Back to My Roots: My Return to Relaxers

by Teronda Seymore

Back to My Roots: My Return to Relaxers

I did something terribly wrong during my transition from relaxed to natural hair. Perhaps I omitted a few steps, mixed incorrect ingredients or screwed up a technique because my lush layers morphed into tangled tumbleweed and I lost nearly half of my hair within four months.

I got the bright idea to go natural so I could run, practice yoga and take swimming lessons without scrambling to restyle my hair afterward. I grew obsessed with the wild, coiled, spiky look. Never mind I hadn’t shampooed, rolled or flat ironed my own hair in over 12 years or I only had a mere two inches of new growth attached to inches of bone straightness. I could still achieve a full ‘fro with the right product, Nikki Walton’s “Better Than Good Hair” and step-by-step instructions on a few YouTube videos, right?

Wrong.

What I got most weeks was a stringy, sticky, greasy mess: a throwback to my third-grade self when I went through that ma-I-can-do-my-own-hair-because-I-am-too-old-for-ribbons-and-plaits phase. Only this time I was 38 not 8. The products that tamed my roots left the chemically-straightened part of my hair limp.

I tried to fluff it out one morning before a short road trip. My aunt’s boyfriend stopped mid-step and fell into a fit of laughter.

“You look like one of the Jackson 5,” he finally managed to say.

Attempts to use less curling soufflé resulted in a big frizzy pouf. I positioned my body face-forward, with no left or right turns, because my hair didn’t fall back into place as it once did. If I glanced down, my hair stuck straight out. I looked like I wore a bad wig. Or weave. In a mug shot.

My natural ‘do became the epitome of a natural don’t and I didn’t know how to fix it. My appearance definitely didn’t feel complete. How was I supposed to look cute with a jacked up head?

I really should’ve kept my regularly scheduled touch-ups..

I was over 200 miles away from my long-term stylist so I texted one of my girlfriends who had been natural the entire 10+ years I’ve known her. I told her I was going to resume relaxing my hair because I didn’t like it. I looked crazy. She replied, “Natural hair is a journey and [once] you make it, you will feel so free and empowered and there is nothing some knucklehead can say that will make a difference.”

But I really did look like a Jackson.

My friend proceeded to send texts about two-strand twists, blow dries, pins and puffs. Did she not remember I only needed to finger my hair into place before all this? With no vegetable glycerin, coconut oil, oil sheen, pudding or water, might I add. Wrap, unwrap and go. But in this semi-natural state, I needed variant concoctions of moisture and protein depending on daily use, pre-poo, deep conditioning, nighttime, midmonth…I can’t.

And my hair couldn’t either. A few weeks after those texts, I looked down and to the left as I styled my stiff pouf in the bathroom mirror and noticed my sides were significantly longer than the back (after I adjusted the hair that was sticking off.) The entire underside of my hair, the longest layers, had broken off and barely covered my nape! My hair suffered some sort of withdrawal and was not thirsty for any water, either.

It craved that creamy crack. I was relieved to find some under my aunt’s bathroom sink and slapped globs of it on my roots, nape and edges. My scalp tingled and I watched my kinky curls inhale, stretch and relax.

I was naïve about transitioning. Having been dependent on relaxers for nearly 25 years, I knew nothing about my natural hair other than it was coarse, itchy and lacked body when it was time for a touch-up. And despite the line of demarcation warnings, I still thought all that grease and water would prevent my thick strands from snapping.

I also thought it would be “easy” and truly versatile. But really how much texture-manipulating could I have done to chemically-straightened hair? I know a ‘fro would’ve been more realistic had I started from scratch with all new growth but I simply couldn’t bring myself to proceed with the big chop. I don’t have the face, namely the nose, for that.

Ironically, I still have to cut some of my hair now that I’m left with thinner, harder, more brittle and uneven strands, much like the teenager who holds on for length no matter how split the ends. I’ll probably need some scarves, hairpins, headbands and flowers after all.

I feel a mixture of regret, guilt and failure. How crazy it must sound to be totally incapable of managing what’s naturally mine. Chemicals didn’t damage my hair; I did! I envy and applaud the fierce curlfriends who can rock the teeny weeny afro and nurture it into a crown full of voluminous spirals but that won’t ever be me.

I’ll take the sodium hydroxide, please. I just want my long, bouncy, relaxed hair back.

Washington, DC transplant Teronda Seymore is a writer and an undercover Twitter addict whose work has appeared online at Whole Living and xoJane. Follow her @skinnydcwriter.

  • http://winonainc.com Edwina@WINONA, INC.

    You went about it wrong, girlfriend. And I can’t believe you found some relaxer under your aunt’s sink and just slapped it on. That itself speaks volumes about your haircare methods. Better luck next time.

  • http://gravatar.com/resroad resroad

    It is really hard to transition if you keep the relaxed hair. When I went natural I waited until I had about 2 inches of new growth, then chopped all the relaxer out. I loved it, but once it got long again, it became too much work. I couldn’t afford to get it professionally done and it took me 5 hours to 2-strand twist my own hair. So I eventually went back to relaxer and it’s so much easier for me. I applaud whatever the heck you want to do with your hair! Isn’t is awesome that we are so versatile? Do you.

  • aDawn

    I feel ya, girl! i didn’t think I was gonna make it through my transition either after 30 years of relaxing. So many times I yearned to go back to the ease of the creamy crack, especially at months three and eight. If i hadn’t had others pushing me forward, I, too, would have gone back. Even after I BC’ed 12 months in, I said “I’m giving this six months.”

    I still haven’t gone back. I love my curls, but every four+ hour wash day session and the multitude of products required to tame them makes me miss the ease and flexibility of my relaxer.

    If you do decide to try it again, make sure you do the research first. If not for the transitioners on YT and one friend in particular, I would’ve gone back long ago.

  • hidaya

    I feel ya. I was natural for 13 months. I am back to a relaxer AND LOVING IT!

  • http://gravatar.com/rwpole rw

    this is fair, you tried, and acknowledged that you couldn’t make it work *shrug*

  • Choco

    So sorry girl. Transitioning is hard!! I hope you are much happier with your results now :)

  • http://gravatar.com/mzrayona mzrayona

    I agree, that maybe your method of ‘wait it out’ transitioning wasn’t the best way for you. Many women who choose not to big chop often decide to transition in braids or Senegalese twists, as the extensions offer length as well as protection, while allowing you to transition gracefully and keep that line of demarcation intact. Also, sew in weaves or even wigs are another way to transition ‘privately’. Should you choose to try to go natural again, consider one of these options. Good luck!

  • Natalie

    If I am understanding this correctly you attempted to style basically 2″ of natural hair that was still attached to a significant amount If replaced hair as if your whole head If hair was natural? So really you hadn’t gone natural…you were transitioning and trying to use products for natural hair on your hair in which the majority was relaxed It is not surprising then that products did not work on the relaxed portions of your hair. They aren’t designed to. It will also be impossible to get the fullness that Nikki Walton is able to get on her natural hair on a head of hair in which the majority is relaxed. IMO you weren’t really completely natural or even truly dealing with your texture due to the significant amount of relaxed hair still on your head. Relaxed hair does not behave like natural hair. You needed to cut off the ends then see what your natural hair could do. To me this story seems like someone who tried to mimic natural hair on relaxed hair and it didn’t work. You end up setting your self up for a big let down.

  • Chacha1

    Everyone simply cannot transition. I was one of those people. My hair started to break off and I got sick of managing two vastly different textures. But I wanted my natural hair so I got rid of the horrible stringiness that was created by the relaxers, because it was ugly to me. If I wanted to keep my hair, I had to cut chop it off. After I cut the relaxed hair off, my hair was only 3 inches long. I didn’t like the one inch twa, but I just dealt with it (the feelings) until it grew out. I hate wearing fake hair but twists got me through half the year and by then it had grown out enough for me to like the length.

    I really don’t understand how some women are able to keep all of their hair when transitioning. I followed a healthy routine and everything and mine still fell out.

  • Missette

    Listen, natural hair is not for everyone. Don’t feel obligated. We all live different lives. If natural hair doesn’t work for you, don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about it.

    It was a big decision for me to big chop. I was afraid of what everyone in my life would think. I was afraid of looking and feeling unattractive. But after just 6 months of transitioning, I was tired of dealing with 2 completely different textures on my head so I grabbed the scissors, started cutting and never looked back. Of course I followed this with a trip to the salon so I didn’t look cuckoo bananas with my uneven TWA lol.

    Yes, there have been rough times as I’m still learning more about caring for my natural hair texture. But I hit my 1 year mark in April and have no regrets and no desire to jump back to my creamy crack life. This reassures me that I did the right thing for ME.

    Do the right thing for YOU and don’t ever let anyone make you second guess yourself! Just work on having healthy hair in whatever texture you prefer.

  • AJW

    LoL at all these comments saying it’s hard to deal with the hair that grows out of your OWN head.
    If it took 20 or so years to perfect your relaxer or weave, what would give any sane person the idea that your natural hair texture would be mastered in a matter of a few weeks?
    Why not just be honest and say you don’t like your hair or that you’re just to lazy & impatient TO learn your hair. It’s likes & dislikes. What styles work & don’t work. This type of struggle mentality alot of black women have about our hair is dangerous. We have generations of black women & girls going bald before their time do to the “My hair is too hard to deal with” belief.

  • Guest1234

    Honestly, this article made me sad. It’s just hair. It really doesn’t require all this drama. Slathering caustic chemicals on your head (that houses your brain, folks) so that you feel good about yourself is nothing short of crazy. I’m sorry. I know it’s frowned upon to state this truth. But there it is.

    Do what you want with your hair. But I just don’t get how you don’t have more pride than that. I’ll just be damned if imma find myself so unacceptable that I have to do all that just to be okay, presentable, worthy. I’m willing to bet that if you cut your relaxed strings you would be GORGEOUS! I have NEVER seen a woman who didn’t look better with her natural hair. EVER. The problem isn’t real. It isn’t your face. It isn’t your hair texture. It isn’t your nose. It’s perception. And that damaged perception makes me sad. You are okay. And your relaxed hair doesn’t look nearly as good as you think it does. I hope one day you wake up and see yourself clearly. It’s really not so hard. And you’re not so bad. I promise. Good luck. I hope you learn to accept yourself someday. Life’s to short not to.

  • KDJW

    I think the problem is most people think that “going natural” is a simple process; it takes alot work until you find out what works best for your hair. Hell I’ve been natural for 5 years and sometimes I still struggle with my hair. But hey if she wanted to go and get a relaxer, kudos for her, do what’s best for you not for others.

  • Jen

    I tend to stay away from natural hair conversations because folks get so…passionate. But parts of your attempts are transitioning mirrored mine, so I totally feel you on ultimately going back to relaxers because it’s what works for YOU.

    I failed miserably at my attempt to transition in many of the same ways you did. I didn’t know what the heck I was doing, despite buying all the products I’d seen on the countless youtube tutorials I’d watched. My once long luscious locks turned short, choppy, and bodiless. It was a disaster and lasted only 6 months. I trekked in like 2 feet of snow to purchase a box of relaxer. And my hair has never looked better.

    I plan to go natural again in the future (I am still so in love with natural hair) but I know that transitioning isn’t for me. I’m just going to chop it off after I get a decent amount of new growth and deal with it from there.

  • Apple

    Get ready to be called a self hater and how natural is for everyone because god gave to you and if you just stop whining about spending hours of your life caring for it and work hard on learning how to do it, the heavens will open and you will miraculously know to do your hair and how special they are because they learned how to do it.

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae

    RE: It is really hard to transition if you keep the relaxed hair.

    I disagree, as a person who transitioned for 2 years. It definitely gave me insight into what my hair would be like once fully natural. It also taught me to be gentle with my hair in a way that I never had to be with relaxed hair.

    I do agree, though, that every one should do what’s best for her!

  • Men Dont Understand

    Let me get this straight black women with relaxed FULL heads of hair, that’s cheaper to maintain and also takes much less time to maintain which is the style that MOST men actually prefer fill bad and are apologizing (to other black women) about having a perm and not going to or staying with a natural STYLE. smh and lmao at the same da m time.

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae

    I think a lot of women underestimate their own lack of knowledge about natural hair and how to take care of it. You’ll never be able to use the same techniques that worked for you while you were relaxed, as your head of hair is completely different. Also, I believe a lot of people create more work for themselves by trying to chase the perfect kink, coil, or curl. I believe it’s more important to have the attitude that no matter what your hair will look like as it grows out, you’ll love it regardless and take time out to get to know your hair’s likes and dislikes…

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae

    I transitioned for 24 months with no breakage at all! I think it’s about technique!

  • JRM

    Going natural is indeed a journey as stated by one of the readers above! No one should feel “guilt-ed” into going natural. And i’m sure it is the most empowering thing for a woman who goes natural successfully. But lets face it, we all have different hair textures and most people cant even remember the texture of their natural hair, let alone how to manage it. I think most of the people who say transitioning is easy, are those with a more manageable hair type (yes kinky hair can be manageable). I have relaxed my hair since I was 18 and now i’m 31. I recently stopped relaxing (6 mnths) and boy am I craving that crack. And get this my hair is about 3a-b black and indian mixed. So i could only imagine the frustration that one with a coarser texture would go through. I feel ya girl!!!

  • J

    What you fail to understand is that women don’t do these kinds of things (well, most things) for men. Understand that first. It’s almost never about you.

  • Natalie

    I don’t think it is that simple. It will matter what condition your hair is in before you transition. Additionally the bonds in your hair have been changed on the relaxed portion of hair so for many people the relaxed hair staying to the attached hair, no matter how good the care, simply will not work. People want to assume that it will but the hair isn’t made to carry those to textures on one strand for an extended period of time without breaking off. Some people may be able to do it but many will not. I think it Is problematic to equate the way Your hair behaves in a transitioned state to when you have removed the relaxed. It is like apples and oranges. She can be relaxed or natural. It is her decision but trying to manipulate to complete different hair types (relaxed and natural) and summing it up as er experience with natural hair seems inconsistent.

  • Mademoiselle

    I simply couldn’t bring myself to proceed with the big chop. I don’t have the face, namely the nose, for that

    What kind of nose do you need for a big chop?

