First off I am the first to admit that 90% of the things I did when I transitioned was pretty much WRONG. I was literally winging it most of the time.
If you just want photos scroll ↓ (I’ll understand =)
Personally, I believe that if you can and are willing to, go ahead and take the plunge and jump all in for the big chop. Transitioning is like tip toeing in cold water, you have to deal with pains of the water being cold and its a long process to adjust before you can get to the other end of the pool. But if you just jump in, yeah there’s that moment of AHISAHW its cold, but almost immediately after that, you get over and begin swimming.
Here my story:
I’ll start by mentioning that my mother has really long natural hair. She’s never had a perm and never has needed one. Her hair is very silky and wavey like a baby doll =). Not me, so once I was past the pony tail and plat phase she permed me up. I’m not one who has it together when it comes to doing hair. I don’t have the gift of whipping up super fly styles and never having to go to a hair salon. I also never had that hair that would lay down very nicely. You know the girl with the super perfect bob all the time. No matter what I did, as soon as I hit the Florida humidity POOF! I didn’t stand a chance. When I left home for the Navy, I was pretty much at the mercy of those skilled females that would hook a sista up. Oh did I mention how expensive getting your hair done is when you don’t have a reputation with the salon. LAWD they get cha. Anyways after searching for a stylist that I liked and then moving to another city and then searching all over again…(I don’t know how to do my own perm…I tried…I failed)…I was at the mercy of other people… One day I just decided this is stupid. So I get the perm and my hair would grow out of it so quickly that it was almost as if I didn’t just get a touch up and my hair was still poofy from the weather. What was the point of all the chaos?
So in February 2006, when it was time for me to get a touch up, as eloquently as Inetta the MoodSetta stated in her fair well on her radio show “I quit this b*(@”.
I noticed that people are saying that there was as surge of people jumping on a natural hair movement from 2006-2011. Hummmm I missed all that in 2006, because everyone I could think of was against me no longer perming my hair. I got the “REALLY!!! That’s what you want to do?” Fortunately I’m pretty thick skinned and just stuck to my guns and pressed forward. Granted I had no clue what I was doing. I was like a smoker that decided they were going to quit smoking cold turkey. I wore my hair in flat twists pulled back into a bun a lot and I mean a lot. Now those that know Navy regulations will know that I was really pushing the limits with my hair, but I didnt get toooo much flack. But of course, someone nicely called me out eventually so thats when things got a little fun. I had to stop with my twists and well I didn’t feel like braids. Braids are super cute. Love em. But I hate sitting and I never keep them in long enough to make the cost, time, and pain worth it. AND I’m super scared to loose my edges. Soooo eventually my roots stated showing their tail feathers and I had a few cray cray moments where my edges weren’t laying down like they typically did. I did my best to keep it tight. But of course I was hit with the “Dont you think you want to perm your hair” comment. But I was just like I’m going to figure this out. I mean I wasn’t THAT BAD!!! (well at least in my mind) LOL Thank goodness, I was transferring to Hawaii later that year. A place where no one knew me or would give me a hard time about my “transition”.
So why no big chop when I’m a big advocate of the bit chop you may ask?
I took this long antiquated route, for 2 major reasons.
1. I was in the Navy and not long prior to my decision to transition, a HMC was giving a HM2 a hard time about her TWA. Because of the way she had her hair at the time, to her it resembled afro puffs (which to me it did not). Soooo my save the world complex kicked in and I ended up arguing for hair that wasn’t even my own……I knew that if I re-lived that moment with my own hair, it would be ugly.
2. I was traumatized of having short hair. I’ve never had short hair so I was afraid of what I would look like or how I would maintain it. (I recently got a short cut wig and now know I woudda been fiya lol). And referring back to the former once my hair grew past 2inches, how many battles would I have to face in reference to what was happening with my hair.
So as previously mentioned I did almost everything you can imagine wrong. I had no clue what in the world I was doing. Whether I knew what I was doing or not, I wasn’t going to perm my hair. I refused. I charged on with my Revlon blow dryer and Revlon flat iron and my products made by Motion…..It was me against the world. Let me just say the world was kicking my arse….. Not only was I pressing my hair waaaayyyyy too much, but I was using the same hair products as when I had a perm. WRONG. If you were a size 5 and now a size 10 you wouldn’t wear those size 5s anymore right?…right?…lol well I hope not. Same logic applies here. My roots were not staying pressed throughout the day and my hair was breaking off badly. Clearly what I was doing was not wassup, but determined, I just wore my hair in a roller set of sorts to cover the mess that was taking place.
