by Chai of Back to Curly
Each Sunday for the past couple of months, I’ve set aside a block of time devoted solely to get my hair did. The actual time varies each week depending on the errands I have to run in the morning or the afternoon, but nonetheless it’s come to mean ‘me time.’ On any given Sunday I seriously prep my place for “The Process,” map out my strategy as far as cleansing, conditioning and styling go, put on some music to ease the inevitable frustrations and settle in for the long haul. It’d be a stretch to say I look forward to this part of the week, in all honesty I don’t. But ironically I do get full satisfaction seeing the fruits of my labor. Plain and simple…I enjoy doing my own hair!
My mother has even come to poke fun at me. When I do call the fam on Sundays, I’m usually on the last leg of the process, either air drying my hair or twisting my last twist…I think the urge comes from wanting to share my triumph with someone, yet my triumph just usually ends up with my mother breathing sighs of disbelief at the amount of time I spend doting on each strand. It’s really come to be our thing in a way…I call..she berates a bit…and I quickly remind her how much I used to spend in salons every other week to get the hair coiffed. Our conversations usually end with her words of encouragement, and a reminder not to stay up too late drying my hair.
On a few occasions I do run into obstacles…my hair is far from dry and a friend calls wanting to have dinner/movies/last minute drinks before the start of the work week. A scramble usually ensues…me trying to find an appropriate hat to cover up, yet not mess up all the work I’d done…my mother’s voice in my head warning me of my fate of catching pneumonia if I go out with my hair damp.
Eh…these are little things. Funny things that I look back on and smile…the lengths I’ve gone through to keep the do in check as a natural are somewhat the same lengths I used to go through when I wore my hair relaxed. I’m by no means scared of the rain… ha! These days what I’m more fearful of is forgetting to seal my ends and misplacing my satin scarf/pillowcase.
Things that I don’t miss… the fearful look on stylists face as I walked through their door with a head full of natural hair. I’d often walk up to a stylist and timidly ask, “how much to wash and two-strand twist?” Their eyes…my god their eyes would seriously hover over my matted, dry hair, quietly assess the situation…perhaps knowing that my head of hair would take up the remainder of their afternoon…. and quote me a RIDICULOUS amount. Essentially, I’d always end up paying for their own frustrations in dealing with my own hair!
Since becoming natural over ten years ago, never have I paid less than $50 to wash, condition and twist my hair. To deep condition, well… I’d have to cough up an extra 25 bucks, and usually it was just plain ‘ol conditioner while under the dryer for 20 min. Forget going to an actual salon that caters to women with natural hair. After getting over the initial high of finally finding a salon to cater to my fro-ness, I’d cringe at the prices! Here in BK, an average style can run you $80 and up. Granted though, I do think these salons are good starting points during the beginning stages of transitioning and going natural, I visited a handful after the first few weeks of my first BC…ended up broke in the long run, but it was an experience much needed at the time when the natural hair community that we see today was still a burgeoning novelty.
If you do go to these salons, please go prepared. Do your homework, know what products are being put in your hair, know if you’re getting your money’s worth. Do not be afraid to ask questions, but also expect some answers! Understanding natural hair doesn’t begin with a visit to the salon, it starts with you…facing the mirror and determining for the first time your own realistic expectations of what you can and cannot do with your hair. The good news is probably…a lot! Natural hair offers such crazy versatility…but only if you equip yourself with that knowledge. You may not know how to flat twist, corn-row, two- strand twist, bantu-knot, micro-braid…etc., but it’s important to know when and if your hair needs a trim, can your hair/wallet withstand a deep condition, is your hair healthy enough to withstand a color treatment…or even the basics, what is your hair texture?
I say all that to say…’the process,’ for me is never ending, and in a odd way I’m glad. It’s been dubbed the ‘natural journey,’ for some time because it’s all one colossal learning curve that has enough dips and turns to make you sometimes doubt your own commitment. But, I do hope to be on this journey for the long haul…PJism and all, I’m beyond thrilled each week to wake up on Sunday mornings knowing I control this…I got this.