  • Treece

    I can empathize with the author 100%. I am currently a new natural. I have been transitioning for the last two years and I have only just now achieved a whole head of natural hair (with some relaxed tips on top; about an inch). I got to this point by way of weaves and braids. For the last two years I have been wearing a weave or braids (6 to 7 weeks in, 1 to 2 weeks out) and have thought many times “I just want my creamy crack back!” I had/have no clue, for the most part, how to style my natural hair. I usually brush and gel it back into a tuck bun for the weeks I am giving my hair a break.

    I’ve tried the puddings, the twist outs, the youtube tutorials with no luck. My hair is very soft and thin, but still like a 4a/b in curl pattern (I think). so it’s also very fragile. My twist outs look like crooked branches on an old tree and I can’t flat twist or cornrow. The only way I have seen fit to wear my hair until it gets to the length I would like is through protective styling (weaves and braids).

    I also get a lot of versatility with the weaves and braids though. Sometimes I wear straight weaves with the hair I leave out flat ironed, sometimes I do the curly ones, in the summer I like braids. I think for women who have been relaxed since childhood, going natural is a scary thing. And it’s hard to know what to do with your hair in it’s natural state if you’ve never had too. Until I achieve the length I want in my natural hair, I’ll continue to weave it or braid it up. It’s a process and I my hair is growing, but I can’t blame the author for going back. Some people just don’t have the patience.

  • MommieDearest

    This is HILARIOUS! Thanks for the laugh hon. I give you credit for admitting your mistakes and recognizing that you weren’t ready to change lanes yet. LOL!!!

    When I decided to stop relaxing my hair, I tried to transition. That lasted all of 4 months. I was wearing a wig, and that thing was hot and itchy and got. on. my. NERVES! So I tried styling my 2 textures. FAIL. I just accepted that I had neither the patience or skills to openly transition, so I took my behind and half-nappy head to the salon and did the Big Chop. I was left with a 1 inch TWA. I LOVED it! I hadn’t felt that free in a looooooong time.

    That was over 10 years ago and I cannot imagine getting a relaxer again. My hair is long now (has been for 8 years)and I spend less time on styling now than I did when it was relaxed and my hair looks great. I get compliments all the time. And I have the “4b” hair that alot of (black) people deem as not the right “kind” of natural hair. *eye roll*

    So hang in there. It’s OK if you’re not ready to take the plunge. Like your friend said, embracing your natural hair is a journey. The first step is making sure you’re ready mentally. If that’s not in place, then you will fail. Try again when you are COMPLETELY ready, and you will wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. If you decide that you want to continue relaxing, that’s fine too. As long as you’re happy that’s what matters most.

  • MimiLuvs

    I am not going to lie to you by writing a prose about “my tough transition from having relaxed hair and going back to being ‘natural’” because my hair has been un-relaxed since September of 1989 (I was five). Plus, I have the mindset of hair (not just mine, but hair in general) is as significant as a discarded toenail clipping.
    So, you’re not going to read some profound testimony from me.
    My advice to you is ‘Do you… whatever that is for you’.
    Life is too short and too unpredictable for you to take everyone’s opinion into consideration.
    You’ve tried to do the transition and you didn’t like it. And that’s okay and it’s fine. Don’t let anybody try to guilt you into doing something that you don’t want to do.

  • Apple

    Self righteous much? Everybody ain’t you. Everyone is made different

  • Apple

    If it was so easy we would have constant articles about and everyone would do it

  • tina

    First mistake was thinking if you’re natural you can run, practice yoga, and take swim lessons without restyling your hair afterwards.

    That’s like saying having a perm is having “wash and go” hair.

  • Apple

    Then what can you do

  • Guest1234

    You can think whatever you want, but I don’t believe that this woman is so ugly that she has to either spend hours twisting and searching for some miracle product, or poison herself with burning chemicals just to be okay and decent to look at.

    If you think you’re that ugly, then God Bless You. Good luck.

  • Ariahead

    Shoot, if you looked like one of the Jackson 5, you were doing it right. Say what you will but they had perfect hair. Big rounded fro’s. That’s what every natural wants.

  • donnadara

    It shouldn’t take all that. Don’t fight your natural texture.

  • http://gravatar.com/loverloverlovertalia kiki80

    Right? This chick just doesn’t like naps — which given how we’ve all been conditioned is understandable. No need to blog about it though.

  • http://gravatar.com/kem247 F.S.T.C

    I tried to go natural when I was 17 after seeing Tyra’s show on going natural. It only lasted about four weeks, for I feared that my hair would look too “nappy” like this guy’s afro in school. Fast-forward three years later I have been transitioning for a year, and plan on transitioning for another year. It’s hard, but only because we all have been unwillingly programmed to relax our hair since we were children. I wear protective styles, so that really helps with the stress and maintenance. I couldn’t go back to being relaxed because I just love touching the kinks and curls of my hair and hate the burning sensations of having a relaxer. I can’t wait to cut off the stringy hair and rock out my natural curls! If you are struggling with transitioning I would advise to keep going because you wont regret it, going on natural hair blogs and watching youtube tutorials really helps!

  • http://gravatar.com/nataya1280 nataya1280

    The natural girls or shall I say the ones that are new to being natural and are on the “bc its in” bandwagon want curls like mixed chick curls… not a fro. And looking at the commericals for these products a lot of ppl are buying the dream, that they too could look like they are hispanic or mixed.

  • http://gravatar.com/nataya1280 nataya1280

    I love the author for being honest. THe mere fact that some ppl take 3+ hours
    to get their hair correct shows you they dont want to be natural they want to create a texture they dont have. When most ppl think of curl they think of Traci Ellis Ross not a fro. But everyone does have that hair and can acheive that look.

  • Guest1234

    Agreed. There’s a lot of negativity floatin’ around. Shoooot…naps are beautiful. There’s nothing like a full head of fresh, vibrant kinks. They just don’t know.

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae

    RE: Why not just be honest and say you don’t like your hair or that you’re just to lazy & impatient TO learn your hair.

    I completely agree.

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae

    RE: I have NEVER seen a woman who didn’t look better with her natural hair. EVER.

    I completely agree. Natural hair fits us so much better!

  • Aria

    It is ridiculous when black women claim that “natural hair isn’t for everyone”. Natural hair IS for everyone, its the hair that grows out of your head, THE HAIR YOU WERE BORN WITH! Many women who return natural expect the same results they see on other women who are already natural and become depressed when it doesn’t happen that way. It doesn’t matter if your hair texture is kinky, straight, or curly..ALL hair types take time and patience AND different care methods. What works for some doesn’t work for all (in types of styling).

    Chemicals DO damage your hair because it kills the protein make-up of your natural texture (sodium hydroxide is in drain cleaner….) and cause damage to your scalp.

    (You have to CUT the relaxer out as you transition otherwise it WILL look like a mess)

    Many black women are also insecure with their natural texture because of its history of being shot down as “normal beauty”. If it doesn’t look like “becky” (long, bouncy, straight hair) from down the street, it isn’t approved. Stop saying you are ugly because you have a TWA, etc. and it doesn’t match your face, etc.

    It takes trial and error to take care of natural hair. I know this because I am natural myself and have experienced MANY errors before I learned how to care for my hair.

    Its also the mindset that there is a “miracle” product to make your hair grow and appear like the other product users. It just doesn’t happen that way. Before you return natural you have to do a self evaluation and RESEARCH natural hair care and create your OWN regimen. Lastly, Natural hair is going to result in frizz because that is what it mostly contains….frizz, lol.

    Do not go natural and expect hair like Nikki Walton, or natural hair gurus period. Natural Hair gurus are there for reviews and tips, they don’t expect you to have the same texture as them. Hair textures are NOT MADE in the same design. I’m not saying you have to be natural. Do your own thing but if you plan on trying again, take your time to plan and research. Nothing comes easy the first time.

  • Martin

    Less time to maintain, less cost and men prefer it. What exactly is the problem other than trying to impress some other women?

  • EL

    I transitioned for just over a year using braids and twists. I took really good care of my hair while it was in it’s relaxed state and I use pretty much the same methods for my hair now in it’s natural state, with some tweeks, mainly just the fact I make my own products for my hair now and don’t buy stuff with certain ingredients. I don’t get the whole “I can’t deal with my natural hair thing”. Our hair is meant to be the way it is. I relaxed my hair at 14 having no clue how to take care of hair whether relaxed or natural, just using all the hair myths and wrong hair care methods we’ve been told for years by our Mothers, Aunts, etc. Once I realized how to take care of our hair properly, water is moisture, moisture and seal, protein/moisture balance, etc. (you know the drill), I was like “Well if I can take care of my hair in it’s relaxed state, then I’ll know how to take care of my natural hair!” It was that eas! Also, relaxed hair is much weaker so I had to do protein treatments and pre-poos every other week! That was soooo time consuming!

    I couldn’t be happier to have my hair back to it’s natural state! I would never have relaxed my hair if I’d known then what I do now, there is absolutely NO need and I would never ever relax my hair again, that is gone with the wind!

    The fact is Black hair is delicate and whether it’s natural or relaxed, it takes time, patience and knowledge to take care of it. And that’s just the nature of our hair. Taking care of natural hair is so easier in my opinion and it’s part of me so why wouldn’t I want to look after it!?

    Yes, transitioning is a long journey but, it is seriously worth it. We are lucky that we can even grow our back to how it’s meant to be and don’t have to have relaxed hair forever!

  • itsmorecocoa

    honestly, i think some people have better things to do with their time than to sit around poking and prodding at their strands to find the perfect style. let’s not act like natural hair doesn’t take hours to dry simply to see results. straight hair (namely relaxers) is a quick easy solution that in many cases women don’t actually have to perform themselves.

    if you’re one of the women who have the time to spend styling their hair for hours every few days or so, GOOD FOR YOU! (i’m jealous lol) i just don’t think it’s laziness that deters women from going natural. it’s simply a lack of time and proper knowledge.

  • A

    LOL. Hey, to each her own. I totally understand how the writer felt for the first two and a half years (yes, that long) of my natural hair journey. But, I transitioned with keratin treatments and professional blow dries. Almost 3 years later, my hair is finally curly all over — with like 3 different textures, but I’m finally getting the hang of it. I wore three-day hair for the FIRST time last month! Hallelujah! :)

  • Marketing Gimmicks

    I just want to add that hair is very personal but for some reason there are people who feel entitled to bully and shame others about decisions they make regarding how they choose to style their hair that borders on violation.

    I had a natural afro for 5 years. 5 years. And it only grew seven inches. Not only did this style not compliment my personality: I resented how unflattering I looked and in addition…I was downright pissy that I couldn’t get it to grow.

    The truth is some women’s hair grows life wildfire after the big chop and some people like myself get an inch or two a year. And no sir I was not happy.

    Five years was enough.

    I went back to my Halle Berry/Toni Braxton/Rihanna shave and have never looked cuter. And I don’t allow the bossy self righteousness types of “team naturals” to define my self-worth based on my hair.

    When a team natural person crosses the line and ask’s me why I’m not natural anymore the first thing I ask them is: Why are you trying to control me?

    It stops them dead in their tracks every time.

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae

    Honestly, protective styles are what kept me transitioning! I didn’t have to see the relaxed ends and by the time my hair started to grow out, I had the big chop itch! Also the added benefit of not having to style my hair, hiding my ends, and I find that they helped my hair retain length and moisture!

    Good Luck!

  • Guest1234

    I think the thing that grates on me is how mean some of the commenters are. They’re like the crows in The Wiz, telling the scarecrow that he can’t change his circumstances and point of view – that he has to stay hung up in some silly pattern. You can’t win, they sing.

    I agree that natural hair IS for everybody. And it doesn’t require 10 hours a day. It is far less maintenance (and less expensive) than the alternatives. You just have to give yourself permission to like the way God made you. That’s all. I’m getting so sick of the crab-in-a-barrel crows calling folks nazis and trying to shut up those of us who have broken free and tried to tell others that it’s possible. And it’s okay.

    I wrote upstream about how I’m sure the woman in the article is not so ugly that her natural self is upresentable, and the crows started cawing at me, essentially saying that I shouldn’t try to encourage someone to accept herself fully and completely. Trying to keep her mind locked in the same barrel they’re stuck in.

    The mere fact that people are trying so hard to shut down this conversation is evidence that it is POWERFUL! For anybody sitting on the fence, don’t let the negative Nancies convince you that burning your scalp is natural, safe, healthy, and a perfectly neutral choice. It isn’t. You know it isn’t. Just break free! Accept yourself! It’s okay. There are lots of us on this side of the issue, and we’re loving it. And we’re not going to stop shouting from the rooftops. BLACK WOMEN, YOU ARE OKAY!!!!! YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!!!! BE FREE!!!

  • bridgeovertrubledwaterz

    Do what your want with YOUR hair. DO NOT Let others judge you as a woman because of it.

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae

    I think it’s more important for women to explore techniques that work well for the porosity and density of the hair they have. For instance, two heads may both be 4a/b but if one has fine hair where the other has thick hair, they will not be able to use the same products or maybe even the same techniques!

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae

    RE: You just have to give yourself permission to like the way God made you.

    Beautifully stated! Honestly, anyone going natural will have to get the kinks out of their brain first! There is definitely a psychological change that has to occur as well!

  • Eva

    Whatever works for you. At least you gave it a try. <3

  • Cocochanel31

    honestly natural hair is more work than a relaxer
    Do what works for you hun!

  • http://gravatar.com/jenettaangel _PassionandLove

    I sympathize with this author. I shaved off all my hair in high school, after being natural for one year (through the transition of braids). I felt ugly because I couldnt control my 4c hair. It never looked moisturized, hard to comb through and I was the minority in a school full of Latinos and Whites. And I was basically the ONLY black girl with natural hair. I remember being in gym class and hearing all the boys making fun of me saying that I was ugly being natural in Spanish and English. The self loathing was REAL. I didnt feel attractive to black boys (because boys my age were obsessed with all the Latin girls in my school). And even my father would taunt me about being a “brillo pad” and how stupid I was for cutting off my hair. After another year, I went back to perming my hair. My confidence finally deflated.

    Let me say this, it was more than the negative commentary I received from family and friends, it was because I had to deal with two jobs and the maintenance of my natural hair was overwhelming. Late last year, I received a horrible perm that made most of my hair fall out and left some bald spots around my edges. I was mortified. I learned how to weave my hair and then started transitioning with braids and weaves, just to grow back the perm, but then I realized I was ready to go natural again.I am now surrounded by a plethora of women who love their natural hair, to which we started a natural group to help with tips and tricks and do natural product swaps, to know what works and dont works, because it is about listening to what your hair wants!

