As you would expect, my hair flourished once I finally decided to big chop. Regular and frequent trips to my dear hairstylist, who is now practically family, allowed my hair to grow to its fullest potential. Between her and I, we maintained my healthy strands for years. My hair and scalp were healthy, strands void of splits. Damage from heat and coloring…minimal. Breakage…what breakage?
I married in 2009, the day before graduating from nursing school. My hairstylist, Ms. T., flat-twisted my hair back and added just enough hair add volume to my low bun. In hindsight, that would be the last regularly scheduled visit because three months later I moved to Alabama. ALABAMA.
10. The number of hours from my alma mater, my family, Ms. T.
0. From what it seemed most times, the number of people who looked like me in the great state of Alabama.
Needless to say, I did not visit a stylist for the entire duration of my stay in Alabama—18 months. For 18 months my hair endured the torching summer heat and the dry winter. For 18 months my hair went without deep conditioning, treatments, and trims. For 18 months, my hair grew wildly from pregnancy hormones and suffered from neglect due to erratic work hours as a nurse.
18. The number of months I did nothing the prevent hair damage.
It doesn’t stop there. I then moved with my husband, 5 year old, and 3 month old to Georgia. Although we were closer to Ms. T. (3.5 hrs), family life prevented me from doing much of anything besides parenting. During our 1st deployment as a family, I was left to care for a 5 year old, 3 year old, 1 year old, and a 2 week old. Life centered around my children and I regularly neglected my hair. It wasn’t until the 2nd deployment that I realized how much natural hair care had changed since my big chop.
I’d never heard of hair types—it was natural hair—and for every hair type there are many hair products. The differences between types of hair and curl patterns are minute. Oh! And let’s not forget that one crown of hair can possess several types of hair. Marketing had a field day with this. Type 4c needs this type of shampoo, conditioner, sealant, and styler while type 4a needs a different type. Want the look of Type 3 curls with type 4c hair? There’s a lengthy YouTube tutorial for that. Didn’t get the desired style, mix them all together! But, wait…mixing some products lead to embarrassing flaking. Need fly-away or edge control? There’s a multitude of gels, jellies, jams, and pomades! Just remember wet gels work best on wet or damp hair and pomade gels are best for dry styles, but ever rule is made to be broken—experiment and find work works for you! Is your hair moisturized properly? Use the L.O.C or L.C.O. or just the L.O. method. What types of styling tools are you using? Wide-tooth combs, soft boar bristle brushes, Denman brushes? Normal porosity, low porosity, high porosity…..
I did as I was advised, I experimented. I’ve tried all types of brands and product lines with my all time fave being Shea Moisture, but none of the brands and product lines are cheap. You could easily spend $30 or more on a complete product line (shampoo, conditioner, styler). During my husband’s 2nd deployment, I tried at least 6 product lines from Shea Moisture alone. I loved everything about them. Packaging, consistency, smell, appearance, everything. I tried other products too, such as Cantu and Carol’s Daughter, all equally expensive. And although a few delivered results as advertised. The amount of money and wasted products became too much to store and deal with. Not only did I try dozens of shampoos, conditioners, stylers – oh my! – on my 4b-4c hair, I have 3 natural children with different hair types, scalps, and hair needs.
2015. The year we moved to Newport News, Va.
That summer was dedicated to downsizing and packing. You underestimate the amount of crap you accumulate and overestimate the amount of crap you need up until you have to move. I had begun clearing the cabinet under my bathroom sink and in there were rows upon rows of half-empties and barely-used natural hair products. Products from all brands, all types, all price points, most of which were full of broken promises and disappointments.
At this point I should salvage what I could, right? No point in literally throwing away all of this money, right? Wrong! I decided this was as good as a time as any to purge, to rid myself, my space, and my mind of the clutter that is natural hair products and go back to the basics.
That is and was the allure of natural hair. Simplicity. You washed and maintained your natural hair. You styled your natural hair. There weren’t rules and methods. No products to be fearful of, no ingredients to avoid, no label reading.
Once we moved, I used all of the remaining half-empties and barely-used natural hair products. As I finish products, I look for cheaper, healthier, all-natural ways to care for my hair, our hair. So far, I’ve replaced shampoos and pre-poos with aloe vera gel, leave-in conditioners with aloe vera juice, and stylers with my very own Popping Curl Gel.
And I have to admit, it has been worth it…
Stay tuned to see what happened to my hair after I ditched shampoos…