In this Transformation Day post, three women share their hair journeys from relaxed to natural. If you are thinking of or ready for a hair transformation, these true stories will inspire you.
Personal-Finance Counselor and Coach, Washington, D.C.
“I started experimenting with relaxers when I was 18 years old. I always wore my hair in curls, but the relaxer made them look looser. I stopped dyeing my hair when I was 35. My mother was prematurely gray, so after she passed, wearing my natural silver hair was a way to celebrate her life. But I didn’t stop using relaxers until seven years later. I loved the silki- ness of my hair when it was relaxed and how it allowed me to copy old-school hairstyles, like ’40s waves. …I did my first big chop and cut off all of the relaxed hair in 2010. …As my hair grew back, I realized that its texture had changed. It’d been 26 years since I’d seen it, and it wasn’t as thick or naturally coily anymore. I still get a little frustrated because my Afro doesn’t stand up as much as it did when I was younger. It kind of falls to the side, so I have to part it strategically. No one talks about what that’s like. But my hair is now the greatest expression of freedom in my life. Here I am, natural hair, Afro, silver. Let’s just embrace it all. I’m creating a new history for my daughters. Now I see them embracing their own natural textures; I love seeing that they’re free to live their authentic life.”
On Her Routine:
“When my hair is longer, I’ll twist or braid it and then take it out over the course of the week and let it get fuller and fuller. Right now, my hair is short, so it’s just wash and go… When I jump out of the shower, I just put some argan oil in it. Sometimes I shape it with my fingers; sometimes I just run my fingers through it and that’s what it’s going to do for the day.”
Model, New York City
“I started dancing when I was seven, which meant I was sweating a lot. Having a perm allowed me to go dance, sweat, and not have to get my hair done the next day. Wash and go, whatever that means for your hair type, could have worked just as well, but unfortunately that just wasn’t the standard of beauty. When you first start modeling, they give you a look, and my look was long extensions. It was nobody’s fault; when they met me, my hair had a perm, so they just heightened that straightness. And then one day, two years ago this month, I decided to stop wearing a weave. And this past February, I did the big chop. There is, however, a big misconception that natural hair is bouncy, curly, flowy hair. I thought I was going to wash my hair and have phenomenal bouncy curls, but that was not the case. I have very tight curls. But I love that it gives me the option to do whatever I want. This is my first summer being able to swim, to wash my hair, to just be free. I’ve never done that before. It’s going to be life-changing.”
On Her Routine:
“My friend has a company called Adeba Nature. She bottles African black soap and corn-kernel oil that she grows in her backyard in the Ivory Coast. It’s the best shampoo. And I mix two leave-in conditioners… and put them in my hair right after I wash it. If I have a meeting, I get my hair put into flexi-rods at the salon — I get elongated curls when they take them out. If not, I’ll put in a little almond oil, leave-in conditioner, Bantu-knot my hair, let it air-dry, then take it out the next day.
Founder and CEO, Six One Agency, Los Angeles
“I went to a predominantly white school in Orange County, California. My brother and my sister and I were the only African-American kids. When you start to develop crushes, it’s on people like Timmy or Johnny. There was no DaQuan, you know what I mean? So of course I wanted to fit in, and that meant having straight hair. And I was one of five, so my mother was time-poor. Relaxing our hair was very much done with convenience in mind. Flatirons didn’t exist, so my mom pressed our hair as well. …Even as an adult, I did relaxers for many years. I only started rocking my natural hair four years ago, and it was not something I embraced at first. Transitioning is very tough. It’s very emotional. I had long, straight pieces that I tried to hold on to because I didn’t want to lose the length. It’s challenging to be in the corporate world and have natural, curly hair. Times are changing, but I’ve got big hair. …I still have some insecurities, but today I went to a big boardroom and wore my hair curly. I love my hair. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be wearing it.”
On Her Routine:
“I watch these YouTube videos by Curls and Couture, Avielle Amore, and Happycurlhappygirl, pause them, and run to the shower to attempt it. I use six to eight products in my hair routine. …I dry my hair with the Dyson. It was a big purchase, but it came highly recommended by black beauty editors as a way to speed up my routine and still have poppin’ curls. My hair still takes two hours to dry, so if my arm gets tired, I’ll prop it up on my computer. You gotta do what you gotta do!”
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The women featured above are not alone in journey from relaxed to natural. According to the consumer research firm Mintel, 71% of black adults in the U.S. wore their hair naturally at least once in 2016.
If you’re inspired and motivated to make the transition, #AskKarlinesSalon for guidance and care of your natural hair journey. We’re just a call (561-471-0900) or click away.
Share your hair journey in the comments section of this post.