    SO to the author, it takes a lot of time to know what works for you. I let my environment discourage my natural beauty. Perms are easier, but there is something beautiful about a woman embracing her natural beauty.

  • MimiLuvs

    @Marketing Gimmicks

    “I just want to add that hair is very personal but for some reason there are people who feel entitled to bully and shame others about decisions they make regarding how they choose to style their hair that borders on violation.”

    I’ve only witnessed this type of cluster-f*ckery, when I am reading from blogs and the comments off of YouTube videos.
    I just chalk it up to the fact that internet provides anonymonity and a lot of people are becoming reckless with their mouths.

  • Ms Write

    This is why I have been loc’d for four years now. I never liked doing a bunch of maintenance on my hair, even when it was relaxed. Not to mention the long hours spent at the beauty shop. I would suggest to those who don’t want to do the big chop to maintain your hair in braids. They are versatile and easier to manage.. Also be realistic about your hair texture. Don’t expect it to change magically because of a product.

  • http://gravatar.com/kem247 F.S.T.C

    Thank you!

  • Deb

    it’s a lifelong experience with hair. You might be inspired to try natural hair again or not but I think it sucks for anyone (not talking about you) walking around thinking their hair in its natural state is inherently ugly Do what works for you.

  • Deb

    *try natural hair in the future

  • http://gravatar.com/kem247 F.S.T.C

    Yeah, that’s another reason why people think it’s too hard. Most are too busy trying to manipulate their hair to look like ringlets and waves which is okay to have the look of, but a glorious kinky crown like chime or cipriana is beautiful too! That was my problem the first time around trying to transition, you just need to change your perspective of what’s beautiful!

  • http://twitter.com/MostlyMax MostlyMax (@MostlyMax)

    I feel your pain Sis. I’ve been natural for 5 years and I didn’t do a big chop either. I sorta went natural accidentally after 5 years of weaves. I came out of the gate with a ginormous fro that I had no idea what to do with and I promptly jacked it up. But over time and with patience I got it together. Folks ain’t lying when they say being natural is a journey. For me, going natural was the best thing I ever did. For someone else it just might not be a match. The beauty of Black hair is in its versatility and we can rock however we want, whenever we want. . Do what works for you.

  • Deb

    I’ve had experience wirh natural hair when I was younger and absolutely know ill keep my hair at a certain length when it starts to become too much work. So not interested in ever going back to relaxer.

  • http://gravatar.com/loverloverlovertalia kiki80

    The term ‘bullying’ is way overused. No one here can “bully” anyone into a lifestyle choice. What posters are doing is unraveling the tortured rationalizations people use to conform to the status quo.

    That said, you’re all grown — do you.

  • angel

    Can I just thank you for the ‘realness’ of this article. I feel like I could have written this.

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae

    @itsmorecocoa

    Unfortunately the issue is that if you don’t know how to do your natural hair, and if you’re expecting to have and trying to attain the look of someone else’s kinks, coils or curls, then yes, you’ll be spending hours and hours on your hair! I’m not one of those women with unrealistic views about what her natural hair SHOULD look like. I’m more concerned w/ how it feels! When I think of my experience as a relaxed woman, I did spend at least 6 hours a month in the chair having my hair done. Now as a natural, I do my hair on Sundays (in a protective style through the next 3-4 days) and a braid or twist out for the weekend. Same amount of time and less money, and may I say that I don’t blend in the way I did when I was relaxed :) (and my hair was long and healthy when I had a relaxer)

    Mine doesn’t take long because I know what’s works for me, NOW! :) YES initially, I had a few bad days that a protective style fixed! I really had to change my thought process about my own personal beauty.

    Also I think it needs to be said that even relaxed, it’s not true that we all know how to do our hair when it comes to styling, we’ve just accepted that straight hair is beautiful, no matter how jacked up it really looks, no matter how thin and lifeless it looks!

  • Deb

    I understand wash days (and unless your hair is SUPER LONG, there are definitely ways to shorten yours) but working so hard to “tame” your hair with a bunch of products and techniques is all on you. It’s a choice and not a necessity.

    All curly haired women (including nonblack women) are on this lifelong mission to tame their hair. it’s an unnecessary burden but social pressure is tough and I hope we (collectively and individually) can one day break free.

  • apple

    yes i’m too lazy to do my hair for hours and hours, to come back home from work then braid/twist whatever to go to bed.. then to wake up and undo it.. and then come back home and do it again and again.. i was natural for 17 years of my 24 year life.. so yea i would say i was pretty PATIENT

  • Deb

    um, I recall styling relaxed hair took hours too. I never got a roller set done in 20 minutes. Also most of the time, we went to SALONS for styling and now most naturals style their hair themselves.

    At the same time as covered in the recent natural hair, the spending hours styling and trying to tame hair is sometimes becaus e people feel its the only way their natural hair can be presentable. It’s not necessary to hair health but people imposing their insecurities or narrow beauty definitions on their hair. It’s all complex and interesting.

  • apple

    never said she was ugly .. personally what SOMEONE ELSE decides to do with their hair i could care less unlike alot of you who have to push your opinions on other people like your going to be doing their hair in the morning and at night.. i was talking in reference to how different people hair texture vs. their patience vs their work schedule (because not everybody got time to spend copious amounts of time on their hair)

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae

    RE: yes i’m too lazy to do my hair for hours and hours, to come back home from work then braid/twist whatever to go to bed.. then to wake up and undo it.. and then come back home and do it again and again.. i was natural for 17 years of my 24 year life.. so yea i would say i was pretty PATIENT

    I believe that once you know what you’re doing (and depending on length, of course), it won’t take hours and hours, and if it doesn’t I think you’re doing it wrong :)

    Good Luck, no matter how you’re wearing your hair!

  • Deb

    I agree but I don’t think this applies to people who have experience with their natural hair, appreciate it for what it is, learned how to take care of it but still want to relax their hair for convenience or for a change. Only each person knows for sure but based on the centuries long assault on black hair, this is probably a very small amount of us.

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae

    Hi Deb! I completely agree!

    Right now, my hair is dense Arm Pit Length (I think I mistakenly said BSL somewhere else) hair and I have my routine down pat! I expect that once I reach hip length, my routine will be shattered! I have no desire to go past hip length!

  • Deb

    I think natural hair would be much more popular (especially with women with kinkier hair) if there was an inherent appreciation for unique hair that is unpredictable and more freestyle. They’d probably stick with it longer or for the rest of their lives. The self imposed constant styling burden is what does lot of people in. Just being real. To each his own though, we are all on our own journeys.

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae

    Exactly! If it takes that much work, you’re doing it wrong!

    Also, I think we should pay attention to companies jumping on the natural bandwagon trying to sell us products that do encourage us to fight our natural texture! I think I was under the belief for a while that I had frizzy unruly hair because my curls didn’t stick together and remain in that state…I finally determined that women were spending hours and using lots of gel to maintain that ‘look’. Now that, I ain’t got time for!

  • ivrop

    Wow! Talk about up close and personal.This peice is right on time. I am, give or take 14 weeks post relaxer. My crown and glory is BSL and very healthy (both textures). I was on the fence as to whether or not I should transition to natural.

    After reading this column, I’m opting for the ‘creamy crack’. For me it’s a matter of convenience. Yet, I can still exercise styling textures, and versatility with braids, twist-outs weaves, wigs, and scarfs etc. I’m of the opinion that it’s the luxury aforded to us as women if we so choose, to morph and be a chameleons.

    “We live from the head down and not the feet up and I’m adorned with the crown that’s making this and I’m fine, fine, under cloud nine.” –Donnie

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae

    @Natalie, I definitely agree that if your relaxed hair is damaged, the line of demarcation will probably be even more fragile than it is by nature, and breakage is highly likely.

    I wasn’t comparing how my hair was relaxed vs transitioning vs natural, I simply stated my experience compared to hers…and I wasn’t suggesting either of our experience was the norm. Honestly if your hair is breaking while transitioning, I think that’s more reason to big chop!

    Whenever ppl ask me about going natural, I always encourage them to but I inform that there is a learning curve! Some can and do hang, others don’t, and that’s fine too!

  • Guest1234

    Maintaining natural hair doesn’t take copious amounts of time. In fact, it takes precious little time if you accept yourself and appreciate the beauty of your kinks and coils. Trying to CHANGE natural hair takes copious amounts of time. And I reiterate that I have yet to see a black woman so ugly that she HAS to spend all that time and money trying to turn kinky hair into curly hair. We are beautiful as is. But, keep telling yourself your kinks aren’t good enough – that they’re so ugly that you gotta spend hours and hours coiling and buttercremeing them into submission – that you can’t just wear our hair in its natural texture without jumping through the constant 6-hour hoops. Just know that that’s YOUR insecurity. And I’m not going to let you try to convince other black women that that they’re stuck in the same barrel as you without speaking up and speaking out on it. You can keep that crabs in a barrel stuff to yourself.

    You think you’re too ugly to present yourself to the world without all the drama? I’m sorry for you. But it doesn’t have to be that way. This crabs in a barrel attitude simply won’t do.

    P.S. You’re DAMN RIGHT! I’m pushing my opinion that black women are beautiful just the way God made us on EVERY BODY!!!!!!! And can’t NOBODY TELL ME DIFFERENT. So you should probably just stop trying.

  • MommieDearest

    @Lilliam Mae:

    “Also I think it needs to be said that even relaxed, it’s not true that we all know how to do our hair when it comes to styling, we’ve just accepted that straight hair is beautiful, no matter how jacked up it really looks, no matter how thin and lifeless it looks!”

    YES!!!

    When I was relaxing my hair, I had plenty of bad hair days. Straightened, and naturally straight, hair can look a hot mess under the “right” circumstances. NO hair type is immune to jacked-upness (yes, I made that up- LOL!).

    Once we free ourselves from this mental bondage we will be so much better off.

  • Deb

    Just know it was not your hair type. I’ve seen many women of kinkier hair types who grew their hair long. It took trial and error and figuring their hair out. Most of us where able to have stylists and hairdressers take care of our hair but now we are all on our own because apart from us who have it growing from our heads, no one cares to understsnd or truly cater to our hair (businesses are mostly preying on women’s desire for curls now more than anything).

  • Deb

    it will take black women time to get to this place. Some never will because they will not be able to deal with societal pressures.

  • df

    I think I’m one of the few people that was drooling over pics of fros before I became natural hehe…

  • Bree

    I’m a long term transitioner and doing fine. you really have to learn patience with it. and its a lot of trial and error since not every routine or every product will work on every head. and gradual trims are a NECESSITY. in a few months all my perm will be grown out and my hair will be almost shoulder length.
    The braid out and bantu knot out were a GODSEND. I also rocked seneglese twists for a while.
    i also completely agree with the notion that as far as texture goes. DON’T FIGHT IT. it shouldn’t take all those products. simple routines generally work the best. whats the point of being natural if you spend all your time wrestling your hair into a different texture with a myriad of products and processes?

  • Sheena

    Can we let people live and breathe when it comes to this subject? My goodness, this woman made a personal choice about HER hair on HER body as many women do everyday when it comes to other body parts, but somehow we have to make the most judgemental commentary when it comes to hair. If this was an article about what she chose to do with her vagina (i.e. her sex life) then everyone with something negative to say would be a slut shamer. If this was about her weight, if she made the decision to be happy and fat, everyone with something negative to say would be called a fat shamer. But because we are black, and this is about her hair, we’re allowed to go all in and be extremely opinionated and controlling? Live and let live. There are dangerous chemicals we all are exposed to on a daily basis: products we put on our skin, radiowaves from electronics, the crap in our food. Just because a black woman relaxes her hair doesn’t mean she despises herself and will die of some type of brain poisoning. I’ll bet a consistent diet of the meat some of you eat on a daily basis will kill you before a relaxer kit will. I’m not saying relaxed hair is better or worse. Both can be beautiful, but at the end of the day it’s just hair. Live and let live.

  • Orange Starr Happy Hunting

    Thank you!

  • http://gravatar.com/alisha8151 Alisha

    Do what works for you and what makes you most comfortable. I’ve been natural four years now and I never EVER wear it “out.” I flat iron and it’s in the best condition it’s ever been. The most I’ll do is a rod set for the curly look. No shame in going back to what you can deal with. I wrote a similar piece about being natural and using heat a few years back, and commenters nailed me. It’s not that serious. Great piece!

  • Blue

    Yeah you tell em. I can’t stand “natural nazi’s” go listen to that India song “I am not my hair” especially when she goes into all the styles you can choose to rock.

  • http://www.613style.com ToyaFromMarriedToMedicineHasASoftSpotInMyHeartForSomeReason

    What the heck are you and Orange Starr talking about? People have been NOTHING but nice up and down this comments section, even sharing their own trials and tribulations in their relationships with their hair.

    Who taught you that when a bunch of Black women share their comments on this topic it’s harsh and judgmental? Miguel??

    Did you even bother to read the comments? I read them from to back because they were very informative. Thank you to the Skinny DC Writer & all the women who commented!

  • ImJustSaying

    If you read them from front to back you would notice the women calling the writer (and any one else who dared go back to relaxers) “lazy” and “impatient” for not figuring out her texure. The Natural Nazis are out there.

    You might have posted your comment before the mean ones posted so I can see how you thought the previous comments were unfounded.
    Most people on this thread were nice and accepting though. I have locs that I hate to do at home but if i can’t afford the shop I get some movies, loc gel, and post up to twist for about 3 hours.

  • lola289

    Oye…this is making me wonder if I should try being natural, but Im gonna try especially w/ all these different products and hairdressers doing natural hair styles. If it doesn’t work then back to weave, braids, &/or every 3 months relaxer…

  • Starla

    It’s a godo time to return to relaxers theya re dirt cheap these days, as low as $2. Wish you well on your return to relaxed tresses.

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae

    RE: I think natural hair would be much more popular (especially with women with kinkier hair) if there was an inherent appreciation for unique hair that is unpredictable and more freestyle.

    I believe that women who wear their hair natural are the best people to plant the seed of appreciation in the lives of young women around them. I believe it’s important to stress positive body images in general, and to me, this included talking about hair.

