Hello NH Readers,
Have a few moments? I want to share my natural hair story with you…
I’m a native of Northern Virginia (short drive to Washington, DC) and I have in this general location all my life. I was moved to the suburbs after my parents divorced, at the age of 15. There, I went to and graduated high school. I obtained a full scholarship for Academic Excellence to George Mason University and graduated with a Bachelors in Communication with a degree in Public Relations during which I became a single mother and worked full time.
In 2000, I met my husband at a local church engagement and married in 2003. We grew our family by two more children and I enrolled in my graduate program when my youngest was three years old.
In 2012, I graduated with an MBA in Management. Today, I’m a Wife, mother of three, two of which are girls whose natural hair I have cared for many years. I am also a Natural Hair Care Professional working in the area’s elite full-service salon.
Early Age (The 80’s)
From a tender age I’ve had natural hair until my early teenage years, maybe 11 or 12 years old when hair days were tumultuous and my mother and I could not see eye to eye about my hair. I wanted my hair straight and laid down my back y’know like in those commercials on tv. I had a lot of hair but it was poofy and didn’t lay down. My mother took it upon herself to perm my hair from a box on the shelf called Gentle Treatment for fine hair. I always thought that brown skinned lady on the box was so beautiful and I wanted my hair to be just like hers. See, I had a fine hair grain, my hair was not course. I couldn’t wait to go to the store and pick up that miracle box which came with:
- 2 plastic hand gloves stuck on a worded paper
- 1 wooden mix stick
- 1 jar of white creme
- 1 small bottle of shampoo
- 1 small bottle of conditioner.
The company did not include the vaseline like pack purposed to base the scalp. It was added much later when distributors realized that the consumer scalp and hair line edges needed protection.
When my hair was relaxed, my hair was laid, shiny and I loved it! I would whip my hair back and forth 🙂 and I couldn’t wait for all my friends to see! I could comb, brush, and style my hair myself and put pretty clips in it.
There were some times when my irritated scalp would burn and it would scab over. It would take days to fully heal. I didn’t understand the health risks associated with a relaxer and it never occurred to me that what was being put into my hair was at all toxic. After the scab healed over and was eventually brushed or washed out I was good to go for a few weeks until the dreaded “regrowth” would reappear. You knew it was time for a touch up when your comb couldn’t easily glide through and you were essentially working with two seemingly different textures.
Rain was not my best friend and I relied on silver plated curling irons for curls. I hadn’t known anything about heat protectant spray. When regrowth returned, it was like an uh-oh moment. Little did I know my natural curls were something to embrace so I feared them. We called them “Naps”. “Naps” has many definitions. I’m not referring to Webster’s dictionary meaning – a short sleep especially during the day. Today, some may call the growing of your hair “the new growth”. It is basically, the virgin hair that grows out of our hair follicles from our scalp. (This is the hair that I have come to embrace and wear all over my head proudly today).
Teen Years (Early – Mid 90’s)
These years, I was trying to get to know who Christine was and where I fit in. During junior high and high school, I changed my hair styles to match the trends. At this time, Asymmetrical hair, high top fades, and color in the hair was trending up and I followed suit. I was a follower not necessary a trendsetter, because I hadn’t fully discovered who I was yet or who I wanted to be. I just knew what I liked and had little questions about what consequences my hair would suffer. I took to styling my hair with the silver-plated curling irons, had endured the painful process of getting highlights (pulling of the hair through the cap), and when I got a job I was in the salon almost every two weeks for upkeep.
Late 90’s (first transition attempt)
I had grown weary of getting the relaxer at the exorbitant prices that were being charged in the area’s hair salons. I thought I was on my way when a girlfriend called me up. She had found a hairstylist who had a fierce short texturizer style and we loved it. We both went in and she did the Big Chop (BC) and we chopped off all of our hair. I remember taking a deep breath and she parted my hair and cut it in the middle so there was no going back and then I rocked a texturizer.
A texturizer is defined as a mild form of a relaxer which is applied for a brief amount of time in an effort to only slightly relax the curl instead of straightening it. This is a chemical-based straightener.
A relaxer can be used as a texturizer; simply leave it on the hair for less time than designated for straightening. I asked little questions about what this meant for my hair. I was grown! All I cared about is that I loved this new style. This style suited my lifestyle at the time as it gave me a fresh new look for spring. I had the ability to go to the gym and wash and go. The go to product at the time after a wash was a product called Sebastion Wet. I went through many bottles of this expensive product to get that shine, sleek curls, and that wet moussy look. I wore it through the summer and then came fall. My hair grew out and the weather grew too cold to maintain the style.
