Going Natutal for Health Reasons

Reginastwin writes:

Nikki,

I've been enjoying your community for quite some time now. THANK YOU SO MUCH for creating a helpful, fun, user-friendly site. I have received so many valuable tips on how to properly care for natural hair especially for my two daughters' "uber" thick heads of hair! I have been inspired by the wonderful stories of why some chose to go natural, be it just "to embrace the curls that they were blessed with" or "stand out" as unique in the vast sea of bone-straight styles.

I, too, have learned to embrace my curls but only after losing most of it to illness. At the suggestion of my doctor, it would be in the best interest of the health of my hair to discontinue all chemical processes in order to let my scalp rest and heal. I also started taking high quality supplements. I didn't BC but slowly cut off the relaxed ends every 3 months or so. It's been 2 1/2 years since I've had my last relaxer and my hair has grown tremendously. I get tons of compliments and I am loving every bit of it! However, it still tends to be fragile so I have to handle with care.

How many have made the decision to go natural due to health reasons?

How did you adjust? Did your self-esteem initially take a hit?

20 Weigh in!:
L. Michelle said...

This is my story to a T! I decided to let my hair grow back naturally after having cancer and losing all of my hair due to chemotherapy.

Let me tell you something. Hair doesn't matter much when you don't have any!

Amaven said...

I can identify with this post but my situation is a bit different. I have been without relaxer for 15 years, and this is mostly due to my aversion to the toxic chemicals in the relaxers and their devastating affect on hair, so in that regard, it was for a health reason.

I had been getting my hair flat ironed about once monthly for years in the past, but my main hairstylist sold her business and moved way out of reach late last year. This had an interesting snowball effect that I am extremely grateful for. Because I did not trust anyone else with my hair, I refused to see any other stylists and waited until I had the means to get myself out to her new location.

Well, while waiting for my hair fix, I decided, what the hey, I can go work out now that I don't fear the sweat on my head ruining my press job. So I did, and weeks went by and I thought, you know what, I really love working out, I feel healthier, stronger and the toning up of my muscles had me looking dynamite, lol. I didn't want to stop! What I was doing for my body was so important plus the fact that I'm a person who's happiest when I'm involved in lots of rigorous activities like sports, dancing, running, etc.

So I resolved to find natural ways of wearing my hair because I realized I missed being physically active, actually liked to walk in the rain once in a while and enjoyed going swimming without stressing about my hair. I still hadn't learned what to do with my hair but since i was outta college for the summer I just kept it braided up with a cute bandanna over it. I rocked this style for a long time then found Nikki's website and it's been downhill from there! (thanks Nik!)

Hair should not be the reason why you are missing out on the joys of life, it should be one of those joys. So my going natural was for health reasons, psychological as well as physical!

Naturally Me said...

I haven't been technically diagnosed with any health problems but I can say that during the 20 years or so that I kept relaxer in my head (would relax every 2 months or so), I would suffer from the worse migraines that would linger for 3-4 days at a time. My doctor could not determine WHY I was getting the headaches but he was very quick to PRESCRIBE some type of chemical medication which had horrible side effects. I stopped taking the medicine because I would rather deal with the headaches rather than the side effects.

I didn't make the connection until after I decided, enough with the relaxers. My hair was extremley thin and stringy. It was always oily and the sides were thinning badly. Seven months into my transition, I got a headache and realized I hadn't had one in over 7 months. This headache was NOTHING lime the migraines and lasted only a couple hours, until I popped a tylenol. That was 4 months ago and I haven't had another one yet. Everything we put on our head is absordbed into our bodies. I researched every single chemical in my relaxer (I was a frequent of Olive Oil relaxer) and was SHOCKED! No wonder I was suffering from headaches, those toxic murgering chemicals were being absorbed right into my brain! Needless to say, relaxers caused years of migraines for me and going natural may have saved my life. The long term effects of relaxers and chemical dyes are endless and scary. So, that's my story.

Miss Mafia said...

I have decided to go natural due to health reasons. The chemicals in the relaxers were giving me migraines and a bunch of other problems. I refuse to go back and be in all that pain.

Allllice said...

I went natural because i suffer from chronic eczmea and getting relaxers would cause me to have burns that would ooze puss alll over my scalp. in additon to the relaxer doing is normal amount of damage i was also having allergic reactions to it and the shampoos used afterwards. My skin has become very sensitive due to my last relaxer and it hasnt gone back to normal at all in the last 3 years. my primary care phys., my dermatologist AND my allergist all saw a noticeable difference in my skin on my scalp, face and neck after i cut out relaxers and stopped using products with petroleum, mineral oil and fragrance. I can usually get away without a reaction if fragrance the last ingredient listed on the bottle.

