My Curly Hair Journey

So if you’ve seen the YouTube video, you know that I stopped relaxing my hair bone straight back in 2004. And I must admit, I am LAZY when it comes to my hair. Mainly due to the fact my hair is really thick. When I used to relax my hair it would take at least 45 minutes before I even felt an itch and I would completely freak out the stylist who thought that I would have no hair left after the first rinse ;) . And I really hated getting relaxers (perms)… so I would go 6/7 months between touch ups.

The summer of 2004 was really crazy for me, I was going through a bad break up, interning in NYC and about to fly back to Florida to start my final semester before I graduated and had to go out into the “real” world to get a job. I had been going back and forth on whether I should stop relaxing all together in the picture below:

Natural Hair Journey

My hair was about bra strap length (BSL) but my ends were really ragged and for some reason the front was wayyyyyy shorter than the back. Finally right after this picture was taken, I decided to do it and embrace by curly hair, BUT I was not brave enough to do a big cut. I decided to grow out my hair for exactly one year and then get down to business. So before I flew back to the diiirty south to finish college, I got my hair done in braids and wore them for about 3 months before I found this really cute human hair wig on sale. So for the remainder of the year, I wore that wig, wrapped it, curled it washed it, teased it. You name it I did it!

Natural Hair Journey

My hair actually grew really quickly because I NEVER combed my hair. So after¬† my “anniversary”, I decided to do the big chop and cut off all of my permed ends. It was definitely scary but amazingly freeing at the same time! As you can see from the picture on the right, I was not doing the right thing. My ends were still raggedy and my hair looks damaged. That’s because in between washes I would blow dry my curly hair straight (without heat protector products), cornrow it back and pop the wig back on. This would come back to bite me in the behind later.

Natural Hair Journey

For a little while I wore my own hair out in (ponytail puffs, afros, twistouts), but I was very impatient. I didn’t use wide-tooth combs and I was still blow drying my curly hair straight without properly protecting my hair…

Natural Hair Journey

Every once in a while I would actually straighten my hair to do a trim. It worked when my hair was shorter, but as it got longer and thicker it was hard for me to keep up. Not to mention the damage to my ends started showing. In 2006, I actually burned my hair so badly that it chipped off. It was another 3 years before I would even look at another flat iron and I had stopped blow drying my hair straight and would cornrow my curly hair wet.

Natural Hair Journey

At some point, my laziness set in and I decided to go back to letting my hair “rest” under wigs and kinky twists – still completely damaging my curly hair in the process.

Natural Hair Journey

You see, I had no idea how to take care of curly hair, what products to use and how NOT to damage it. Every time I tried a new product, my hair would suck every ounce of it up, get really dry and eventually shrink to a crazy short length. To add insult to injury, I didn’t even get the curly definition unless my hair was soaked!¬† It didn’t help that I live in Florida, one of the most hot and humid states in the country!

Then one day, a co-worker who also was natural schooled me on this really cool curly hair technique – curly hair conditioners! As in what you put in your hair after shampoo and immediately rinse out. Instead of rinsing it out, just leave it in your hair as a styling product.

It worked! I got the “wet” look I was searching for… until summer came along and messed up my flow! My hair was once again suffering from massive shrinkage and the curly hair definition had all but disappeared. The only way I could even look remotely cute was to wear my hair in an up do. You could still see that my hair was pretty damaged because it was limp and a lot of my hair – especially the front – was very stringy as if I had permed ends. Long term use of the conditioner as a styling product was damaging my hair as well. But I will say if you want a really cute look, the best conditioner to use as a styling product is curl.life’s conditioner. I loved the cute baby ringlets curls I would get.

Natural Hair Journey

Finally in July of 2009, I was curious to see how long my hair had grown and I broke down and flat-ironed my hair. I stumbled upon this really cool technique from Shortiedowop via Fotki.com. My hair was extremely long and EXTREMELY damaged. The pictures you’re seeing below are after 2 cuts and still my ends were gross. That’s when I decided to start over from scratch:

Natural Hair Journey

This is when my love affair with all things lace front came into play. I wore these three pieces exclusively for more than a year:

Natural Hair Journey

I know people knock lace front wigs because of the price of the good ones and just how ugly and cheap the less expensive ones look. But you can get the good ones on sale (even human hair) and you don’t need to glue that mess to your scalp 24/7 either. Hmmm… maybe one day I’ll blog about it. ;)

So in August of this 2010, I decided to check out my progress and I was pleasantly surprised to see that not only did I have growth, but my hair was HEALTHY! That’s when I went nuts on the curly hair products. Right now I switch back and forth with Miss Jessies, Kinky Curly and Ouidad. I am excited to test out new products as well.

Natural Hair Journey

Phew! That was definitely a read. I hope you can take away from this page and well… learn from my mistakes. Right now I am soooo scared to straighten my hair because I am LOVING my curls. So stay tuned for the next chapter :) .

3 Responses to My Curly Hair Journey

  1. Diya G. says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey. I tried to transition and went almost 4 months until I broke down and texlaxed yesterday because I have some trips this summer and needed it to be more manageable. I will make a second attempt to transition and all of the pictures you posted are encouraging. I hope to document my own journey, and look forward to reading more from your blog. :-)

    • Curly Girl says:

      Hi Diya! As you’ve read, I’ve stumbled quite a bit on my hair journey. So I feel you on breaking down. If you’re not against it, next time try putting kinky twists in or two-strand twisting your own hair as you transition. Have safe trips this summer and BTW, I LOVE your short stories… I look forward to reading your blog as well. :)

  2. Stacey Shelby says:

    Wow! I am so encouraged by your story! I have been natural for 3 years this month and my hair is so badly broken. I, like you, had no idea what to do with my hair once I went natural. It was good of about the first year and then as it started to grow it changed. And I too am lazy. I am very busy and just didn’t have all day to be fooling’ around with my hair so I didn’t do a good job of taking care of it. Long story short I have not been able to retain the growth I know I should and I seriously am thinking of just starting over from scratch as well. I’m just afraid Iam gonna have to go back to 3″ length and I am reeeeeeally not feeling that. Maybe I will just go ahead and invest in some lace fronts. I have been looking at them anyway. I just don’t know but I have to do something because in three years my hair should be at least 6 -10 inches longer than it is right now. Glad I ran across your blog. I will continue to follow you and hopefully I will get brave enough to start over and just cut all these ends off so I can get the growth I really want :-)

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