“Don’t touch your hair for five minutes. Go!” That’s the challenge I give my mother since she went natural earlier this year. Mom loves her hair and constantly touches it (a few times she didn’t make it to five minutes). She’s not alone. For some of us neo-naturals, our kinks and curls are like new discoveries after years of straightening. And our fingers are itching to explore the treasure on top. I remember friends in college always twisting their hair during early stages of their locking journey. And I’m proudly guilty of playing in my mane as well. Since I’ve put down the pressing comb, my fingers seem to be dancing in my afro and twists non-stop.
A few months ago I sent my hot comb and pressing cream on a long vacation. My hair needed a break from the heat and I needed a break from pressing it. I got a few ideas for styles from Prettydimples01 Youtube channel. Her hair is much thicker than mine and she’s a professional stylist. When I tried to mimic her styles with my bathroom-beautician skills and semi-thick strands…well, just imagine the catastrophe for yourself. I had to tweak her styling methods for my own texture. This meant a lot of experimentation. There wasn’t much need for a brush and comb. My fingers were doing the work. I’ve been using a hot comb for a least 25 years. That’s most of my life. So while I had straight-hair styling down, I was in the beginners class of Natural Hair 101. The more I played with my hair, the deeper I fell in love with not how it looked, but felt. I noticed its softness through manual teasing to make it poofy. I could feel its bushiness under my fingernails while massaging my scalp with rosemary oil. Even combing out the little kink balls shedding from my hair ends was fascinating. It was as if my fingers touched my hair for the very first time.
My first natural style were two-strand twists. I overindulged on shea butter and locking gel. The result wasn’t pretty, but droopy. My twists looked and felt sad. I gave the style another go, less gel and no shea butter, and my twists curled up like a smile. I stood in front of the mirror, pulled a twist and boing, it snapped right back to my head. My little twists have springiness and should I dare say, energy. I didn’t know my hair could go boing, but I liked feeling the springiness. Many times when I’m working or doing nothing, I catch myself pulling at them.
Two weeks later I took down my twists and picked my hair in an afro. I noticed it starting to get dry. Although I put the shea butter away after my droopy twists, I rubbed some in my ‘fro to give my hair life. My hair turned into cotton candy. It was soooooo fluffy and thick. I let my fingers lose themselves in the meadow on my head. Once again I was pleasantly surprised by the texture and the look. I always thought my hair wasn’t thick enough for an afro. Not only is my hair thick enough, but soft with a little bounce.
Since sporting my first afro I’ve said a little thank you to God. All of these years I’ve been straightening my hair and not fully appreciating my God-given texture. That’s not to say I’ll never press my hair again because I like the versatility of black hair. But it will be a while before I do. I’m having fun discovering cute ways to style my hair, minus the heat. Embracing my natural beauty a little more feels good. And so does my hair.