Women cite numerous reasons for going natural. For Tauri Laws-Phillips, Tigi Haircare’s media and public relations manager, transitioning to natural hair after 16 years of relaxers was prompted by her upcoming wedding.
Her blonde, blue-eyed fiancé looked much different than her, and she realized her children were probably going to have hair that wasn’t like hers. She thought about her own biases about her kinky hair, and how they had come from her mother’s views about her own hair. She wanted her children to grow up with a more positive attitude about their hair, whether it be wavy, curly or kinky.
“I have a family where in which we have the full range of color and texture of hair you have in the African-American culture represented. I remember my family’s negative feelings about their natural hair texture. Such an importance was put on having straighter hair. All of us were relaxed so young—subscribing to what other’s views of beauty was. If I couldn’t embrace who I was, how could I teach my children to accept themselves? If I’m changing things about me, how can I help them accept who they are, exactly how they were made?
I embarked on the journey to see who I was and started transitioning immediately. I made the decision I wasn’t going to do another relaxer—did the deep dive. I wished my hair would grow and be healthy, but I bleached, straightened everything. It wouldn’t grow past my shoulders.
‘Okay, we’re going to try this,’ I thought. That’s when I started to fall in love with what it could look like. A lot of CurlyNikki and YouTube brought me to that realization.
So, I wore braids and roller sets for a year. Then, for a friend’s wedding, I let a friend straighten my transitioning hair. Afterwards, I was pulling out masses of hair. When I got home, I made decision it was all over. Sitting at my desk on a Tuesday, after work, I got out the spray bottle and I cut the front first. Then, I cut all of my hair. I took a picture of my now husband as he came through the door.
‘It’s beautiful,’ he exclaimed.
Now he loves it. It’s so funny. He knows everything possible about black hair. He helped me take out my braids. He can tell anybody what I’m using on any given day. It was really good for us because he went on the journey with me. It was important for him to understand what I was doing and why it was culturally important. Important especially for him to help understand how to support his children in the same way. We all went out to see the movie “Good Hair” so he could ask all of his questions about African American hair.
For the most part, my family is supportive. When I was getting married, mom asked if I was getting a relaxer for the wedding.
‘Are you getting a straightener,’ she said.
‘I did not go through all this just to put in a relaxer in Jamaica,’ I told her.
For the wedding, I wore it in a twist-out puff. It ended up raining the entire day so I though there was no reason to try to fight nature. I looked like me.”
For most of her life, though, Laws-Phillips thought going natural was something other people did.
“I thought ‘I can’t do that,’” she says. “I thought there was no way I could look presentable. I thought I would look terrible.”
Today, Laws-Phillips is celebrating her 2-year anniversary, and has no regrets.
Laws-Phillips says transitioning to natural hair is both emotional and physical. It’s about changing your views, confronting your bias and getting up close and personal with the idea of how you’re going to look with natural hair.
“It’s about getting comfortable in your own skin,” Laws-Phillips says. ‘As your hair is growing out, it’s a great time to look at pictures and re-pattern all the thoughts you have about your hair.”
For so many years, she says her natural roots were the “big bad wolf” – signaling another trip to the stylist for a relaxer.
“When you’re transitioning to natural hair, you come to think about the new growth as something exciting,” she says. “It’s exciting to see whether you’re going to be a 3c or a 4a or a 4b. It’s kind of like the birthing process.”
Laws-Phillips joined Tigi in March, and is loving the opportunity to discover new product combinations.
“There’s no better job for a product junkie,” Laws-Phillips says.
Tauri’s Tips for Transitioning to Natural Hair
1. Stay away from heat! “If you must, protect your hair.”
Tauri admits that in the weeks before she did her big chop, she broke down and let a hair stylist hot comb her hair for a friend’s wedding. “Big mistake! When I cut my hair, I had damage and ended up a bit shorter than I had hoped.”
2. Find fun natural styles.
“I transitioned for nine months with mostly braids. When I needed a more polished look, I did a roller set or Bantu knot-outs.”
3. Involve everyone!
“It was such a fun journey to learn about my hair. I dragged my co-workers, friends and family along with me. My blonde German fiancée learned so much. He saw me put braids in and helped me take them out,” says Laws-Phillips.
One big advantage of involving people is that she rarely received mean spirited comments.
“In fact a co-worker and fellow natural did my big chop, and I never felt so loved as the day I debuted my two inches of curls to the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ of fellow co-workers. When presented with the story of an adult taking the journey into self-acceptance and awareness, I find everyone embraces you.”
4. Do research.
Look at different styles. What works for others may not work for you.
5. Be gentle.
Kinky hair can be fragile. “I have stopped over-detangling. One time in the shower is plenty!”
6. Experiment with products.
Find out what your hair likes. “Olive oil is too heavy for me, but I adore jojoba oil,” says Laws-Phillips.
7. Water is your friend.
“My hair is happiest when I co-wash one to two times per week and wash/condition and deep condition it weekly.”
Some of Laws-Phillips’ favorite look and Tigi products include:
– For a super defined curly ‘fro, she mixes Catwalk Curlesque Curls Rock Amplifier with Catwalk Curlesque Defining Serum She shingles the Curls Rock Amplifier through her hair and then when it’s 75% dry, she goes over the ends with the serum, which she emulsifies between her hands.
– For an everyday wash and go look, she applies Sleek Mystique Fast Fixx Style Prep in the shower and then sections her hair and applies a “gumball-sized amount” of Catwalk Session Series Wet Look Gel. “Then I shake, shake, shake and put a t-shirt on my head to catch the drips while get ready. I can’t tell you the joyous squeal I let out when I figured out that I didn’t have to shingle to get definition, and I’m done in about three minutes.”
– For her “best twist and curl to date,” she uses Catwalk Sleek Mystique Blow Out Balm to protect her hair and shorten the blow-dry time. “I do a modified chasing method using my Denman brush and blowing my hair lightly until it’s 80 percent dry to stretch it.” Then she uses S-Factor Spun Satin to define the twists.