There are a lot of things I’m still working to change about my lifestyle to make it greener. That should’ve been pretty clear from my confessions post. Up until January ’09, one of those things was my hair. Ever since third grade, I had been using chemical relaxers to straighten my hair. It was just what the women in my family did, so it was what I did too. Over the years, I had seen women with beautiful natural hair, but I never thought it would work for me. I thought I’d never be able to manage it or learn how to style it. And beyond that, I wrapped my perception of my own beauty around my chemically straightened hair. I never felt more beautiful than the day I got a fresh relaxer and my hair was laying down straight, smooth and shiny. And weeks later when some new growth started to come in, I’d feel less beautiful and start pulling my hair back in a ponytail. That was the way it had been for as long as I can remember.
But as I moved further and further toward a greener lifestyle, I started feeling guilty about what I was doing to my hair. I knew my bi-monthly relaxer wasn’t good for me or the environment when I washed it down the drain. But it was all I had ever known, so I continued to do it for months, even through the guilt. Finally, I decided that I just wasn’t going to relax my hair any more. Period.
For those women who have never had relaxed hair, understand that this was a huge decision for me. I was about to change the way I perceived myself and my beauty. My 4-year-old daughter has a thick mane of long, natural hair, and I often struggle with managing it. So how in the heck was I going to manage my own? I am, however, glad that I’d made this decision for the benefit of my health and the Earth and for no other reasons. My husband, who is a Rasta and has dreads, had been telling me to make the natural leap for years, but I wanted the decision to be my own. Now, it finally is.
The first photo shows my hair a few weeks ago, 7 months into my transition (ie. 7 months after my last relaxer). It was taken by the lovely Sheena of Mommy Daddy Blog while we were in Chicago for BlogHer. The photo above was taken by my husband a few weeks before that. Some women opt to cut off their relaxed ends at the beginning, but I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around the idea of having such a short cut. Instead, I have chosen to grow out the relaxer and cut off my ends gradually, an inch or two at a time.
Ever since I started really caring about my hair and taking good care of it, which I wasn’t doing when I was relaxing, it is much healthier, even with two completely different textures to work with (kinky natural hair for about 4 inches from the roots and straighter relaxed hair at the ends). Thanks in part to natural hair divas (and bloggers ) like Curly Nikki and videos from women like MahoganyCurls, I have learned to embrace my natural texture and I’m actually looking forward to my big chop, when I finally cut off the last of my relaxed ends.
I’ll share my hair journey throughout this process, and I hope to get great feedback and comments about what others are doing.
For those of you who are interested, here’s my current hair regimen:
- Cowash (wash only with conditioner, but no shampoo) once a week with Aubrey Organics or Yes to Carrots conditioners
- Use Herbal Essences Hello Hydration or Totally Twisted as a leave-in conditioner (I’m looking for a more natural option, but I love the slip these two products provide)
- Set my hair on cold wave rods or in a twist and curl, or gel it back into a low side ponytail adorned with a flower
- Wash with Dr. Bronner’s pure castile liquid soap once a month
- Deep condition with Aubrey Organics conditioner once a month
I’d love to hear from other women of color who are living with their natural hair texture, or who are transitioning like I am. In fact, I want to hear from any woman who has a mass of curls for hair. What is your hair regimen? What products do you use? Why did you decide to go au naturale? Get the conversation started in the comments below!