SEP 2006 ~ Later that year, I moved to Hawaii and MMMMM let’s just say those where some interesting times. I didn’t have a hair stylist and since there’s like 5% black people in Hawaii African American Hair stylist are hard to come by. And an ethnic hair supply store….There were only 2 and priced everything way high. I continued to press my hair out, but of course it would never stay pressed and I was over proteining my hair making it hard so there was a lot of breakage (I didn’t know better. My natural hair does love protein, but too much protein is never a good thing). I finally found a stylist to wash and deep condition my hair and press it out for me. But as my hair grew out she told me I needed to start seeing someone else and she wasn’t polite about it either. Which I to this day do not understand what is so challenging about washing, blow drying, flat ironing and trimming???? Is that not basic??
2007 ~ A lady I befriended passed on a FHI technique Flat iron that she had but wasn’t using. It’s like the angles were singing. I then realized there was a world passed Revlon. That iron was the BOMB!! Before, my hair still was getting it’s tushy beat by the humidity, but the FHI Technique pressed my hair out far better than the Revlon could ever had done. After receiving my new flat iron I did some research and saw that they had an iron that could be used on wet hair as well and and they sold blow dryers too. Well umm anyone that knows me, know that I’m super thrifty so I went to Ebay and was able to find them at a more affordable price. Just so happen I was in the mall, and this professional hair store was having a blowout sale. Flat irons and blow dryers super saving and they had the FHI Platform and blow dryer combo for $ 150. An Amazing deal. I love FHI over CHI any day.
So the hair store in the mall did not sell African hair care products per say, but it did sell a lot of stuff that curly curls used. And since my hair was “curly” then why not I try? But here’s the kicker. ½ my hair was permed and the other natural…..how do you remedy that. I went with products that geared to what I thought would work for my natural hair since the permed parts were eventually going to get chopped off any ways. The employees at the store were super cool and tried sooo hard to help me with my hair. They had an awesome return policy, so I tried a bunch of stuff. You name it. Again I knew nothing about sulfate free, or pre pooing or cowashing…..There was no LongHairDontCare.com or CurlyNiki for example. Or at least to the magnitude as today. I ended up using Sleek look by Matrix (canceled). It was the lesser of all evils and worked enough for my hair and I liked it. I had a decent time just washing and pressing my hair myself. I gave up on the trimming for a while and didn’t to go to a salon again unless I was really lazy and wanted my hair pressed out. For that I would just go to a hair cuttery spot in the mall. Nothing fancy. Remember I was in Hawaii so a salon that wasn’t afraid of my hair was hard to come by.
May 2007 ~ I found Malia at Paul Brown. Bless her heart. She hooked me up. She washed and pressed my hair for me and gave me my first big cut. She encourage to no end for me to never relax my hair. I think after every appointment she said “Gurl Do Not Perm Your Hair Ever Again” Malia was a God send. Malia cut off most of my perm and left me a decent length to work with without shocking the crap out of everyone in the Navy. I hated the cut, but it was what I told her to do so for that I was not mad. I saw her every 3-4 months to cut more perm off as my hair grew out.
As my hair grew out, when I wasn’t at work, I braved my hair in its curly state. Brave I say, because I knew I still had relaxed hair and that I was taking a chance at looking crazy. Praying on water and my bedhead products (that my hair laughed at) I took it to the streets. My hair was a straggly mess. As my hair grew, the more I tried to wear it heat free. It would start off looking kindda ok but then by the end of the day it was sooooo dry and looked a sad mess…..Because I didnt do a big chop, my hair grew in the weirdest shape and at times I looked like I either had a crazy high-top or a mullet. I quickly got hip to weave ponytails and I would throw them on like it was no other if I was going out. At some point I get a sew-in (first and only) which was fiya aside from the part where I left some of my hair out. HA! Who told me that that’s what I needed to do…..As soon and the Hawaii sun hit my face I sweated that cute little bang piece out. hahah.
Whenever I would ask a lady with natural hair for help, I’d get the stank face like I asked them something mystical. Quite frankly looking back I do now get some of their responses when I’d ask….”Who does your hair? Who trims your hair? What products do you use”…..and they’d say “ME”….(As I do a lot of caring for my hair on my own) But still really?? Why the stank face or a little bit of guidance? GRRRR it drove me mad. I had this mess sitting on the top of my head and I had no clue what to do with it and no one was helping me. LOL.
