Well, back home I was able to go to a salon once a week to have someone else manage my huge head of hair. Being 100 plus miles away I was lost and confused. After relaxing it I STILL had to learn how to do my hair. Relaxing my hair wasn't the simple fix I thought it would be. The "I need my hair relaxed" phase lasted about a year or so before I was sick of it. To me, there was more maintenance, upkeep, and rules (no chlorine, avoid the rain, dance too hard and your curls will disappear, etc) that needed to be followed.
There were two attempts at transitioning my relaxed hair back into my natural state. They both failed! Failed either because it hurt SOOOOO bad to comb my hair that I couldn't take it and was near tears, or because my hair was breaking off badly. Both of these reasons caused me to go to town on my hair with scissors and a relaxer kit! The end results were super cute, but that's not the point. As you've probably heard before, the third try was the charm for me ^_^" What actually made a difference my third time around was I had a close friend who did a BC, and had met other people who already had natural hair. They helped me learn some things along with a hair dresser I started going to.
|Strike 2: relaxed and cut my hair|
|Strike 1: layered and relaxed my hair|
Research was a big help in me transitioning. I did an online search for salons in the city that had stylists who specialized in natural and/or textured hair, then went from there. It was important to me that I had a full in person conversation with the person that I would be trusting to do my hair. There have been plenty of times I've went to salons and the stylists are confused, don't know where to begin, call others over to see, tell me it's going to cost more, ask me how I do my hair, so they can do it.....there is no way I'm sitting in your chair and letting you do anything if your initial reaction to my hair is even remotely similar to these!!!!
Luckily I did find a salon, and they offered a free consultation with the stylist. Some of the things I felt helpful that he asked, suggested, mentioned were:
- What was my over all goal with my hair. (Health, length, etc.)
- What products was I currently using? (Shampoo, oil sheen, hair spray, etc.)
- Mentioned the good/bad of specific products I named that I used. (Pantene for Natural, oil sheen, etc.)
- Suggested quality products I could find at stores myself. (Ex. Mizani)
- Asked about my typical hair routine. (How often I wash, what tools do I use, etc.)
- Explained why I had the issues I currently did (Breakage, etc.)
- Explained how different hair textures had different needs (Less oil, more moisture, etc.)
In my opinion this consultation was one of the best things I could've done. We ended our consultation with him giving me a haircut. Since I was terrified of cutting off ALL of my hair at once, he suggested that I get a shorter style and start there. Cutting my hair a few inches at a time helped keep the ends healthy, let me retain a comfy length, and slowly remove the relaxed hair. I'd get about 2 inches cut once a month. When I was finally left with a few inches of relaxed hair and the rest was a comfortable length for me I was ready. My hair was still short, but it wasn't too short that I didn't feel good about it. If you're in doubt or self conscious it'll show no matter how sweet your haircut is.
|Courtesy of Mr. "Don't Use My Gov't Name" aka UIPHOTOS ^_^|
Check him AND more of me out H E R E !!
It took about 6 months for me to finally say, "DO IT!" The picture above is what was left when every single chemically relaxed strand of hair was gone from my head and I loved it!! It's been a rap ever since and I haven't turned back.
The journey definitely wasn't always easy, and I honestly have had my fair share of discouraging time, but as you can see I'm still going strong! Some things I did to keep my head up before and after my BC was:
- Talk to friends and strangers who were chemical free to find out tips, get help, etc.
- Find blogs online for how-to's, product suggestions
- Splurge on products in clearance bins to try for cheap
- Join "Meet Up" groups that are geared towards natural hair, or just the interest
- Keep in touch with your stylist for pointers
- Find local support groups/events
- Watch YouTube vlogs (keywords: natural hair, big chop, encouragement, natural hair styles, etc.)
- Be open to trying new styles, or accessories you wouldn't have before
- Remember that opinions are just that..opinions, and everyone has one (family and close friends included)
- Search for books at your local library
The last time I had a relaxer put in my hair (take #3) was fall of 2007. I transitioned from there to my BC in 2008! So for about 4 years I've been relaxer free. Occasionally I would get my hair cut into different styles, and of course keep up with trims as needed. My hair grows fast, but maintaining HEALTHY hair is my biggest goal so losing a couple of inches to make sure it's at its best doesn't worry me. I'm having fun trying new styles, meeting people (chemical free or not), and learning new things about hair in general. It's definitely been a journey with some bumps, but I'm in it for the long haul!