Celebrating Milestones: 6 Month Check-In

It’s easy to fall into a hair slump. I do it often. But what helps me through is taking pics to document my hair journey. Seeing how far I’ve come always encourages me. I like looking at 6 month increments. It’s enough time to see progress, (& the effects of a change in my regimen), but not too much time has elapsed if corrective action is needed. So since I’m in a hair slump, I decided to look through my pictures, and I wanted to share what I found. Enjoy 🙂

I’ll start from the beginning, when I first noticed something was not right with my hair.

For those who don’t know my hair story, in a nutshell, I had a regimen before this, it was just extremely damaging to my hair, lol. I used to relax my hair every 6 weeks. My hair eventually thinned out drastically and wouldn’t hold a curl (or any style). Every time I got a trim/cut, instead of growing out the cut, my ends would split even further! So I decided about a year ago that I was going to learn what it meant to take better care of my hair, and get the thickness and length I had before!

The first picture below is after a fresh cut a day after a relaxer I gave myself. Doing my own relaxers for about 7 years led to a lot over-processing, so this was one of the last relaxers I gave myself. At that time, I had no clue that my hair was so damaged let alone why my hair was so damaged. At this stage, my hair was extremely limp.

The below picture is probably 8 weeks after a relaxer, that I believe was the last one I gave myself. In March 2011, with the help of Healthy Textures, I learned the basics of healthy hair care and began to stretch my relaxers every 3-4 months (done by professionals only). I also cut out all heat at this point (unless I was at a salon), so I stopped flat ironing/curling, and only air-dried. With a no-heat regimen, a lot of my styling was random. The above is a bantu-knot out. You can see that my damaged hair barely held any type of definition, so yes, styling was difficult. I believe I washed once a week and co-washed once a week during this stage. Deep conditioning was my savior!

Sept 2011

5 months later, I saw great progress. I achieved my old level of thickness (although as you moved down the length of my hair it thinned out since it was still the damaged hair from before). The picture below is a day after my last relaxer. I loved how healthy my hair was becoming. My styles were a lot more defined at this stage, and I began to dread the first 4 weeks after a relaxer because my hair was always so flat. I loved the volume, thickness, and styling options that came with my natural hair. So I decided to fully transition to natural.

Sept 2011

So here we are, 6 months after my last relaxer (going strong!), and although I’m not fully natural, the relaxed ends that are left are relatively healthy (compared to the more over-processed ends that I’ve cut off). I can achieve definition in styles that even 3 months ago would’ve been impossible.

The past 6 months haven’t been easy, but I must remember the progress. Looking back, it’s all been worth it 🙂

Happy journeying!

~TS

Finger-Detangling Update

A couple of weeks ago I decided to put down the comb and only detangle and style my hair with my fingers. Bold, I know. Especially since I am now in my 6 month of transitioning from relaxed to natural hair. I’ve read countless transition stories, and this is where a lot of ladies bow out (understandably so!), and believe me, not one day goes by without contemplating the big chop! But I want to hang in there (I really do have a complex where I HAVE to finish what I start lol). I figure it’s going to take some major adjustments to be a long-term transitioner, or whatever we’re called. So putting down the comb is one of my many adjustments.

So after two weeks, I think I will stick with finger-detangling. It hasn’t shaved off time. It actually takes a bit longer. And I have to (or find myself) smoothing my hair throughout the week while twisting it before bed, to make sure it’s not knotting up. But the main benefit is that I’m seeing a lot less breakage. I could stand to be more patient. My fingers still tear out hairs it probably shouldn’t, but it is definitely a step forward.

One other benefit is that finger-detangling forces me to get to know my hair a bit more (or maybe I’m just paying more attention now!). For example, now I know the back of my head tangles a lot less than the top of my head (where I spend the bulk of my time). I think it’s because I have a lot more relaxed hair on top. A couple of months ago, I put my hair in 4 large twists and clipped a few inches of relaxed hair. This left a lot of length on top of my head, and a shorter length in the back (it doesn’t look as crazy as it sounds lol). Right now, I’m definitely noticing that the relaxed hair tangles more. Yes, another reason for a big chop, but bear with me! 🙂 I plan to cut a few more inches (off the top) in a month or so, after my best friend gets married. I have no clue how it’s going to turn out and I probably shouldn’t look crazy for her big day!

I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for listening!

~TS

Can Natural Styles be Elegant?

I know natural styles can be elegant. I believe they can be whatever you want them to be. It’s the beauty of natural hair, versatility. But I didn’t always think this way. It took time for me to see the beauty in natural hair, partly because I hadn’t been exposed to much. Not many people wore their natural hair where I’m from (relatively small town in the midwest). I’ve moved away from home and since then have been exposed to different things in various towns and cities, but many people in my hometown (including my family) have not, so the old mindset of natural=nappy remains.

