I’m sure I’m not the only one who was thoroughly transformed by returning to natural. There were a lot of things that I had no idea that I was learning. Much of the time, I was focused on doing/fixing my hair, but my transition and the journey that ensued has taught me so much about life. So this is the introduction of a series of posts about my transition and what I’ve learned.
I began my journey during my freshman year of college. This is about what I looked like when I got my last relaxer.
One thing I’ve learned is that I love exactly who I am, what flows and grows out of me naturally. I love it. I’m comfortable with it. I know it. The natural life is the only option there ever was.
So reminisce with me as I wax poetic about discovering the real me through my hair.
Throughout my natural hair journey before I BC’ed again and as soon as I had enough hair after I BC’ed, I have heavily relied on twists. They have carried me and have proven to be so versatile. As a natural who has always preferred a protective style to any other, the two strand twist and flat twist have proven to be a dream. I was 2 years into being natural before I realized that I could do my hair myself; that’s when I started doing 2 strand twists. Before that I had gotten my hair done regularly for a period of a few months and then just wore my hair out in a fro or puff. It was a year later when I decided to try my hand at flat twists, and, of course, I’ve been in love ever since. Only thing is that I can be pretty bad at parting. lol. #Nightmare #Ohwell
Anyway, this is why TWISTS are the best:
1.They’re easy to do. – I think we all can agree that two strand twists are a breeze to do, although they make take a while. Flat twists may seem difficult, but they’re pretty simple to do and practice makes perfect.
2. They’re easy to style. – Depending on how you want to look, you can two strand twist on wet hair or dry hair. You can make them really small or really thick. You can twist in different directions so that your hair can fall a certain way. The same can be said about flat twists.
3. They’re pretty easy to moisturize. – For two strand twists, the smaller they are, the easier because I can moisturize it like I would unstyled strands. Flat twists may prove to be more of a challenge because you can’t get at all of the hairs, but my hair retains moisture really well with this style. (I also think my hair is not very porous. So once moisture is in there, it’s there to stay.)
4. They’re so easy to live in!!! You can wash your hair in these! (I don’t because I have to be able to get at my whole scalp; so I can’t be gentle.) You can get these wet and still have a style. Well, you can with two strand twists anyway. The maintenance is nearly nonexistent. Just make sure you don’t lay on them crazy because you will look like Buckwheat.
5. The Twistout!! Enough said.
6. I can’t cornrow. Lol. Yeah, that’s my reason.
7. My braidouts are always subpar. Lol.
All hail the glorious twist! What do you guys think about twists? Are they your favorites or nah?
Okay, I get it. There are probably a lot of people who will say the definition of a protective style precludes an “out” style like an afro. However, a lot of these things are kind of fluid in the natural hair community, and that is because what protects my hair or promotes length retention for me may cause breakage for you.
The reason that my TWA is a great protective style is because
It requires little manipulation for me.
I do have to pick it. When I’m getting myself ready for the day, I wet my hair (and moisturize depending on the day) and pick mainly the sides and back. I don’t pick the top much because I’m growing out a tapered cut, and the top is at least twice as long as the rest. So I when I pick the back and sides, it ends up looking like a reasonably shaped TWA.
I know! Picking sounds like pretty serious manipulation. I don’t pull my pick through my ends too much because I really want my hair semi-stretched away from my scalp. I try to pick more at the roots and pull with my hands.
It keeps my hands out of my hair!
I am very much like a child in that when I have my hair styled, I touch it. I want to feel the texture of it. And I’m really bad about it. When I have it in the more familiar TWA, I’m not tempted (as much).
My ends aren’t really that exposed…I’m hypothesizing.
No, my ends are not tucked away per se. However, due to my curl pattern and hair type (4c, I’m pretty sure), my hair coils in on itself. So I don’t think my ends stick out a lot. (I could be wrong.) It doesn’t hurt that my hair is heat damaged on the ends (SMH – that’s what you see sticking out. I just had my hair trimmed 7 weeks…whoa, almost time for another.), and I plan on chopping that in a few months.
Finally, I’ve done this before. This is my 2nd big chop, and my hair retained length pretty nicely when it was out and left alone. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
I will admit that I think this works much better as a “protective” style in the warmer months. Moisture retention is simpler for me in the summer. Cold, dry, and exposed hair needs a helping protective style hand.
I used to be obsessed with the end result, but now I’m falling in love with the process.
First, let me apologize for being away for so long. The blog is new, and I’m still getting into the habit of blogging regularly. However, I just want to let you know that I appreciate you following and reading!
