5 years ago this week, I did something pretty freaking drastic; I cut off what remained of my chemically straightened hair. I know a lot of you might be thinking, “Big deal.. a different hairstyle.”
WRONG! Hair is a BIG DAMN deal to women; even bigger to African American women. When you add being on TV to the mix, you can begin to understand the magnitude of the act.
See my whole TV career, I’d been trying to conform. That meant hair that stayed in place and looked like everyone else’s. In order for me to achieve that, I had to get my hair chemically straightened every 5 weeks or so.
Well, a few years ago, tragedy struck. After a brief illness that landed me in the hospital, I went back to chemically straightening my hair. What happened? My hair got dry, broke off and fell out! It was a mess!
That’s when I decided ENOUGH!
Needless to say, it’s been an incredible journey of self-discovery and one of self-love. And I’ve learned a lot about what works best for me; prior to this, I was a middle-aged woman who had no idea how to care for her own, natural hair.
Now, fair warning.. this video is a bit on the long side. I DESPISE long videos but there was a lot of ground to cover here.
You have been warned.
As I said in the video, I’m more than happy to answer any questions you may have about my natural hair journey. You can leave them here and I’ll get right to them. In the meantime, here’s a quick look at my growth over the last 5 years and the lessons I learned!
I’ll be honest, when I first cut my hair, I didn’t love it. I wasn’t feeling the length and I felt naked much of the time. Looking back now I see it really wasn’t that bad.
TIP: EMBRACE EVERY STAGE OF THE JOURNEY! I wished I had enjoyed my short hair more. You can by accessorizing. Flowers, barrettes, headbands, scarves, try it all!
By the time March of 2010 rolled around, I was a good year into my natural hair journey. I had given up on shampoo and began embracing natural oils. One of the things I learned was that I do NOT need a curling creme or enhancer; my hair has enough curl on its own so I just use a leave-in and some gel.
TIP: Keep in mind your routine may change due to a variety of things like seasons, hormones even the length of your hair. Don’t be afraid to switch it up!
This was the year I discovered color. Color-treated hair needs TLC. As you can see on the left, my hair color had oxidized from the summer sun. That’s my natural color on the right. If you’re hesitant to try color, go with a semi-permanent or henna.
TIP: Go easy on your color treated hair. Wear hats or even a special sunscreen for hair to keep the color fresh.
One of the banes of my natural hair journey is and has been the fact that my bangs don’t grow very fast. In fact, the whole upper part of my hair (the part that takes a beating from the elements) is slower-growing. This was the year I learned to manipulate it so that it at least looked like it belonged on the same head.
TIP: Use flat twists to stretch hair. Flat-twisting my bangs gives my hair a more uniform look. I flat twist while my hair is wet and place a gray perm rod on the end of the braid to make it curly.
2013 was a big year for my hair. The summer before, I had my hair cut into a bob as I tried to find ways to make the bangs look more integrated with the rest of my hair. But now, the back of my hair, which has always grown longer and faster, took off! So instead of fighting, I decided to go with it and rock the layered look.
TIP: TAKE A HAIR VITAMIN! I used to take Aphogee and have been off my regimen a while. I do notice that when I’m taking my vitamins my hair just seems to grow a little bit faster and feel healthier.
Read more: Ask Rene: My Husband HATES My Hair!
I have absolutely NO IDEA what comes next! My goals in the coming years are to help my bangs and the hair at the top grow a little bit longer. Honestly, I’m not sure how much longer I’ll let it grow and I can’t decide if I want to continue with a layered look or go for one length. I do know that I’ll do more protective styling simply because it’s easier to handle my hair when she’s all put away.
In the meantime, I’m looking forward to the next 5 years!
Questions? Leave ’em here.. I’ll answer what I can!