I mentioned that I went natural back in January 2011. I cut off all my relaxed hair, bought a shit-ton of hoop earrings and became an advocate of eyebrow threading. I also began to watch a hell of a lot of YouTube videos about caring for and styling natural hair. I began to collect photos of myself, saved in monthly folders on my laptop and backed up on my external hard drive. I began taking notes of what oils my hair liked, what conditioners are good for detangling, if my hair was protein sensitive and if gels made it ‘crunchy’. And in doing all of that, I realised – I’d become an inadvertent hair blogger. Sure, I wasn’t sharing my photos and experiences with the world via pithy videos. But I was recording and refining and telling friends of my ‘findings’.
Why was I ‘recording’ all of this? Because in all my years as an adult, I hadn’t ever seen my hair in its natural state. Ever. So the basic reason was: it was exciting. My hair! Actually growing! OUT OF MY HEAD. That was pretty thrilling. And to see it responding to the things I was doing to it – mind-boggling. Another thing: it’s a horrible cliché, but I felt so much more confident. I finally knew what my hair was capable of, and I was properly impressed. I was also recording this because it felt like no-one had recorded it for me. The narrative had simply been to get it permed as soon as possible and then get on with it. A fine choice (and one I enjoyed for a chunk of my childhood and most of my adulthood), but too often presented as the only option. If I ever have daughters, I want them to see what my hair (and by extension, theirs) looks like unmanipulated.
All that to say this: 18 months in, I still love my natural hair. I have coloured it (red), I’ve had it braided with extensions. I have worn it shrunken, and I’ve had it blown out. I have attempted a ‘fro-hawk’, bantu knots, twists (and twist-outs), and braids (and braid-outs). I have tried and learned to do (pretty dusty-looking, if I’m honest) flat twists: me, doing flat twists! I’ve come through the totally unnecessary – and yet, as Jay-Z once rapped, ‘so necessary’ – product junkyism stage. I have accumulated more tools: new combs, a hundred more bobby pins, colourful hair accessories. And in the last month or so, I discovered twist n’ curls using perm rods – truly, life-altering in terms of the cuteness of my hair.
Look, I’ve even done the photographs in stages, like a proper tutorial(!):
And the finished twist n’ curl:
In the parlance of my youth, I’m really feeling myself.
I’ll have another hair update in a few months.