It’s My Nappiversary: 7 Things I Learned Since Going Natural

March 8, 2012  |  
1 of 8


My whole natural “awakening” was by accident truthfully. My sisters were natural, I had friends who had been natural for years, but me, I did whatever to my hair, whenever, however after a while. In all honesty, I wasn’t a fan of the naturalistas who were overly aggressive and acted like you didn’t love yourself with chemical in your hair, so for years, I was pretty defiant. But after going a long time with stalling hair growth, I stopped trying to make my shoulder length hair work and started chopping it off in college. Mushroom cut for a while, cut it again. Long top short sides for a while,  cut it off again. I had no problem with people going natural, but at the time, it just wasn’t for me.

I had a texturizer that I adored about a year and a half ago. But getting to the adoration part of it was a struggle. When I got it, they literally had to give me a bald fade for it to work, so I went through an “Am I pretty?” struggle for weeks. Once it started growing out, I was certain it was fabulous. Almost six months later it became this big, curly, uneven fro. I refused to go through the same process to have another texturizer treatment done, so I thought, maybe if I can even this unexpected fro out, I can still rock a texturizer but keep all the hair I had grown (a wealth of new growth popped up by six months–Nigerian hair for you).

So when I took that texturizer to the man at my dad’s barbershop, with the help of the overzealous barber, I found myself unexpectedly natural. There I was, in the barbershop with an eerily perfect spherical and kinky fro with no more of the fake, silky curl I had an hour before when I walked into the barbershop (it was on the floor). I thought to myself, “Oh snap! Am I natural?”

While I could have chosen to go back down the same route and try for a relaxer again, it occurred to me that my TWA wasn’t all that teeny after all. So I went to the store, bought a few products and started my natural journey. It has been a year since I made the decision to stick with my natural hair, and I can’t say how glad I am that I did it. After a lot of ups and downs, some braids, a dry winter, and a sad trim or two at the salon (“I’m not draping anymore!” I thought), I, like most people have learned a lot about my hair, have grown proud of it, and actually plan to get locs this weekend (woo-hoo!). I’m sure what I’ve learned you can relate to if you’re growing with your natural hair as well, so yes, let’s share.

1. My Hair Can Feel Like Hay If I’m Not Careful

Wake up on the wrong…or right side of the bed with my bonnet off on accident, and in the morning my hair can feel like a cotton ball from one of those commercials with the catchy song. And no, the touch, the feel of a cotton-like afro is not something I’m a fan of. I’ve learned the importance of protective styling (and cool accessories for those protective styles) and the importance of putting moisturizer on not only my scalp (I’m one of those people who need to), but also on my ends. And oh yes, leave-in conditioners and daily lotions are my best friends.


2. Washing My Hair is Actually Kind of Awesome

Back in the day when I had medium length relaxed hair, or short relaxed hair, washing it was like an event. I was never one of those girls from the movies who would ditch a date because I needed to stay home and wash my hair, but back then, I could understand why a gal would say that. The suffocating blow drying along with standing on my feet for hours trying to flat iron my thick hair was no fun (and the smell of burning hair used to drive me crazy). But now, I let my hair air dry, I two strand twist it, and my hair washing adventure is usually over after an hour and a half. And if I don’t want to twist it, there’s always the miraculous wash-n-go look! Now I finally have time to wash my hair multiple times in a week when I need to. BOW!


3. If You Leave It, It Will Grow

This fro of mine only gets combed when it has conditioner in it, or possibly when I need to tame my hair for two-strands. Otherwise, it stays as is in a large ball. Back in the day I used to leave so much hair in my combs and brushes, but not so much anymore. It might shed a little in the morning from tussling with it, but as I’m sure you know, the less I’ve tugged at it and messed with it, the more my hair has grown and made for a very thick head of hair.

