My journey to being a member of the natural hair club was interesting. Like many young black girls, I begged for a perm after seeing the “magic” it did to my friend’s hair.
I dreaded getting my hair done as a kid. My hair texture was extremely thick and coarse. I was tender headed. It felt like the process took forever and my hair was never as straight as I wanted it to be. Of course, we had the assistance of a hot comb back then; but the steam from the comb was intimidating and is almost always get burned the back of my ear or neck.
When I was in the fifth grade, one of my best friends came to school with a new do. Her hair was bone straight, silky and flowy...and not to mention a few inches longer. Even at that age, I knew that her hair hadn’t grown that much over the summer. She confirmed that she’d gotten her first perm. I rushed home from school and pleaded with my mom to put a perm in my hair.
She eventually gave in and that started my obsession with straight hair. For me, a perm made hair day easier. My hair wasn’t difficult to manage anymore. The minute I felt the perm wearing off, I knew it was time for a touch up. So every 6 weeks, I sat in the kitchen chair with a towel around my shoulders while my mom reinstalled my perm. At one point, I learned to do a perm myself.
As I grew older, I began to notice the damaging effects perms had on my hair. If my touch up was delayed for even a day or two, my hair felt like a brillo pad. Shedding was also common. I’d unwrap my hair in the morning and there would be strings of my hair left in the bathroom sink. I started wearing braids before ever getting a perm. But perms caused a problem with braids. I couldn’t get them when I wanted if there was too much perm in my hair because the silk texture of my hair from a perm made it difficult for a stylist to grab to braid.
Junior year of high school, the natural hair movement really kicked off and I decided to give it a try. I stuck to braids as a protective style to give my hair time to transition without having to do the “big chop.” The process was hard. Between detangling after washes and the constant shedding, I was over it. But I stuck to it.
I’d do a blowout every now and then. I wore braids in college before discovering sew in weaves - those were the main interchangeable styles I opted for. But even with sew ins, having to deal with my leave out after a certain amount of time, or weather conditions, became a headache.
In my senior year of college, I wore my natural fro for about a month. My cousin’s friend did the initial twist out and it came out beautifully. What I didn’t know was that I’d have to continue to twist my hair every few days in between co washing to maintain the curl pattern. That was a chore.
A friend suggested I try YouTube tutorials and I figured that would be easy. I was wrong. There should be a separate YouTube site just for natural hair tutorials. The information was overwhelming and also conflicting. Some recommended making your own products from items in your kitchen. Others recommended a trip to the local convenience store for brands. Either way, it was time consuming and expensive. It was also a lot of trial and error with figuring out what products worked best for my hair. I was too busy to try this natural fro/style life and I felt insecure going to work with my hair not in tact the way I wanted.
I did rod sets for a while and I loved that style; but, even that required me to re-rod my hair every few days and spend time in the morning trying to manipulate my hair to the way I desired. It was all just too much. I decided then that rocking my natural fro wasn’t for me.
I went back to protective styles that didn’t involve any of my hair being left out. After a while, I stopped rocking sew ins because I realized that the needle and thread could be damaging to your hair over time. The pulling from the threading caused my hair to thin and that was a no.
Right before my 25th birthday, I tried a new stylist and she introduced me to crotchet. I fell in love with the style instantly! It was a protective style that involved a safer method of weaving and the way my stylist installs the crotchet makes it look extremely natural.
For the past four years, my go to styles have been crotchet and all braids/twists. It seems like almost weekly there’s a new braid or twist option added to the style list. And with the hundreds of color options and hair texture options offered by crotchet, my hair stays fly!
I support those who have the patience and talent to style their natural hair and at times I even envy them. But, I’ll stick to crotchet and braids...at least for now. My stylist is pressuring me to rock my natural fro. Who knows, maybe one day, I’ll try again.