Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pretty Things: What I've Learned About My Natural Hair

When I decided to stop relaxing my hair, I had many ideas about what it would be like to be natural.  Now that I'm about five years into my natural hair journey (that includes transitioning), many of these ideas have been proven quite wrong.  I absolutely love the fullness and versatility of my natural hair.  I expected that and haven't been disappointed.   However, there have been many challenges that I didn't expect! 

1. Just because my hair is not chemically treated does not mean that it will automatically be healthier and grow longer. My hair is naturally thin and dry, so I have to be gentle with it, keep it moisturized and protect it from drying factors like wind, cotton sheets and wool sweaters/coats. When I first decided to go natural, I had this idea that with no chemicals and little heat, my hair would be so strong and resilient that I'd be able to wear it out all the time without any consequences. This is NOT the case. I get single strand knots very easily, which I did not get when I was relaxed, so this is something I didn't anticipate. This leads me to my next discovery.

2. Since my hair is prone to single strand knots, I have to keep my hair stretched most of the time to avoid them. I stretch through banding, braiding and blow drying. Although my favorite style is a twist out with no rollers at the end, my ends do better when they are stretched with a roller. I make sure that I don't blow dry more than once a month, and I keep it on the medium setting. In the summertime, I don't blow dry at all. I hardly get regular split ends at all anymore, which is great. But damaged ends are still damaged ends, so I have to keep certain hairstyles to a minimum to avoid the knots.

3. Protective styling is the best thing I can do for my hair for length and moisture retention. Like I said earlier, I really thought that I'd be able to wear my hair down all the time if I was natural, but that just doesn't work for me. Yeah, I get bored with it sometimes; but since I've been bunning for the past couple of months, my hair has really been thriving, so it's worth it. Plus, I find all kinds of ideas for styles online and it forces me to be creative. There are so many options with natural hair and my hair is now thick enough and textured enough to give me lots of options.

Are you transitioning or already natural? If you have dispelled any myths or made any discoveries on your journey, please share in the comments! Also, if you're experiencing any challenges, let us know.


Janelle said...

your hair is gorgeous!

GG said...

Thanks Janelle! :) it's a labor of love. LOL.

Laleepop14 said...

Your hair is sooo nice!!!! 5 years is a long time, I am pretty new to this but loving it and wish I wouldve done it 5 years ago..lol.. I transitioned for 10 months and then I BC'd and have been natural for 6 months(on the 27th)!!!!! I cant believe it because it is a drastic lifestyle change when all I knew was relaxed hair on my head. So I definitely agree with everything you said and am enjoying this journey but it has been trying.. Someone told me once about transitioning and going natural that "You got to go through the ugly to get to the pretty" and now I can understand what that means and can appreciate those hard times I had/still have.It's a learning experience definitely!!!

GG said...

This is so true!--> "You got to go through the ugly to get to the pretty"

Your definitely have to really enjoy the good days and the things you learn and not take too hard when it doesn't cooperate or you don't feel pretty or someone makes a rude comment or whatever. Just remember it's a process and a rewarding one at that. So, it's worth it.

Juceefroot said...

I JUST found your blog via CurlyNikki... glad I did. I'm transitioning. I also just emailed curly nikki and realized that i've been transitioning for 9 months now (10 after december)... wow! I didnt realize that so much time has went by. It's been fun.

I'm one of those who is spending part of her time with extensions. I've worn crochet braids for the past 2 months to protect my hair from the elements.

I cant wait to BC (in march or august... probably august for a back to school doo)... And i want to thank you for sharing all that you've learned. I've often thought of all the protective styles I can wear while at the same time wondering.. about how much I can actually wear my hair out.

but I know... all in moderation. So thanks. It's nice hearing these things from someone who's already natural.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I am 3c hair type and as my hair has grown I experience major fairy knots and splitting. So your advice is helpful...I won't give up. lol When I look at your pics I begin to visualize my hair growing to lengths past my collar bone, can't wait. ;)

Candice said...

Your hair is gorgeous!

I know what you mean about expecting one thing and getting another when it comes to going natural. I'm 9 months into my transition and fighting the urge to go back to the land of the creamy crack. LOL

GG said...

Definitely keep visualizing ladies! Don't dwell too much on the bad hair days. And don't resist what you know you need to do. For example, I resisted protective styling for a long time because I wanted to wear my hair out all the time and mess with it all the time. Putting it up has been the single most rewarding thing I could have done to make my hair thrive. Everyone is different so you have to take the time to figure out what works for you. so you can reap the benefits! :)

Deanna said...

I am going to bun up my hair for a while to see if my hair will flourish!! Thanks so much for the article!! When you bun do you stretch out your hair with a braidout or twist out first??

GG said...

Lately I have two ways that I bun: I blow dry my hair to about 80% dry and put it in a french braid or maybe two, tie it down with a scarf and go to bed. in the morning, my hair is reasonably stretched but still poofy enough for a nice fat bun.

The second way, I do twists or braids and let them dry fully. take them out and bun my hair without combing, finger combing or anything. no manipulation. at night I take it out, moisturize and wrap it up.

Anonymous said...

Hi GG,

I love your hair bun. (I was going to say I love your buns, but that just didn't sound right. LOL!!!)

Do you comb your hair daily to bun?

GG said...

LOLOLOL @ Carmen!! Um, so yeah for the one where it looks straight, I'll blow dry my hair but not bone straight. During the day it's in a bun, and at night I take it down and finger comb and maybe wide tooth comb it, moisturize just put it in a plait or something then scarf it. Then repeat that process everyday.

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