4. With Pain Comes Prosperity

Doing twist outs aren’t the most fun things in the world. In fact, if you reach back and turn your head far enough to make the smallest and most fabulous ones your little fingers can churn out, you will probably start complaining after 20 minutes or so. I know I’m not the only one whose fingertips start to uncomfortably tingle after a while. But the most defined twists can make for the best looking twist-out fros ever. Plus, they give your hair length and bring in lots of compliments…


5. If You’re Going to Use Heat, Take Precautions

I personally won’t be using flat irons anymore on my afro. I had my hair pressed for an event last summer and it took two washes for my curl pattern to get back to the way I like it, and that’s just too long for me. However, if you do choose to use heat, as my co-worker with a large fro says, be sure to utilize heat protectants to keep breakage and more damage than necessary from happening.


6. Rain is Now My Other Friend

If you would have caught me a few years ago, I would have been one of those people thirsty to find a grocery bag to throw on my head just to make it from a store to the car. But nowadays, I take my time walking in light rainfall. I don’t freak out and run or pull out a shower cap, and if I don’t have my umbrella…*Kanye shrug* Worst damage is the annoying droplets in my eyeglasses.

However, I do know better than to let my afro get TOO wet. Not only is that not good for my hair, but I can get sick playing around like that, so don’t think you’re invincible. But don’t be afraid to drink lots of water!


7. Seriously, Find a Few Products and Leave Your Hair and Wallets Be

I found pretty decent products for my hair a long time ago, but when I look in the cabinet in my bathroom, it’s filled with waxes, sprays, curly puddings and more that I shelled a pretty penny out for but don’t use anymore. In all honesty, the products that work best for me were ones I received for free or they don’t have all the pretty smells and colors.

You truly don’t need a cupboard full of s**t (unless you mix and make your own products), and the cost of these people’s products is a rip off. I recommend hitting up a Sephora for some of your products because while they might not be the cheapest, you can bring them back if they don’t work out for you. Otherwise, hit up the beauty supply stores with the random names (Jenny’s Beauty Supply or just…Beauty Supply) and experiment for the low low. I wouldn’t recommend buying the most expensive stuff just because it worked for your friend. As you quickly realize, your hair is very different from somebody else’s, so get two or three things that work for you and save your money.

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  • Danielle

    I love this story, sounds almost identical to my journey also except I am not consistent with how I take care of my fro lol, sometimes I get fed up of it and I just neglect it lol. recently I decided to stop that ish because the neglect seems to be what is keeping my hair at a certain length for a while now because it is growing fine but I pick at it while neglecting it too and so I find myself self cutting my ends with my own hands, habit it took me a while to quit. Do not even know how it began or became a constant habit but I had to stop it, coz lord knows I was getting tons of compliments on my wash n go.

    People often ask what products I use to get my hair like that, am like well treseme shampoo and conditioner, then dark and lovely leave in conditioner (finger combing while it has first conditioner in). Out the wash and no form of combing, massage in luster’s pink oil, then few other oils depending on which my hand gets a hold of, could be argan, could be coconut or even jojoba, etc and ofc my scalp gotta get some tlc so a thicker grease for that aka Vaseline and the likes and off I go and it air dries on it’s own. While I am bored I experiment sometimes. Now y’all remember all this process combo is based on when I am being kind to my fro lol, you do not want to know about the unkind ‘cannot be asked’ times *whistles*.

    Now when I am bored I fiddle and practice possible hair styles that may or may not exist but I would not now I just fiddle and let my imagination run wild XD
    One hairdo I only ever did twice because quite frankly I get bored with doing my hair easily and I get tempted to yank it out for taking me forever to do this lol I like to think of it as a twist and wrap/curl. Basically I do thin twists on my hair while it is freshly washed, wet and ofc oiled up , then I wrap each twist around it self like a mushroom, with my finger as the base support for mushroom but wrap it below the finger but around the roots of the hair, your finger keeps the wrap on point until you done wrapping it, nothing else is needed to hold it in the mushroom shape.

