The hair gods are against me. I’m convinced. From the time I was little, my hair has always been uncontrollable. Braids couldn’t tame it, press ‘n curls poofed within a matter of minutes and hair dye only caused more damage. My hair struggles have been so bad, they were even immortalized in my high school yearbook’s “Remember when” section for a humiliating picture day photo I took in the sixth grade. My legacy thus forth has been, “Remember when Alexis’ hair didn’t fit in the picture frame!”
Suffice it to say, by seventh grade I got my first chemical relaxer to calm not just my hair, but also my nerves. While I would have liked to say the rest was history, it was simply the beginning of another mangled, knotted chapter.
Jump to my senior year of college, I decided to go natural — for the second time. Going natural meant growing out my relaxer completely and accepting my natural, curly kinks. Take it from me, never has the phrase, “easier said than done” ever applied so perfectly to my life. My first attempt at going natural during my freshmen year of college, left me with my disillusioned parents immediately dropping me off at the hair salon the minute I returned home for Thanksgiving break.
Following years of watching my hair split at the seams, boo-hooing over breakage, feeling the instant high and devastating low after impulsively dying my hair and dealing with the guilt of applying and reapplying scalp-burning chemicals to straighten my hair, I was through. I wanted healthy, strong hair.
Now, here I am, 10 months free of any chemical relaxer. As you can see from the photo above, I am still struggling! My hair needs to be constantly moisturized, sporadically deep conditioned and regularly trimmed. It’s maddening! However, in order to understand how I got here, you have to see for yourself where I’m coming from.
Follow me, as I reflect on my hair flips and flops.
See what I mean? Even in a hat, the curls couldn’t be controlled! Have you ever broken a comb with your hair? This girl sure has!
Good, old second grade. Despite being toothless, I managed to look presentable in a nice, simple ponytail for picture day. Mind you, these were my prime tomboy days so the less hair that was in my face, the better!
I clearly stood out at my First Communion. The night before, I distinctly remember sitting by the stove as my mom fired up the old hot-comb. After listening to the snap, crackle and pop of my curls transforming into a long, straight mane, I thanked God I still had hair left!
When my hair wasn’t done up, it was braided up and I LOVED it! No poof, no frizz. My braids could be pulled up into a ponytail, a stylish half up-half down ‘do, or just left hanging. Plus, as a soccer player, when I would sweat, I didn’t come off the field looking like I just stuck my finger in an electric socket!
Yikes! What would my early teen years be without an awkward photo? Pardon me as I cringe. A center part and a hair flip, really? Seventh grade was the big year. I finally convinced my mother into letting me get a relaxer to straighten my hair–permanently. Instantly, my hair was nice, thick and finally under control.
A year later, I cleaned up for my class trip to New York City. Since I still didn’t know how to work a flat iron, I tried out a sharp, sleek bun and accented it with chopsticks.
After having a couple of relaxers, I had gotten used to it. I felt confident having long hair and being able to style it any way I wanted to. This was my attempt at a “bump” that sort of fell flat.
As a junior, I started coming into my own. After being stuck in a uniform all those years, headbands were my favorite way to express my style! In the course of a year, my headband collection grew overnight.
Unfortunately, the long hair I loved would not last. By senior year, I started slacking on my hair upkeep and have suffered the consequences ever since.
By my junior year of college in Ohio, far away from my hair salon in D.C., I started to grow more comfortable with wearing my hair naturally. I could hop out of the shower, add some leave-in conditioner and let my hair air-dry. Unfortunately, some days this technique would work and some days it wouldn’t and breakage was sure to follow.
A bob was the next style I slipped into, and not by choice I must add. Ah, yes. How could I forget my attempt to look like Mariah Carey. This was the lightest my hair ever was, mostly because I was too afraid to go all the way blonde. Boy, am I glad I didn’t. However, hair still would not grow past my shoulders.
Just two months later, my friends and I were bored one night and decided to dye our hair. Considering my girls had experimented with colors from blue to purple, I didn’t think red was too drastic.
So, I might still have hints of red and I do see some new growth when I straighten my hair. While my hair may appear well-kept, I find myself still dissatisfied. The instant I step into the humid, D.C. air, I’m back to poof. When I don’t flat iron my hair, any drop of moisturizer instantly evaporates into my follicles. I have become addicted to using Carol’s Daughter hair care products daily, and as a result, have found myself in a bi-weekly cycle of lather, rinse and repeat. Lovelies, quite frankly, I am exhausted!
Ten months ago, when I began my transitioning journey, I knew it would be difficult. I read story upon story of women who were transitioning using various methods such as cutting their hair off to growing their relaxers out. However, all the women emphasized one, key aspect to transitioning: patience.
While some days I do feel like cutting my hair off, I just can’t get myself to do it. I want the satisfaction of knowing that I spent however long it took to achieve my goal of attaining healthy, strong hair. Until I reach the next hair milestone, lovelies I want to know about your hair struggles and successes. What’s the craziest hairstyle you’ve ever tried?