    RE: The self imposed constant styling burden is what does lot of people in

    I actually agree with this. I couldn’t deal with my hair if I had to style or even manipulate it on a daily basis! I found what works for me and I do it! Good Luck to everyone on their journey.

  • Nelda

    Finally. Someone who understands that not everyone is meant to be natural or wants to be natural. I like my relaxed hair. Not because I want to be white or hate myself. It’s easier and cheaper. I’m low-maintenance. So I need my hair to be.

  • Sheena

    @ Toya…..

    I am talking about the comments, before mine, that rail against this woman for not toughing it out and sticking with her natural hair. I am talking about some of the people who have commented saying things like “she’s not trying hard enough” and making negative comments against those that relax. They are there. Maybe YOU haven’t read all of the comments thoroughly.

    Yes there were supportive and nice comments. But if you go back and glance at all of the 16 pages of comments prior to this one, you’ll see. Those are the people I was directing my comments towards

  • shorty da sweetie

    Creamy crack addiction!

  • The Artist

    Exactly! Low maintenance. Black women have been striving for low maintenance hairstyles since the beginning, which is why many of the ancients wore wigs, braids etc. With that being said, I absolutely adore natural hair (no matter what texture), but seriously to each is own.

  • Mikela123

    Has anyone tried the Keratin treatment or Keratin complex? I’m seriously considering it?

  • Yas

    Girl, do you. It’s not for everybody; but there are ways to get bone straight without a relaxer. Check out the steaming method: http://boujiiboutiquesalon.com
    There are also, wigs, falls, and braids that you can rock as well. We need to get away from this “curly” thing, not all ‘natural’ hair can promise the look of a loose curl pattern. If your hair won’t hold a curl–it won’t matter how much goop you put in it or how many twists outs you do. Some of us have tighter patterns–we’ll produce an afro, period. But, afros are beautiful too! I see many gorgeous sisters wearing afros. It’s how well you take care of the hair that will determine how good it will look.

  • Aria

    Notice people are calling others “natural nazis” when we want to give suggestions, ideas and support. Don’t get offended because others don’t approve of your methods. (not saying natural extremists don’t exist)

    AND

    What about the “RELAXED nazis”??? Who for years have bullied those with natural hair textures around them? Lets think back to those years where “nappy” was and still is considered an insult towards natural hair textures. Where women were/are bashed for embracing their textures in the work place, etc. YOU need to keep your snarky comments and hatred to yourselves AS WELL.

    As I stated before, don’t return natural because others are doing it.
    Do it because you feel comfortable. I don’t think this hair subject is just about texture…I feel like its about confidence as well.

    No one is lazy, stupid or ugly for their methods. You have to be fair for both sides. Stop the hate.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    THIS!!!! I am glad that I was NOT the only one bothered by that line. To me THAT seems more of an issue (how she views herself) than a hair issue. I don’t think this is really a natural vs. relaxed issue but a self-esteem issue because right off the bat it seems that she just doesn’t know how to do her hair period (regardless of the state) and use it as a security blanket. So she was in a damn if you do damn if you don’t situation way before she decided to transition because it seems like she was trying to do TOO much TOO soon in the hopes she still looked “acceptable” by trying to make her hair do something it wasn’t meant to do or look like by gauging HER natural hair/look off of other naturals (which a lot of newly/potential naturals do). To me this article mirrors the XOjane article where that author stated she used an abundance of time to make her hair looks “presentable”. So this is a state of mind THEN a state of hair issue, if you want to be relaxed then hey…do you boo there are great heads of relaxed hair women out there but any state of hair takes time, skills/techniques and knowledge to master. So yeah, again HAIR isn’t the problem here.

  • au napptural

    To the OP, the reason it didn’t work is b/c you didn’t transition properly. Personally, I think transitioning is stupid and almost never ends well. I did it myself for 3-4 months b/c I didn’t want to be “bald” when I cut my hair. But it’s nearly impossible to stop breakage at the line of demarcation, that weak area between the permed and natural hair. And then all the handling of already damaged hair and products! No wonder it broke off. Similar thing happened to me. But b/c I was in it to be natural, not have long hair, I cut off the damaged and permed areas and kept it moving.

    And I have to say no to this, “my scalp tingled and I watched my kinky curls inhale, stretch and relax.” I’ve had plenty of relaxers and my scalp never tingled. This ish burns like hell. And your kinks didn’t relax, they had the protein sucked out of them and now they are permanently damaged or ‘straight.’ But I always say far be it for me to judge. If someone wants to put soda can-melting chemicals on their scalp and call chemical burns a tingle in the name of straight, long hair, by all means.

  • Nikki

    I don’t understand why there is an assumption that natural hair is high maintenance or expensive. I don’t know where that is coming from. I have been natural since ’05. There weren’t natural hair product lines like there are now or curly hair regimens that took all day to complete. I buy shampoo and conditioner trader joes ($3 each) and I use shea butter as a sealant ($8 per tub which can last me a year or more) mixed with coconut ($8-$10 a jar from the grocer store). I use my fingers to detangle my hair while watching an hour long T.V. once or twice a week with water and coconut oil and I wash my hair with shampoo every two weeks. It takes a couple hours to wash and twist up. I am very low maintenance. I don’t wear make-up, nail polish, or want to wake up morning and do my hair for more than 10-15 minutes. I set my hair with a style at the top of the week and wear it for the rest of it. It is very low maintenance. If the style starts to loose some of its definition I will pin it up in different ways and create new styles. It is significantly cheaper and less time consuming than when I had relaxers. Fewer products…less hours under the dry or using styling tools. Less damaging because the chemical was problematic for my hair. I work out when I want. I sweat when I want. I can go swim if I want. I can wash when I want. People make it sound like that being natural is so painstaking. Some people choose to put many hours into hair care (relaxed, natural, weave, etc.). It is not a requirement. I choose not to and I have BSL hair. People compliment me everyday on my hair and even note the fact that I show the versatility of natural hair.

    I dunno…I just don’t have the experience of natural hair being a struggle or time consuming. I think part of it is learning to accept what your hair can do. I think some people deal with a time consuming struggle because they want their hair to look like someone else they have seen. You have to recognize what you can achieve and that your hair is the way it is. I like my hair…and what it does so I enjoy what I can do with it without devoting numerous hours to achieve it. I just don’t have that kind of time.

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae

    I’m a KISS girl myself!

    Keep It Simple, Sistas!

  • Chika

    Yup. This whole “oh I perm because it’s easier and natural hair takes more work” meme needs to stop. Just admit that you don’t know how to take care of natural hair. Once you learn, it’s a whole lot easier and cheaper to deal with natural hair. I’ve never gotten a perm and I bet trying to take care of permed hair would be a whole lot harder for me than taking care of my natural hair. It’s all about what you know and are used to.

  • de

    didnt work for me either. just like having perms isnt for everyone, being natural isnt for everyone. to each its own.

  • au napptural

    Thank you! Honestly, a lot of people SAY “I’m going natural,” when what they mean is “I’m looking to see if I have a Eurocentric enough curl pattern to be socially acceptable. And if not back to the creamy crack!” If you truly want to embrace what you have, the only maintenance you need to do in the beginning with hardly any new growth is washing and moisturizing. If you accept your hair as is you won’t need 50-11 products for less than an inch of hair. That doesn’t even make sense.

  • http://gravatar.com/heavenleiblu heavenleiblu

    So in essence, she don’t know how to do her hair or work with her texture… that’s what I got out of this.

  • Chika

    I agree that everyone woman should feel free to wear her hair however she wants, be it permed, braids, weave, or au natural.

    HOWEVER…

    EVERY woman should know how to take care of her hair in its natural state. I think it’s so sad when ladies don’t know how to take care of their hair the way it grows out of their scalp. Natural hair IS for everyone. You may want to wear it straight down your back most of the time (and if that’s what you want, go for it!), but your natural hair IS meant for you. I cannot stress that enough.

  • Aria

    Exactly!!
    Every new natural has to start at a certain point – Short hair- and learn how to take care of it from that point. You have to learn the basics before you become a pro.

  • Melinda

    Thank God somebody finally said something ! Some black women just prefer a relaxer .. It doesn’t mean we are not black enough or not in tune with who we are ! I love my relaxed hair ! I love the fact that my mom is natural and some of my best friends are too but it’s just simply not for me !

  • naturallystuck13

    Natural hair is hard to maintain and it is not for everyone. I applaud you for trying, but do what is necessary for you. Even though, your hair is beautful, I seen a pic when you were young and you had a big fro! Gorgeous.

  • EL

    Thank you! I’m sooo sick of people saying “Natural hair isn’t for everybody” blah blah blah. I guess our skin color isn’t meant for us either huh? And no it isn’t any different, it falls into the same category of Black people being programmed to thing our natural features are ugly when they are the complete opposite, Beautiful (and unique!)

  • Jay

    I can’t really relate to the stories I read about how hard it is to deal with natural hair. When I decided to go natural, I transitioned for about 6months then big chopped. I didn’t care what anyone thought about it either. I immediately started two strand twists with pudding products / coconut oil etc as instructed in youtubes. It takes me about 20 extra mins in the shower to do a co wash and 20 mins of twisting before bed. My hair will soon be past my shoulders again (when blown out) just a year or so after the big chop.

    I relaxed my hair for like 20 years, only been natural about a year and a half but can’t imagine putting that chemical back on my hair again. I LOVE my hair in its natural state and don’t feel a bit of insecurity. The brainwashing is gone. If you look at the common theme of these stories, somebody told them their natural hair was ugly, they believed it and then reached for the relaxer. Stop letting others shape your perception of yourself! You are beautiful in your natural state!

  • SIGH

    @ImJustSaying @Sheens: U sound sensitive and looking for trouble. #SorryNotSorry. Lazy isn’t a rude word, it just means you get out what you put in..don’t expect results you aren’t willing to work for. Plain & simple. Get outcha feelings & keep it moving..

  • black_feminist

    Yes. I’m not sure I understand the logic of trying to hold on to so much relaxed hair. If you are transitioning to natural, won’t you have to cut off the relaxed ends at some point anyway?

  • Tallulah Belle

    I can relate to this woman in a real heart felt way. When I finally decided to go completely natural, I had been “silkening” my incredibly tight spirals for 20 years. Yes, that’s right, for 20 years!! So, I was hella shocked to find out that my loose-ish waves were NOTHING like my actual, tightly spiraled hair that shrinks up to 10% of its actual length. Ha! Shocked.

    What I would have done if I were the author, or any woman who has processed ends, is to very lightly relax the unprocessed part every three months (if you can stand it), while chopping off the damage. Then, when the processed stringy ends are gone, stop “silkening” or light relaxing altogether. So, now what you have is looser texture at the ends and your natural, strong, vibrant, gorgeous kinks at the root. Now, slowly chop off the texturized “silkened” ends until you achieve a full head of natural hair. Take it slowly and detangle it gently.

    Honestly, this process takes about two full years. But, you will have more hair during the transitioning process to pull back and slap in a track or two if need be. In the end, you will have lessened the difficulty of a sudden transition to natural and started to get used to the beauty of your natural hair.

    This transition is to natural is not easy. But, in the end, it is worth it because nothing, not blonde, not Asian, not Hispanic not weave not NOTHING beats a head of beautiful black girl natural hair. We just need to get there. That is why the journey is so challenging — because the end product is unbelievable. I live in Brooklyn and I will tell you that the heads of natural hair I see everyday, Blow. Me. Away.

  • Amina

    Can people please stop assuming that if one spends a certain amount of time on their natural hair that one’s ashamed of their kinks. Not true! For myself, if I simply leave my natural hair as is, it shrinks and breaks like crazy. I have a lot of issues with dryness, retaining moisture, and high porosity, so if I’m trying to retain any sort of length protective styling is a must.

    I wish we’d stop all this judgment as to why some naturals have a harder time with their hair, why someone goes back to perms, how long one spends doing their hair etc., can’t we just support one another? Just because more black men and women are forgoing perms, don’t mean we live in a world where people aren’t hostile towards natural hair. If your strong enough to deal with negative comments, good for you, but why dismiss the concerns or experiences of others whose transition has not been that breezy?

    If your happy with yourself and your hair why be so defensive when hearing of others who aren’t ready to stop straightening their hair?

    I understand and feel for the author. You aren’t ready yet and that’s okay. I hope she will consider it again in the future and hopefully will have a group of friends she can seek get advice from.

    I’m still working on figuring out my hair and how to care for it, and yes, some days I don’t feel so hot, others I do. It’s a process for everyone.

  • Amina

    *you’re
    *she can get advice from.

    This what happens when I type in a hurry.

  • lola289

    THANK YOU!
    Regardless of your hair keep it healthy and nice!

  • Nic

    I think it all depends on how straight your natural hair is. A person with really wavy hair won’t have much trouble just letting the relaxer grow out b/c the two hair textures aren’t that different and the hair won’t snap off at the line of demarcation. A person with kinky hair who has it relaxed straight is going to have this problem and I think have a lot of tangling and other things.
    And it’s definitely not an easy process for women who never do their own hair. Some women wear roller sets but if you can’t use rollers, that won’t work. Other women use braids and cornrows, but again, same issue for some people.
    I think that for the ladies who don’t even shampoo their own hair, this is too much to learn.
    If you are someone who was always do it yourself or didn’t have a relaxer for a long time and already knew what hair you had, it’s probably easier.
    I didn’t grow up with a relaxer OR going to salons much, so while I cannot braid, I could deal with my hair in any state. But I have friends who are really dumbstruck if they cannot get a seat with their stylist when it’s time to shampoo their hair.
    She sounds like she couldn’t do her relaxed hair much, so yeah, trying to manage two textures was too much, and she’d probably need to start fresh and cut it all off if she tries this again.

    Having natural hair isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. I think a lot of people jump on the bandwagon and either are motivated by the long hair they see on You Tube and blogs.

  • Nic

    Is there any reason you WANT to be natural? Dont’ do it b/c it seems popular. But if you want to see what your hair can do, try it out, you can always go back.
    I guess what is hard is how many people had relaxers as kids, which I didn’t see as much when I was a kid. It is nuts when I hear people say they got relaxers when they were 6 or 7.

  • E.M.S.

    I agree, but it’s a lot trickier than it looks. Especially considering all the different textures and how each person’s individual scalp & hair behaves. So it takes some doing to learn. That learning comes with trial and error, as the author experienced.

