Unless you have an in-house hair specialist the only way you can grow and maintain beautiful hair is to do-it-yourself. This doesn't mean not visiting hair salons but you can't go to a salon daily and what happens in between visits contributes massively to the quality of hair you have.
You need to do lots of personal research, listen to your hair constantly and adjust your regimen quickly when something isn't working for YOU!
In terms of handling hair, I err on the side of extreme caution. I’ll explain why briefly.
My hair fell out; an involuntary big chop – when I undid the braids I had at the time, roughly 80% of the relaxed hair was simply gone.
Before March 2011 I had effortlessly gorgeous hair. I couldn’t have cared less for hair communities because I relaxed my hair to my heart’s content and it continued to grow healthily.
I was sat at home debating what to do with my hair when my sister told me I could just ‘go natural’ and nurse my hair back to health. I hadn’t even considered that. I thought relaxing my hair was a bit like drinking water, you have to do it. Since then I have been an enemy of hair salons.
I now treat my hair with reverence and I don’t feel any salon I visit has the same respect for my hair. Salons do things the way they do them and they don’t want customers walking in and telling them how to essentially do their job.
I experienced a hair trauma and on the back of it, I have developed some rules:
I’m quite gutsy so when I go to a salon I do politely tell them these rules before they start and I am yet to receive a positive response. The last time I let a hairdresser do my hair she complained incessantly about how much faster she could be going if she didn’t have to follow my rules. I allowed her to comb but that was it.
Maybe it’s just London and my American sisters have access to a pool of hairdressers who are more receptive to doing things a little differently and are familiar with handling natural hair.
Looking back, yes, there were many days when I looked like an absolute idiot. For instance, when my hair was short I went out and bought a sewing machine so I could sew myself a little head cap to protect my ends (see picture). I went to work looking pretty silly on many days but I guess that’s just part of the learning curve.
I was quite useless at handling my hair when I started out but I am getting better thanks to forums and YouTube videos on black hair. Doing my own hair has forced me to learn how.
For some things, e.g. braids and corn rows I would rather go to a hairdresser but the problem is I don’t know one that will love my hair as much as I do. Is that even possible?
Ultimately, I think anyone new to natural hair should expect a fair amount of DIY. You can’t go to the hairdresser’s every day and there are things like twisting your hair before bed that you have to do when you’re natural which aren’t necessary when you have relaxed hair.
Ultimately, however, doing your own hair is something you will grow to love.
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By Heather Katsonga-Woodward