This article is for my cousin who just cut off all of her chemically relaxed hair and decided to rock her natural curls. She, along with a few other friends asked for my suggestions... so I suppose this post is long overdue. Those who are considering transitioning with both textures until their hair is at a certain length before cutting, you’ll need a post for another day. This is for the BIG CHOPPERS!
She asked particularly about products and advice on what she could do at this length. Here are my suggestions:
First of all, have you taken a look at your face? I realized when I first cut all my hair off that I really got a chance to look at myself. I saw the exact shape of my eyes, my lips, my cheek bones, etc. It was interesting seeing myself in a new way. Discovering little things I had never noticed in the mirror before. Enjoy those moments!
Second, have fun accessorizing. This is really for naturals at any length but especially for you. You know those really funky earrings you’ve never worn? Try them. Try a green eye shadow if you wear makeup. Try a really cute bow, clip or headband. Wear a scarf, a beanie. Heck, put shimmer on your cheeks if you feel so inclined. But also know, you don’t have to wear huge hoops just because you hair is shorter. You can still rock studs and look just as fabulous. Have fun!Third, MOISTURIZE! Keep your hair moisturized. If it feels dry, crunchy and straw like….um….that’s not the direction you want to head in. Your hair should feel soft! It shouldn’t be so over moisturized that you’re leaving stains on every surface that your head rests on, but it shouldn’t be crunchy! Your number one moisturizer is absolutely free! Say what?! Yes. WATER. Water is your best friend! Many naturals shy away from it because it makes their curls shrink but I think that’s an esteem issue they need to get a grip on. Your hair loves water. Keep a spray bottle handy. I have a little one in my purse and every now and then, I spray a little mist on my hair.
You can also moisturize with a good leave in conditioner. There are plenty of brands out there. I stick too organic ones but I used to also make one with water, regular conditioner, carrier/essential oils and rosewater. Apply as needed.
Speaking of oils, every now and then put a little bit of oil in your hair to seal in the moisture and give it a nice shine. For years I only used olive oil. There are tons of others that have great benefits like jojoba oil, almond oil, coconut oil, castor oil, and grapeseed oil. But before you spend your whole paycheck at Wholefoods, just try olive oil! It’s relatively cheap compared to the others, and it works. Trust me, I used it for years and still to this day, it's my go-to!
Fourth, figure out a good staple shampoo and conditioner and wash your hair weekly. Some people co-wash. Some wash with apple cider vinegar. Some wash weekly, some, every other week. As time progresses, you will discover your own regimen. I’ve tried them all and there are benefits to each. Still, I’ve always had a good shampoo and conditioner in my cabinet. Don’t be so quick to grab the expensive, name brands like Miss Jessie’s, CURLS, Kinky Curly or Carol’s Daughter. There are all sorts of alternatives…including organic brands that are budget friendly. This is handy for those in college! For years I used Nature’s Gate which is organic, relatively cheap and smells like heaven! Don’t just go with Nature’s Gate because I mentioned it. If you aren’t into organic brands, there are plenty of other kinds too. Just find one that you like!
Fifth, learn how to two strand twist. You used to do it on your Barbie. Go ahead and try it on your own hair. Even when your hair is relatively short, you can twist your hair even if its three twirls around. This also means you can rock a twist out. Even though it may be small.
Sixth, filter all the advice and suggestions. Including my own! People are going to be telling you everything. They are going to suggest products, tools and styles, and the list is endless. There are a billion Youtube tutorials and product reviews. There are way too many blogs. Now runways are rocking fros. At this stage with your hair length, you can keep it simple. You don’t need to use every product. Enjoy the simplicity. Enjoy the time you can save now that you don’t have to spend lots of time styling and maintaining your hair.
Seventh, do away with the naysayers. It will be ten years later and you’ll still find “friends” telling you your natural curls are too extreme. I’m sure people are still asking what made you cut your hair. They are freaking out! Let them freak out. Obviously you are one step ahead of the game, in that you don’t define your worth or beauty by the length of a hair strand. Keep walking with your head up and enjoying your new look. And you know what, if you absolutely hate being natural….you can always change your look up. Hair does grow back. But if you learn to keep it simple and work what God gave you, I doubt you’d ever go back.
Ninth, ask other naturals, in real life, about their hair. It’s great having a face to face conversation. And these days I see naturally curly haired women EVERY WHERE. If time permits ask someone, even a stranger about her curls and how long she’s been natural and how she maintains her look. Chances are, if you are nice about it, she is completely approachable and willing to share her experience.
That’s all I have for now. There are a billion tips out there for people who just did a big chop. If you have the time or interest, check them out on blogs and Youtube. Or don’t read any of them, and just listen to your intuition. For the first four years of being natural, I had no clue there were websites dedicated to its maintenance. And before me, countless other women rocked their curls before Youtube existed. So if you don’t have a computer or the budget to buy every hair book, it's okay. You don’t necessarily need it.
Below I’ve included one of my first Youtube videos that shows a pictorial collage of my first few years wearing my curly hair. You’ll see an assortment of styles and lengths, mostly created from two strand twists.