    I’ve been looking into wearing my hair curly every once in awhile instead of always pressing, but I have to tell you I was incredibly overwhelmed by all the products and techniques out there. I have no idea what is right for my hair so it’s pretty difficult to know what to do the minute you decide to change it up. I understand where she’s coming from :O

  • Tony

    Natural is ok for women already married and over 40′s.

  • talaktochoba

    um, you marinated your hair repeatedly in petroleum distillates to get that “Jennifer Winston look” you definitely are not, suffered the usual consequences–fried roots, petrified ends, haphazard uneven growth, a style best equated to half-finished Jiffy-pop–and the chemicals didn’t do it, you did?

    that’s NRA logic–guns don’t kill people, people do…and like the obvious solution such “logic” implies, you would make the world safe for chemicals and guns only by getting rid of people;

  • Jay

    Funny. I went natural early 30s and started getting all types of male attention (from all types of guys) I didn’t even get when I was 22 w/ relaxed hair. Decent men tend to respect a woman who isn’t afraid to let her own light shine instead of conforming, a fearless braveheart type of chick. Your opinion is one of the many “stinking a-holes” out there lol

  • http://gravatar.com/seriouslynatural Sabrina @seriouslynatural

    No, it is not easy and especially when you chose to transition and deal with two very different textures. Many transition with great success but there are some….anyway, going back to chemicals to feel better or to go back to what you know is an easy way out. Sorry, but true. Learning about the hair…the natural hair…that grows out of your scalp IS for everyone and using chemicals to make it be long and bouncy is not real. I have the bouncy hair, I deal with shrinkage but I have the fullness, the realness that I love as well as my husband. You could have done the big chop and wore wigs, braids or weaves. Many do because there are options. You only chose one and it may not have worked but another option may have. Natural IS for everyone….some just don’t make it all the way.

  • http://gravatar.com/seriouslynatural Sabrina @seriouslynatural

    Not for everyone. Everyone has their own personal experience and if you failed then don’t assume all will fail as well.

  • http://gravatar.com/seriouslynatural Sabrina @seriouslynatural

    THANK YOU!!! I’m sorry but if you are looking for a certain nose or face for the BC then please tell me what that is…..I must know!

  • Deborah P

    I’m confused. The big chop is necessary to “go natural” isn’t it? She didn’t do that. What’s news about this?

    My news is this. My natural hair, no matter what you do to it coils up and matts. I haven’t got the energy to “maintain it” no matter what the temperature or humidity is. My hair ALSO HATES relaxers.

    Braids baby.

    I like braids fine but I like some length as well and my hair breaks almost shoulder length–so extensions it is.

    Did I mention I need wash and go hair? BRAIDS with extensions. I think I get credit for “going natural” but that wasn’t the reason. I see my natural hair as infrequently as possible. I’m not proud of this. But I’m freakin’ tired. I want to wash it, moisturize it some, and leave. I have better things to do with my time.

  • EL

    My hair is literally 4 to 5 different textures, which I didn’t realize could happen until I became natural again. Up to the age of 14, I am now 21, I was natural and my hair was extremely long and huge and I just assumed the texture was the same all over my head, I knew nothing about proper hair care methods then!

    After transitioning for just over a year and cutting my relaxed ends off Feb of this year, believe me it took me a few months to find what works for me but, it NEVER made me want to relax my hair again, it just made me want to figure out what was right for my hair, which resulted in me just making my own products for my hair and that’s more than fine by me, it’s cheaper and healthier for my hair and scalp and fun. The rest of the methods I use are the same as before, deep conditioning, protein treatments, hot oiling, etc. It was mainly the products I changed.

    Many women who have natural hair seem to have issues with the same thing which is dryness, some breakage, etc. I can moisturize my hair in the morning, or at night, and the by the end of the day it will feel a bit dry again or sometimes very dry, but that’s just the nature of our hair! All you have to do is spritz it with some moisture and seal it. If you’re doing all the things right for your hair then, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not healthy, it’s just the way our hair acts.

  • Rachel

    My first retort was to go on some diatribe about how you sold out by not doing it right…blah, blah, blah. I went “natural” 25 years ago and had to make the big chop to go through with it (and did). When I wanted to have locs, I failed miserably 3 times over 4 years before I finally got it right! If you want to go natural, try a different method than the one that failed. There is a right path for you. The issue is not the hair, it is your self-image and confidence with the hair that God gave you. After some years, you will realize that it is just hair. You do, however, miss an opportunity for personal and spiritual growth when you can’t confront the self-hatred engendered by the notion that we should do whatever it takes to keep our hair from looking nappy.

  • Tina

    You didn’t return to relaxers because you never left them. You simply did a short relaxer stretch. You were getting advice on and attempting to do natural styling when you had a head of relaxed hair. The closer the texture between your natural and relaxed hair and the more protective styling you are willing to do, the greater chance of success with your stretch or transition. With natural hair growing into “bone straight” relaxed hair you were going to have to make a choice at some early point.

  • Afrikkaunite

    Like Malcolm X said you can’t hate the ROOT of the TREE without hating the TREE! The entire notion that natural Black hair is somehow unimaginable, unruly and unattractive speaks to the continued racial and cultural hatred (IE. Internalized racism) within the Black community. Your hair didn’t “crave creamy crack” your socialization and assimilation demanded it. What your hair craved was the proper care based on natural hair care practices necessary to complete your return to its “natural state”. It doesn’t appear you were in the “right state” of mind to go all the way with this transition.

  • Adrienne

    If one comment and snicker from her aunt’s boyfriend was enough to send her back to those damaging chemicals, then she was never in the right mind set to try it out.

  • talaktochoba

    outstanding, should be posted in every black hair salon in the world and required reading in schools and colleges;

  • Pingback: Not Everyone Can Go Natural |

  • Joan

    Transitioning can be challenging. I transitioned for 2.5 years before I cut off all of my relaxed hair and what I learned was that my hair wasn’t the only thing that was transitioning. I had to change my way of thinking; that was much more challenging than my hair. I don’t know what happened, but something shifted when it came to my standards of beauty for black hair. And I was a relaxer QUEEN. LOL. (I’m 42 now and I had been relaxed from age 11 until age 39.) I started preferring the look of kinky/curly hair…I never thought that would ever happen. It’s like I’ve been deprogrammed or something. I think I started to notice that many of the women I admire have natural hair – Toni Morrison, Benilde Little, Kara Walker, Melissa Harris Perry…so many artists and writers. I admired the confidence they seem to have in themselves and their gifts – their natural hair seemed to be a small extension of the confidence they exuded. As an artist, I wanted that for myself. I made many other adjustments (career, health) and even though hair is just a cosmetic thing, it has made a huge (positive) impact on how I see myself and how others see me.

    I can understand someone getting frustrated and wanting out of the whole natural hair thing. I admire a person for trying and admitting to themselves that something may not work for them. Of course, I prefer natural hair and I’m the biggest cheerleader when someone I know chooses to go that route. However, when I encounter a black woman who doesn’t like natural hair or who tried to do it and was unsuccessful, I have to remind myself that there was a time when I thought much differently about my own hair. What makes me sad is the arguing. I wish that we all could be happy that we’re living in a time when black women have the freedom and luxury of wearing our hair however we want, whether it’s relaxed or natural.

  • http://gravatar.com/solfresh solfresh

    Joan is right going natural is more mindset than the physical aspect. I big chopped and even still I struggled. At times one side grew slower than the other, my twist outs wouldn’t come out right, I didn’t have wash n go hair (learned it through experience). These past 3 years with my hair were filled with more flubs than glorious moments. But guess what, I wanted it. I wanted something less harsh on my scalp and less expensive. As a 3 year natural, you don’t have to be the “natural hair guru” with extensive processes and loads of products. In retrospect, I wish I would’ve trusted myself and kept it simple. But starting over with your hair is a trial and error process. I pretty much only use 3 products now and they’re all from the Shea Moisture line. Then I use an assortment of oils for all over my body + hair. Personally, I like mixing deep conditioners and trying different recipes but that’s just me being creative + curious. Other than that that’s it. I don’t follow any hair people anymore besides Hey Fran Hey (because she’s healthy all around) and Laila Jean (love her personality + her natural recipes). I’ve just outgrown the community aspect of natural hair, I know what my hair likes, I know what styles work for me, and I have plenty knowledge of natural ingredients.

    Honestly the process is what you make of it and if you’re willing to stick it out. I try to warn people when they ask about my hair and going natural 1) Don’t get too sold on these youtube “gurus”, your process may not be like their’s. 2) Expect to struggle 3) Don’t guess or have an expectation of what you want your hair type to be.

    Also, I really wish black women would let the “I don’t have the face/look/head for a short fro or to go natural” go. Just let it go, ya’ll sound crazy when you say it. Honestly you’re just spitting back what european beauty ideals have ingrained in us when you say things like that. After decades of putting a chemical in your head and striving for european standards, you’re hair will be traumatized initially when you switch it up and yea it may not look right to you but that’s because you haven’t seen your hair on your face in decades.

    Going natural is a marathon, a will power test, and highly personal. Keep it simple, take the flubs in stride, and flourish. Trust me I’ve walked out the house with one twist bigger than the other, undefined twist outs, and have encountered covert and overt slander on my hair. Going natural is for everybody but only for the determined who are ready to change.

  • http://gravatar.com/askcarriepink Carrie Pink

    I do wish you could have endured. It is sad to hear women say they don’t know what to do with their own natural hair. We grew it, We can take care of it too! You just have to learn, because you’re right, the last time you had to deal with it yourself was 30 years ago. When your hair is relaxed it’s a one fix solution. wash, roll, blowdry, wrap, unwrap, go.. convenient, no brainer, yes totally

    The truth is transitioning isn’t easy for any of us, it’s a journey, it’s frustrating, and it’s annoying at times.. I went natural 3 times before turning in my creamy crack for good and a 6 month stint with keratin which left me with a itty bitty fro when I was so disappointed with the results I did a big chop MYSELF!

    But now I can’t even understand why I didn’t commit fully sooner! I loveeeee my hair natural, I love the curls, the volume, and I have learned how to manipulate it to my advantage.. which hunni is a process. I know how it reacts to wind, rain, sun, oil, grease, dryness.. the works. and I still wear it straight sometimes

    I do hope you will try again. I will agree with Solfresh, going natural is a will power test and a journey of self discovery.. you learn so much about yourself without subscribing to anyone else standard of beauty except your own and that girl is worth every bit of the pain and suffering transitioning may inflict, trust me!

  • Ann

    I can definitely relate to what she’s saying. I’ve been transitioning for 16 months now and had to seriously resist the urge to go back to relaxing my hair. Despite some serious breakage, I’ve been able to avoid a big chop because like this author, my head is not meant for a super short style.

    It’s very liberating to read about someone attempting to transition and not succeeding. The reason I say that is because all the success stories online are extremely frustrating for those of us who a.) can’t seem to find the “right” combination of products to prevent style mishaps or breakage. b.) haven’t been natural since middle school and have no idea where to start. and c.) feel like failures because it seems like everyone else can do it and we can’t.

    The first time I tried going natural, I relapsed after about six months because I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into. This time around, I’m still using using heat but no chemicals. Going natural isn’t for everyone, it may not be right for me either but I applaud her attempt. Whether or not she was successful or even enjoyed the experience she still stepped outside her comfort zone and learned something new about herself.

  • dbsm

    What is this state of mind that one needs to be in in order to transition? Is it akin to coming out of the closet? Damn what is this a freaking religion?

    I’ve read this entire thread of comments and I find them to be sad minus the small group of women with a different opinion.

    I wonder if women who have had natural hair from childhood all the way through, or from childhood with some stint of relaxerhood, and then a return to natural hair have a different outlook than women who made the oh so great transformation to “Become a natural.”

    Hair is hair. Maybe you are your hair, maybe you aren’t. Maybe you don’t look good in natural hair. Maybe your nose is too wide/pointy/thin for a certain hairstyle. Maybe you are ugly either way. Maybe your hair color doesn’t look good with your skin tone. Maybe you like your grey hairs, maybe you hate them. Maybe it does take you 3+ hours post wash to do you hair. Maybe you want to spend a lot or a little time on your hair to make it acceptable to you/your man/a man/your job/your children/your status. Maybe you rock a natural with a ton of makeup, plucked/waxed/stenciled/filled eyebrows,1 inch of lip gloss and an entire coat of bath and body works and a shaven pu$$y. Or maybe you have better things to be concerned with than your hair with your lye relaxer or your flat ironed tresses or head wrap or bedtime cap…because…there can be oh-so much more to life like, doing your daughter’s’/son’s hair….teaching…cooking…watching tv…..reading….biking….traveling….shit let that shxt knot and dred, shave that shix off, dye it purple, put on your red dress and red wig…what if you are lazy because of all those hours you put in at the Boys and Girls Club.

    WWWWWTTTTTTFFFFFFFF already!!!!!!!!

  • Yvonne Satkins

    What would you think if you walked into a room filled with non Black women and the vast majority of them had those permed afros like the early 70s?
    You would think something was definitely wrong with that picture. So why is it accepted sop for Black women to wear imitation White girl hair? SMH

  • cb

    after reading this post and the comments I really do believe some people can not be natural…some people do not have the mental strength. and that is OK. The world is full of weak and strong people

  • copelli

    Now that’s the most backhanded ‘compliment’ I ever read.

  • Lauren

    The best thing my mom was said to me when I started a year ago (ironically cause she has made her snide comments) was if you’re going go natural you have to treat your hair like it’s natural You can’t do relaxed hair things if you want natural hair. Educate yourself on how to take care of your hair and let it go. Don’t compare your hair journey to anyone else’s because your hair is your hair.

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae

    Your mother is very wise!

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae

    I don’t think that was a compliment.

  • True2Me

    Wow, I’ve read more accusatory, judgmental, and deprecating comments in this thread than on a CNN article the night Obama won.

    Natural, relaxed, transitioning- whatever. As GROWN women, we should know the difference from supporting and educating someone and not belittling or insulting them.

    #dobetter

  • http://weirdwittywatchful.blogspot.com/ Katrina Cureton

    Your post was quite funny. I bought some stuff to put in my hair today that was supposed to ‘transition my hair from relaxer to natural’ and all it did was make my hair harder to comb. I think I’m gonna stick with my relaxer too.