So the aforementioned thought came to me a few days ago, and it’s one of my natural hair life lessons. Natural hair is so philosophical. I remember when I first went natural, I went through a phase in which I was obsessed with achieving the perfect afro. There were several moments of extreme frustration with the shape of my fro, the kinkiness, the way different parts grew at different rates. It wasn’t perfect. I didn’t realize that perfection wasn’t the goal, and the process was more important.
Now that I’ve done my second big chop, I can appreciate the process much more. I’m not used to having such short hair, and it’s a bit complex to work with because it’s a tapered fro. Different lengths can be frustrating to grow out. Just remember that Anything that is cause for frustration conversely can be a source of creativity. That is why I’m doing my Work Whatcha Got style challenge, even though I’m not going to make the time frame that I created for myself (6 weeks). It is challenging me to think outside the box, to try even when I think I may fail, and to appreciate the small wins.
Those things, among others, are keys to falling in love with the process. So now, I love what my hair does in its current state and at its current length. Let this be a reminder to you that you have what it takes as you are. Just get creative. Think outside the box. Try even if failure is a possibility. Appreciate every single achievement along the way – appreciate your progress. It’s all a part of the process.
In short, my natural hair has taught me to love the process – to love every day of my hair rather than obsess over an idea of perfection. In general, for my hair, the process is more important because the right process will make it healthy, and the end result will likely exceed my expectations. The same goes for myself as an individual. The process is when I focus on myself, I learn myself. I take care of myself. I love myself. I improve myself. The end result will be exactly who and what I am supposed to be, and I will exceed my own expectations.
Now, unto Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think… – Ephesians 3:20
So I’m finding that a little goes a long way as it pertains to changing my look with my tapered fro. I don’t have that much hair to work with, but it seems to have grown quite fast. Style 1 was the Side Part. Not a big deal, but it made a distinctive difference.
Style 2 is the semi-stretched Side Part. Last night, I realized that I have enough hair on the back and sides to flat twist. In my excitement, I stretched my hair on the back and sides using flat twists and on the top with large two strands that didn’t dry completely. The result was a semi-stretched TWA with my fave – the Side Part.
The two styles seem quite similar, but stretching the shorter parts of my hair while allowing the top to shrink some gave my TWA a rounder shape plus it was more noticeably textured. In my opinion, it has a sufficiently different vibe, and I loved it! It was a nice softer look for church today.
Gotta keep creating and innovating. That’s for hair and for life.
This post is kind of about my hair, but not completely. I’ll start with the hair though.
I am in an awkward phase. (My autocorrect wanted to put “awesome” instead of “awkward.” Honestly, it could be that too. It’s all about perspective.) Anyway, I had my hair cut down on the sides and back last fall. I loved it. It was boy hair short, like the cut life short, like all you need is a brush, if that, short. It was so fresh and fine. It was a wonderful phase while it lasted, and at the time, it was exactly what I needed to see my own beauty in a different form, to learn to accept and adore another side of myself, and to embrace a more mature look, in my opinion. I had it cut down a second time after letting it grow back in. That was in December, and I have since committed to allowing it to grow back because I miss my afro. So now I have about half an inch of unstretched shrinkage around the sides and back and about 2 inches of unstretched shrinkage on the top with more length in the front and less length in the back. Are you visualizing the awkwardness? I mean awesomeness.
Honestly, though, I believe that, in order to get the best out of my hair, I have to be as positive and creative as possible during this phase. As I’ve learned about natural hair before, controlled chaos is beautiful in itself. So I’m challenging myself to create 6 styles on my hair in the next month. Now that was kind of about my hair, but I’ve found that having natural hair and what I’ve learned about it parallels so many things in life. Like, my hair and my life are twins kinda!
I’ve been in an awkward phase in my life lately too. I was in between jobs for 9 months last year. I’m working 3 jobs right now. I’m still trying to get comfortable in my new phase of singleness. I have dreams and ambitions out the wazoo and am still in a character development phase. I don’t sleep enough, and I’m pretty sure I’m more busy than I am happy. Awkward enough, right?
It wasn’t until last year that I realized what I really want to do. And that’s awkward because having 2 degrees and not being able to articulate what you want to do with them makes for awkward silences and awkward looks. Awkward pep talks and awkward scoldings from your elders who only want the best for you. Even awkwardly trying to fit your squareness into a round job all for the sake of gainful employment. (Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, you do have to take a job because you nees to pay the bills and be able to have fun.)
