It’s been about a year and a half since I “officially” started my hair journey, and OMG! Looking back through old pictures for this post, I realized I just didn’t know how jacked up my hair was. It was hot a** mess! Lol!!! To fully illustrate my point, I am gonna take you guys all the way back to 2008. It’s as if the hair growing out of my scalp now is completely different hair! Let me be an example to you…heat damage is real! I can’t really speak to the damaging effects of a relaxer because I’ve never had one, but I’m willing to bet money that there are relaxed women out there whose hair is healthier than mine was after years of thermal styling. And, y’all know I still love wearing my hair straight from time to time, but these pictures are a reminder to keep the heat styling to a minimum, and use the right techniques and products to protect my hair when I do straighten. I CANNOT let my hair go back to the disaster that it was…nope! I just can’t do it.
This picture was taken in 2008 at my 26th birthday. At this time, I was wearing my hair exclusively curly because I was working out twice a day, and straight hair was pretty much pointless. This was also three years after I cut my hair to my collar bone in 2005 to get rid of damaged ends from heat styling and dying my hair while I was in college. I think this is actually when I first started really wearing my hair curly, and it just happened to work well with my workout schedule, too. At the time, I lived for my wash’n and diffuser. When I did straighten my hair, I used an electric ceramic flat iron.
Sometime between 2008 and 2010, I stopped working out (shame!) and resumed straightening my hair, but after wearing my hair natural for so long, it wouldn’t get as straight as I liked with the ceramic flat iron, so I took it back to what I knew would give me the bone straight press I was looking for, and revisited my old friend — the pressing comb! And, it was all downhill from there.
2010 (my early blogging days!)
Believe it or not, at this point, I wasn’t even fully aware that there was a problem (SMH!). I knew that my hair wasn’t as curly as it used to be, but I didn’t care because I preferred to wear my straight anyway (looking back, it wasn’t curly at all. Lol!!). I was also living in ponytails at the time so traction alopecia and breakage were creepin’ on the come up!
I started reading hair blogs like MopTop Maven and Curly Nikki, and I started to get the feeling that I wanted to do something with my hair, but I just wasn’t ready. I tried a few things here and there, but I hadn’t made a real commitment to change my hot combin’ ways.
The first thing I tried was a bantu knot out…my first attempt on the far left was very interesting. Lol! the curls were SO tight! Lol.
Next, I tried a set of wave clips from Conair, and I actually really liked the look…
After many failed twist out attempts, I started doing chunky braid outs by cornrowing my hair in two or three big braids…it wasn’t the cutest, but it worked.
Early 2011 (the day I realized my hair was jacked!)
I don’t know what it was about moving to Atlanta — the water? the climate? the stress of moving? Or maybe it was a coincidence, and my hair had just reached it’s max, but it became incredibly dry and started to shed like crazy. I thought I was balding, and my edges got so thin that I was embarrassed to wear a ponytail. I also realized that whatever remnant of a curl pattern I had left was gone! Seriously, I remember taking pictures on this day wanting to cry!
Mid 2011 (the day my hair journey began!)
The picture above was taken in March, and that was the day I knew my hair was so over me and my hot comb. My birthday was coming up and I was at my wits end, so I straightened my hair for that, and continued to wear my hair straight until June 6, 2011. That was the day when I finally swore off straightening and ponytails, and made a commitment to suffer through the bad hair days until my healthy hair returned. I was inspired by my friend Toia, actually! She took me to the world natural hair show, and her natural hair was soooooo gorgeous, and healthy, and full…all I could think about when I was with her was “I want my hair to be healthy again.” At the time, she was actually rocking a flexirod set on her natural hair, and after we left the hair show, she took me to the beauty supply and I stocked up on flexirods. And, that is how I started my hair journey…with a flexirod roller set. It totally camouflaged my dead, lifeless hair.
I loved my flexirod sets, but they were a lot of work, and quite painful to sleep on. Since I didn’t have a hooded dryer, it would take all day or all night for my hair to dry. In search of something a little easier and a little less painful, I revisited my old bantu knot outs, and that became my go to for most of my journey…
Usually, I did my bantu knots on wet hair, but occasionally I’d try them on dry hair for a different look…It was different, but I liked it!
Even though the bantu knot outs were MUCH easier than flexirod sets, they still took FOREVER to dry, so when I didn’t have time for that, I’d rock a chunky flat twist out which I achieved by flat twisting my wet hair into two or three chucky twists, air drying, and unraveling every day.
2012 (I Love My Hair Again!)
In 2012, I continued with my bantu knots and flat twist outs until about April. As my hair grew longer, I was really starting to struggle with terrible knots and tangles with the bantu knots. So, after seeing what appeared to be the return of my curl pattern when washing my hair, I decided to brave a wash’n go for the first time since that disastrous day back in 2010. I was a little leery because I could tell my ends were still pretty much straight. My hair had grown a ton since I started my journey, and I’d been slowly cutting the ends off 1 – 2 inches at a time throughout the year. What remained was so dead, I knew the only solution was to cut them off, but I wasn’t ready for a big chop yet. So, I tried the wasn ‘n go, straight ends and all…and wouldn’t you know, it didn’t look half bad. From then on, it was bye bye bantu knot-out… I was a wash’n go girl, again.
I also introduced the top knot into my hair rotation this year…it was one of my go to styles for the summer!
This year was also when I really saw the fruits of my labor in terms of growth. I was straightening my hair about every 3 months to trim the ends, and while I could see major progress in terms of thickness and overall health, it didn’t seem to be growing all that much. I guess retention can’t really be expected when you’re cutting so much to alleviate the damage. Fast forward to June, when I straightened my hair for the second time in 2012, and I was blown away! My hair was so much thicker, and it had grown several inches.
Straightening my hair always revealed how bad my ends were! And, even though I loved seeing my hair graze my bra strap, I knew that eventually I’d have to let go of the dead ends…but, I still wasn’t ready, so I held on to them for another 5 months. Lol! As the year continued on, my straggly ends were keeping my hair from being great. Lol! As I was cutting the dead ends little by little, my hair was growing at different rates, and I’d gotten to the point where the straight ends were completely gone in some parts, and in other parts I still had 1 -2 inches left. Needless to say, my hair started looking really crazy! And, I started to depend more and more on top knots, which wasn’t ideal. I saw myself heading back down the road to traction alopecia. So finally, just before Thanksgiving, I accompanied my sister-in-law to the salon, not fully committed to the idea of getting my hair cut…but strongly considering it. A couple hours later, I walked out of the salon with 4 inches less hair and a head full of long layers.
You guys know the rest of this story…I lamented about the cut for a week or two before admitting that my hair looked 1000% better than it did before. I know, I know…silly me!
So, there you have it, my friends — My Healthy Hair Journey (in pictures!)…the good, the bad, and the ugly! Lol. I am super excited to be entering 2013 with a head full of poppin’ curls! I think we can all agree that our hair does something to our self esteem. When our hair is not right, we just feel all out of sorts. I can tell you guys that writing a personal style blog with jacked up hair totally takes your swag down a notch. (I kinda hate the word swag, but it works here! Lol). I can’t tell you guys how many times I’ve decided against taking pictures because of a bad hair day…or even worse, how many times I took pictures, and didn’t post because my hair looked a hot mess! I know that bad hair days are not completely behind me…we all have them sometimes, but it is nice to know that they’ll be fewer and farther between…and they won’t be the result of totally fried, dead, unhealthy hair.
What’s Your Hair Story?