This past Saturday, myself as well a few friends of mine had the pleasure to experience an event called CurlFest for the first time- a festival sponsored by a good number of brands promoting healthy and happy natural curls. My freshman year over Thanksgiving break I got my first bantu knot out done on my hair, which led to the start of my transitioning stage. For the past almost three years I’ve been experimenting with products, colors, hairstyles, protective styles, etc.; and after all this time I truly feel that I am finally at the final stages of loving my curls. I get a lot of questions from people in regards to product use and styling, including my 15 year old niece who wants to embrace her natural hair as well. When it comes to advice on specifically transitioning and staying natural I have a few tips that I followed when I first started my journey.
1. Experiment with products for yourself, don’t buy products because of Youtubers, social media influencers, etc.
Many people solely buy products and use methods that they discovered from places such as YouTube, and feel that just because that person has 700k views, they feel that it’s the only way to do things. Though I do watch an abundance of natural hair videos myself and some have taught me great styling methods, I use them simply for inspiration, to get information on product formulas, reviews, etc. However, I do not only use EcoStyler gel because (insert natural hair Youtuber with 1 million subscribers here) said it worked for her, which brings me right into rule number two.
2. Your hair is your hair for a reason.
Do not get discouraged because when you tried a twist out for the first time, it didn’t come out the same as your best friend. Many factors can come into play when scenarios such as this happen. Maybe you didn’t use the right products together or in the correct order. Or maybe since its your first time so you may have done something incorrectly. Maybe certain hairstyles just look better than others on your hair (a dilemma I personally encounter very often). For example, I resort to bantu knots because after months (actually years) of practice, I can finally say I’ve mastered them. However, I am slowly learning how to master a wash-and-go, as well as experiencing with twist outs.
3. Curl types do NOT matter (to an extent).
When discussing natural hair, many people automatically jump to discussing hair types (4b, 4c, 3a, etc). Though it is a good indicator for identifying ones tightness or looseness of curls, many people feel that they are better or worse because of their curl patterns. Many people look down on 4c hair or see it as ugly, because it’s more tight and kinkier than the other types. While I personally feel that there are a lot of styles that I love on 4c hair such as twist outs. One benefit that I see when identifying hair types is that when I see a curl pattern similar to mine in a video for example, it helps me get an idea of how certain products and styles will most likely look on my hair. One thing that I feel the natural hair community should pay more attention to is porosity levels; which is the hairs ability or inability to absorb moisture.
4. Patience is a virtue.
When transitioning or even big chopping, many people feel discouraged. They feel that their hair will never grow, or that it will never flourish the way that they want it to. As long as you have a set routine, understand what works for your hair and what doesn’t, and show it some TLC, your curls will flourish soon enough. A year after transitioning, I took it upon myself to shave a side of my head before my sophomore year. After protective styling, taking care of my hair, and giving it that TLC I previously mentioned, it’s almost impossible for people to believe that I ever did that because of how much growth I have.
5. Heat/ color are NOT the devil
Since transitioning my hair to it’s natural state I have colored my hair about 3 times (4 if you count bleaching), and straightened it about 4 times. When coloring my hair, I always take extra care prior to, as well as post-coloring. I do things such as deep condition my hair twice a week instead of once before coloring, and when I bleached my hair myself, I did the same as well as followed up with a protein treatment to give my hair back all of the nutrients the bleach and follow up dye may have stripped my hair of. Many YouTubers talk down on coloring and heat, which makes many new naturals hesitant to do these things, but I can personally ensure everyone that their hair will most likely be OK, as long as they take proper care of it. After all the bleaching and heat that I’ve done, my hair still continues to revert back after my first wash. Nevertheless, bleaching and color can be harmful, so don’t go too crazy.
Bonus: Natural hair is for everyone.
When first transitioning and discussing the process with people, they always question if it will “look right on me”, or if it’s “for me”. When going though this process do what makes you happy; if you want to big chop, DO IT. Regardless of what people say, how can you tell someone that their natural hair, on their head, isn’t for them? I love my natural hair now, and I hope everyone can enjoy the highs and lows of their journey just like I did.
*disclaimer: I am not a natural hair specialist, these are just my opinions based off of my experience*