When I first began pondering my decision to go natural, I did several 'prep myself' sessions. This meant I inundated myself with everything natural. In retrospect, these 'prep myself' sessions were good because they gave me some information about what to expect after my big chop and what products to use on my hair. On the other hand, these sessions served as somewhat of a wish-list for what I thought would surely happen during my process. The following are my tips for how to deal with the unexpected when going natural:
Dealing with Damage. While going natural is a beautiful thing, there are often unrealistic expectations of how natural hair should feel and look. Every natural’s head is different and contrary to popular belief, not everyone ends up with shiny, bouncy ringlets of hair. Even more significant, some naturals continue to deal with the after effects of previous chemical and heat usage. In essence, give your hair time to recover. It has probably been through a lot over the past several years.
Drier than a Dessert. Returning back to our curly textured hair will be liberating but also frustrating. Many of us were accustomed to perming our hair and how it functioned in a relaxed state. Becoming natural requires you to relearn everything about your hair and how it operates. The curves and bends make it difficult for moisture to travel down our hair shaft which causes dryness. Understanding why it happens and how to properly moisturize your hair will save you heaps of frustration and bewilderment.
Forget the Stylist. I fondly remember the days of getting my hair freshly permed by my childhood stylist. Back then I loved the look, and my edges were always nicely laid by a pomade or gel. However, going natural means YouTube becomes your new hairstylist. It’s either that or pay a ridiculous amount of money to get a style you can do on your own. Embrace doing things for yourself and the tricks you learn along the way.
Slow Motion for Me. During our permed days, we should have adopted a motto that said, “Wash, set, and go!” This process may have appeared long to us but if we knew how much longer it would take to style our natural hair, we would have been more grateful. Styling natural hair takes considerably longer because of its density and propensity to tangle. Regardless, it’s much healthier and fuller than our permed hair was. If you’re feeling overwhelmed then break everything down in stages, and take breaks when needed.
Try by Trial and Error. During the days of Luster’s Pink Lotion and Dax, we were all pretty much using the same products. In its relaxed state, our hair all looked the same. However, now we have a variety of textures and hair concerns. This means that our natural hair may appreciate a completely different product than the next natural head. At the beginning, try our different techniques and products and then stick with the one that works for you.
Caring for natural hair isn’t a cakewalk but I think it’s a general consensus that naturals don’t desire to go back to relaxers. Deciding to go natural was the best decision of my life, giving me confidence in my Black features and overall power as a woman. On the other hand, going natural has a very feminine element to it. It shows us how to relinquish control and nurture what is before us. Love on those kinks, curls, and coils because your deepest essence supports it.