Going natural is so much more than rediscovering your curls and coils—it's a lifestyle that introduces self-discovery and self-love in a whole new way. Had I known three years ago that chopping my chemically damaged strands would change my life for the better, I would have grabbed a pair of scissors at first sight of trouble. Each year since the day I finally decided to stand over my bathroom sink and chop off my hair, I've learned valuable lessons that have shaped how I treat my hair and myself.
From learning to set alarms on my phone to catch the hair product sales to booking routine appointments with my stylist—as I approach the fourth year of my natural hair journey, here are ten valuable lessons I've learned thus far.
Don't Rush The Process
Having patience with your hair is easier said than done, but I've learned that you can't rush the process through this journey. Cutting your hair today will not give you the results you're looking for tomorrow.
After my first big chop, I expected my hair to grow back instantly. However, being patient allowed me to enjoy the process of trying new hairstyles and not relying on my hair to define my beauty. Focusing less on the speed at which my hair grew allowed it to thrive and be strong. If you're concerned about growth, a shift in perspective from long to healthy hair can make a massive difference in your routine. The journey may take a while, but it's worth it.
Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy
Every curl journey is personal, and it's important to know that your hair will grow at its own pace. Keep in mind that external factors such as your lifestyle, routine, and the weather can and will impact your curls. For example, I've learned that, in the winter months, my hair requires more careful attention.
Comparing the texture, length, and health of your hair will only steal the joy of the progress you've made thus far. As tempting as it is to covet the journey of others, focusing on yours will not only be better for your mental health but will help you understand the best way to care for your curls.
There is a Safe Space For You and Your Curls
When I decided to go natural, I found a positive, uplifting community on YouTube and social media. The online natural hair community turned into friends who cheered me on and validated many parts of my journey. There's a whole world of curl enthusiasts and experts who are ready to see you through your journey and offer advice—even virtually.
Seeing other people with hair similar to mine helped me find tricks and product recommendations that worked for me. I've also learned valuable information from professional artists like Christin Brown for curl maintenance tips throughout my natural hair journey. Beauty influencers like Alissa Ashley and Nia the Light also became helpful resources for curly hairstyle ideas and product reviews.
Consider Your Stylist a New Friend
I learned very early in my journey that a relationship with the right stylist is critical. My stylist helped shaped the way I felt about my hair in and outside of the salon.
When I first chopped off my hair, I wrote down a list of questions (like how often I should wash my hair and prevent dry scalp) and brought them to my stylist. She was able to prescribe the best care and regimen to help me achieve my goals.
The right stylist will care about your hair as much as you do. They'll answer your questions and give you advice, sometimes without you even having to ask. The relationship I built with my stylist made me feel way more confident and equipped me with the proper knowledge to care for my curls outside of the salon.
Still, regardless of how my hair looks, it doesn't change who I am.
Where There Are Good Hair Days, There Are Bad Hair Days
This tip isn't meant to be discouraging but rather a realistic look into learning your natural hair. There have been days where my hair has been defined and hydrated for days at a time. On the flip side, there have been days where—no matter how many products I slathered on—my curls wouldn't cooperate. On those days, I've looked for alternate solutions and discovered the power of accessories like my favorite TIER News Trucker Hat or a fashionable turban from Grace Eleyae.
Natural Hair Changes Overtime
Growing up, my hair was coarse and resembled a 4C hair texture. After experimenting with color and chemical relaxers, my natural hair changed from its original pattern to a tighter coil, closer to a 4B texture.
The products I used throughout my adolescent and young adult years, like OGX's Moroccan Oil Shampoo and Conditioner, no longer worked for my natural hair. I've learned that your natural hair, like your body and skin, will change over time.
The methods and products you used years ago may no longer work for you. Or they can potentially work better than they did in the past. Whether you are big chopping or transitioning slowly, meet each strand of hair with kindness and patience as you discover what works for your hair in its current state.
Be Prepared For Trial And Error
I've learned that the natural hair journey is like a complex puzzle—you're always trying to fit together the pieces to see what works. Be prepared to experience a lot of trial and error.
For example, when I started my hair journey, I used Cantu Coconut Curling Cream religiously, making my 4B/4C hair feel and smell good. By the second year in my natural hair journey, this product no longer served my hair the same way. I needed a thicker curl cream to lock in moisture, which became a priority over definition.
Positive Affirmations Go A Long Way
Even on most bad hair days, keeping a positive spirit can take you far. So many people have been taught to dislike their natural hair texture, which requires plenty of unlearning. Positive affirmations have kept me grounded in my journey on good and bad days. Sometimes, it can be as simple as snapping a selfie when you're feeling good or giving yourself a pep talk in the mirror.
Hair Product Sales Are Your Friend
I'm not ashamed to admit that I've set my alarm to wake up on time for product sales on a few occasions. The reality is: Having natural hair doesn't always come cheap. Between frequent salon visits and keeping stock of curl-friendly products, costs can add up quickly. I've found it helpful to keep an eye on sales from Target, which has a great natural hair product selection. I've discovered some of my favorite brands like Shea Moisture, Camille Rose, Aunt Jackies, and more.
You Are Who You Are
This lesson was the easiest to learn but, ultimately, the hardest to accept. I've discovered that a lot of our self-worth is rooted in our hair. Still, regardless of how my hair looks, it doesn't change who I am.
Self-discovery, self-care, and self-love start with accepting yourself for who you are, inside and out. Being natural thus far has been an unforgettable journey that has truly changed my perspective of who I am outside of just having curly hair.