Recently many women (including myself) have been putting away the relaxers for good and deciding to let their natural kinks and curls grow out. As a culture we've only recently re-learnt what to do to our hair to ensure it grows strong and healthy. As someone who is now natural after 24 years of relaxed hair I'm going to tell you 8 things I wish I knew before I decided to become natural.
Let the decision be yours
As much as people try to make you feel like going natural is the right choice, at the end of the day no matter what, the choice is yours. Natural hair takes a lot of maintenance, there's detangling, finger combing, co-washing, deep conditioning etc No one else is going to do all that for you so why should people pressure you into going natural. I can't lie to you, having your natural hair takes a lot of work so if you're not willing to put the work in you should really think about it. The goal should always be healthy hair rather then #TeamNatural or #TeamRelaxed.
I can't emphasis this enough! Your natural hair requires so much time! For the first year you'll just be figuring out what do it, watching hours of YouTube tutorials and trying out a million and one products! But over time you'll slowly figure out what your doing.
Shrinkage is real
We've all seen the jaw dropping images on Instagram of women with 1 inch of shrinkage and 12 inches of blow dried hair. The kinkier your hair the more shrinkage you'll get. The way to get around this?........... Stretching! stretching! stretching! After you've washed your hair make sure you're using a stretching method to reduce shrinkage.
You'll become a cook
Soon you'll start to see everyday ingredients from your kitchen differently. Honey, Banana, Yogurt, Milk, Eggs, Avocado etc. You'll revert back to your younger self and start making potions again, but these potions will make your hair healthy and strong!
Your hair will get very dry
This is something that definitely surprised me. I assumed because I'd cut off all my unhealthy relaxed hair my new fresh natural hair would be moisturised and soft all the time, boy was I wrong! To help with moisture there are a few changes you should definitely make, these include deep conditioning weekly, using sulphate free shampoo and co-washing more frequently (i'll be writing a post about moisture retention in the next few weeks).
Protective styles are everything
During the first few months after my big chop, if i'm perfectly honest I was so lost. I had no idea what to do. I had never had my natural hair out before ever! Everything I used to do didn't work anymore and I got so frustrated. Luckily for me, protective styles completely saved the day. As well as protecting my hair they gave me time to study my hair and get tips. Then in-between styles I would try new things out whilst getting ready for my next protective style. It stopped me from feeling so overwhelmed. Of course the main benefit of these styles is to protect your hair, most importantly the ends which are the oldest and often the driest. Styles include wigs, weaves, braids, crotched braids, buns etc Anything that means your ends are protected and you're not having to style it every day
Don't compare your hair
It's so easy to do this, you see all the beautiful girls online and you think "My hair is going to look like that" or "I hope my hair looks like that". I've heard some girls say "If my hair type isn't X , then i'm going to relax it again" which is such a shame. It sounds so cliche but every hair type from 1 to 4c is beautiful in their own way!
Do what works for you
Everyone's hair is different, so what your hair needs will be different. There's nothing wrong with trying out new brands and trends but what your hair needs will always be a journey you'll have to take alone. Its ok to be guided but it's definitely a journey of self discovery. There's something so empowering about being able to look after your natural hair and keep it healthy.