Saturday, September 15, 2012

My Hair is a Virgin! (Natural Hair Journey)

Virgin hair. This is something that I never imagined I'd have. Even though I had what everyone calls "good hair", I didn't actually know or believe that until I stopped perming completely.
I was always infatuated with hair, period. I played with my hair endlessly in high school especially. As a little girl, my hair was just like any other little black girl's hair... except that my hair was long and super thick. In a previous post, I've established the fact that I am not by any means mixed.
I wasn't tender-headed like my sister, thank God, but I didn't always like getting my hair done. I hated the hairstyles that I wore because I thought they were babyish once I'd gotten to middle school. My signature style was mini twists, but they always looked raggedy after a certain time, and I had so much hair that my mother often didn't know what else to do with it.
Childhood Years
I wanted my hair straight in high school like everyone else. Of course, we all know what it's like, being an outcast because of your looks. I wasn't allowed to perm my hair until I was 15, probably because my mom did not want me looking too grown, being 13 and starting 9th grade. I don't think she really knew the full dangers of perming, just like every other mother in those days. But I'd made the decision myself, so when I was 15, I got my first perm. I was thrilled. My hair was now straight and flowing like everyone else's, and I was able to comb it much easier instead of struggling and greasing it down, trying to get it to cooperate.
I don't remember exactly if, how, or when my hair went downhill as far as health, because at the time, I didn't know much about hair health, and neither did anyone else around me. I did get trims when I needed them, and I actually did not get perms very often. My mom did know that perming was bad, and if you were going to get one, you needed to do it sparingly, not like the cliche 'every 6 weeks' that women have been traditionally programmed to do. My sister was extremely tender-headed, so my mom had no choice at the time but to perm her hair when she was nine years old. Our hair was already longer than the average, so when it was straight, we were able to see the length better. A lot of people loved my hair, and everyone thought I was mixed. Rawr.
So I wore my hair straight a lot, and gradually started wanting it curly when I went to college. My perm time had gone way down to every six months, literally. I was totally stretching my perms, and I didn't really realize that I was helping my hair. Me, my mom, and my sister had all started stretching our perms, and that was when we realized that we didn't even need the 'creamy crack' at all! Our hair textures didn't even call for it.



So I wore my hair curly mostly through college, creating my own twist outs with permed hair. I obsessed in the mirror every morning with a full length mirror propped up on the door to see the back of my head, trying to get the perfect twist out. I could never get it. My hair was often stringy-like from using the classic pink oil every night. Between my sister and I, we went through that pink stuff like water. I liked the fact that my roots were flat, but I soon realized that they stayed flat enough on their own without a perm. I had almost gone a year without a perm once.
I got married and got pregnant with our honeymoon baby, which is the little hair model of mine that's all over this blog. (LOL!) During my pregnancy, my hair grew even faster than it usually did, of course, because of hormones and vitamins. This is my hair in 2009, after taking out braids. I did not perm my hair the entire time, because I had heard that it isn't good to have those type of chemicals entering your bloodstream during pregnancy.
After I had Syriah, I permed my hair and had it flat ironed. I felt good because I was able to get my hair done right after having a baby and look good again.
But I was really frustrated with my hair. I had a passion for natural/organic things, as well as overall health and fitness, so why was I perming my hair? I didn't even need it. I had gotten tired of sitting for hours and hours at salons, getting burnt when the damn stylist yapped on the phone and left the crap in my head too long, getting burnt from the flat iron of hellfire, and getting little random scabs in my head after all was said and done. My head had this irritating, itchy sensation, and my scalp had become very sensitive. I could hardly touch my scalp without this creepy, prickly feeling. I no longer had the excitement of going to get my hair done. The perm thrill was completely gone.  Plus, I had been doing my own hair at home forever anyway, and that was working out better than being straight all the time. So by the time I had Syriah in March 2009, my mom, my sister, and I agreed to stop perms completely and rock what God gave us.
Well, of course, you can't just stop perming and then say, oh, my hair will be fine. I'll figure out what to do with it and it'll be alright. No, you've got to do some research! I began to do research things to do while you transition from a perm, and how to manage the new growth. I began to love my hair. I had heard about 'big chops', and I was way too afraid to do that. No way. My hair was about 16-17 inches at this time, and I was not going to lose all my length just like that. I told myself that I would just grow the perm out, so that's what I began to do.



