Making the Transition
I had kinky envy. I'd seen one too many black girls walking past, her hair a puffy, full cluster of near-perfect 4b twist-out curls, without a straggly relaxed end in sight. I decided that it was time to do this. No more half-hearted, I'll-plait-and-give-it-a-break time. It was actually time to grow out the relaxer. Fast forward 15 months, a years' maternity leave and an impressive array of protective styles and I'm embracing the natural look. In honesty, all roads were leading here for me: I was always the girl who ran to the sink as soon as the relaxer was applied, complaining of a stinging scalp. What's more, I disliked the look of too-straight hair and was bored of wearing it one way: down. Why are the majority of my black girlfriends going natural? Is it the versatility and character it offers, despite the effort? The boredom of hairdressers who refuse to take responsibility for burning your scalp off? Or is it just a fascination to see your hair as it was in your school photographs? It certainly seems like everyone's doing it - claiming back what's rightfully theirs, weaning themselves off the so-called creamy crack even if it is by the Arosci blow drying method (which incidentally, promised to 'give it to me straight and relaxer-free', yet sweated out as soon as I ran for the 486 bus). I was at a hen weekender recently and most of the girls there were sporting their hair in its natural state. I found myself looking at the girls with relaxed hair with the same old side parting and wondering if they had missed the memo. Because natural hair seems to be very 2014.
I will be honest – this transitioning lark isn’t always easy. I wash and condition my hair every two weeks with Nexxus Extreme Moisture Shampoo and condition it with Palmers Deep Coconut Oil Conditioner (no sulphates or parabens). My twist-out is a work in progress, but is actually quite easy. Using a wide tooth comb, I spray medium-sized sections of my hair with Palmers Leave-in Conditioner, and then add some Blue Magic to the section and twist. I tend to alternate with hair grease – sometimes I’ll use African Pride Hair Conditioner or I’ll try a new brand for natural hair.
As I’ve got two young children, I’m a bit short on time most mornings but still want to look sharp for work so my go-to style is a bun with a rolled fringe. To slick down the sides, I use a gel for natural hair called Nothing But, which gives a very good hold, contains no alcohol and leaves no flakiness. TIP: For the ultimate slicked back look, spray hair with water/leave-in conditioner, add a small about of Nothing Added gel to the sides, brush and wrap for 10 minutes. You’ll be good to go!
Clearly going natural won't work for everyone. I was toying with a short pixie cut just a few months ago and the Halle Berry-type precision I'd want would send me straight back to my faithful Olive Oil relaxer. Furthermore, we naturalistas may not all get the coveted shiny twist-out. Depending on your hair texture, you may have more work cut out than you bargained for! Bring out the rose water, Shea butter, coconut oil, Blue Magic for the ends and a wide-tooth comb - and that's after the wash and deep condition.
But would I go back? I doubt it. If I want the straight look, I can blow dry it. I feel quietly liberated. I love my beehives, twist-outs and quiffs. I'm loving having a bit more volume. I've been told by colleagues that my hair style changes every day (where do I find the time, they ask), which, for someone who wore her hair in the same side parted bob for years, is a compliment. A friend told me that I'd found my true style and I think she's got a point.