I am a UK natural, of African decent and I have been natural for nearly all of my life. My hair was texturised only twice in my life: when I was 6 years old and again when I was 10 years old. At this point, I still visited my local salon to get my hair ‘did’ but when I just simply could not be bothered to do these salon trips, I decided it was time to learn how to take care of my hair myself. I got my hair texturised because my I would always cry when I got my hair combed and I sometimes still remember my mother telling my sister, “Hold her [my] hair at the roots so that it doesn’t hurt her [me].” Despite having texturised my hair, my mother and sister always used to style my hair in protective styles such as twists, African threading, braids and buns/puffs.
As time went on, my texturised hair grew out but at the age of 10, I never took notice of the difference in textures or the line of demarcation. I just trimmed as normal and by the age of 12, all of my hair was natural. From this point on, I decided to put my hair in mini or micro twists and this was my signature hair style. It was only later on that I learned this hairstyle was a form of protective styling. Although I was protective styling during this time period, I was not using suitable shampoos and conditioners designed to bring out the best in terms of maximum hydration and shine for curly/kinky/afro hair. In fact I was using the infamous Dax and Blue Magic and I was still blow drying my hair every time I washed it. Reflecting back, the only natural hair tip I incorporated was washing (shampooing) once a month but I had not heard of ‘co-washing‘ yet. Because of this, my hair was still severely dry despite my efforts of protective styling.
Like many other African people, I was taught to apply ‘grease’ to my scalp to make my hair grow. It was only until four years later (August 2012), 2 months before my 16th birthday that I learned about oils/ butters, leave-in conditioners/ regular conditioners, water and moisture. I started reading blogs and watching YouTubers: NaturalNeiicey, MoKnowsHair, FusionofCultures, Mahoganycurls, Naptural85, Longhairdontcare2011 and many more who perpetuated the importance of keeping the scalp as well as hair moisturised either through the LOC method or the LCO method which comprised of a liquid, oil and cream. I learned that ‘grease’ does not keep the scalp moisturised and neither do carrier oils or essential oils but at least essential oils make for a good head message and have molecules small enough to absorb into the follicles to minimise dandruff, flaky scalp, shedding and increase hair growth. Meanwhile, grease actually clogs the hair and scalp, preventing vital moisture from coming through.
Finally, I decided to start my hair own journey to healthier hair at the age of, but I must admit, length was a major obsession but I overcame this by focusing on the condition of the ends of my hair. By doing this, I was improving my hair’s health and thus, growth/length retention subsequently followed. I had not found a hair regimen that I could stick to and I was still trialling different hair products (although trying not to become a ‘product-junky’).
At this stage in my hair journey, natural hair websites such as www.naturallycurly.com and www.blackgirllonghair.com were my hair saviours. It was not until I visited these sites as well as forums on www.curlynikki.com that I discovered my hair type and hair texture. However, even with this knowledge, finding suitable products and a decent regimen for my 3c, fine strands and medium – high density, cottony/silky combo, medium – high porosity hair was still a impending problem. This led to me not only obsessing over length, but over hair types and textures.
Come 2015, I had found a solid regimen and stuck to it. My regimen and hair products have changed drastically from when I first started. In addition, my hair is mid-back length now which shows drastic growth from my shoulder length days of 2012. Although, I still have a long way to go in reaching my ultimate hair goal of ‘classic length‘. Also, there are still days I want to quit this journey and not have to worry about hair altogether. Luckily, I overcome these negative thoughts by re-visiting my YouTube natural hair gurus. I also find inspiration from natural hair pictures on Pinterest.