To be sure, I don’t have the same hair story as the “typical” natural, in that I never went through the experience of getting and, subsequently, transitioning from lye-based relaxers.  However, though my journey may not have been “typical”, it was a journey of acceptance and growing to love the hair that I was naturally blessed with.

Ages 0-10:  Wearing my hair in some variation of braids everyday unintentionally served as a protective style and likely helped cut down on the breakage that would have come from wearing my hair down and, as a result, my hair was VERY long and healthy.  By long, we’re talking past by behind.

Age0-10
Age 8

My mom always said that her grandmother would tell her, “Have long hair while you can because, once you get old, it won’t look so cute,” and encouraged me to keep my hair as it was.  In 5th grade I wanted a change, asked to go get my hair cut, and had my hair lopped off to mid-back length.  This salon experience was also the first time that I got my hair straightened with a CHI flatiron and I walked out of their feeling like Beyoncé.  Enter my flat-iron addiction…

Ages 10-13:  Having found what I thought was my hair savior, the CHI, I was now wearing my hair in loose ponytails rather than braids all through middle school.  Just because my hair was up in a ponytail, though, didn’t mean that I didn’t have to be pin straight.  If humidity hit and my hair started to revert I would touch up after school.  For what reason, I don’t know.  I wasn’t going anywhere!

Age10-13
Age 13 – Hair flat-ironed pin straight and down only for picture day

Ages 14-20:  Now wanting to look cute as high schooler, I began wearing my hair down everyday while continuing to insist that my hair be pin straight.  Towards the end of high school I also began to wear my hair curly, though not completely natural.  Because of the years of heat abuse my hair had endured, my curl pattern was highly compromised and I would use a curling iron to “fix” curls that were heat damaged, of course further damaging my hair.  Right before entering college I also dyed my hair or the first time, a deep auburn color.

Age17
Age 17 – My hair was fried at this point so I used a curling iron to “fix” fried curls… And always straightened my bangs

Ages 20-22:  As an underclassman in college I was continuing to straighten my hair on a very regular basis, sometimes multiple times per day due to reversion, though now I was beginning to really see the havoc that had been wreaked on my hair from the years of abuse.  Still long at about bra-strap length, my hair was beginning to break and become very fragile and despite “growing my hair out,” it wasn’t getting any longer.  In an effort to grow my hair down my back I decided to get a Brazilian Blowout keratin treatment, thinking that the keratin added back into my hair would make it stronger and that, with a loosened hair texture or less frizz I would be less inclined to put heat on my hair.  Around this time I also discovered clip-in extensions and wore them almost every day.

Age21
Age 21 – Wearing clip-in extensions

Age 22:  Finally, after struggling with the mess of curly roots with stick straight, chemically- and heat-damaged ends, I decided to cut my dead ends off and start fresh.  I actually made the initial cut myself in my dorm room, chopping about five inches (to shoulder length) when I realized that no amount of product or scrunching was going to fix my problem of now having two completely different textures on my head.  A few days after that initial cut I went and got my hair shaped up professionally.  The shape was nice but I was so unaccustomed to seeing myself with short hair that I decided I was going to try a partial weave to add length and fullness.  From a site online that had gotten rave reviews from a YouTuber I watched and trusted I ordered a few bundles of hair matching the texture of my own.  This was my first experience with a weave and, after installation, I thought I had found the style I would be rocking until my hair grew out again.  That is, until the weave hair began to mat.  I’m not sure if it was bad hair or my hair care methods, though I thought I had done enough research on how to care for a weave, but it was so bad that I had to get it the hair removed just 5 days after installation.  That experience told me that I needed to embrace the style that I had at the time and work to grow my own hair out.

Age22
Age 22 – This is about 5 months after I first cut the dead, straight ends off of my hair

Ages 22-26:  Embracing my natural length and texture, I delved deep into the natural hair community.  Every Natural Hair YouTuber, Hair Blogger and forum was on my radar.  “Dedication” was my middle name as I vowed to not put any heat on my hair, deep condition once to twice per week, and do everything else that a natural is “supposed” to do.  Four years later, I now can say that my hard work and dedication has paid off.  My hair grows faster than it ever has with minimal effort on my part.  How could it be so easy?!  And to think of all the years I wished for the hair I have now!

IMG_4616
Age 26 – My hair now

Now that I’ve mastered my own natural curly hair, I hope to help others in the same boat that I was in 5 years ago.  Equally as important, if not more, I desire to help young girls embrace the hair that they have naturally, sparing them the future heartache and hassle of learning their hair as a grown woman and fixing the years of past mistakes.  Together, we can give the next generation of young women the tools they need to be confident in their natural beauty.

What’s your hair story?  And what would you like to learn about taking care of your’s and your little one’s hair?  Let me know! In the meantime, check us out on EmbraceBox!

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4 thoughts on “Long Curly Hair: My Hair, My Journey

    1. Hey Shannon! I would say that I have 3B curls. My hair is also very fine (the hair strands themselves are thin but I have a lot of hair). Different hair types certainly grow at different rates! On average most hair grows at 1/4 to 1/2 inch per month. I noticed my hair started growing like a weed after I started using natural products and stopped putting heat on it. Creating my own products helped. Before that, I was having a hard time retaining length. I’m black 🙂

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