Wearing my natural hair has become something really important to me. Many of you will know that from year seven all the way up until my third year of university, I have consistently straightened my hair. I used to relax it but after about three tries, I noticed how thin my hair was getting and decided to stop. This was in about year eight, so I thankfully stopped early enough to avoid any serious damage.
I have been lucky enough to still always have a full head of pretty healthy hair, regardless of the fact that it’s only been in recent months that I’ve parted with my straighteners. But just because my hair was healthy, doesn’t mean it couldn’t have been healthier. It definitely could. When you’re straightening your hair, hearing that sizzle or feeling those strands of hair pulling against the plates, when you accidentally brush your finger against the plates and realise just how hot the heat you’re applying is, you do feel a little bit panicked. There hasn’t been one time I’ve straightened my hair in my life and not worried about the damage it’s doing. So why did I keep doing it?
There are lots of reasons. Growing up, it was always more attractive to have sleek hair. My natural hair isn’t sleek, it’s curly, sometimes frizzy. I didn’t see images of this pinned as attractive anywhere really. It just became ingrained in my mind that it was more attractive to have hair that sat across my shoulders, that I could flip, run my hands through etc. It’s difficult to explain to people who already have long, sleek hair. In society’s eyes you’re already naturally beautiful. In society’s eyes, my natural wasn’t beautiful.
This aside, I felt like my straight hair was easier to manage. Throw it up into a bun, put it half up half down. In fact those are the only styles I ever did and to be honest they’re the only ones I do now. But that just shows that it wasn’t necessarily easier. In fact, having straight hair is a lot more difficult to maintain. As you can see, I do loose quite a few inches when my hair is curly, due to shrinkage. But this all depends on how I style it. I can stretch it to try and maximise it’s full length, I can brush it out if I want some more length. There are lots of options. When my hair was straight, my options were actually a lot more limited. I had to touch it up to make sure it wasn’t frizzy and even when I did touch it up it was still frizzy! Depending on the weather, having straight hair can really just maximise the damage you’re causing. Straightening it several times to try and maintain those silky smooth locks.
I could feel myself getting annoyed more and more every week and I knew that one day when I washed my hair, I would just stop. A few months ago that day came. It was the best decision for my hair because it gave it a huge break from the stress of constantly heating it and it made my life so much easier. No more scheduling in wash days, I just wash my hair whenever I want to now. Because I don’t have to think about allowing time for the 2 hours plus of letting it dry and then straightening it. I can just wash it, throw it up into a bun and go. My natural hair always styles better when wet anyway. Which is really funny because I spent so many years worrying about getting it wet in the rain, in a swimming pool, in the sea when I was on holiday years ago… (Before anyone that knows me throws any shade, I went swimming very recently and I have finally booked a holiday for September, so bye).
So what is my hair routine? Well guys, it’s really super simple. Before I wash my hair, I give it a good brush with my tangle teezer. Then I take time to make sure it’s all soaking wet before I part it into two sections down the middle and cleanse it with my L’oreal Extraordinary Oil Low Shampoo. There is a version of this specially formulated for afro hair (thank you loreal!) and this is the one I use. It has no sulphates in it so it doesn’t foam up, but you can feel that your hair is really getting a good cleanse. I focus this not just on the roots but throughout the lengths of my hair too. This is because when I apply products to my hair throughout the week, I apply them all throughout my hair, not just to the roots and I want to make sure I’m getting rid of all the build up.
Next, I apply my OGX Cocount Curls conditioner. Or if I want to give my hair a bit of a treatment, I still use my Garnier Ultimate Blends Avocado Damaged Hair Mask Treatment balm from Garnier. I have tried using the Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Treatment Masque but unfortunately it has keratin in it. Although I can feel how soft it makes my hair, I can also feel it smoothing down my curls and I don’t want to do that. I usually apply my conditioner in four sections, brush it through with my Tangle Teezer, twist each section and then leave it for about 5 to 10 minutes before I rinse it out.
After I’ve wrapped a towel around my head, I let it sit for about 5 minutes and then I tip my head over and apply either one of the below products:
Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Extra Moisture Detangler – this one has an oily/gel feel to it. I like to apply it in really small sections and then detangle with my fingers. It’s a small bottle, but it lasts a long time I promise!
OGX Moroccan Curling Perfection Defining Cream – creamy texture, I apply the same as above but detangle with a brush
ORS Shea Butter and Mango Leave-In Conditioner – this is like a slippery cream. Smells AMAZING and really helps to define your curls if you apply it to damp hair. I don’t need to do anything once I’ve applied this. I just tip my damp hair over, apply a generous amount and once I’ve flipped back over my curls are shiny and defined. Once again, my cult brand comes through! I just love all of their products.
ORS Curls Unleashed Coconut and Avocado Curl Smoothie – I would apply this in sections and then brush through
My favourite products to use are the Mango and Shea butter leave-in from ORS and the Detangler from Shea Moisture. I always apply these products to my hair after dampening it with a spray bottle.
Hairstyles I do are either a really high bun, a top knot with the bottom down as pictured above or two corn rows/”dutch braids” but that’s not what I’ve ever known them as growing up to be honest. People wondering “Why don’t you wear your hair down?” The answer is because it’s hot and I have a lot of hair, next question.
When I go to sleep, I put my hair into two really high buns – one on each side. Or if I have the time, I will twist it into several sections and unravel them in the morning. I don’t always do this though. As I say, I like to do as little to my hair as possible and the current routine is already long enough!
I hope this was useful to any other naturals out there. I want to make it clear that I’m not saying straightening your hair is bad. It’s fine if that’s what you want to do once in a while. But giving your hair a break and embracing its natural form and texture is great too. I really have to remind myself sometimes that the best version of myself I can be, is me. You should tell yourself the same.
Thank you for reading!