I learned about protective styling, and then I had a new signature hairstyle... twists. I had always been afraid to wear these out of the house because I thought it made me look younger, and I already looked way younger than 21 at the time. But I wore them, anyway. I began to protect my ends, and trim them when needed. I got pregnant again when Syriah was 8 months old, with our son. My hair was healthier then because I was no longer perming, and it grew like a weed. By 2011, I had transitioned for two years, so I decided to begin chopping off the old permed ends. It started in January. I was having a rough period in my life at this time, anyway, and I needed a change. I cut off  about two inches around this time, and in three months, I had gotten the courage to whack off literally about 6-8 inches of my hair. My husband was shocked, but he liked the new short look. It was a new me.
No, I didn't cry at all loosing all that hair. I was so ready to get rid of that old dead hair. It was like getting rid of the old me. I had grown tired of the two textures, and it was irritating, seeing the top of my hair nice and lush and thick, and the rest thin, limp, and broken. I felt very proud of myself, and I had a new look. I had to get used to seeing myself with short hair, but it kind of complemented my 'fatter' face at the time. I'd had back to back pregnancies and still had weight that I hadn't lost yet. So my face was still... round. (LOL!) As you can see, my son looked a lot like me as a baby.
I had even cut myself a bang at home for the first time in my life. For my birthday, I had gone to a Dominican hair salon and got it straightened to see how long it was. I originally wanted to ask then to cut it all the same length, but they would have charged more. Suckers. I was already paying 60 bucks just for a wash and flat iron. Ugh. What a rip-off.
The picture of me and my hubby was when I had tried something new with my curly bang... and I didn't like it much. That was our 3rd anniversary. =)


So, that was my big chop. I had cut my hair a little past my ears by that summer and I didn't care. I just wanted my hair to be healthy. I was going through a whole lot in life during this time, and that was another reason why I didn't care how short my hair looked or how many people were astonished. I had transitioned for two years and it was time for the 'big chop'. How much you decide to cut off your own head is always up to you. Big chopping doesn't mean that you have to be bald, unless you truly want to do that.
By September 2011, I was pregnant with our third baby, and my hair started growing like a weed again. This was around the time when our finances had picked up greatly and I was able to begin experimenting with natural products, I was overjoyed. I was tired of not getting the hair results I wanted with my hair as well as both my kids' hair. I bought EVOO for the first time ever this year, and began to use it on my hair and Syriah's, and also on our skin. I saw major differences already. I ditched the Pantene hair moisturizer I was using and the hair cholesterol from the dollar store and began using EVOO as an overnight conditioner before washings. My hair was silkier than ever, and I didn't even need a wash out conditioner anymore. By November, I had also ordered some unrefined shea butter and began to use that for styling our hair. Totally freakin awesome. 
Pink lotion wasn't even an option at all anymore. I researched and I researched hard. That was when I realized that I had a passion for this stuff, and that I might as well start a hair blog to help educate people about natural hair care. However, at the time, I was intimidated because it seemed as if everybody and their mama was doing a hair blog, and frankly, I didn't think that I knew enough about the subject yet. But I kept up the research. I joined every last natural hair care website I could find and bookmarked it. I tried different things and got great results. By the end of the year, I was totally satisfied with the way my hair was acting.
So the next year, 2012, I became totally serious. By February, I was 7 months pregnant and loving my hair growth and the way my curls were popping. In March, I finally got the courage to start this blog, and I couldn't have been more proud. I had found something that I'd LOVED to do. My hair health has only gone uphill since then. I have ditched sulfate and paraben shampoos for good. I purchased some Shea Moisture products for the first time ever, and they were awesome. I also found out about Eco Styler gel, and that's become of my best friends. (LOL!)



So, there is is, guys. My long hair journey. I have happily been natural now for 3 years, and every day, I'm loving it more and more. I'm proud to say that my hair is now fully a virgin! (LOL!) I'm learning more and more about what works for my hair. I believe that my hair is 3B-3C with a little of 4A. My hair had several textures in it, which as you may know, can be tricky to deal with. Syriah's hair is 3A-3B only, like my husband's hair. I have no idea how long my hair has gotten now, but pretty soon I will schedule an appointment to get a flat iron and an all-even cut so I can see the length.
You know I'm gonna post that update when I finally do it. Haha! It's been really busy around here with 3 kids, but I somehow manage to do something with my hair to keep it from over-drying and going to the pits. I hope I managed to get everything into this blog that I had done with my hair over the years. If not, I shall come and update it when I remember something. Let me know if you enjoyed this post about my natural hair journey!
Oh, and here is a video that I created after this post about my hair journey. Enjoy!
Peace out, curly mamas!

~Epic Realist~