5 Things I Learned After a Year with Natural Hair

Yesterday was my curlaversary and I’m so happy I stuck it out! I spontaneously decided to go natural last year so I didn’t transition, I big chopped. After the shiny newness of my style and the joy of being part of a big, beautiful community wore off, I looked at myself in the mirror and wonder, “Am I still beautiful?” Yes, my husband said so and some days I even felt it, but not frequently enough. I looked back at old pictures of my relaxed hair and began regretting cutting it all of.  Long, straight hair had always been my favorite accessory but all I had to work with was tiny curls. What was I actually doing, anyway? It wasn’t long enough to braid so protective styles were out. I have all of these different textures represented on my head so I didn’t even have a consistent curl pattern. The longer it grew, the more I wondered how was I going to look presentable?

I love a natural hair Instagram page as  much as the next gal but I couldn’t figure out why my curls weren’t uniform like the featured women. What was I doing wrong? Should I just go back to relaxing my hair and start over? Since I have made it through the other side and finally have some length, I’m happy to share a few of the things I have learned that may help you if you’ve recently big chopped or are struggling with your new crown.

1. Curl Envy is Real. And dangerous as hell. There’s nothing wrong with looking at another naturalista and wondering how she achieved a bangin’ style but comparing your curls to hers is the surest path to discontentment. I follow tons of natural hair pages on the ‘gram and it seems that only those with perfectly uniform, juicy curls are featured. I have a mix of textures in my head but that doesn’t make me odd. In fact,  it underscores the fact everything about me is unique, from my head to my toes. Love the curls, coils, waves, and kinks that you were given.

2. Don’t Knock a Style Until You Try It. I have been looking at ladies rocking finger coils for awhile and I just didn’t like the way it looked. After countless failed wash and gos, the first style I tried and LOVED were finger coils. The style takes about 8 hours but it lasted me for two weeks. Then, I unraveled the coils and rocked the cutest curly fro! The success of this look has encouraged me to try any style at least once before I write it off completely. Twice (or even thrice) if you count wash and gos.

Finger Coils

3. Patience and Commitment are Key. This really applies to all parts of life but it resonates when it comes to my hair. I may want mid-back length hair but it’s going to take time. In order to see results, I have to be consistent and for awhile, I wasn’t. I was frustrated I didn’t know what products my hair loved and thought that being natural was a feat I would never master. Thankfully, I’ve had a mindset shift. The same way you grow in a relationship or in your career is how you learn to take care of your tresses. Healthy hair is not a feat to overcome but a lifelong journey you make steps on.

4. When In Doubt, Protective Style. When I was relaxed, I was a protective styling queen since my hair does best left alone. In the beginning of my natural journey, my hair was too short to cornrow so I couldn’t wear a lot of styles. I had an awkward stage where I was rocking an undefined ‘fro because I couldn’t figure anything else out. I kept playing with the idea of relaxing it even though I didn’t want to undo my progress. Once my hair was long enough to cornrow, I rocked wigs for about a month. After that, I wore my hair out for 3 months and then installed box braids for 2 months. I noticed quite a bit of growth after taking the braids down and will be installing another protective style in the summer. To avoid making a rash decision, try hiding your hair (and the scissors!) for awhile.

Box Braid Bun

5. New Products Can Be Fun But PJism Isn’t. I do insane amounts of research before purchasing new things and hair products are no different. I read blogs, watch YouTube videos and read reviews on different websites. Since I’m getting a better sense of my curl pattern, I look for girls who have similar texture and see their results. Since I’m prone to wanting to try every new thing I see, I try to be very careful when shopping and also tempering my expectations. Some of the products I used when I was relaxed work well on my natural hair so I’ll use those up before shopping again.

Overall, being natural is an amazing journey that I’m glad to have embarked on. I never thought I would learn to style and care for my own hair but I’m proud at the progress I’ve made and can’t wait to see my ‘fro continue to grow!