So here I am, back home for a bridal shower, and I get some looks, but nothing major. A few people comment (positively) on my hair. I visit my grandmother later and she asks how I’m going to wear my hair for the wedding. I tell her I’m checking out a few natural salons in Chicago to see what they recommend because I have no clue what to do with my hair. I also mentioned a conversation I had with my best friend (bride-to-be also natural) last night where she loved my current go-to hairstyle (flat twist out) and said it would be fine if I wore it that way for the wedding. My grandma is like “oh no, you need to get it done!” Lol. I’m thinking, but my hair IS done! She began to explain that she means professionally, not the fact that natural can’t look “done”, but I had already been discouraged.

The conversation definitely should not have bothered me, but it did. I know not everyone will like my styles. If I’m being completely honest with myself, it took me some time to like my styles. But I love them now. When I got dressed for the bridal shower this morning, I looked at myself in the mirror and thought “you are rockin this hair!”, now I’m looking at the same exact style like “is this really cute, or is it a mess? (which is why there are no pictures tonight, haha. No seriously, I’ll upload them later)

It’s amazing how one conversation can attack your confidence…if you allow it. I allowed it for a moment. But even as I write, I feel my confidence being restored. Because as I mentioned in an earlier post this journey from relaxed to natural is about so much more than hair. It’s about being confident and loving the skin I’m in. It’s about being who I want to be, not what others think I should be. There will be challenges with this, because it’s uncomfortable if this is not how you’re used to being, but it’s still achievable.

With that said, and getting to what this post was originally going to be about 🙂 I’m in search of cute, natural styles for a wedding. I’m very nervous about going to a stylist because I had such bad experiences when I would go for a relaxer. It seems impossible to find one who listens to you, and I’ve been putting too much effort into my hair for someone to screw me over in a matter of hours. But I’m going to give it a shot (currently looking at Chatto Salon in Chicago, IL). I just have no clue what style to try. I’m hesitant to try weaves since I’ve never been one for weaves (just personal taste, nothing deep). I’ve checked out a few styles and I guess I’m drawn to twists outs, twist up-dos, etc. so I suppose I will start there.

What natural styles have you rocked at formal events?
What’s been your experience with natural salons?

~TS

Finger-Detangling: The Jury is Still Out…

The biggest frustration during my transition from relaxed to natural hair has been detangling and the resulting breakage. I wash my hair twice a week (one of the sessions is with shampoo, the other is just a conditioner wash [co-wash]). Detangling each time makes my wash days a true battle, but my hair LOVES the water, so I don’t see myself washing fewer times a week. I was then inspired by Marsha to make every wash/co-wash a therapeutic session. She talks about how she loves wash/co-wash days, and a big reason is because she realized she can detangle once and only once during a given session. Genius! It made me realize that I may be over-doing this whole detangling thing. Now grant it, Marsha is fully natural, so I do have to take into account my two textures as I’m transitioning, but she did inspire me to at least reconsider my detangling sessions.

I already only detangle with a wide-toothed comb on every wash/co-wash day. Sometimes I do it before I wash and sometimes after, but it’s always with my Herbal Essences Hello Hydration conditioner under running water. However, I usually then detangle again once I’m out of the shower, applying all of my leave-ins and styling. Lately I’ve noticed more knots and stubborn tangles, and I’m seeing more hair on the shower floor or in my comb. Not a fan of that.

Side note: My go-to style is a flat twist out that is pulled back to look like a crinkly/curly bun. I am struggling to find more protective styles, and I realize this style may contribute to a lot of my knots and tangles. Once things slow down for me, I plan to view more YouTube tutorials on protective styles for transitioners. But until then, I have to stick to what I know.

But tonight I tried something different. Well not really. I tried finger-detangling before. My conclusion was that it took forever, and I still had a lot of knots when I later went through with my wide-toothed comb. I’m not sure why I went through again with my wide-toothed comb if I was detangling with my fingers. This could be the over-do-it side of me. So tonight I tried it again. I said I was going to detangle with my fingers, and not touch it with my comb. Honestly, there have to be women out there that just finger-detangle right? I mean, why is this so scary to me? Am I afraid that I’ll finger-detangle for weeks and weeks only to wake up one morning with an impossible knot that needs to be cut out? Maybe. But that sounds ridiculous?

So back to my experience tonight…so far, so good. I think my fingers did a great job of smoothing and detangling (at least in the shower). I felt a few tangles and knots as I was twisting my hair after applying the leave-ins, but honestly, I can’t say it was any different from when I used my wide-toothed comb. So I think I’m happy with it…for the moment. I’ll let you know after a week or so if I’m still comfortable doing it.

~TS

What’s your go-to detangling method?