So you’ve made the leap over to naturalism and what a leap it was! After holding your tresses captive by relaxers most of your life, you had finally had enough, it was over. It was bitter sweet initially because after all, there was a history there that you couldn’t help but respect. A bond was formed as you sat in that salon chair every 4-6 weeks, or whenever your edges sternly reminded you that it was time. As you watched your stylist get out that bowl of white stuff and her plastic gloves, you envisioned super straight edges and hair you could easily run your fingers through. Yeah it may burn for a minute but it was a necessary evil. Beauty knows no pain, right? Who can blame you for missing it every now and then, especially on those rough days. We all have those days where we want to take what is seemingly the easier route and that which is familiar. But you’re here now, finally relaxer free! You’ve transitioned your way to the top, endured the struggle of maintaining two textures and trying to look good while doing so. All the while telling yourself and your coif, “if we can just make it through, it will all be worth it”. Nothing ventured nothing gained right? Only now, it seems like it was all for nothing. Three years later and what a disappointment! Your hair won’t grow, in fact, it appears to be breaking, these straight pieces keep popping up all random and what not, even though you say you trim a few inches every other month! Not to mention, it always looks like ish! What happened to the rainbow at the end of the tunnel? Wasn’t it supposed to look like the beautiful girls in the You Tube videos? Who wants to walk around looking busted. Might as well go back to the relaxer! What’s a natural to do? Sound familiar?
Before you flip out and decide to undo three years worth of progress and efforts, let’s be rational here.
1. First things first – assess your situation
Identify the source of your panic by doing some brainstorming. What are the issues surrounding your panic?
- My hair won’t grow
This is a chief complaint amongst naturals who are experiencing hair challenges. With the exception of medical issues or permanent damage, it is doubtful that your hair is simply not growing. Hair grows approximately ½ inch per month. What your issue may be is that you are not retaining the length, particularly if you trim a few inches every other month. You are in turn cutting the hair growth progress you’ve made.
- It appears to be breaking
If you are experiencing breakage, this is also related to length retention. What products are you using? Does your shampoo contain sulphates which strip hair of moisture thus leading to breakage? Are you providing your hair with the added moisture needed? Do you seal your ends to lock in that moisture? Do you protect your hair at night while sleeping? Perhaps a protein treatment is in order or maybe you are experiencing protein overload. How you style your hair can also cause breakage. Styles that require the hair be pulled tightly can cause breakage.
- These straight pieces keep popping up
If you are noticing random straight pieces throughout your hair, it could be a result of heat damage. How often do you expose your hair to heat? Is heat a consistent part of your regimen? This could possibly lead to loss of curl pattern.
- It always looks like ish
How your hair appears is a direct reflection of the health of your hair. Once the health issue is addressed, so will the appearance. Deep conditioning and using oils such as coconut which helps seal the cuticle and is packed with protein is a great start towards restoring your hair back to health.
2. Don’t make an emotional decision – this is a decision that requires a certain degree of logic and emotions can hinder the process.
3. Document your hair experiences (when you notice certain things are occurring, how often you are using heat, which products render certain results, etc.) Having a written record will assist with identifying patterns.
4. Acknowledge that there is no easy fix. Think of it as a trip to your physician’s office when you aren’t feeling well. You give him or her the rundown of things that are occurring, her or she will ask a few questions based on what you’ve explained and then start to do a process of elimination. i.e., let’s try this solution, check back in a few weeks and see what we are left with. If that doesn’t work, we’ll move on to solutions B & C and if necessary D & E until a resolution is reached.
5. Consider cutting it all off and starting over on a fresh head of hair. This is a last resort for some but no big deal to others. Some naturals big chop every few years. You will still need to follow a consistent hair care regimen, but this gives you the opportunity to start with a clean slate.
If after all of this you still decide natural is not for you, at least you can say you put in 110% to live the lifestyle.