My Natural Hair Story

Why I Went Natural

I really didn’t want to go natural per se so much as I wanted healthier hair. that’s how this whole thing started.  I was doing a lot of flat ironing and chemical straightening and my hair would break off at shoulder length.  I’ve always wanted waist length hair and I knew that with all that processing I was just never going to get there so I decided to switch it up and try going natural. 

 

My Idea of Beauty

I continued to flat iron my hair after the “big chop”. I cut my hair at 18 years old in a fit of discontent. Then I immediately had to schedule an appointment with a hairdresser because my hair looked HORRIBLE. The stylist had wanted to use clippers to clean up the nape of my neck, that was more than I could handle. So, I left that salon looking slightly better than I’d entered… A hot mess!

Afterwards, I was so self-conscious about my new short hair that I wore wigs and when it got longer I reinitiated my flat ironing habit to give it the look I was used to, and my hair was most definitely healthier, but with all of the flat ironing and heat processing it still wasn’t as healthy as it could’ve been. This was when I was 19. 

Ten years later…

After I had gotten the big chop I was still flat ironing and started doing keratin treatments to help smooth and straighten my hair. I had thought that keratin treatments were the answer to all of my hair care needs. Unfortunately, though, it’s expensive! And, if I ever did want to wear my hair naturally the curls were not always uniform and depending on the keratin treatment that I used the effects didn’t last long, which left me with an unnatural range of curl patterns. In my late twenties I also went through a bit of a green spell where I no longer wanted to use or be exposed to things that had dangerous chemicals in them so I switched to a no sulfite/sulfate shampoo, and started getting keratin treatments that didn’t have formaldehyde or formaldehyde releasing ingredients (there IS a difference, btw). This basically rendered the keratin treatment ineffective. When I was 29 I found out during my second pregnancy that we were having twins. The last keratin treatment I had was before we found out their genders. 

One of the babies was a girl. Something about the revelation of raising my own daughter made me really question my ideals about hair care and what I wanted to teach her about her hair and how I wanted her to feel about her hair and what type of relationship I wanted her to have with her hair. That in turn made me seriously consider how I really truly felt about my curls and what it was that I didn’t like about them that caused me to feel the strong necessity to constantly alter what I was born with. 

 

Finding Grace

I’m half black half white and my blonde blue eyed mother had no idea how to work with my texture and started chemically straightening my hair when I was three. I continued the tradition until I turned 19, but I still loved my flat iron, hated curls, hated volume, and was terrified of water.

Looking back a lot of my negative “sense of hair” came from my mom’s inability to manage my hair as well as society at large. No one intends to teach a child that they are not good enough, but the cultural ideals built up in black hair care has created a cultural norm of trying to change what you have. Frankly, as an ethnic child you hear things that make you feel like you can’t or shouldn’t wear your hair naturally. My mom being of Nordic descent didn’t realize the implication that the simple act of straightening my hair would have on my sense of self. I was a sensitive child. Other children may not have had the same inner dialogue that I did. Hair shouldn’t have such a profound impact on a person’s sense of self, but for me it did.

As a child simple comments made throughout my development shaped my sense of self. 

  • “Oh, this is so much easier to work with!”
  • “Look how beautiful and straight your hair is!”
  • “Your sister got the ‘good hair’”
  • “You have knappy hair”

 

These “simple” seemingly innocuous comments taught me to hate my hair. So, when I went natural I was catapulted face to face with all of these internal conflicts and self hate that has become so normal to me that I didn’t realize they were there. I entered into this natural hair world without knowing what I was doing. I was without any real planning or new care instructions. I didn’t realize that caring for my hair would be so drastically different. 

I dove in to the natural hair care world and I discovered that I was doing everything wrong, and that I really needed to give up my flatiron. That was a big change. I decided against doing too many protective hairstyles and opted instead for wash-and-go’s. I hadn’t perfected it yet but my long journey was no where near the end. Around this time my sister was also going through a similar revelation with her hair care and started using the Diva Curl line and was telling me about the Diva Cut. I was sold. I got my first Diva Cut when I was a few months pregnant and it ended up being really amazing! I used to hate afros and the more I learned about natural hair and natural hair care the more I realize that I didn’t hate them! And all the notions and thoughts that I’d had about natural hair were negative and fostered self doubt. 

I realize now, that to truly embrace myself and be my happiest version of myself I have to include my hair. I ended up having a whole body experience going through pregnancy. Something about having a daughter and the calm inflection my second pregnancy caused  taught me to be comfortable in my own skin (and hair). That was the most comfortable I’ve ever felt in my entire life. …Mid-twin-pregnancy, giant tummy, and an epic waddle. I wasn’t concerned about how I looked in my appearances because I was expected to be exactly as I was. It transformed my outlook on myself entirely. I’d finally discovered self grace.

My Current Routine

My current routine results in either a twist out or a wash and go so finding the right products has been key. I tried Unite due to my hair stylist. Which was a great start but the conditioner just wasn’t enough for me in the cold Minnesota weather. I recently bought Pattern conditioner from the new line by Tracy Ellis. I’m IN LOVE. It definitely feels weird. When I condition I feel like I’m squeezing toothpaste out and raking it through hay. Seriously, that’s how dry my hair is right now. But afterward the front “bangs” area of my hair that NEVER wants to curl and always looks like frizz has finally been tamed! I could not be more ecstatic! Then I style with some moisturizer and curl cream. Here are the products I use:
  1. Shampoo: Unite Boing Curl Shampoo
  2. Conditioner: Pattern Heavy Conditioner for Coilies
  3. Moisturizer: Palmer’s Coconut Oil Hair Milk Smoothie
  4. Hold: Unite Boing Defining Curl Cream

My Go-To Looks​

My go-to looks are twist outs, wash-and-go’s, and the classic giant ballerina bun!

What are your favorite looks?

Well, hello there!

I’m Chaka. I'm so excited you're here. I'm a baking enthusiast mother of three working to rediscover my style. I’m loving motherhood and homeownership. Make beautiful things with my own two hands is very satisfying.

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