Tuesday, April 16, 2013

To go Natural or Not: A few things You must think about before taking the plunge

Two and a half years ago I decided to go natural. It was a spur of the moment decision due to me being at a friends house and seeing her nieces hair looks so beautiful. She flat ironed her hair and it was long, thick and healthy and I loved the look. I enquired about her hair and she told me she was natural. I was in awe that hair could look that way and be natural with no aide of relaxer (perm) or harsh chemicals. The actual sign, seal, delivered decision to go natural was after seeing the movie "Good hair" by Chris Rock and I was instantly on board.
To give you an idea of my mindset at the time is a little hard, but my main plan was that I was going to research to the death (which I did) and transition until my hair was at a length I felt comfy with and cut off my relaxed hair (which I became impatient and cut early) I at the time wanted long, flowing hair similar to my friends family and was going to do whatever it took. Reminiscing I realize I wish I could have known some of what I know now when I began my hair journey and decided I will share that for any readers that are making that decision.  I love being natural and I think it is the best decision I have ever made in my life but I personally do not believe it is for everyone and I am very open to all hairstyles and choices. Overwhelming information is available online and so much jargon and beliefs are there too. Do whatever makes you feel happy and do what works for you.
 Now let me start, to big chop (BC) or to transition is the question.

  • Big Chop is cutting off all your hair and starting your growth journey over from scratch. It is a bold move and requires a lot of confidence on your part. Keep in mind it sounds easy but depending on your family, friends, spouse etc you might get a lot of heat and backlash when you do it. Now I believe in doing what you want and not to let peoples opinion effect you but sometimes it can be nerve racking and without support can be very controversial.
  • Transitioning is instantly stopping any use of relaxer, texturizer, or chemical agents. It involves letting your hair grow out and cutting off chemically hair gradually. This is definitely the safe way to go and I think it is a good idea if you are not as bold or as comfortable with short hair. I did this but I only transitioned for maybe a year or less and got impatient and cut my relaxed ends off. Deciding how long you wish to transition for it the hardest part because some are impatient and just want to start the journey instantly so it is something you must decide, but really no rush. 
Now that we have covered some of the basics I will go over some house keeping that is imperative on the journey.
  • Changing the way you handle/mistreat/style hair is a must. The days of the flat iron daily, applying heat frequent, colouring frequent and avoiding trips to your hairdresser, cuts and regular maintenance are gone. With natural hair comes a little more work and TLC if you want it to be healthy and grow, and mistreating it will leave you with the same results you had when relaxing your hair.
  • Using good quality shampoos, conditioners, and styling products that help moisturize and style kinky, curly hair. Also being familiar with the ingredients that are contained in the product, and avoiding some ingredients that come in a lot of beauty supply hair products all together. Also researching oils, and butters that are good for the hair and aid with styling
  • Moisturizing the hair is going to be a MUST. The thing is regardless of hair being natural, relaxed, etc this is really the crucial step in haircare and seeing hair growth that counts. The hair ends are the driest and oldest and need constant care and product being added to prevent breakage. Water or water based conditioners are the best and sealing the hair with oils such as almond oil, or argan oil are helpful to retain the moisture in your hair. 
  • Conditioning your hair is also another crucial part that woman tend to skimp on. Picking moisturizing conditioners, applying deep conditioners to your hair, and selecting leave in conditioners that help add moisture that is lost from day to day outings or washes is very important and creating a decent regiment that allows for that is going to be the most helpful part of the journey. 
Detangling your hair is/and will be the most time consuming, dreadful part of being natural. You will need to give yourself plenty of time to carefully and gently detangle your hair after you wash it and remove any knots or tangles through the hair. Detangling when wet and soaked with product is good because there usually is a lot of slip to your hair and allows for easier sessions.
  • Comparing your hair to others will not get you far through your journey. Every one's hair is totally different and no matter what products are used, heritage they are, or maintenance given to the hair will not determine how your hair will look, feel or act. What may work for me may not in fact work for you and trying products is the only sure fire way to determine if it works. I get asked frequently for recommendations of products, and I see natural hair mavens show you products they are using and get totally different results and that will be a part of the journey. If it was so easy that everything would work for each of us we would have no journey so try things out and go with the flow of YOUR hair.
  • Everyone will not like or support your decision to go natural. So do not look from validation from family or friends because you may not get it. Our society has been conditioned to seeing long, bone straight hair as beauty and some people can't look past it and thats fine but do not let it detour you or your end goals. Try not to allow negative opinions of your decision stop you from embarking on your hair journey you have set out for yourself. Really allow yourself to learn your hair, and research different products, oils, and styling that you can do for yourself. 
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