7 Things I Wish I’d known when I first went Natural
Makena here! A die hard natural, for the majority of my life except for a brief period in high school college that I had permed my hair. I transitioned into natural back in 2013 and I’ve never looked back.
(Me as a new natural)
Well, what do I wish I knew? A whole bunch of things that now extends to more than just hair. I like to think of my hair as that friend that sticks with you throughout all the different stages of life. Right now I’m on that dreadlock phase and I’ve been on it for the last two years. Here are a few lessons and tips I learnt along my hair journey:
1. It’s a love hate kind of relationship.
Your hair will show you manenos that you hadn’t thought of. It’ll grow whichever way it wants, sometimes even start standing without you wanting it to (which might make you want to apply the gel just to keep it straight for the rest of the day.) I’ll take for example of the one extra batch of hair that grew out off the front of my hair even after I finished the stage of locking my hair. Don’t get me wrong, I love it now but as the hairs were growing I was busy contemplating over all the things I could do without it. First it was the shortest batch of hairs on my head, it kept on standing all the time, it was added hair I had to loc even after I was sure I had a good number of dreadlocks on my hair. It took months but now its just like the rest of my dreads and I’ve grown to like it. You’ll have a lot of incidents such as these.
2. Keep your natural hair regimen simple.
No need to drastically change your whole regimen and jump into products once you’ve done the big chop or transitioning. I transitioned into natural hair as this worked best for me. I kept to my previous regimen, wash, blow dry, style my hair after every two weeks and occasionally apply relaxer. In the cold season I would braid my hair just as a protective measure. I stuck with that regimen, eliminated the blow-drying and perming and now I was constantly looking into alternatives to the products that were already out there.
Currently I wash my hair, apply oils and tie them into bantu knots. This is my go to style for any day. I’ve stuck to this ever since.
3. Going natural may not work out as well as you thought on your first try.
The first few times of being natural I was tempted to perm back my hair. My hair was seriously misbehaving and was going against my mantra of being neat and tidy. I opted to get dreads to tame the hair-adding on to the fact that it had always been on my bucket list. Little did I know that the usual waxes would react badly with my hair and skin. I broke out in white rashes the first time I locked my hair, the second time the wax I used was completely useless. My hair refused to lock even after several applications. I rocked an afro and pseudo dreads for a few more months before I finally decided to naturally lock my hair. And believe it or not, this time it worked.
4. Natural hair will elicit a variety of reactions from people.
I don’t know how many times I’ve walked anywhere and my natural hair hadn’t elicited reactions. “Why is your hair looking untidy?” The most common one, “What’s up with your hair?” “Do you own a comb?”Be prepared for such comments. At first the comments used to make me doubt my decision to go natural. Now I’ve learnt to embrace the fact that I have the ability to make someone do a double take and leave them with something to think about.
5. Respect the hair growth cycle
Let’s get a little technical here. Hair growth goes through three stages, the growth phase, resting phase- where the follicles rest. Here most times hair naturally sheds. The final stage is where the follicles renews itself in preparation of regrowth. The longer the growth phase the longer the hair growth. The cycle starts again. I believe its important to understand and respect your hair cycle in order to properly manipulate your hair. Heredity has an effect on how long your particular hair growth cycle lasts, so don’t compare.
(Simple pictorial of what the hair growth cycle looks like)
6. Natural hair can save you a lot of money.
If you’re into DIYs like I am, then you’re going to enjoy the low maintenance styles and cost effective products that are readily available. Personally, my preference is pure oils such as castor oil, olive oil and shea butter. The good thing is that these oils have more than one benefit for your hair so even if you’re just using one of them, you’re guaranteed a whole lot of goodness for your hair.
(this afro was my low maintenance style when all the transitioning was done- I rocked it for close to a year)
7. Finally, don’t go at it alone.
Having a curlfriend is the biggest gift a naturalista can have. This natural hair journey can be long, frustrating and may challenge one’s outlook. But your curlfriend is there is for obsessing over natural hair together, for sharing the different natural hair tips and regimens…She is there for the days when you get that comment about your natural hair and for the days when you don’t believe in your own hair journey. For me, I was lucky to share this natural hair love with my long time friend, Sly and something beautiful came out of it, Nywele Natural, a platform dedicated to all things-as the name suggests-natural hair.
(undoing my bantu knots)
(Me trying to explain to Sly about that extra dread that came from nowhere)
Best advice I can give, give it a try! Believe me, you’ll be wondering why you never got into it sooner. The natural hair community is here to support you.