What to do if you're going #Natural...
Now this isn't so much a rant as an explanation/clarification of some things. First of all, if you want to go natural, all you have to do is stop relaxing (using other hair altering chemicals such as texturising) your hair. That’s the first step. Sounds silly, obvious and straight forward, but I think people forget. In the past few days, 3 different friends have emailed or messaged me to tell me that they've made the decision to go natural (YAY) and to ask me what they should be doing.
Friend: I want to cut my hair and grow it natural. Who cut yours for you?
Me: I did it myself. Go to a salon.
Friend: Wow. Deep. So what do I do after I cut it?
Me: I don’t understand
Friend: Then what? What do I do to the hair after I cut it? Do I just go around with it like that? Out?
Me: It’s really up to you.
I still wasn’t sure how to respond. Because to me, she was asking something that should be based on a personal decision. Why should I decide whether or not you should rock your TWA (teeny weeny afro)? What should I base my advice on? I liked my short hair, so I rocked it. Some girls do braids, wear wigs, etc. I told her to look online first; watch videos, read blogs about the whole process before cutting it. It may just be hair, but shaving it all off is a big step and not one anyone should take unless they’re absolutely sure and absolutely ready.
What I did
Maybe because of the kind of person that I am, I like to be prepared. Before I even started transitioning, I was on youtube everyday watching videos, watching other women’s progress. I must have read about 50 different blogs. I wanted to know AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE before I took any action. Even during the transitional period, I was reading, researching trying new products, (I spent SO MUCH MONEY), and I must have tried something new every week. I combined, mixed, all sorts. Just to get a grip of what my hair needed, what worked, what didn’t work, what I liked hat I hated. I took note of products that made my hair too dry, too greasy, tangle, and smell (the scent is really important to me, even if a product is great, if I don’t like the smell, I won’t use it). Everything. If I didn’t like a product, I might try it again, and then I moved on to the next one. I didn’t throw them out (unless they smelled bad), because I might stumble across some information online about how best to use it, or what to use it with to make it work best for me.
I actually got a little caught up in trying to work out what texture/curl pattern I had and this threw me off course a little. I ended up wasting time and money purchasing products that swore they would do this or that and most of the time I was disappointed. Another thing I found was that often, someone might recommend a good conditioner let’s say, and I’d find it worked better as a daily moisturizer. Now that’s not what the product was made for, but it worked for me. Experiment.
Advice from Fellow Naturals
Now I reached out to a few of the women I subscribe to on Youtube for advice on transitioning, going natural, products etc and was pretty angry with the response I got. Most women gave me the same general advice I’d read about online myself, and many were reluctant to recommend specific products for me to use. I didn’t get it. Why were they being so rude and selfish? Why didn’t they wanna help me? Wasn’t this the point of the ‘natural hair community’? To help and advise others? Were they just happy to show off their pretty hair while the rest of us struggled with frizz, dryness, breakage, and knots? Witches. the lot of them. Then, one day, one replied. She encouraged me, gave me a list of products she swore by, and excited, I ran to buy them. Disaster. My hair was greasy yet dry, brittle, and tangled for days. Was I using them wrong? Why didn’t my hair look like hers? Why wasn’t I seeing the results she was....
Because our hair wasn’t the same.
She didn’t ask about my texture, or whether or not my hair was dry or thick, or thin, or anything else. She swore by products SHE used, and that was enough for me. But not my hair. I should add that she had extremely thick, coarse, coily, ‘nappy’ hair. So beautiful, but it wasn’t the same as mine. And I was even more annoyed with her for telling me to go out and buy these rubbish products than the women who totally ignored my requests for a good product list. Good is relative when it comes to hair. I know that now.
Reason for this ramble...
So this brings me to this evening. A friend emailed me to ask what products I would recommend as she’s transitioning now. Honestly? In the early days, before I became a product junkie, I used the same products I was using on my relaxed hair; a moisturising shampoo, the same leave-in, the same deep conditioner, the same oil (olive). Saying this in an email probably sounded kind of cold and unhelpful, but it was the truth. She wanted to know what products I use now. This is tricky, because for the last 2 weeks all I have used is gel, and TREsemme naturals to co-wash, and this I feel would be TERRIBLE advice for someone just starting to transition.
So I said:
Experiment, see what works for you and see what you like, whatever you chose, make sure you have a good conditioner, a good leave in, a good oil, and a good deep conditioner.
She thanked me but I don’t know how useful she found my advice.
I had a bit of a ramble on my Twitter page about people asking for advice about products and someone responded saying: “I thought the whole idea is to help and share with people who are trying to transition”. She was absolutely right. But for some reason I got very defensive. Aren’t I helping and sharing? Isn’t that the point of this blog?
I started it for myself actually, not for anyone else, as a way to document progress, and to keep myself motivated but it became more than that when I realized there were a lot of people in the same position as me who wanted to give the whole natural hair thing a go but didn’t really know where to start. So my blog became a way for me to share my experiences, things I’ve learnt, things that have gone right and wrong, and things I like and dislike. I’m not an expert. I have made so many mistakes with my hair, but hopefully, by sharing some of these experiences, I’ve spared someone else the stress. That’s what I’m here to do. So when asked a question, and I tell you I don’t know, I promise you, I’m not being difficult or mean, I really don’t know. Is your hair dry, kinky, curly, does it tangle, is it damaged, healthy, does it get greasy, does it need more slip, does it need more hold? I don’t know. I should also point out that I now stick to the Curly Girl method (do a search on the homepage if you're not sure what this is), which can be quite stressful in the beginning, and although I think it’s great, it’s not something I’d necessarily recommend to newly naturals who are just getting to grips with their natural hair. It can make the whole process seem like a bigger deal than it is. Daunting. Going through product lists to make sure certain ingredients aren’t there can be VERY tedious.
The only ingredients I think you should TRY to avoid from the beginning are:
- Mineral oil
- Drying alcohols
(Hawaiian Silky, one of favorite products last year contained mineral oil. Didn’t stop me using it... See what I mean?)
I still think it’s a mistake to tell other people what products (brands) to use. I’ve learnt this the hard way. But if you have a product in mind, I’ve used it, and you want to know what I think of it, I have no problem filling you in. I’ll continue to post reviews too. Better still, Research research research!!! AND EXPERIMENT!!! Ask as many questions as you can, when you can.
!!!!DON’T ASK ME WHAT PRODUCTS YOU SHOULD USE!!!
Sorry for the long ramble,
Much Love x