the hair stylist.

Does quitting make me less Black? A sellout? Before you answer, hear me out. I’m sure I would’ve succeeded at rocking the natural look if I had taken the time to prepare. If you’re in the process of reverting to natural coils and curls, here is some advice. Please consider:

1. Budget

Thanks to the natural-hair blogs and online communities out there, you will find lots of advice on which products work best on which hair types. But remember, it takes time before you figure out which product is right for you. Read: it takes time and money before you figure out which product is right for you. And boy did I go through a lot of products!

The lesson here: a trial-and-error approach might require big spending, so be sure to plan ahead for this added expense.

2. Time

Based on the tugging, pulling and comb-breaking I went through as I child, I should’ve known what I was in for. With the decision to go natural came long nights in front of the mirror: detangling, twisting, tucking, and styling. I tried doing this while balancing a job, going to school, writing a thesis project for a graduate degree, and all the while trying to find products that really work. No bueno!

My advice? Before you begin transitioning, think about how much time you’ll have to maintain your mane and keep it looking fab!

3. The Weather

Living in Washington, D.C. reinforced some things I kind of already knew about weather. It is unpredictable and it messes with the best-laid hair plans. When the Summer rain tumbled down unexpectedly, my hair did unthinkable poofy things. When colder weather rolled in, I had to begin a new search for conditioning and moisturizer products to combat dryness. When it was humid, shopping around for hair-taming pomades was nothing short of an adventure.

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My go-to hairstyle whenever there was rain in the forecast.

To prepare for your transition, give good thought to the products you’ll need, invest in an adequate umbrella or hair bonnet (ha!), and research cute weather-resistant hairstyles.

4. Your Level of Patience

Before I started transitioning, I considered myself a pretty patient person. But I confess, handling my hair made me rethink that. I went through a period of protective styling, waiting for my natural tresses to reach a decent length. It seemed like it was taking forever. Then I thought about how long I would have to wait before I had a wonderful mass of curls on my head. Too long, I reckoned.

I’m sure I was overthinking the whole thing way too much but alas, impatience got the better of me. So here’s a tip, consider if you have enough patience to ride through your natural hair journey and roll with each length and each stage.

5. Your Overall Look

If you’ve ever moved from long hair to a pixie cut, you probably know where this is going. After the chic chop, you probably noticed that some of the outfits and accessories that worked well before no longer did. Even the subtle change of moving from long extensions to a transitioning blow-out bob made me rework my wardrobe. Certain earrings were a no-no and some necklines no longer flattered as much. No doubt, it’s quite the same when you move from relaxed to natural, or from a pulled-back chignon to an afro.

I’m not saying you’ll have to buy an entirely new wardrobe, but it might require you to rethink how you put your outfits together, which could end up being lots of fun, too!

So, what does this blog post mean for my transitioning sisters, or the ones who are thinking about it? It’s not a deterrant but more of a guide to decision making for aspiring naturalistas, who I hope will hang in there much longer than I did. Here’s to wonderful hair days and magnificent manes!

One thought on “Before You Go Natural: Advice from A Girl Who’s Been There Before

  1. Everything you’ve listed here, except for the money spent on products, is what has stopped me from going natural. I often told my husband that unless I have someone on demand to tackle my thick hair (dense like yours :) ) it’s not an option to do it.

    Like

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