By Emily Forbes
Coils, kinks and waves. My hair has a generous combination of all three textures on any given day. But while wrestling to contain the curls with a flat iron or a scrunchie used to be my go-to routine, I have since abandoned the struggle. It might have something to do with aging and becoming more self-confident, but the decision happened quickly. I stood in front of the mirror one morning, bed head twisting every which way, and I had a coconut oil-ridden epiphany: I really loved my natural hair.
Growing up in a predominately white area, I felt pressured to conform to the styles around me. If I couldn’t have straight hair, I would be less beautiful. I wouldn’t be like everyone else. It took years, but after finally realizing my own unique differences, I learned to accept all the parts of me that made me who I was, especially those I had long buried in order to fit in. If you’re wrestling with your own hair identity, here’s how I came to love my own natural hair.
1. I did my research on hairstyles
If you’re like me, you have a Pinterest board for everything, and hair is no different. When I decided to go natural, the first thing I did was pin the heck out of some new hairstyles. What I found was an enormous spread of techniques and up-dos for every occasion. From French braids to buns, from a slicked-back do to rocking it afro-style -- there was no shortage of inspiration. The internet also has dozens of video tutorials on different styles and tips on mastering the methodology. Natural hair is gorgeous and unique with loads of styles yet to be executed. Learn to praise the versatility of kinks, coils and waves and use it to play up your own personal style. After some practice, you will be a natural hair guru in no time!
2. I learned how to properly care for my hair
Hair looks good when it's healthy, so taking adequate care of your luscious locks is important. When I went full natural, my hair required a completely different care routine. I switched shampoo and conditioner completely. In fact, I had to try a couple brands before I settled on one that fit. I had to do upkeep more regularly and started supplementing my routine with things like coconut and jojoba oil. I had a lot of information from blogs, hairstylists and friends about what was best for my hair, and after considerable trial and error, I settled on a regimen that suited my needs perfectly. There truly is a science behind taking care of natural hair, and learning the ins and outs of what makes up your curly strands will help. Let it be known that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to hair care, so while input from others is great, it ultimately falls into your own hands to decide what products and techniques leave your hair strong and healthy.
3. I found support from other Naturalistas
Fortunately, many people have encountered the wonder and frustration of accepting natural hair, so there is absolutely no need to start from scratch. Anything is easier with a support group to back you up, and the internet gives us hundreds of options. Recently, natural hair enthusiasts have taken social media by storm. There are dozens of forums for naturals taking the plunge, and this was the first place I started. Hearing the stories of others is emancipating. Garnering support for your own journey is empowering. You can take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Reach beyond Pinterest (as hard as it may be) and cultivate an archive of natural hair blogs. Styling hair is an art that can’t be perfected overnight. These naturals lived through the confusion and the hardship so you don’t have to. Learn from their mistakes and try to imitate their fresh, fab hairstyles for yourself!
My whole life, I have had a love/hate relationship with my hair. While the endless battle between humidity and frizz will no doubt continue, I have certainly changed my attitude on the subject. Embrace your natural locks. Embrace the originalities and quirks that make you who you are. For me, it was a process of baby steps, acceptance, and self-love. But if there is one thing I learned, it is that my hair is my hair no matter what. And falling in love with my natural hair was one of the best things that ever happened to me.