Anywho, it seems like my hair journey began when I was little. Pictures of me as an infant show me with these really awesome almost silky looking corkscrew curls (unfortunately I don't have any of those pics on hand - but take my word for it!). Fast forward to when I was 2 and the silky curls turned to the traditional afro puffs that most AA little girls rock until they're at least four or five. And then somewhere around there, my hair went from being somewhat manageable to being something of a nightmare for my mother to deal with in its natural state. My theory: my 1c/2c baby hair came into its own and turned into a 3c/4a even pushing 4b combo that was a bit more resilient to baby oil and a spritz of water.
So, then we transitioned into the relaxer years (although back then it was always just called a perm even though that was technically an incorrect term). The relaxer years took me from about the age of 5 up to my early twenties. I really didn't know much about my hair growing up except that I always remember it being referred to as the "not so easy hair to manage". It wasn't necessarily bad hair, but I definitely remember my mom saying that I inherited my Nana's (my great grandmother) coarse hair. The regimen was usually just relax it every 6 to 8 weeks and then press it straight. Braids were the normal fare in elementary school, followed by overnight roller sets in middle school and high school was a mix of roller sets and curling irons.
By high school, I was pretty well conditioned to believe that my hair was the kind that didn't do much growing, was the most difficult of AA textures to maintain and should never be seen without the world's strongest relaxer on it. I definitely bought into the theory - once college began I chose to get my hair braided rather than deal with my actual texture (on fear that I wouldn't find a good stylist in a decent radius of the school). College turned to post college and I had switched from micro braids to sew in extensions because they took much less time to install (3-4hrs vs 7-9hrs for braids!).
This is around the time that I also stopped relaxing my hair (circa 2004). In my opinion - if I wasn't wearing my hair out there was no real purpose for me to relax the hair - which honestly makes a ton of sense. Why create an extra step if you really don't have to right? This is also around the time that I would tell my stylist to go ahead and cut my hair if necessary to braid it down because I wasn't wearing it out anyway. Well, fast forward to about 2007 and I decided that I would try and grow my hair out and one day start wearing it on the regular again. What prompted this? Seeing all the length that I was gaining between sew ins. My hair had gone from barely just above shoulder length and being thin and scraggly to being in the shoulder blade area. And, it wasn't gross and stringy but was actually quite thick. At the time I still wasn't ready to wear it out, but I was interested in making the effort to grow it out.
Fast forward again to 2010 and during one of my take down processes (removing a sew-in for you hair novices out there) I realized that my hair was now reaching BSL (bra strap length - referring to the back bra strap)! Literally the longest my hair has ever been! And it was healthy, full - but really coarse (or so I thought). I still wasn't interested in going back to relaxers just because I had this concept that relaxers are inherently bad for you based on my experiences growing up. Thinking back I think it was more of a poor hair care routine, stress and probably not the world's greatest diet that had more to do with that than with the relaxer itself (although looking back, my mom's relaxer application methods are definitely not orthodox - putting relaxer on all hair, not just the new growth).
|My hair flatironed Jan '11|
|Braid out & pinned back|
|Relaxed ends curl pattern|
I'll try to actually document the hair journey via pictures when I remember to do so - I would say that I'd post videos - but I'm not quite that committed to the cause. Anywho, I'll try to keep this updated, but my ultimate goals are gorgeous curls and super healthy, strong and growing hair. :)