Oh well. I kindda figured it out along the way. It took me apx 2 years to cut all of my perm out. I know I could have been swifter on it, but that was my fault for not want to part ways with my hair and me and trying to stay in regs for the Navy. In the mist of my lack of knowledge of my hair, I experienced a great deal of issues. My hair spent a lot of time dry to say the least. I also experienced crazy amounts of shedding and tangles and knots. AND I MEAN A LOT. There was a period where I would just run my hand down my hair and I would have so much shedding. Not knowing what to do about it, I would get my hair trimmed, when I really didnt need to, thinking that would save the day. But I eventually learned that though trimming is awesome, it doesn’t save worlds. Its only protects it……..See from excessive heat damage, coloring and not properly moisturizing my hair…..It was suffering….I mean it was growing, but it was definitely not healthy growth.
Throughout 2008 the only product that I could find, that my hair liked was Paul Mitchel’s Tea Tree Lavender Shampoo and Conditioner. I used that along with Carol Daughter’s Healthy Hair Butter and Honey Hair Mimosa. Later that year I found YouTube!!!!! I ran across RusticBeauty channel and learned how to make my own hair products (shea butters, conditioners, leave ins) and about using products that were more naturally derived. . I started doing research on what my hair needed. At the same time, (going back to 2007) I had started changing my diet to a more veggi based and a cleaner diet. With that I went hard on natural products for my skin and hair.
In 2009 , After fails with natural or for natural hair products (Carol Daughter, Miss Jessie, Diva Curls, Mixed Chicks….) I eventually ran across Shea Moisture’s line and it really made a difference for my hair. And even to this day, even knowing there are better products out there in the world, I still give shout outs and praises to that line. Aside from when I pressed my hair out (Paul Mitchell Super Skinny or Alterna Hemp with Organics Straight/=( discontinued ), I used solely Shea moisture’s line and my homemade products.
2009-2011, I was either deployed to Iraq or underway on my ship (Japan and throughout the Western Pacific). So my hair wasn’t too much of my priority. I had found a shampoo that I was happy with and I had my Shea butter and coconut oil lol I was good. I was very limited on time so I guess I was lucky to had figured out flat and two strand twists. When I wasn’t wearing a bun for work (which wasn’t often) I’d rock my fro. I was Fo Seriously the wash-n-go queen when I didn’t have to be at work. Literally my regimen was insanely simple. 1. I’d wet my hair like almost all the time because it was the only way I knew how to manipulate my hair. Pretty much the only way I knew how to get my hair in a bun was to wet it. I would either bun it right out of the shower or wet my brush and wet my hair that way. I would brush the mess out of my hair (another thing that’s a no no) 2. I did figure out that Shampooing all the time wasn’t the hotness so I conditioned a lot (which I later learned was called cowashing). 3. I apply my shea butter mix ALL THE TIME…and I mean ALL THE TIME. And that’s it.
Yep my hair grew into a pretty big fro. But I mean it was really unhealthy. I would get serious knots all the time and I could never do anything to it with out wetting it. But I accepted it as “thats the way my hair is going to be” all the way up until the summer of 2012. I went in for a trim and ended up getting a hair cut, without my warrant. I WAS PISSSED. But I mean everything happens for a reason. Granted the cut was shotty, uneven and just an overall sad experience, it forced me to take control of my hair.
I cannot say that my transition was exactly the flyies or even the healthiest. But somehow I managed to stick it through. When I meet people and they rave of my hair and say theirs doesn’t look like mine so that’s why they cant go natural…..Or they tried and looked a mess so they quit…..HAHAHA I think it important for people to know that not everyone has an easy time with growing their hair out, so don’t be swayed when things are going the way you originally anticipated. Also stop worrying about what everyone elses hair looks like and focus on your own locs. When you see the girl with the “perfect fro” know that she too had some trials to get that look. My hair use to be nappy and knotty. FINGER DETANGLING was unfathomable. Its a true learning experience. And with this amazing awareness for natural hair OMG this is the best time if there’s any bandwagon to jump on. There is soooo much support, that I wish I had many years ago.
Heres the photos. Sorry no length checks. I measured my length by how big my fro was.
In the Beginning 2004-2007