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae

    Katrina,

    I hate those transition to natural kits! They don’t do any good and are designed to capitalize on those who are using transitioning as a means of going natural! Honestly if you’re trying to go natural, you have to treat your hair as if it’s already natural! Combs (unless they are wide-tooth, and used to comb conditioner through your hair) are for relaxed heads! Anything else is suicide for your strands!

  • kiesh

    I had 3 false starts before I finally went natural (am now almost 2 yrs post BC and 3 yrs post relaxer). I even transitioned for nearly 6 mos once and went back to the creamy crack. And I’m a person who mostly did my own hair since I was 9 years old, so I can just imagine the struggle for women who never do their own hair. I hope you give it another try. But keep it simple. I don’t do all that prepooing and complicated ish!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kaniakennedy Kania Kennedy

    LOL, you have to grow out the natural hair love. Rock a weave for a year or get braids. IDK what you were thinking!

  • SHARON

    I’m old school-had the original fro. When I was allowed to begin wearing it I was sent to have my hair cut off so that I may have a “presentable fro” and with years of perm and heat it never completely grew back until now. My concern prior to reading this thread and now that I am reading it is that we want to take sides on the issue and not enjoy the many possibilities available now that weren’t available then. On social media I see women who choose other hairstyles berated because they aren’t going with the natural movement. Today I have returned to natural and to complicate it I exercise daily and have hot flashes. I don’t have the time investment to do my hair daily so I wear a wig that looks just like my hair when its done without all the work. It looks natural and most don’t know its a wig (even some of my family). I found that many celebrities who appear to have natural hair do the same thing. You allow yourself versatility and nourish your own hair in the process by virtually eliminating chemicals, heat, and styling stress. BTW when I get in the house and pull that thing off I look good as my natural self. If my wig ever happens to be pulled off I have a full head of hair underneath. I celebrate being able to make the choice. And today I am at work sans wig and a nice bun. Ladies lets allow each the right to choose.

  • EsJay W.

    I’m sorry, but this is bull. You didn’t really try. Being natural is not a fad, or a quick solution to your sweaty-head problems. It is acceptance of your true form. From your line, “I don’t have the face, namely the nose, for that,” tells me you’re not fully comfortable with your natural beauty, and probably wouldn’t be for a while after truly going natural. Who are you comparing yourself to? Who says that your nose is too big, or too small for a certain style? Why can’t you be one of those “fierce curlfriends who can rock the teeny weeny afro and nurture it into a crown full of voluminous spirals?” In my opinion, it’s because you’re afraid. Afraid of what others will think of you, and afraid of what YOU will think of yourself when you look in the mirror. I encourage you to try again, and fully commit. Not just half @$$ it. You will learn how to take care of your hair, just like you learned to take care of the relaxed hair.

  • humminbird

    I wish some people wouldn’t come down so hard on the writer. I know where she’s coming from. I first got a relaxer when I was 11 or 12. Fast forward my mid-thirties – I had no idea what my natural hair looked like, let alone how to care for it. But I was tired of the cost of relaxers and I knew it was damaging my hair, so I decided to go natural.

    I didn’t want to BC because I couldn’t begin to imagine myself with only an inch of hair on my head. I transitioned over 6 months and my stylist would give me a trim/cut regularly so my hair got shorter over time, and by the time it was time to cut off what was left of my relaxed hair, it wasn’t such a shock to me.

    I’ve been natural for 8 months now and at this point ‘can’t see going back to relaxed hair. BUT – I’m not going to judge anyone because everybody’s experience and tolerance for learning a whole new way of hair care is different. It comes naturally (ha) to some and others will have a really hard time getting the hang of it. I expect I’ll be learning how to fully care for my hair, and be comfortable with it, for many years to come.

    I’m so sick of the us vs. them mentality. I don’t ever want anybody telling me what to do with MY hair. So I don’t plan to judge anybody else for what they do with theirs.

  • Andee

    Amen. In fact, when I was transitioning 17 years ago, It was evident that my hair was going to make the decision for me because it broke off, so I went ahead and did the BC. And I discovered that I looked pretty damn amazing. I think the author isn’t ready, and the obsession with holding on to length while transitioning–even though you KNOW that the relaxed hair is going to pop off the new growth–gets in the way of so many folks progress. Hope she tries it again, but she was clearly not ready. Oh, and any kind of hair, short of a TWA that is trimmed every three weeks, is going to take WORK.

  • http://gravatar.com/smithdrt Il Taker

    Please say that!! People love to exaggerate and sh*t. My hair take 5 to 10 minutes when I twist up at night. My hair takes 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours to do on wash day. Ninjas need to stop lying.

  • M

    I commend the writer for her honesty. As a woman who has been both natural and processed, I can definitely see the pros and cons. What bothers me most about the topic of hair is that what was once a joy (being able to change up your hair) has now become an armor of defense. If you’re not not “team natural” you’re the enemy? A women should do with her what makes her comfortable and what fits into her lifestyle. Yes, going natural is a journey and requires time, patience and the right products for your particular texture. However, it’s not the end all be all. Just because it has become trendy doesn’t mean everyone has to do it. Hair is an outward expression of style and women should feel free to showcase that expression without the fleeting opinions of others.

  • Nichole

    I am a “natural” but definitely not a hair snob as so many naturals tend to become. I believe that people should do what’s best for them. That being said, why the obsession with long hair? Let it grow a little bit and cut off the relaxed ends. Enjoy the different phases of watching what nature prescribed your hair to do .. from the kinks and coils of the teeny weeny afro to shrunken coiIs to stretched out locks. Besides if short hair bothers you then throw on a wig or weave it up. Isn’t that the reason we say we relax anyway– for diversity in styling?
    I don’t understand why people fight so hard against their natural hair texture. Wash it, condition it, style it (twists, braids, locs, free flowing, or whatever) and keep it moving. It should not be a CHORE to take care of your hair. If it is, you are doing it wrong. If it does take a little longer, are you not worth a little extra time? just my two cents..

  • http://gravatar.com/omwellness Aliyah Frazier

    This is quite funny yet I think with the proper knowledgeable stylist this would have been a different experience. Once we define what “good hair” is then it will be more acceptable to be comfortable with what naturally grows from our scalp. After soooo long of the “Creamy Crack” what really happened is your hair went through withdrawal..To each is own but given all the dangers of that poisonous chemical Sodium Hydroxide, I must say…..CRACK IS WHACK!!!!!

  • Jay

    I agree that each woman has the right to her own choice, but I think folks are coming down a little hard on her because she’s giving up.She gave up because she had thin skin due to her uncle’s comment / lack of technique and then goes on to write an article about how she’s giving up for other young black women to read. Words published in a mass format can be powerful and convincing. Relax your hair all you want, but you can’t come into a progressive black woman space exhaling about having “silky” hair again due to chemicals and expect not to hear some blowback. That’s all

  • bbg

    Lol girl do whatever you want. You don’t have to explain yourself to us. Do you.

  • veronica

    Nuff said

  • Brooklyn

    This is really sad to me, however I guess natural is not for everybody. For me, my hair never took to getting relaxers. I only got them for about 8 years, and my hair was never as healthy, long, or full as it was when I was natural. So I went back natural about 1.5 years ago and have never thought of going back to relaxers. This article is sad to me b/c the author couldn’t find a way to make her own natural hair work for her; even though that’s the hair she was born with and should be able to manage better than chemically processing it. But then again, she didn’t know how and doesn’t sound like she was accustomed to doing her own hair, so that’s that. Anyway, she (and all the other women out there) can only do what’s best for them.

  • http://www.stelladot.com/boutiquebywanda Wanda

    This made me laugh out loud for real and I can totally relate! I’m totally natural now, never did the “big chop” but slowly got my hair trimmed as my root grew out and converted from the “creamy crack” to old school press n curl! It worked, I got hair that behaved from the roots to the ends and now my whole head is free of chemicals and a short bob that I can press, wear curly or when I really get brave, just wash and go with a very short fro (haven’t gotten that brave yet!) but like the fact that I can do it. Yes girl, sometimes I really do miss that wrap, unwrap and go without having to check the weather! More power to you and what makes YOU feel like your best self! Peace

  • darcy

    It takes a level of discipline to grow out ones hair naturally which the author clearly does not possess. That’s not a criticism; it’s an observation.

  • Susan Grimes

    I am amazed at how visceral a response one gets when they don’t want to go without a relaxer. Notice I said go without a relaxer, not go natural. I have so many friends that have “gone natural”, but still get color, have it blow-dried, pressed, roller set, etc. As far as I am concerned, that is not wearing your hair “natural”, as long as you are doing something to your hair to greatly change it’s “natural” appearance, you are not truly wearing your hair natural. Natural would be waking up and picking it out. Natural would be not twisting it for coils. And why do women who get naturals have to feel imprisoned. If that is the way a woman feels about the way she looks, then she should definitely change so that she is happy with the way she looks. Whether you are “natural” or wear relaxers, the fact of the matter is, women want to look and feel beautiful. Stop putting it on society, not everyone is gorgeous and not everyone is unattractive. I am sure if you put a bunch of women in a room with truly natural hair (fros, puffs, cornrows) there would still be some that people find attractive and some that people find unattractive. Yes, I wear a relaxer and have no issues with those who do not. I get a relaxer twice a year, let it air dry, and curl it for the week. It grows at about 3/4 of an inch each month and is healthy. I did not get press and curls when I was a child–it was too much for my hair,it is naturally wavy, soft like cotton and very fine. Heat seems to be my worst enemy, not the relaxer. Like I said, I have no problem with those who go natural, but it bothers me that women who go natural have become so angry and judgmental towards those who do not. A person should not be made to feel guilty about the way she wears her hair. What was once something that women decided to do, to make themselves feel better, has now become something they do to make other women (with relaxed hair) feel bad. It saddens me that our community has latched onto a debate about natural hair vs. relzed hair. Now, when I hear women talk about this subject, I think of School Daze. For those of you who are old enough to remember, think of the tune in the one musical scene “Good or bad hair”…the presmise of the scene is light-skin vs. dark-skin, “good hair” versus” bad hair”. Society is not making black women be mean and have disdain for one another because of the way they decide to wear their hair, black women are doing it to themselves.

  • http://clutch Michie

    I didn’t even know the word transition when I just got tired of relaxing my hair; so I decided to grow it out with plans to wear it straightened. I started with fairly healthy hair with no idea that I needed to care for my hair differently. I continued to care for it as if all was relaxed. I straightened my hair for about 9 months never once trimming it. After becoming all natural, I became aware of the plethora of hair care information out there. I realized that there was a way to go natural. I wondered what happened to all that relaxed hair that I didn’t cut off. I did cut some hair after it became heat damaged right at my line of demarcation. I then realized that I had either burned it off or it simply just broke off. However, this was never evident until the heat damage. I did have some smaller sections of hair that were heat damaged that I had to slowly cut away after beginning to wear my hair natural. Only by the grace of God did I end up with any hair. I did not lose any of my new growth and ended with a very healthy head of hair that I have put much work into learning how to care for. When I look back, I wish I had known how to transition, I could have avoided the flat ironing that I grew to hate. I now wear my hair natural with an easy wash and go and have no thoughts of straightening. I do believe that women should wear their hair however pleases them; whether that be natural, relaxed or whatever. Also, no one should define what natural is for everyone. I’ve heard that if you use gel you are not natural. I use a light gel for hold and I consider myself very natural. There is nothing wrong with enhancing what you have been given. I say whatever natural state your hair is in, enhance that state if you want to. Not everyone wants to wear an afro but want a different style and that’s okay too. In the natural hair world, there is much ado about nothing.

  • http://clutch Michie

    Some interesting points here, but I say yes, God gave us beautiful, natural hair and I love it and I am natural girl. Do I think for one moment, that God cares about how we choose to wear our hair, uh-no. He is not mad because someone decides to relax their hair LOL. Because He is much more concerned about our hearts than our hair. Hair today, could be gone tomorrow. Peace!!

  • http://gravatar.com/hsm36 hsm36

    I can’t believe she slapped that “found under the sink” relaxer on her hair minutes after realizing it was weak, brittle and falling out in it’s natural state.

  • Tina Lamb

    How can you write such a long post about a group of people being judgmental when your post is exactly that?! smh. Natural hair is free from chemically altering products, such as relaxers and dye. Last time I checked braiding my hair, twisting my hair, etc. does not chemically alter my hair, i am STYLING my hair. It is ridiculous for you to make a comment otherwise when you are relaxing and curling your cotton soft “wavy hair”. LOL! Please. No disrespect to those that utilize the creamy crack, but please dont ‘hate’ because natural women are proud. I am natural, I would never go back, but I also do not judge. However, when a person goes on social media and talks about natural women being “angry and judgmental” it is laughable! Why would we be angry?! If we want to be “beauties” with relaxed and wavy hair, we can go buy that “beauty” just like you. Like someone else said, being natural takes discipline and pride in what you have, that’s on you if our pride makes you feel guilty.

  • Common Sense

    Wow, what does that say about you and our society, you not being able to navigate and negotiate with YOUR NATURAL hair!!!!!!!!!!!

    Most women take breaks from the creamy crack. Don’t they? You never take a break?!?!?!?! Wow, I hope that creamy crack is not seeping into your brain!!!!!!!

  • http://gravatar.com/hsm36 Whatever

    ” I resented how unflattering I looked and in addition…I was downright pissy that I couldn’t get it to grow.”

    Yet, you like your hair short when it is permed? You were distraught that your natural hair wasn’t growing long enough, so you did a big chop and permed it?

    No one is trying to control you by asking you questions… it’s your insecurities that are controlling you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tiana.council Tiana Council

    I think when one has unrealistic expectations going into the process, then it definitely won’t end well. Transitioning is not “easy.” I’ve never done it – I’ve been natural since birth; but I’ve seen other women go through it. I wish her all the best with her relaxed hair.

  • http://cluth B

    As a African-American woman, I love that we can wear our hair as straight, curly, natural or with a perm. I transitioned from perming my hair to natural hair but for me it was a spiritual journey and not just a natural one. It takes a different mindset to allow your hair to be free of chemicals. And it is not for everyone. I hope that if you do decide to go natural in the future, you will understand it is a process and that you allow yourself my time, patience and understanding.