    If one uses a bit of common sense you can wrap the twist and have it stay wrapped with no help, just figure it out coz I cannot explain much other than think about fro being springy and so can be easily manipulated to act springy/rubbery around itself, tip of the hair which is where the wrapping ends, try to shove/wrap at the very under of the whole wrap (no, I did not say tie a knot with and on your hair now so please do not do that lol). Now just let those cutesie hair mushrooms air dry and get on with some things, you could risk it, though I would not advice it but it’s riskable to run to a corner shop haha, might look like a sort of funky punk rocker hairstyle (which is not forte at all) but some dig so hence a riskable look yah? lol

    Now once those shrooms all dried out, they need like a minimum of 2 hours btw so be sure it has dried and just loosen by softly pulling out those shrooms, do not pull it and drag it like you are traying to straighten it now, we need those curls to look as cute and curly as possible so go easy on the pulling. Also, don’t start slowly unwrapping it the way it was curled, it will not retain the most curl that way, nor will it look as cute and wringlet looking as it could be. Anyway yah voila, there you have you cute as hell twisted wringlet 😀

    Oh and um if you feel like it spray and oil sheen for that extra gloss, you know like they do at the hairdressers after completing a hairdo, kind of like a ritual, well I adopted it haha and it actually helps I guess, I have luster’s pink oil sheen spray and Schwarzkorf citre shine anti-frizz spray laminator, the Schwarzkorf I discovered accidentally, was in the States for holidays, my weave needed some shine and I grabbed it and found it nice so kept using along with my lusters hehe, s you can use it when you do weave on your fro too.
    Btw I know I wrote an essay but I am the type when sharing and informing I like to do it thoroughly and as esplanative as possible because I like to get information the same way too.

    A little tip, you may want to do the twists first, then carry for a week before doing the mushroom stage lol, due to how time consuming and tiring I find it, I did it that way, but this meant I had to put some oil and warm water in a spray bottle to prep my hair because ofc it is in a dry twisted state after having carried the twist for a week. If you have a hair steamer then just oil and normal water mixed in spray bottle, apply sprat all over the twist then use hair steaming cap to warm it up on your hair which will be good for the scalp and the heat softens the fro as though you just gave it a hot wash in the bath/shower like I normally do when I wash my hair. I have a hair steaming cap but as the lazy cow that I am I mostly use sorta hot water and oils mixed in a spray bottle when I wish to wet my hair for some reason or another.

    Well off I go, hope someone likes my processes or parts of it anyway but it works for me and hopefully it will work for you if you ever give it a try 😀

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  • Muzamil Qaddous

    i agree with 9 as well when some girl may be anyone is like this if i can swimming and just wash and condition my hair to get then i think my hair co lour is good and natural is look nice and see the silky

    • muzamil qaddous

      to be ignore

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  • Monica

    Why would you call your hair nappy?

  • Okay wait …what the heck does “Nigerian hair” refer to? I first heard that term in a Lil Wayne song and was equally confused then as I am now with your usage of that term in this piece.  I sincerely hope this is not an ironic case of some Afro-American self-hating bull-ish because that would be a shake-my-head shame

    • Kera

      I heard someone on you tube say she had Nigerian hair and then she said true African hair and that is why she refuses to go natural.Another girl said she had African hair and not Black American and its to hard to manage.I’m confused but the ignorance too.Black people can have any type of hair.

      • Kera

        **by the ingorance 

  • JustMee

    I hate how the pages are set on this website.  It takes such a long time (for pages to load) to go to the next page.  I’m so frustrated by this, I rarely make it past the second page.  How hard would it be to have each article on its on page.  I love this website but hate how difficult it is to read the articles.  #movingontosomewhereelse

  • Blythe Dhia

    Washing my hair is so not awesome. It’s time consuming with all of the pre-pooing, post detangling, twisting, co-washing, yadda, yadda, yadda.  And while i do air dry, i have to twist my hair bc my wash and gos are no-no’s.  Natural is fabulous, though.

    • l c

      man, naturals today make their hair maintenance too complicated. Pre poo? 

  • Margeaux

    Great article. “if u leave it, it will grow!” I needed to hear that. It’ll be my new mantra.;) my hair grows long but not thick. I learned from a MN article last month that I was forcing a curl pattern by always finger curling my ringlets! Wooh! I’m on the right road.

    Can I ask one thing though. Do u twist hair when its wet or dry? Which is better for strand retention?

  • Jolie

    Even though we have different practices when it comes to our hair, I loved reading this! It was insightful AND well written. I get so sick of some of the women on YT who don’t speak intelligibly and have these long videos that really tell you nothing.

