REWIND: A Year of Transition

Monday, January 17, 2011

2010 was a year of transition for me. It was one day in late February that I made the decision to stop getting relaxers. Now don't get me wrong - I can appreciate the look of a "fresh perm" as much as the rest of them, but the process of getting one was something I always hated doing for as long as I could remember. Not only was it pure torture giving up half my day sitting in a salon, but then there were the occasional burns and scabs on my scalp in the days following that were nasty little reminders of just how powerful a chemical that relaxer was. Another growing annoyance was the ever-growing cost of getting my hair relaxed every six weeks. I distinctly remember back in the early 90s, when relaxers were like $35 a pop. Fast forward to 2010 and on my last visit to the salon I think I paid upwards of about $110 for a relaxer and style. Back when I was a broke college student I would buy the box of relaxer from walmart and do it at home to save money. Worst. Decision. Ever. There was this one particular "at-home-relaxer-experience" that is forever etched in my memory. I had asked my then-roommate to put in the relaxer for me. The relaxer wasn't even on my new-growth a full 10 minutes when it started feeling like my head was on fire. I wasn't even halfway through my touch-up, but I had to make her stop. And then I literally leaped in to the shower fully clothed to wash that crap out of my hair. Looking back on that, it amazes me that I still got relaxers after such a horrible experience. I guess it was the only thing I knew to do with my hair, and I never had the courage or the resources to do otherwise. Until last year. I don't know what was the exact catalyst for my decision, I just know that I was officially over torturing myself every six weeks and ready to do what my mom and my sister and my aunts had already done. Plus I became more and more curious about what exactly my natural texture both looked and felt like. So I "fired" my stylist and started the transitioning process that I would end up sticking with for a little over 10 months. Below are a few pictures of that journey leading up to my big chop on December 21, 2010.

This is pretty much how my relaxed hair looked in 2009 to early 2010. I kept it cut in an angled bob with the back pretty much cut low to maintain the look. While it wasn't in an unhealthy condition per se, I was still using WAY too much heat on a regular basis and I paid very little attention to the ingredients of the products I was putting in my hair.

When I finally made up my mind to stop getting relaxers, I decided to resurrect an old, tried-n-true style that I used to rock back in college when I couldn't bother (or couldn't going to a salon to get a relaxer: The trusty Wash-N-Go. This was my go-to style for pretty much the entire first 6 months of my transition. I achieved this look by scrunching flexible hold mousse or Kinky Curly Curling Custard into my hair while wet and then diffusing it on a low/warm heat setting.

Another semi-go-to style I rocked during the first six months of transitioning was the bantu knot-out (Jamaican translation: But I didn't end up doing this alot because it took waaaaay too long and I am waaaay too lazy and impatient. But when I did have the patience to do it, these came out great, helped to blend my two competing textures, and usually lasted a few days.

Then something changed. Somewhere around the 6 month mark, transitioning suddenly got REALLY hard. For starters - as my natural hair grew in - and that bad-boy was growing in fast and THICK - my trusty wash-n-go's weren't as easy to achieve as they once were. On top of that, detangling my hair was quickly becoming a nightmare. And because around that time I started traveling alot for work, I had very little time to devote to caring for my hair - when it seemed to be becoming more and more needy. Thankfully, a coworker (who was also going natural), referred me to this African lady who did kinky twists (She probably felt sorry for me because I was getting Now this was HUGE for me because my hair never really liked braids or twists (they would usually slip right out of my head). But somehow by the grace of God, this African lady was able to put kinky twists in my hair and they STAYED. So I was able to rock twist for the remainder of my transition. Talk about the ultimate lazy person hair style - just get up and go :)

In mid-December, a few days before my big chop, I started taking down my kinky twists. I was amazed at how my natural hair felt and how much it grew!

This is how my hair looked after chopping off the relaxed ends....FINALLY. I had about 5 inches of growth all around. All in all, my year of transition flew by and I am glad I stuck with it. But now my journey really begins...

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