I got my first perm at five. Hairstylists would stack phone books so I would be tall enough to sit comfortably in their chair while they worked the perm through my head. Sometimes they would part it down the middle and two of them would smooth the product through my scalp as fast as possible. I had nappy, course, kinky, straight from Africa, breaker of combs, untameable, unstoppable, unbent, unbroken hair. They would stand battle and complain about the back breaking work my hair was putting their fingers through. As I sat in the chair crying on some occasions, I learned at an early age, that beauty meant pain. A few minutes of discomfort would lead to manageable, flowing, straight hair that my mom would be able to comb and put pretty ribbons on.
Becoming a pre-teen meant learning to comb my own hair. It also meant experimentation with questionable hairstyles that you hope everyone will forget. Finding my own style meant cutting my own bangs for the first time, trying that Salt n’ Pepa hairstyle that grew back funny, or trying “Patra” braids. Some of you reading this are probably too young to remember Patra or Salt n’ Pepa, but trust me, they were everything back in the day. Google them!
Going out on your own as an adult, resources were not always there for regular appointments at the salon. I made my first foray into home perm kits and let a “friend” do my hair coloring. Permanent color, permed hair, and a nonprofessional using it is a recipe for breakage. The long process of healing begins. Then you decide, I want braids. Maybe you get lazy and decide to just rock a wig for a few weeks. Then you read some horror story about some star who has done permanent damage to her scalp with wigs and weaves and it makes you think about how tired you are of the beauty shop experience. I have had a wash and style take an hour and fifteen minutes and I have had that same service take four or five hours depending on where I went.
So one day, I got tired and shaved it all off, grew it back, permed it again, and started the cycle all over. This last time I decided to stick with my natural hair. It has been many years since that five year old first sat in that salon seat. The texture of my hair has changed dramatically. I started using Carols Daughter products. Some worked better than others. I have had great success with both the Cupuacu smoothing conditioner. My hair also responded well to their Monoi product line. I love the sulfate-free shampoo and hair mask. My hair did not respond well to the Mimosa hair honey. It is a heavy hair dress and I could not appreciate the lingering smell.
Embarrassing my natural hair has been a long journey. There is so much I still need to learn with there being a lot of good and suspect information out there. I am happy to learn from professional stylists and others whom have walked the path of natural before me. One size does not fit all. I have been trying sample sized products before making huge investments. I have also found products at greatly reduced prices at TJMaxx and Marshalls. But the best part about going natural, raindrops can’t ruin my style!