Ever since straighteners became popular when I was in middle school, wearing my hair natural was no longer my only option. In fact, before the straightener, I used to wear my hair in a tight high ponytail every single day out of fear people would make fun of my curly hair. The other girls around me had naturally straight or wavy hair while mine frizzed and sprung from a droplet of moisture.
I remember the first time I ever straightened my hair. I hated it. It didn’t help the tool my sister had was extremely cheap so my hair would revert back in just a few hours. I remember looking at myself thinking, ‘I look so weird,’ and ‘Who knew my head could actually look smaller.‘
My first attempt left me feeling dejected. It wasn’t until my mother invested in the Chi straightener, aka the holy grail of straighteners, that our hair finally came out straight, no frizz, no kinks, and absolutely no waves. My hair was pin straight, silky smooth, and looked good.
My straightener gave me confidence but it also gave me a major complex. My friends loved my hair. The compliments made me want to keep it straight. I spent one hour straightening my curls out, fifteen minutes in the morning touching it up and the entire day trying to make sure I didn’t sweat in gym class, the summer heat or I was completely covered if it rained.
Wearing my hair natural was a no-go. I went into high school with people not knowing my hair wasn’t naturally straight. Dating created more anxiety with my hair because I didn’t want any of my boyfriends to see who I really was. My hair was my protective mask and there was no way I was going to reveal what was truly underneath it.
There were sleepovers, days far and few in-between I wore my hair natural but the response was always the same, “You look so much better with straight hair.” It wasn’t just my friends. My mom wasn’t a fan of my natural hair either. When I would let it air dry at home she said it looked wild, crazy, bad, and frizzy
All things you don’t want to hear from your mother let alone anyone else.
For the month of January I decided to challenge myself and wear my hair natural for thirty days for three reasons.
I have been trying to work on my self confidence. I asked myself how could I raise my self confidence if I’m not my self? My straight hair is a simply an illusion.
The second reason is because of my niece. She has beautiful thick curly hair but at the age of five she sees my mother, sister, and myself with straight hair and says she wants to look pretty like us too. I can’t tell her ‘no’ without feeling like a hypocrite. She needs to grow up knowing her hair is beautiful, manageable, and makes her unique in a good way. The only way to teach her that is to have the people she looks up to embrace their hair as well.
Finally, I had a bit of a hair-mergency. After bleaching my hair blonde for the past two years I decided I wanted a change in November and went red. Unfortunately, when I kept telling the hair stylist I did not want fire engine red hair she took it as I did and when she spun me around after three hours in her chair I was staring at Cardi B in the mirror.
My confidence was at an all time low as everyone kept telling me I looked ‘festive.’ The ones closest to me were honest and said I looked ridiculous. I couldn’t argue with them because they were right.
I couldn’t wear red or green without looking like a Christmas tree. I waited two weeks and decided to take matters into my own hands and dye it again. Because I am not a professional it turned purple. So I went back to the store, purchased a color remover and ended up with a very dry scalp, and orange hair. I covered the orange with light brown down and my hair looked reddish-brown, sort of. Suffice to say it wasn’t the look I was going for.
While undergoing this challenge I dyed it dark brown, my natural color, because the red was starting to peek back through with a vengeance. However, my hair came out black but I’m not mad about it.
After too many processes my hair felt extremely dry and brittle. I was afraid to brush it, let alone put heat on it. My scalp needed to breathe and going natural was the only answer.
So for 29 days I wore my hair natural. I was weak after I dyed it and decided to straighten it but it was extremely difficult. Something that used to come natural to me and that I used to love doing felt like a chore. My hair also wasn’t responding that well to it either. I had a hard time with my beloved Chi trying to make it straight and ended up with waves instead.
But here’s what I learned as a curly girl:
The Wash-and-Go Cuts Your Time in Half
I get it takes a lot of upkeep to make our curls look good every single day but the wash-and-go. Oh, that completely changed my routine! Imagine spending an hour on your hair and then cutting that down by forty minutes. The activities you could do! The things you could accomplish! The breakfast you could eat!
However, because it is freezing in New York since it’s winter right now I wasn’t completely heatless. I did have to use a diffuser on my wash-and-go days for five minutes. I get sick too easily so going outside in the snow with my hair dripping wet didn’t seem like a good idea.
But the In-Between Days Are Harder
I was stuck when it came to second or third day hair. Since I exercise five days a week it was difficult to make my sweaty hair look presentable. I found on those days I was a fan of a bun, high ponytail, low braid or a half-up and down do. The last style was my go-to these past few weeks. The bun happened at the end of the day because I couldn’t stop touching my hair and started to resemble a frizz ball.
My Confidence Grew
By the end of the first week I started to get a ton of compliments at work. People were telling me I looked good, which was a nice change!
I feel like curly hair gives me more character. It makes me want to wear bold lip colors and eyeshadows to match the story that is going on, on my head.
As the days went on it started to feel less like a challenge because I was rocking my look.
Moisture is Key
After destroying my hair for all of these years there were some downsides. The first few days my hair didn’t exactly curl. Once I dyed it I also noticed a major difference in my curls. The curls were gone and in their place were loose waves.
I found moisture is key. I stuck to coconut oil hair masks two times a week. My hair still needs some major TLC or I may have to undergo a big chop if I really want to see my curls again. I would say right now I have loose curls with a mixture of damaged waves.
There’s a Downside To Curly Hair
I noticed my hair would get knotty pretty quickly but brushing it once it’s dry is a major no.
You also need an arsenal of products…which I need help choosing. If you have any recommendations comment down below!
When your curls are bouncing people want to touch your hair and then get offended when you smack their hand away. Hello, I don’t want your oils bringing my hair down!
They’ll also comment about how big it looks and I don’t necessarily know if that’s a compliment.
Will I Continue on This Natural Journey?
Definitely! I’m looking forward to warmer weather so I can actually wash-and-go sans heat. I haven’t exactly perfected how to manage my bangs or cute protective hairstyles so I will probably straighten my hair once or twice a month. While I no longer feel like it’s a requirement to look good I like to have straightening as an option.
The biggest thing I learned is being natural is ok. There’s nothing wrong with changing up our look or wanting to try something different but the color of hair we were born with is the one that looks best on you. The way your hair looks naturally, whether it be straight, curly or wavy is the style that looks best on you.
So if you’re like I was, addicted to your hair tool, try to embrace your natural self for at least a week. You might be surprised at how much you like you.