It’s been a little over 3 years since starting my natural hair journey and it has been filled with so much learning and discovery of not just my hair, but of myself as a person. My last update was at the 2 year mark and I finally had some length going on and I was extremely proud of my progress. Since passing the big chop, and short/long stage, I am now at a length that was my ultimate #goal when I first went natural. While there are things I want to work on, I finally have that carefree Solange inspired healthy and thick afro that I always wanted.
Protective Styles of the Year
- Box braids
I LOVED this summer style last year. I used 4 1/2 packs of Xpressions hair in the color 1B and some highlights of the color 2. They lasted for about 2 months before I moved on to my next style.
- Marley twists
There’s just something about dark brown and honey blonde twists that I just LOVE! Definitely one of my favorite styles ever. This style was low maintenance and great for traveling.
- Fro out & Loose Styles
I had a lot of fun styling my hair this past year. The new length was always exciting. Within the last year, I embraced my natural 4c hair by wearing it in its natural state and realizing I don’t always have to do twist and braid outs that mimic a looser curl pattern to have a good hair day. This was the year of loving the way my hair is and not trying to force curls that just aren’t always there. When I first went natural, I had the 4a/4b hair texture in mind and longed for the loose spirally curls. After the big chopped I soon realized that my hair is only 4c around the edges but for the most part I would be dealing with 4c hair. I kept my kinks and coils masked in twist outs that made my hair look wavy, and rarely wore my hair out unless it was manipulated in some way. This year, I gained the confidence to wear my hair as it was in loose fro’s and other styles that didn’t always require curl manipulation and enhancement. There’s always more to the journey, even 3 years into my path.
- High Puff
Once I figured out the headband method and my hair was of length, you couldn’t tell me nothing with a high puff. This is the style I always wear one day post wash day. It allows my hair to dry and stay out of the way to reduce tangles.
- 2 stand twists
At first I didn’t think my hair would stay twisted and would unravel, but when I finally tried wearing two strand twists as a style, I was so thrilled. It’s a great style in between wash days and lasted 5 days of traveling when I was in Barcelona. I like to add some golden puffs as an accessory as well as some head wraps. The best part is that you can untwist them for a 2-in-1 protective style.
- Hair wraps
Headwraps have saved me so many mornings of stress and chaos. If I was ever in a hurry, I knew that head wraps could always save the day. Even when I’m not in a rush, I loved wearing bold patterns and vibrant colored head wraps and looked up different ways of wearing them. I formed a collection when traveling and now have an assortment of wraps to choose from. I’m glad I hopped on the head wrap train!
- Freetress waterwave crochet
Crochet made its way back into my life with my birthday wavy style. I’m not a strong French braider so its great that I can cover the base braids with whatever type of hair I choose. This time I wanted to try a short wavy bob.
- Straight hair crochet
I was interested in wearing straight hair without actually straightening my own so once again crochet for any and every hairstyle wish! I was surprised with how long the style lasted. With Janet Collection kanekalon hair, the crochet lasted 6 weeks.
After weeks of researching wigs, I finally purchased my first units from Aliexpress and Same beauty. My favorite is Veronica (first image) because the closure easily blends with my natural hair. Full review can be found here: https://youtu.be/eK6UPnzItJs
- Silk press
I finally went for it and got my first silk press and a long overdue professional trim.
And most recently, I tried crochet Havana twists and this style was a 3-in1. From wearing it in long twists, to unravelling, and then cutting it short, I loved the versatility this one style had to offer.
With all of the growth and changes, it’s amazing to see how far I’ve come. This photo was 1 year post transitioning and 4 months post Big Chop.
Favorite Natural Hair Products
I still have my favorite brands that were solidified last year. I select my products based on ingredients and my hair needs of frequent moisture. My all time favorite products are from Trader Joe’s, Cantu, , Shea Moisture, and Taliah Waajid.
How My Routine Has Changed
Wash and go’s just had to go. I used to be able to co-wash my hair the day of class or work and just go, but with more length to my hair the shrinkage is harder for me to manage. I prefer to go through the entire process of detangling before and after wetting my hair, and so with the 3rd year of my journey, I stopped doing wash and go’s.
I now stretch my hair every week which has helped minimize matting and tangles. After wash day, I typically wear my hair in a puff while it dries. Then I braid my hair in about 8 large braids and wear my hair in a stretched braid-out. I found that keeping my hair stretched allows for quicker nighttime styling and for the detangling process when wash day rolls around.
My recent blog post’s of prepooing and using apple cider vinegar, shed a light on my favorite new additions to my haircare routine. During my first couple of years through transitioning and after the big chop, I often went straight into the shampoo process of wash day. I now make the prepoo/detangling process a necessity for wash day.
Furthermore, I figured out the right proportions that make apple cider vinegar rinses work for me. I had tried ACV in January of 2016 and I didn’t like it at all but it was because I basically used almost half the bottle of ACV within one rinse. After I figured out the 1/4 ACV to 3/4 water proportions, the mix has changed my scalp game forever.
Things I wish I knew
I got my first professional trim since my big chop in 2015. Going into my appointment, I was just sure that the stylist would barely have to cut any hair off. After my hair was blow dried, I was shocked to witness the dead and split ends with my own eyes and ended up having almost 1.5 inches of hair cut off. I know I hadn’t trimmed my hair every 3 months like I should have but I still thought I was doing a job trimming my hair at least every 4-5 months. Cutting my hair when it was fully blown out with a dryer helped make the split ends more visible and I decided in May that I would only cut my hair when it was blown out. Three months later I held up that goal and recently trimmed my hair by myself. I still plan to get a professional trim at least twice a year now, so that I’m not in for a shock later down in the line.
My Updated Hair Goals
I am now on my quest for waist length natural hair but this time without in a specific time frame. After my first silk press and trim in May, I stared at my collarbone length hair and got very sad once I realized I wouldn’t reach waist length natural hair by the time I graduated. That was always my goal, and I had this illusion before flat ironing my hair, that I was almost there. After the trim of dead ends, I faced the reality that I wasn’t quite there. I thought to myself, what in the world have I been doing wrong? I had been moisturizing, deep conditioning, doing hot oil treatments, protective styles, you name it! But still, I was only at the length I had when I had my hair relaxed.
What got me out of this funk, was looking at my old throwback pictures from 2015 of my big chop. Even looking at the pictures from last year, I can tell my hair has grown so much! My deep conditioning sessions weren’t in vain because even the stylist noted how moisturized and healthy my strands were. Like I said at the beginning, my hair right now is what I dreamed of when I first went natural. This is what I had to remind myself because what I have now is what seemed like would take forever to get to. One day I will have waist length hair, it may take a few years but I know one thing…I HAVE TO GET FREQUENT TRIMS!
I love the path I am on and the dedication I have to caring for my hair. My hours of deep conditioning and massaging my scalp are also a form of self care because. Seeing my hair grow and thrive is exciting and I’m ready for this next year of healthy hair and life!