    With much love,
    B

  • Onyx

    I don’t think it’s necessarily about our society but more about her ignorance towards caring for natural hair and her busy lifestyle.

    We shouldn’t judge her ‘cos she needs that ‘creamy crack’ to keep her life sane; we all gotta do what we were born to do: BE OURSELVES.

    By pressuring her to go natural or antagonizing her because she couldn’t do it, that makes us no better than the mainstream. Let’s love each other unconditionally and appreciate whatever form our hair may be in, curly or straight; permed or flat ironed. We’re beautiful Black women ^_^

  • talaktochoba

    so, what are you saying–she was born a creamy crack baby?

    seriously?

  • http://mavis-musings-music.blogspot.co.uk/ Mavis

    I agree. When people ‘go natural’, it’s really easy to watch youtube videos and have the belief that someone’s regime (which they’ve spent years perfecting) and hair styles will magically work for you.
    Transitioning seems to be the period of trial and error. And it takes a lot of determination to continue through that. Even for me (who’s been natural since birth), actually taking care of my hair has been a challenge.
    I appreciate the author’s honesty about returning to relaxers – natural isn’t for everyone. And as long as women are making informed choices about it, then what they do with their hair is their business.

  • Christina

    Lol to this article! I went natural but not by choice. My relaxer damaged hair basically fell off during the harsh winter of ’10. So I chopped it all off and began anew. Since then, I have trimmed it fairly regularly (often taking off more than I want to). But I’m glad to say I’ve seen some growth. Mostly, my hair is in braids (which I also love) but I do love my natural hair despite the crazy time commitment. Sometimes though, I hear the creamy crack calling my name… But I have crazy supportive natural friends who help make my journey a whole lot easier.

  • http://claireshegoes.com Claire

    1. Some say that going natural isn’t for everyone. In my opinion, it’s long-term TRANSITIONING that isn’t for everyone. On one hand, there are people who handle it all swimmingly. On the other, there are people like me, who find that dealing with two textures is a pain in the butt. In all honesty I’ve always preferred to start with a clean slate.

    Mind you. If I’m honest…I don’t like the way short hair looks *on me*. (In the past I’ve always wound up missing having big hair.)

    But short natural hair doesn’t look bad. I’ve seen many photos of gorgeous women rocking mini ‘fros.

    And also–it’s hair. It. GROWS.

    2. The statement the author made about her nose made me do a double take. If you think that wearing your own hair without altering it chemically isn’t for you *because of your facial features* then something is wrong.

    I don’t mean that as an insult. Rather, that comment indicates a deeper issue. I’m quite sure that if a black woman wants to go natural and stay there, she will. And her nose isn’t going to stop her.

    Overall, though, I’m really disturbed by the fact that virtually every woman out there recognizes that the hair on their heads is their birthright. Meanwhile time and again, black women come up with reasons to deny themselves.

  • http://gravatar.com/dmommy dmommy

    Lol! I understand. I have always had extremely thick and coarse hair. When I was a young girl, before blow dryers, my mother would have to plait my hair in several braids and it took about two days for my hair to air dry. When I would show up at the hair salon for special occasions, no one was happy to see me. I remember how happy I was when my mother allowed me to get a relaxer. It was so freeing. I didn’t have to struggle with my hair anymore. I have worn my hair in many different styles over the years, braids, wraps, weaves, afros, ponytails… you get the idea. I have never understood how someone would think that natural hair was freeing. My natural hair is a lot to manage and I don’t want my life to revolve around my hair and, before relaxer’s, it did. I think people have forgotten why a lot of people chose to relax their hair, it was the ease of relaxed hair. I know that was the case with me. My mother thought she had died and went to heaven. I still remember a hair stylist telling me that I had hair coming out of, ‘every hole in my head.” She did not have a smile on her face. I have been wearing a short, curly weave for a while and I no longer have a relaxer and whenever I don’t have a weave, I feel like my 9 year-old self, trying not to cry when my mother combed out my hair and, I always wonder do any of these, ‘natural hair’ people have real, tribe hair? I know that I do and while I don’t have a relaxer right now, I am not anti-relaxer.

  • brittanya

    “i’ll take my sodium hydroxide”

    i completely understand wanting to have straight hair..but are relaxers really the only method for this? Haven’t relaxers been linked to adverse health problems such as cancer and heart disease?

    I may not always be down with the natural look, but nothing can make me put that crap on my head again. Relaxers aren’t regulated by the FDA, take a good look at that ingredient list. My health is worth so much more. If its straight hair you want, I think there are other methods. However, I think the authors problems are a bit deeper than that..

  • EbonyLolita

    I think if you would have had a stylist *Such As Myself* who specializes in Natural Hair you would have had a better experience in keeping up w/your natural hair. But I’m no Natural Hair Nazi if you want straight hair you could have achieved that w/a press n curl/flat iron situation. But….. to each it’s own b/c I totally understand the time management issue.

  • Daisy

    I completely empathise with this, because I am only about 11 weeks in to my natural hair journey and working with the two textures it is harder than I thought it would be. I do find myself fantasising about returning to the creamy crack…

  • Not a lazy person

    lol. You had 2 whole inches of new growth. Wow! It sounds like you tried sooo hard. I think relaxers are made for people just like you.

  • LJF67

    After reading all these comments, I am now convinced that all these naturalistas have it all figured out – in fact perhaps they have some stock tips to pass along…i mean to those of us weak minded, chemically challenged individuals who have lost our way…oh to think my parents Marched on Washington for this….

  • MCross

    No matter how you put it, relaxers are unhealthy for anyone’s hair and scalp. Think of all the chemicals being deposited into you. I dont care if you wear a bone straight weave or a TWA but the choice to make first is to be healthy. The second choice you can make is to actually embrace how God naturally made our hair texture. It is a struggle, I am still going through it. But essentially ,permanently changing your hair texture is equivalent to getting a form of unecessary plastic surgery. It just says you are unhappy with how you were originally created. Anyways, being at least take the first leap to a healthier lifestyle free of repetively harsh chemicals :)

  • http://Clutch AYS

    I have been natual since ’99. I used braids to transition until my hair was healthy enough to twist on its own.

  • Chinaworld

    Kudos to the writer. Do what is best for you…I am currently in transition from relaxed (perm is a Jerry curl) to natural hair. No big chop for me. But, have decided to wear hair weave instead until my hair reaches a desired length. Going natural is not a spiritual journey for me as I was fortunately raised enlightened. I am in transition for the challenge to see how long I can grow my natural hair. In fact, I was inspired by Nicki Minaj, of all people, to grow my natural hair after revelations of her natural hair online. Nonetheless, I am looking forward to donning a black panther style fro…will not been spending 12 hours of the day to try to emulate the my “mother-is-Japanese-father-is-Black” Miss Jessie sister’s curl texture, because that ain’t the case. Thus, I am going into this transition will a realistic approach.

  • humminbird

    I see what you’re saying. Her tone was pretty flippant and it does seem like she “gave up.” I just think some of the comments were unnecessarily harsh.

  • Michelle

    I was on the path of going natural, but recently had to go back to a relaxer. I think in part it was my mis-education of taking care of my natural hair and that part of it was still relaxed from my former style, so it just did not have a pleasing look to me. I love the natural look, and may try my hand at it again, but apparently, now was not the time. And that is okay. I guess I am at a loss as to why this is a natural vs. relaxed situation. Or natural vs. weaved. Does going natural really make you better than you fellow peers? When was it decided that natural hair was the symbol of enlightenment or finding yourself on the better path. Or that it spoke of a higher self-assurance of ones self, over those ladies that choose to relax to have straight hair. I wish that it wasn’t like this. There should be support for all and promoting self-esteem and a sense of community, not looking down upon someone because their hair is of different style than what has become the trend. What you are doing may work well for you, but that is not to say that’s it’s going to work well for your neighbor. I find hair to be such an issue of security for women, especially black women, that it is very disappointing that other’s would look down or berate a person because of how they have to manage their hair or want to style it. How exactly is this affecting you? But a better supportive community, of ALL types of hair.

  • http://gravatar.com/dmommy dmommy

    I completely agree with you. Hairstyles should not divide black women. It is ridiculous.

  • Tracey

    That was supposed to be thumbs up not down!

  • LaToya

    I can totally relate. It’s been 21 weeks since I’ve had a relaxer and I think I’m ready to throw in the towel. Transitioning isn’t hard for me, it’s just time consuming! I know how to care for my hair, but I’m low maintenance. I want my hair to be cute with minimal effort. So I’ll be relaxing soon :)

  • Ms. Kay

    Oh, don’t feel that way. I am a naturalista but I think you and anyone else should wear your hair in the way YOU see fit. I stopped relaxing because I was worried about the strong chemicals in my hair (reaaallly burned off the back 7yrs ago) So for me, no more chemicals. I prefer the herbs and minerals and vitamins for my natural hair. And it takes about the same amount of time to set it up as it does on a day that you might relax yours.

    I’m sure I’ll straighten my hair again. Not sure when and it couldn’t be soon enough for my mother. But when I do, there are at least 3 different new products that have no chemicals in them that I will choose from. Then all I’ll have to do to get my natural back will be to wash my hair. It’s about my hair being healthy, not whether it is ‘fro-ed out or straight. :)

  • Ms. Kay

    there are about 3 different products that will give you straight hair without the chemicals. You can find them on the net

  • Elle Dee

    I am completely natural now for about one month. I transitioned for a year and it was horrible. Being a military wife and stationed overseas, there aren’t any beauticians who do African American hair where we are right now.. SO my transition was by circumstance and some what by choice. I chose not to use box relaxer, because that is not best for touch-up’s for a period of 4 years. So with that I had always wanted to try going natural, but hadn’t the guts to do so. So my last relaxer was at the end of April or Beginning of May of 2012. FOr the first 3 months it wasn’t so bad.( but I considered relaxing) I wrapped my hair EVERY night to keep what relaxer I had fresh. I only used heat on my hair Once a week which was usually Sunday for Church. The next 3 months were Wearing my hair in flat twist styles, which helped to blend my natural curl with the curl of the relaxed ends when twisted. ( but I considered relaxing and bought a box perm) THEN CAME MONTH’s SEVEN through 12!!! (DUh DUn Dunnnn) Because my hair grows so fast, flat twists no longer concealed my transitioning hair. So I started to gel my hair down and in a bun or a pony tail. Then, THANK GOD, I was turned on to lace-front wigs. I’m very low maintenance. SO my regimen was to co-was my hair about every 10-15 days with “mixed chicks deep conditioner” and Herbal Essence “Long Term Relationship” And about once a month I would use shampoo… with whatever my husband uses. I used olive oil hair moisturizer for the little girls after each wash and let it air dry. Then around month 11 or so my hair was just dry. My natural hair was so thick and the sparse relaxed ends were pitiful. Then a friend turned me on to Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie. This changed my life and mind about transitioning. I washed my hair and used it as a deep conditioner(not the prescribed way to use it.) My hair was soft and manageable. 3 weeks ago, I had the relaxer cut off and I LOVE IT. I’m glad I did it. AND I was never going to be a TWA girl so I waited a year and have about half the length of hair that i had when it was relaxed. If you can… HANG IN THERE! Your natural hair journey is more about YOU than the hair. You are strong and you have options… I am not going to say I’m a curly-girl for life. But for now, I don’t see myself turning back….

  • Dedra Sneed Gomez

    I think it’s all a personal choice, but what I don’t like is; when someone decides to go natural after relaxing their hair for years now all of a sudden have so many opinions on women who continue to relax there hair. It’s hypercritical.

    Live your own life and if wearing a relaxer make you feel better than do it.

  • http://gravatar.com/dmommy dmommy

    I completely agree with you and that is my issue with the, “natural hair movement,” theme judging black women that son’t wer their hair in a natural style and equating a lack of self-love with wearing relaxers and/or weaves.

  • Candace

    Sorry to hear that your transition lead you back to a relaxer. Its your choice, some women prefer the ease of a relaxer versus the struggles of natural hair. I personally did the big chop 2 years ago and I loved it. To each her own. Just pray that the Natural Nazis don’t come find you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jewellthief Farringtonsmyname Jewellthief

    ‘ease’ vs. ‘struggles’….hmmmm …..language says it all when it comes to our cultural conditioning….I went natural and it wasn’t a struggle for me at all….

  • http://gravatar.com/xdecadent xdecadent

    I aint even mad at you. I’ve been natural for 9 years and it has not been a walk in the park. I actually chopped my hair off again in the fall after backsliding into a perm last summer (note: me and perms never were that great together but I guess I was nostalgic) and now Im rocking a weave until I feel like being bothered with my natural hair. Hair is very personal and while I love the whole “back to natural” movement. I feel like its too traumatic for some. Transitioning is 80% mental and 20% preparation. If you dont have the tools to do what you need to do it’s gonna be hard. Plus, if your mentality is still “straight” you’re gonna have a doubly hard time. I say: don’t fight it. Do whatever you like with your hair. As long as it looks and feels good to you, who cares?

  • rahrahma

    I am transitioning and am 9 months post relaxer and since summer officially hit the calendar I have been feening for the creamy crack too, because these here roots of mine are just plain old hot. I have thought about relaxing, texlaxing, and big chopping all out of frustration but I decided to relax, not my hair but my anxiety and remember “this too shall pass”. I want to see myself fully natural but I also can’t play myself and cut off all of my hair because I just don’t have the face for a TWA (all these natural hair terms are funny lol) or else I would, I am not concerned with losing length, I just can’t walk around looking crazy and a TWA on me would guarantee me looking crazy. I’m not a natural hair advocate but I do wish to see more Black women just get back to taking care of their OWN hair most of the time whether that hair is natural or relaxed.

  • http://www.phenolot.com Fancee

    Like I always tell other women… Do whatever that makes you happy not just following a crowd because they jumped the similar bandwagon. If you feel like a relaxer makes you happy then you do it. You can still have healthy hair with relaxed hair as long as you know the proper steps in getting the best results!

  • Teresa

    This month It will be my one year relaxer free anniversary. It is still a work in progress but Im damn proud of myself because I never thought I would make it this far. Having natural hair brought out my creative instinct because definitely you have to be creative when growing out a relaxer. My major issue was when it came to support and understanding Afro-American Woman would be more supportive about going natural than Hispanic Women. I’m biracial and most of my friends look at my hair like I’m growing an Alien in there somewhere deep in my puff. I keep my head up and my puff puffy and working on my second year of relaxer free.