    Thank you MN!

  • Alysse

    irony, because this month will be a year for me, have not mastered the art of styling or anything but I know it will be worth it.

  • TeamMe

    If you leave it, it will grow. If that ain’t the truth, I don’t know what is. I  have lost so much hair from just combing it, it was like a haircut. I wear locs now so that is my mantra.

    • Jolie

      I love how everyones hair is sooo different! Mine is more: if you leave it, it will KNOT the hell up lol. I have to comb my hair daily with a wide tooth comb whether it’s curly or straightened 🙁

      • Msmykimoto2u

        Ikr?! I cant leave my hair alone or it will be a matted mess like my dog! It HAS to be combed everyday

  • miche

    sooo true about what works for some may not for all…the only products i use are mane’n tail poo and conditioner, and s curl no drip activator moisturizer…who knew?…only costs a few bucks at the store!!

    • Msmykimoto2u

      I love the mane’ n tail conditioner as a cowash. You know what else works well suprisingly? Palmers (that makes the cocoabutter lotion) has a coconut shampoo, and conditioner that is amazing =)

  • Nettykey32

    First and for most I would like to thank you so much for sharing this experience. I could really relate to a great deal of what you went through. It will be a year for me in June. I don’t regret this journey at all.

  • Having natural hair is WAY easier on your wallet as well 🙂

    • Msmykimoto2u

      Except when you first start off! Lol, when i first BC I was a guilty “number 7” product junkie because I was trying to find what works with my hair best. Eventually after looking at all the crap I had in my bathroom, I realised less is more. (Water, almond oil, castor oil, grape seed oil, olive, honey, and veggie glycerin)

      • l c

        amen 🙂
        and never having to smell relaxer on my scalp ever again is just priceless….it’s one of the scariest smells known to man imo…never got used to it…

  • so many truths here – thank you!

  • Galenafiel

    Amen on number 7, those chicks on Youtube are product junkies. My wallet can’t take that. Wonderful post! Your journey sounds somewhat like my own.

    • Ladylum2

       I agree with number 7 as well. I also like the fact I can go swimming and just wash and condition my hair to get it back to its natural state. I did use all sorts of natural products but unfortunately the best products for my hair were expensive ones (Kinky Curly) but I make it last and stretch it out.

    • l c

      if your health and your body internally is a mess, the best hair product on the market will only do so much for you. 

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  • Kenita47

    You sound just like me! I was never into it but all of my sisters were. Rocking all I wanted, I stumbled upon my 3c/4a silky natural curly new growth. So, I did it,the BIG CHOP! Now almost 3 months in, I am going through the ‘this is cute & curly, but is this TWA sexy?!’ I actually have no problem going back to the creamy crack, BUT I want to stick it out! Encourage a sista! Lol.

    • miche

      stick it out!!!…the longer you let it grow, the sexier it will get…lol

    • Margeaux

      To answer your question, YES the twa is s*xy. The “fierce” in us all comes out with short hair and that’s hot! Take the time to highlight your other gorgeous black features: Cheekbones, eyes, smile all stand out with extra b, e, c& a vitamins and drink extra water to make your skin glow. Time flies when your growing your hair out so enjoy it while it lasts.

      • l c

        very true, twa is fierce but hot at the same time, especially tapered twa which is flattering on almost everyone. I’m kind of surprised how much nicer people are to me, especially men and little kids. It’s just a perk though. I’ve definitely noticed that having your skin on point is important. ALSO GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP OMG. Eat more veggies and fruits, drink more water, get your omega 3 & monosaturated oils (olive, flax), exercise, get as much as sleep (naps are good too but not too long) as you can and your hair and skin will thank you for it. 

        More importantly, your overall HEALTH and well being will do cartwheels and that is ultimately more important and rewarding than having nice skin and hair.

        • l c

          forgot to add EXERCISE at least 30 minutes 3-4 times a week and overall just get moving! It’s been proven to add years to life…it’s not natural for the body to be still for too long. Technology and the comfort of modern day life has warped what is supposed to be natural for human beings.