Going natuaral also forced me to look at what else i was putting on and in my body. I decided to cut out all red meat and most animal base products and even took a further step and cut out gluten which is found in wheat/flour and subsequently all wheat containing foods. since then i've seen a tremendous change in my overall health. my skin is the prettiest its ever been and my hair is the longest and healthiest its ever been. im not a nappy nazi, everyone has a right to chose to do what they want for themselves...but when you really think about what relaxers are and do there isnt one good excuse to use them. stop being lazy and scared and learn how to do you and do your own hair. in most cases, i consider giving a child a relaxer child abuse and neglect because of the damage it cause to the scalp which can lead to worse physical and psychological side effects.

Leo the Yardie Chick said...

My decision to go natural was brought on by a lack of time, at first. I'm a student with a lot of studio-based work to be done, and I wasn't keen on the idea of spending 4-5 hours at a salon for a relaxer. While I was transitioning, I did more research on caring for natural hair and realized there was nothing at all wrong with my hair to begin with! All it needed was proper moisturizing and conditioning, which it rarely got in my first 11 years of life. There was no need for me to have gotten a relaxer in the first place.

Also, I loved not having searing chemical burns to look forward to at every relaxer session. No matter what I'd do (not scratch my head for weeks before, treating my roots and scalp like an infant, etc), I'd always get burned. In retrospect, that was too much of a sacrifice to make in the name of straight hair.

My self-esteem wasn't affected as, through my research, I was able to embrace my hair as a part of me rather than an unruly force to be reckoned with. This is how my hair will remain from now on, and whoever doesn't like it can turn their eyes and comments elsewhere.

Bludini said...

I was diagnosed with scarring alopecia about two years ago. This basically means that whatever hair I lose my scap scars over thus not allowing any new hair to grow. So if I lose my hair, it is gone. My dermatologist was honest and direct "Stop relaxing your hair!" It has been a year since my last relaxer and I see improvement. I have little to no sheading. I am glad that I made this decision and I have a bald spot to remind me of all the damage I was doing to my scalp and hair.

Anonymous said...

I feel like this post is singing my song. I always wanted to blend in, but couldn't. My hair was different, clothes, my diet (food / beverages), soap, shampoos / conditioners, detergents, how my body responds to the environment, and the list goes on. I felt like an outcast, because I just wanted to be able to have the simple pleasures of life that everyone else enjoyed and my sensitive immune system had another plan. Not a day went by that I didn't feel alone or singled out for being different.
I feel very blessed to have found CurlyNikki's blog, because she encouraged me to be my own best resource and provided access to resources / information about products that would work for me. It still required a significant amount of work on my part to figure out what worked best for my hair, but it was the support that helped me continue on my journey.
There was a time when I almost allowed myself to believe that maybe I had Nappier than Expected Syndrome, but now I know I just needed to be patient in the process of figuring out the needs of my hair. The best part is that I understand why my hair likes the products that it does and it is not just a game of chance. Now I know how to address the needs of my hair and it is a blessing.
In addition, I am no longer actively searching for a miracle product that is going to agree with my hair, skin, and immune system. I am happily content with my organic homemade pH balanced products that support healthy hair growth. I truly feel blessed and the feeling is priceless.
Live, Love, Peace. ~Sweetsop
P.S. Personally, my issues are on-going and are managed by making significant changes in my life that I expect to be apart of my daily routine for the remainder of my days. My perspective has changed as I advance in years and I am more accepting of my situation, but there are times when I still dream of being able to eat, wear, or use products that don't agree with my system. Then I remember all the blessings in my life and the things I do not have don't seem as important.

Anonymous said...

I went natural because of sores on my scalp and hair loss due to relaxing. At first I would still get sores if I wore my head-bands too tight or if there was too much pressure in a certain spot. I can truly say that this year I have put more time and effort into my hair and I hardly wear headbands or anything else in my hair that cause pressure. My hair is doing good or should I say my scalp is doing good I want to do better but that comes with time.

Anonymous said...

I went natural because I had breast cancer and the chemo took out my hair. I decided to not put another relaxer in my hair. I have come to embrace what I have and I'm loving my hair again.

Anonymous said...

I made the decision to go natural after Christmas 2009. Not b/c of health reasons or hair issues, but b/c I just refused to do it anymore. I hated the idea of processing my hair one more time and the thought of paying someone $75.00 to relax my hair when I could do it myself for nearly ten times less made no sense to me either.

I got really hooked on locating websites for natural haircare, styles and products. I'm enjoying playing around with the puddings and the creams. I recently did my first small rod set, which gave my thick, black hair the natural curls that lasted for nearly an entire week.

