It’s been 5 months since I last had a relaxer, and at this point I have enough new growth to be able to talk about my natural tresses! I have about an inch and a half all around my head, with certain areas a little longer or shorter depending on the location of the growth. For context, I did successfully make it through six weeks of protective styling with Marley twists. Because I hadn’t had a protective style since 8th grade, it took some getting used to all of the extra hair and weight on my head. After the first week, though, I grew used to the twists and the general upkeep. After three weeks, however, I was ready for them to come out. After five weeks, the twists got frizzy and matted. Despite this, when I went back to the shop for my takedown, the stylists said the twists were in good condition and I could have kept them in longer. It wasn’t that I disliked the twists (although admittedly I think box braids would have looked better and fared better throughout the weeks), I simply missed being able to touch and feel my own hair. Yet, it was for this exact reason that I needed them to begin with — to keep my hands out of my hair and allow it to grow. And boy did it grow. With my first wash post-twists, the hair at my roots was so thick that I had to section my hair differently as I washed just to make sure I got to it all. Not only that, but the texture of both my natural hair and relaxed ends is different now. So let’s talk about my hair!
My hair is…thick! If the sample of hair I have at my roots is any indication, my natural hair will be thick in density. Right now, the thickness of my roots makes it difficult to style my relaxed ends which have absolutely no body. Therefore, it’s also harder to blend the two textures. Speaking of…
My hair is…textured differently throughout! It seems as if my hair has different textures in different parts of my head. The top and sides of my head are the loosest; there’s a weird wave-slash-poof thing going on in this section. Because the pattern is so loose, this section has the most visible length with minimal shrinkage. The middle-back portion of my head has the tightest curl pattern. This section has about the same amount of growth as the front and sides but shrunken. The strands in this area have to be stretched in order to see their full length. And the nape of my neck is a mystery. When my hair was relaxed, this part of my hair grew the slowest and reverted the quickest, so I think that fickleness is carrying over to my natural growth. The only way to describe this section is kINKY. I can’t see a defined curl pattern except at the very roots, where the pattern seems to match the middle-back portion. After a trim a few weeks ago, there’s next to no relaxed hair in this portion of my head, so I’m not sure what that means for the texture…
Across all areas of my head, it feels like my hair’s curl pattern is that of a Z that varies in looseness or tightness.
My hair is…soft and fine! It’s uncommon for naturals to have hair that is both dense and soft at the same time. I’m discovering that this is the case for me. When moisturized correctly, my hair is suuuper soft. And I love it! When I was relaxed, one of the things I hated was once my hair reverted, it would become extremely dry, coarse, and brittle. But now I know I just wasn’t moisturizing enough. It’ll be difficult to figure out what’s best for my hair when I’m trying to incorporate products that will be thick enough to reach my dense tresses but delicate enough to not weigh my strands down, especially my weak relaxed ends.
My hair…is developing different needs! As my transition continues, I am learning that my hair’s needs have changed since more of it is natural. I’ve had to reconsider or even switch out products that I was using pre-twists. My hair needs to be detangled now at the roots or it’s pretty much unmanageable. I tried the coveted Kinky Curly Knot Today, and after two tries, figured out that my hair HATES it! You live and you learn; Knot Today does not contain water as a primary ingredient, and my hair noticed immediately. Rather than loosening up my strands, Knot Today caused them to matt together into a goopy mess. If anything, the product made it more difficult to detangle my hair than the crappy (Carol’s Daughter) liquid leave-in I was using before. On the flipside, my hair absolutely loves shea butter! Hence, any SheaMoisture product I’ve used in my hair I’ve loved and had great results. I’m looking to try the Peace Rose Oil Complex Shampoo and Conditioner combo to replace my Whole Foods shea shampoo and Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Threat Conditioner. I want to see if using a shampoo and conditioner from the same product line improves my results. After all, if a line isn’t cohesive, then what’s the point? Further along in my transition, I’d also like to try out SheaMoisture’s High Porosity Deep Conditioner.
I’m still styling my hair with bantu knots, but I now have to really be diligent about doing more knots to achieve a curl that will last through the week. Right now, co-washing in the middle of the week doesn’t fit into my schedule, and this was previously when I would refresh my curls. Nine-to-five jobs don’t exactly create the time to wash and style on a Wednesday. Also, because my roots are filled out now, if I style in bigger sections for each knot, the parts in my scalp will be visible because the relaxed hair at my ends (which is usually the curl) doesn’t have enough body to fill the style out. Just imagine a triangle in your head: a wide base meeting at a smaller point. That’s what it looks like if I section too big. The smaller the section, the tighter the curl and the more filled out the style looks. And smaller curls means more longevity out of the style — for now at least.
I really want to experiment with flat twists, but I think my hair is too short at this point. But whenever I do go through with the style, it has to be on dry hair; my relaxed ends are too limp to be manipulated into any sort of braid or twist style when wet.
That’s about it for now. I forsee a challenge in the next few months, as it’ll be the first time I’ll have to deal with my natural hair (and styling) in heat. I have to find the right balance and ways to keep moisturized when the elements are trying to suck my hair dry. We’ll see if adding fresh aloe vera to my regimen quenches its thirst.
Grow long and prosper!