My Hair Story

My story? I have focused on hair more in the past 12 months, than I have my entire 27 years on this earth. It makes sense though, because up until a year ago, I didn’t have to pay attention. Or so I thought…

In the Beginning…

I’m around 7 or 8 years old, and my mom gives me my first relaxer. It’s painful, but I love how straight and smooth my hair is (and it no longer hurts when she combs my hair). I wanted to look like the “Just For Me” girls. I’m hooked. I don’t know what it means to be natural. All I know is when your hair is “nappy”, it’s time for relaxer. From this moment on (at least as much as I can remember), I’m on a relaxer schedule of around 4-6 weeks, and oblivious to any negative effects.

Freshman year of undergrad, and I am seeing people wear they’re hair “nappy”, on purpose! These people are the pro-black activists on campus. It is more than a hair style, or even hair health. It’s a statement, a stand against conformity. It’s inspiring, but it doesn’t resonate with me. I keep relaxing.

But since I’m away from home now, I decide to relax my own hair. It’s my first time. I’m terrified. The scene from “What’s Love Got To Do With It” is playing over and over in my head where Tina Turner (Angela Bassett) gets her first relaxer (with a color or something like that) and her hair comes out in handfuls! I am sure to have a timer right next to me so it doesn’t stay on too long (after all that was the only negative impact right?). It turned out great…to my knowledge. I can keep doing this. Maybe I’ll try every 6 weeks or so. I’m in control, for a fraction of the cost of a beauty salon. Count it! My hair stays at chin length, with no trims.

The Glory Days…

I wear micro-braids the summer before my junior year. 3 months of not touching my hair (and I mean not touching. I’m talking the same ponytail for three months. It’s pretty disgusting when I look back…3 months and no shampoo, haha SHAME!). But my hair grows like crazy, and is very thick too. From this point on, nothing can stop me. I wouldn’t get length if I were doing something wrong, right?

I’ve graduated. I’m still on my 6-week relaxer schedule, but now I’m getting trims (not sure what spurred this). I frequent SuperCuts and other walk-in salons where I can get a dry-cut for around $10-15, and it takes only 20 minutes. My hair is shoulder-blade length, and I’m feeling great.

The Fall…

I enter grad school and although my hair has reached a length I had never seen before, I start to notice (only after looking back at pictures) how limp it is. I can’t hold a curl. All it does is lay flat. I still get trims and it grows right back, but still lays lifeless. And that’s exactly how I describe it to friends and family “something is wrong, it’s lifeless!”. And they reply, “your hair is so long and beautiful, you just have damaged ends”.

Rock Bottom…

I graduate from grad school, and I’m ready to start my new life in Madison, WI. Once in Madison, I get really bad dandruff and really itchy scalp. My hair thins out dramatically, and that’s it. I KNOW something is wrong. I just don’t know what to do about it. The only thing I know how to address is my ends, I don’t know how to address thickness, and the other signs of healthy/unhealthy hair. So I walk into a Cost Cutters (similar to SuperCuts) and I say “Cut off all the bad ends. I don’t care how short it is. I just want healthy hair”. She cuts, and I’m actually pleased with the look. It’s a refreshing style after the long, limp mess I had earlier on. So I say I’ll get it trimmed every 6 weeks (after my relaxer), and it’ll grow back just fine. But every 6 weeks she’s trimming the same amount. I wash my hair one night, and it looks SO damaged. My girls back home were on a natural kick (both had big chopped) and they were telling me all the tips and resources available on the internet. And that’s when my world turned around.

The Comeback…

Healthytextures.com was the first time I had heard of a hair regimen, and it saved my life. It was there that I learned I was killing my hair by relaxing every 6 weeks. I was also introduced to heat damage (*throwing out the flat irons*), and lastly I learned the importance of certain products in a healthy hair regimen (e.g. protein vs. moisture balance). I started a regimen that allowed me to stretch my relaxers 12 weeks (talk about some rough patches). At the time I wasn’t even thinking of going natural. I liked having more manageable hair, I just wanted it healthier. After 3 rounds of relaxing every 12 weeks, I gained a lot of my thickness back, and areas that I thought were “dead zones” before had hair sprouting again.

Relaxing every 12 weeks forces you to embrace your curls (at least with my texture), and so I became more comfortable with curlier styles, and began to prefer them to the straighter looks (so did my ever so supportive boyfriend!). I began to research more. KimmayTube (YouTube) gave me the first itch to want to go fully natural. I felt encouraged by her story. And I loved how lively her hair looked (she’d pull a curl down and stretch it her waist and it would bounce right back!). I wanted that! I loved the texture, the versatility, and the fact that it was how my hair was already growing out of my head. This was around the same time I began reading “The Science of Black Hair” by Audrey Sivasothy (a must read!). With everything I learned on Healthytextures.com, this book explained why. It gave me the confidence needed to think, “if I can go 12 weeks and effectively handle my new growth, I can fully transition natural.”


So here I am. 5 months since my last relaxer (Sept. 17, 2011), and I would say going strong, but I’m just going, haha. These past couple of weeks, I have had the desire to chop my hair off almost every day! I was reading on CurlyNikki.com and saw Tara’s Transition Story (See Tara’s Transition Story). She transitioned the entire way, kept her length. I felt inspired, again. by the way, I have nothing against the big chop (I have the utmost respect for those that do!), I’m just finding that the transition (although it may slow my goal) helps me to learn things along the way to better prepare me to handle a full head of natural hair. Just a personal decision.

So this is a journal of my journey 🙂 The good, the bad, and the ugly (warning: there may be a lot of ugly!). I hope you enjoy, are inspired, and share your own.

~TS

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7 thoughts on “My Hair Story

  1. Pingback: Celebrating Milestones: 6 Month Check-In « curlstories

  2. Congratulations on your progress and journey thus far! Seems like you definitely found great places to start with a regimen and The Science of Black Hair. Continued success!!

    Shelli

    • Thanks Shelli! I really appreciate it. It has been quite a journey. My 11 month transition ended unexpectedly yesterday, so I’m finally all natural! Looking forward to continuing the journey, and using your blog as a resource!

      • Really? Well, I’ll be keeping an eye out for that post and why it was unexpected!! Congrats again … but for different reasons this time! LOL! And thank YOU! 🙂

    • Thanks Ndeshimona! You have a new follower on yours as well! I look forward to reading more…I feel that there is a lot I can learn from you!

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