I'm loving it! I have a great stylist I visit once a month whose clientele is 90% natural! According to her, I only have four inches of relaxed hair left. I'm patient, though, and will wait until it has completely grown out rather than having the BC.
Going natural was the best decision I have made for my hair.

foldbike said...

My family has been struck by cancer, four members (including my mom) have been diagnosed in the last five years, one of whom passed away. The women in particular are very sickly, suffering from joint diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. About 10 years ago I chose a different path. I am a vegetarian who grows her own food, a Pilates instructor and advocate of healthy living. I use green products to clean my home and cleanse my body, so the use of a relaxer every six weeks did not coincide with the rest of my life's decisions. I simply did not know - yes, believe it! - that I had other options. I didn't know how to care for my own kinky hair and had been taught it was "bad." YouTube and blogs like yours, Nikki, have helped me reconcile my lovely kinky hair with my natural lifestyle. I now live a healthy life through prevention, and that includes my haircare. Many thanks and congrats on your lovely Gia!

reginastwin said...

Thank you all for sharing your inspiring stories! It feels good to be a part of a community where we can open up and share ourselves. @foldbike: I am so sorry to hear of your loss of your loved one. For almost 3 years I have shyed away and felt so self-conscious after having MBL hair. Not anymore! I think I am finally over the "grieving" process and am starting to have fun finding new styles to rock my "fierceness"! Good health to all of you!

reginastwin said...

@L. Michelle: I agree. I wish you the best of health! Thanks for sharing..

@Allllice: My family too suffers from eczema, scalp psoriasis, food and environmental allergies. The less chemicals the better. My challenge is still finding hair products that don't aggravate our skin sensitivities like fragrance, shea butter and some of the nut oils.

Stay positive ladies!

LBell said...

Thank you all for sharing your stories. Looking forward to reading more. The overriding message is that yes, you DO have a choice...

Anonymous said...

I too did so for health reasons. I had been thinking about doing it for a while. I did a few years ago and jumped off the wagon as soon as I got on it. Recently I was diagnosed with a chronic pain condition so I decided, ENOUGH! It's one thing to put chemicals in my body so I can be semi functional, another to put them in my body so I can look like everybody else. Besides, I've always walked to the beat of my own drum, rocking the biggest curly fro weave, not matching head to toe, daring make up. Why not be daring with my hair? Why not embrace the beautiful curls that grow from my body?

I have learned that I did not appreciate my body before. And now I want to nurture it. I want to give it all the love it deserves for trying to fight through this condition. It has let me crawl when I could not walk. It has taken in food even when my mind did not want any. It has done as much as it can do despite the pain and for that I have to give it the gift of my love.

I don't even put heat on my baby. I just let the sunshine warm her.

Anonymous said...

It was Al who convinced me to stop. Al Opecia.

I had a half-inch circle which grew to 2 inches in diameter. I noticed two more spots as it progressed.

I went to the my physician for tests to rule out sarcoidosis since I'd also been experiencing joint and lower back pain. He referred me to a dermatologist. I underwent weeks of triamcinolone acetonide w/ lidocaine injections which gave me HORRIBLE headaches.

The hair grew back, and fell out again within the year.

I quit relaxing. My natural hair texture camouflages the thin spots.

My three 'friends' are still with me; the hair is sparse, but not shockingly thin. I'm lucky.

I learned that my hair strands are too fine to tolerate relaxer, and the health risks are too much for me.

FunkyStarkitty50 said...

I have aloepicia as well, due to a thyroid condition. I have not chemically altered my hair in over a decade, but I did have a weave and tight braids problem. I am currently in treatment and there is growth in the spots that were completely bald. But natural is the way to go if I want to keep my hair healthy.

Miss Tasha said...

My dermatographism is what caused me to stop. The intense itching of my scalp and the rest of my body....combing was more than unpleasant. My hair was already breaking from relaxers and hair dye, so making the transition wasn't difficult.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I am just entering my "goin natural" stage. For some reason to be honest I am so self conscious of how it looks. I feel the cut it amazing, just am not sure I have the "face" for it. It may sound silly but i just feel more "open" I am also really concerned about keeping the moisture in my hair I am wondering if I am focusing too much on the curl pattern? probably.:) I know its a transition and I decided to do the chop and go natural because I wanted the freedom financially of not spending $75 to maintain relaxed hair. Also i wanted a change and my hair is thinning. Can anyone share there struggles about goin natural please. I know I was born with natural hair and I am essentially "goin back" natural but its alot of trial an error produce wise. I am using shea butter curl enchancer as well as wave by design moisturizer. Thanks so much for this community.

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