So again, I was faced with…what next? I decided to grow my hair out from a texturizer unaware of what it fully meant to comfortably wear my natural hair. No, I didn’t know the first thing about caring or styling my natural hair. My sister who was also “going natural” introduced me to a sistah in Temple Hills, Md who was a trained naturalist stylist. She introduced me to Taliah Waajid products (my hair loved) and twisted my hair regularly. Taliah Waajid’s Protective Mist Bodifier was the first natural product I had ever laid hands on and it was my friend. I was not comfortable wearing my hair in twists because I did not have the know how on the twist out nor how to wear it. I remember untwisting and my hair just stuck out in parts. I had no idea I had to style hair that lacked volume and length. I had so many questions and there weren’t a plethora of online resources. Today we have blogs, forums, Youtube, e-magazines, and other social media outlets to draw inspiration from.
It was not long before my Natural Stylist relocated. There went my natural hairstylist and product connection. At the time, Taliah Waajid products had to be ordered via catalog or purchased at hair shows. Our retail stores did not have this product on the shelves yet only braid sprays. There were next to no products targeting natural hair on the shelves, but a growing selection of relaxers. New companies were popping up daily. There were few natural hair care options within the marketplace and even less local hair stylists who cared to style unchemically treated hair. I wore nothing but braids because my hair was growing and I did not know any stylist willing to style my natural growing mane so I grew it moving from one protective style to the next.
I had a young baby and I wanted a new hairstyle. While I was on vacation, I found myself twisting my hair everyday and I felt I looked crazy. After breakfast, we noticed a lady with a sharp, short cut with relaxed hair and in that very moment I made a flip decision. I asked her for her stylist information and I left the family by the pool at the resort and went to this unknown stylist. I was a walk-in and asked for a relaxer right then and there. Because my hair was all natural, the stylist had me sit for a long time so that the relaxer would take. I told her I was burning and she said it had not taken yet. I remember the stylist washing my hair and feeling how soreness my scalp suffered an unimaginable burn beyond belief. OMG the price I paid that day. Yes, my hair was straight but I was in a world of hurt. The healing process was one I’d never forget.
Year’s later, after returning to every protective style out there kinky twists and tree braids which tore my edges out. I didn’t have my aha moment until @ 2007 after my youngest daughter was born and my oldest daughter was no longer wanting mommy to twist her natural hair. She wanted to straighten and color her hair like her classmates at school. At this point, I decided to transition from a short hair cut and embark on a journey to become natural and become my daughters role model. We would go through whatever trials and tribulations regarding our natural hair together. This would be my second and final attempt to transition to natural hair without looking back. I would then be a firm advocate for natural hair as my girls had to know the truth about the misrepresentation, miseducation of what was in the commercials, what is on the store shelves, and what their friends were telling them.
My testimony holds that I’ve finally freed myself from hiding behind wigs in workplace. I’m a natural hair advocate and my husband gifted me the name “Natural Hairess”. After years of hair care, research, educating and inspiring my own daughters and teaching them to embrace their natural born tresses, I myself have learned by trial and error. As a role model, I’ve guided my girls through the media pitfalls, the misconceptions and girlish jokes about “good hair.” I have discovered that Natural Hair is our “Good Hair” 🙂
My truth, Who am I?
For me, gone are the days of hours in the salon and marketplace quick to-do hair kits. You should know that I’m my own hairstylist. I do what students do take notes, ask questions, trial and error, watch videos, try again, keep what i like, throw out what I don’t, research, work it until proven wrong so no judgement here just celebration of you on your journey! Today, I am the only Natural Hair Care Stylist in the Salon in which I work. For those who seek my guidance, I am afforded the opportunity to educate women on how to restore their hair back to health and style using a stress-tress styling technique without the heat. I also teach women to embrace the hair they do have. Once your hair follicles feel the love, the growth will come and the results will be fierce! Dare to be True to You!
Why Natural Hairess?
My daughters. I have to young impressionable daughters who need the support of their mother to guide them and provide the resources necessary to grow and love their natural hair. I transitioned back to natural hair to properly become that role model instead of telling them what to do, but being the example. Once, I embraced it and did the research, I was then able to educate about what I call “Natural Haircare-ism”. However, I always let inquirers know that every hair grade is different. What works for me, may not work for you and vice versa. It takes learning your hair for yourself.
In my Blog posts, I will share with you my natural hair treasures and my hair raising experiences which might inspire you or teach you something about your hair and its beauty on your own journey. In return, I hope that this community will come together to share, express, and celebrate natural hair to help each other through our own self discoveries as your hair will Surprise you daily.
Is your hair story like mine? When did you transition? Please leave comments about your journey.