What I have learned from being natural is to embrace the awkwardness. Revel in it and let the creativity flow. Don’t force it. Work hard. Don’t make or allow for excuses for your ends not meeting. But work with what you have and if you don’t know what you have, start to explore it. You appreciated your last really great season, just as I thoroughly appreciated my haircut. However, if you’re going to get to the next level, you must focus forward and not lament what you’ve got going on now. This goes for your hair and your life. Keep building. Keep growing.
Awkwardness ➡Creativity ➡Awesomeness. Thank you, Autocorrect, for the lesson in hair and life.
These are literally essentials for my hair, and they moonlight as face and body essentials too! These products are all so important, I don’t know which one to talk about first so I’ll just go in chronological order.
COCONUT OIL is my life! When I discovered it, I had just given up on my pre-afro life era products, like heavy chemi-coil moisturizers and oil-only “moisturizing”. That was 5 years ago! My hair was so crispy and brittle. I really think I saved my hair then because if I had gone much longer, I know my hair would have started to break. Anyway, the Coco is my pre-poo and the oil to my LOC method. If you don’t know what that is, it is a moisture method in which you apply first water-based liquid, then oil, then cream to your hair with each subsequent layer sealing the last. It is excellent! Anyway, the first time I used it, the Coco turned my coily crisps into a soft and spongy delight. Now, I typically aim to pre-poo by applying and allowing the Coco to marinate for at least an hour before I cleanse my hair. Most times, I don’t achieve it, but half an hour will get you results.
Now let’s discuss how the Coco is one half of my facial moisturizer, costarring with another essential Shea butter. I also use coconut oil as a pre-cleanser on my face, when it’s especially dry. I’ve also used the Coco to treat a cold and soothe an aching throat caused by bronchitis. You just take a teaspoon or so – not easy to get down, but it works. Coconut oil breaks down the cold virus barrier so that your immune system can attack it and get rid of it more easily. In short, I’m in love with the Coco. (I’m sorry. I had to.)
SHEA BUTTER is next in line. I just started using raw Shea butter last fall. I’m cheap so the only reason I took the plunge was because my sister bought it for herself and then changed her mind about it. And she doesn’t like taking things back to the store. Providence, right? This is a key to my LOC method, and it came into my happy natural life just in time because I didn’t have any more cream. I hadn’t had one in a long time because I couldn’t afford to splurge on hair products at the time. So Shea butter is the perfect cream!!! It melts and nearly lathers in your hands with some friction, and its nice medium thick consistency is perfect for the density of my hair. Plus, it balances the thinner oiliness of the coconut oil out. I kind of cheat with my LOC method by mixing the oil and cream, but it serves me well. Sometimes, I use Shea butter as a body moisturizer, and I mix it with coconut oil and water to moisturize my face. Shea butter definitely holds me down.
And now for the real MVP, the HONEY. Words cannot accurately express how raw honey has changed my life, and this late into my natural hair journey too! I just started using honey a few months ago. I had seen people talk about using honey in homemade conditioners and whatnot, but I wasn’t sold. Frankly, I didn’t care because I felt that I had what I needed, and I’ve never been one to try products just because. Anyway, this has served me well as a complicated natural. It’s not a bad thing; there are just certain things that make natural hair life more complicated. For instance, combating the seborrhea in my scalp means more frequent washes, shorter duration protective styles, and a more limited product selection. It also means crossing heaven and earth and scratching my scalp raw in attempts to clean my scalp enough to see my brown skin instead of the grayish white of dryness. At least, that’s what it meant. Ever since I found honey, that last bit has changed. Honestly, this is no discovery I made on my own. I found it on the internet, but it didn’t seem to be much of a thing in the black natural hair community. Anyway, all I do is put gobs of raw honey on my head – all over my hair and scalp. I make sure it gets down to my scalp. I typically dampen my hair some. The info that I found suggested 9 parts honey and 1 part water so you don’t need much agua. Then I tie a plastic bag on and let it sit for at least an hour; the overnight masque that I did worked wonders! When I wash my hair, I do some scrubbing and light scratching (I know that’s bad), but other than that, it’s as if the honey DISSOLVES the residue on my scalp. So beautiful. It softens too!
Honey is magic on your face when it is dry too! And the award goes to Honey… It’s absolutely everything!
So this is the royal treatment for my hair and I promise this honey is like rolling out the red carpet. What are some of your raw essentials? Maybe I’m missing out again. Let me know!