  • http://gravatar.com/dmommy dmommy

    I wish I could understand th importance of being, “natural.” It seems like a lot of work. Wait, it is a lot of work, which is why I stopped being natural years ago. But, that is just me. You like it, I love it.

  • Shalala

    It takes so much time to be natural. Lets face it, most natural styles are not professional nor corporate, so an impromptu meeting when you’ve been rocking a fro.. No ma’am! That extra time spent defining and smoothing. If you are natural because you love your hair naturally, that’s great. But, if you don’t love it and you are wasting money being a product junkie…as opposed to a creamy crack junkie…you may want to look deeper into your motivations.

  • Nikki

    I have been natural for 3 years. First year I had no clue on how to take care of my hair. I’ve learned how and I love it. I have no desire to perm my hair but that is just me. I am not a power to the people, pump your fist, no makeup wearing natural but I’m not mad at the ones who are. Do you!!! I’m not sure why being natural or permed or texturized is such a huge deal. Why are we sometimes defined by our hair? Wear your hair how you feel most comfortable. Rock it like you mean it and be fabulous ladies!!!

  • http://twitter.com/DrBirgittaSays Birgitta Johnson (@DrBirgittaSays)

    WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIITTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!

    ” I simply couldn’t bring myself to proceed with the big chop.”

    Now this insanity makes sense. Technically she never ‘left’ her relaxers and was trying to do two hair types with one set of products on one head, the relaxed hair being apparently damaged–DAAAAAG GINA!?!?!…WHAT IN THE WORLD!?!?!??!

    At best this is a half natural journey, at worst she is walking around with some seriously damaged and abused hair because of half-assing with the transitioning. She never really dealt with JUST her natural hair.

    This is so problematic. Pray for her somebody…smh/lol

    “I knew nothing about my natural hair other than it was coarse, itchy and lacked body when it was time for a touch-up.”

    After really going natural, many women discover that the itching is actually from the products used to maintain relaxers: mineral oils, petroleum, and parabens. These products are also heavy on the natural hair, giving the appears of “lacked body.”

    #StopTheMadness
    #YouJustPreferStraightHair,Beloved
    #It’sOK

  • eva wood

    You should have had a professional do your hair!

  • candice

    Very sad to hear this mess. I thought i would transition too, I worried what woukd friends, family and coworkers think, not to mention I was single so what would men think if i chopped all my hair off!? Well while thinking thus I found myself in the bathroom with scissors chopping away…oops…and done. 5 years later I haven’t looked backed. I love my hair. I wish I had done it sooner.

    Sounds like you were trying to treat your relaxed hair like natural hair…how long did you attempt to stay natural?

  • candice

    Also, how old was this relaxer you found under the sink?? Never save old relaxer (if that is What you did)

  • Pingback: When Going Natural Goes Wrong | Black Girl with Long Hair

  • Ren

    I tried going natural once but my hair just wasn’t manageable. I had enough hair to do the big chop but my hair in it’s natural state, I can’t even part it, much less do anything else to it other than braid it. I also didn’t want my life to revolved around trying to style and manage my hair, which is what natural hair would have done to me. I also found that it would have been more expensive to maintain natural hair than relaxed hair. I had considered getting Sister Locks but it would have cost me $700 just to get them started and hundreds per month to get them maintained. I don’t have that kind of money.

    My mother went natural and got locks. She also couldn’t afford to keep them maintained. She lived over an hour from and expected me to drop what I was doing and come lock her hair every time she needed them tightened and I know nothing about how to do locks nor did I have the time to do that. She eventually cut them out and now has a small fro.

    It’s unfortunate that the burden of black identity falls on black women through they way we wear our hair. Women of other races have the freedom to do whatever they want to their hair without being judged. Black women have never had that freedom.

    Hair is just hair and one should be able to wear it in a way that makes them happy and feel good, whether it’s natural or relaxed.

  • straightnochaser

    “Lets face it, most natural styles are not professional nor corporate…”

    Wow. Since when did being our natural Black selves become “unprofessional nor corporate?” Somebody please lead me to the skin bleaching cream. I just discovered that not only is my natural hair “not professional nor corporate,” I’d better do something about this dammit-to-hell melanin I’ve been cursed with if I want to be accepted in corporate America!

  • http://gravatar.com/dmommy dmommy

    No, the burden of black identity should not fall on black women and their choice of hairstyles. It is ridiculous and I will not allow the natural hair Nazi’s to run my life. I feel you because I have extremely thick and coarse hair. It has been a little below my shoulder for most of my life and stylist once told me that I had hair growing out of EVERY hole in my head; she did not intend it to be a compliment. I workout regularly, work full time, commute two hours a day and I have two kids, a dog and a husband. I don’t have time for a natural hairstyle. I have worn braids and I had a short afro once after a home relaxer fiasco but, I wear my hair however I choose. I don’t have a relaxer right now and my hair is long but, I have been wearing a short curly weave. I cannot be bothered with hair. I went to a natural hair show recently and natural hair is a lot of work, that is the part they don’t want to admit.

  • http://gravatar.com/dmommy dmommy

    @straightnochaser

    “Since when did being our natural Black selves become “unprofessionnor corporate?” Somebody please lead me to the skin bleaching cream. I just discovered that not only is my natural hair “not professional nor corporate,” I’d better do something about this dammit-to-hell melanin
    I’ve been cursed with if I want to be accepted in corporate America!

    I don’t know in what world you live, but almost everything about our “natural black selves” isn’t acceptable to WHITE corporate America. Do you behave the same at both home and work or are you more relaxed in your home and community? When I was looking for my first professional job, I had braids and I was advised to change my hairstyle during my job search. My girlfriend, who has a graduate degree and experience, has been out of work for a couple of years and she wears a very cute afro. After looking for work for almost two years, she decided to straighten her hair or wear a wig on interviews. She got a job! We may have come a long way, but, as our current political climate is showing us, black is still black and it has NEVER been considered “corporate.” White folks still control the wealth and power in this country and if you believe otherwise, you are delusional

  • straightnochaser

    I don’t know in what world you live, but almost everything about our “natural black selves” isn’t acceptable to WHITE corporate America. Do you behave the same at both home and work or are you more relaxed in your home and community? When I was looking for my first professional job, I had braids and I was advised to change my hairstyle during my job search. My girlfriend, who has a graduate degree and experience, has been out of work for a couple of years and she wears a very cute afro. After looking for work for almost two years, she decided to straighten her hair or wear a wig on interviews. She got a job! We may have come a long way, but, as our current political climate is showing us, black is still black and it has NEVER been considered “corporate.” White folks still control the wealth and power in this country and if you believe otherwise, you are delusional

    Apparently, white folks are STILL controlling YOU TOO! I rock my NATURAL hair in the face of the SAME racist white folks you’ve chosen to conform with and submit to. If someone told you to change YOUR hairstyle because they were uncomfortable with YOU and YOU were too stupid to see it, then that’s YOUR decision. I’m not changing for NOBODY, especially the same ones who are killing themselves and spending a ton of money trying to LOOK LIKE ME (tanning salons, butt implants, collagen injections for the lips). So please, do not hate on the so-called natural hair ‘movement,’ because it’s not a movement, it’s a CHOICE, kinda like the one you’ve made to look and act like you want to continue to remain a part of the mental PLANTATION they’ve offered you, thus making the WORLD I LIVE IN a much happier place! PEACE

  • http://gravatar.com/dmommy dmommy

    You are delusional and everyone conforms in some way and I am not ashamed of the fact that I dress and groom myself appropriately for the corporate work place and it does not make me less black. I have an uncle with dreads down his back and a long beard who refuses to “work for the white man” while he expects those of us that are working for the white man to support him. Your plantation talk is ignorant. Anyone that doesn’t wear their hair in an afro is still on the plantation. I guess that would include our first lady, Maxine Waters and all the black folk that are successful and straighten their hair?

  • http://twitter.com/starnoirr Star (@starnoirr)

    Relaxed or natural, hair is work. EVERYONES HAIR IS WORK. It’s just different work non-black women seem to have less work bc they fit their own image. Not really an accomplishment…Anyway, if white women had to try and elevate and curl their hair, they would go through similar psychological responses to social pressure. They would be trying to accept that their hair was limp, they would be shy buying tons of shampoo to clean greasy hair. They would be afraid of people staring at dandruff stuck in their exposed roots. But all those negatives are accepted bc they are considered normal for normal hair. Really, it’s all about how society views things. Don’t fall for the egotistical blindness of social acceptance. A mask of strength reveals great weaknesses. You need to do you. Wear it natural or wear it relaxed. But don’t do it because you think its bad in comparison to some brainwashing you’ve had. That’s no way to be.

  • http://twitter.com/starnoirr Star (@starnoirr)

    I hear you, I have some mild arthritis and I can braid and twist but sometimes my hands, elbows and shoulders totally disagree! So in terms of that, it is easier. We are no longer living together in tribes braiding each others hair. lol I wish!

  • https://www.facebook.com/amanda.walker.50364 Amanda Walker

    thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!! i am currently growing out natural hair. the fact that someone is willing to voice out loud the REALITY of what “natural” means is SO REFRESHING i almost want to cry. i’m tired of feeling like i betrayed my ancestors if i have a relaxer or weave. the reality is that it takes LOTS of growth and work. and the women who claim its easy and carefree, most likely already have a full head of bouncing curls. not all of us are blessed in that way. my shoulder length natural hair doesn’t frame my face the way i want. I have a fat face and tiny ears. i refuse to go through the rest of my life sporting endless up-dos that make me feel less attractive and feminine. and that’s what i want my “sisters” to consider: if i don’t feel comfortable in my own skin, who am i honoring??

  • Ri

    Amanda Walker, I agree totally! I am about 9mos into transitioning and I’m not liking it. I am ready to go back to my relaxed hair because I knew how to manage it for the most part. After researching transitioning for so long, I know about even more products that could possibly work on my relaxed hair. I’m one of those people who believe that natural hair, despite what some people say, isnt for everyone. Only YOU know what’s best for YOUR hair, you know? I especially agree with your statement: i’m tired of feeling like i betrayed my ancestors if i have a relaxer or weave. TRUE TRUE TRUE! Thank you! Thank you TERONDA SEYMORE for this article. I feel like you spoke specifically for ME! :-)

  • Nik

    It’s a struggle for me, simply because I’ve never been any good at styling hair (I can’t even braid) and my hair requires a lot of work to get it to look the way I want. And God forbid I make a twist too big or too small…then I’m all messed up in the morning and I can’t fix it. The commitment is too much for me. Relaxed hair was easier for me because I could just unwrap at night and wake up in the morning and run my fingers through it and then I was ready to go. Wash day only took a couple of hours, not a whole day. But when my natural hair is good, it’s really good.

  • Melissa

    I am going back to a relaxer after 10 years natural. I loved some styles that I achieved with my natural hair, and I am happy to finally feel like I “know” and understand my hair in a way I never did before. I’m just feeling ready for a change! There are styles that I miss that I can’t achieve without a relaxer, and right now, I want them. I plan to rock them for a while and then do a big chop in a few months/couple of years when I get bored of the relaxed looks again.

    The thing about our hair is that we have the versatility to do anything with it – anything that can be done with hair, can be done with our hair and with no other type of hair. Whether we’re super kinky and coarse (me!), springy soft, or wavy fine – women of the African diaspora can do literally anything. We have pushed the boundaries of what hair means and what hair can do!

    With that as our inheritance, I see no reason why WE can’t MAKE OUR OWN DECISIONS individually about what we want to look like, and what we want our hair to look like. I’ve done everything imaginable – relaxed (age 7), weave (ages 9 and 23), short relaxed, faux hawk, ‘fro hawk, braided styles, two-strand twists, and locs. No one can tell me that VERSATILITY is not mine. Our ancestors fought for our right to self determination, and that’s what I do!

  • Nik

    Oh wow, I think we must have went to school together but I don’t know a Teronda. I’m 38y/o too and grew up in DC. When you were describing, the too old for ribbons/holding on to length, I was like THAT WAS ME at different stages. After my jheri curl grew out I loved the length but there were some splits but that mushroom that I could swing around was something I never had, wasn’t cutting it for nothing.

    Now I am at the stage you were when you wrote this. Except, I never was comfy to rock my natural crown. I felt it was too short, my edges were bald and so I would look “ugly” in my place of business, not even in social scenes or with family and friends, just at work. I felt they would never understand so I remained hiding behind weaves and wigs.

    I have even perfected the invisible part so I dont have to leave my natural hair out in my weaves unless I look like a helpless woman. So, I have convinced myself to just do one relaxer a year and ride that out but you’re soooo… so right. Frigging creamy crack. Back to that….

    Thank you for writing this and you are so right again. Chemicals didn’t ruin my hair either, I did. My goal is to learn how to take care of my real hair this time so I can lay off the weaves.

  • kayelle

    Thank God I am not alone! I have been natural for 10 years and I never thought the day would come when I would want to experience relaxed hair again. I pressed and curled my hair a few days ago just to satisfy the quiet longing for the versatility of straight hair. Lo and behold I enjoyed having a different look. I don’t feel like I am selling myself out anymore. And now that I have gotten to know my hair, I can still embrace my hair in whatever state it is in.

  • Zana

    I found many passages from this to be sad..didn’t like it.

  • Rhonda

    I think a lot of us who go natural, in the beginning, give up, and relax our hair again. I know i did. I felt it was to much with and my hair want growing as fast asIi wanted it to. I was natural 6 months and gave up. A year or so later, I saw how my
    hair continued to thin, I kept getting scabs
    no matter how well my study prepared my
    scalp, and…it really just want what I
    wanted. I wanted to be relaxer free! So i stored relaxing again and never looked back. Its been seven years. I think this writer made the mistake most make: trying to maintain length with relaxed hair and still be natural. That never works.

  • Toni

    I have been going back and forth trying to decide whether I want to go back to a relaxer. I realized that my curl pattern doesn’t normally compliment my face as well as straightened hair. I have “soft” features but “hard” hair that likes to defy gravity and doesn’t like to be easily detangled. Being pregnant has made this problem with detangling much worse. Either way, I’m sure with more patience, being natural will eventually pay off. I have been natural for 2 years now, and my hair has gone from a 2 inch twa to about 10 inches. I will probably hold out a bit longer…

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