Many Years Naturalish

A Brief Hairstory

I first went natural ’cause of American Idol. Tamyra Gray was a contestant on the first season of American Idol in 2002. I was fascinated by her hair, which would be big barrel curls one minute, and tight ringlets the next, and then it’d be straight. I was relaxed at the time, and I didn’t understand how her hair was doing that. Luckily, my sister was a big reader of black hair magazines like… Black Hair and Hype Hair. Around that time, the latter pages in those magazines would be dedicated to natural hair and there’d be little leaflets about how to care for and style natural black hair. In one issue, they asked Tamyra about her hair and she said that she was all-natural, and styles it weekly for the show. At that point my mind was made up. I’d grow my hair out.

I had never liked my hair straight. My hair lacked “body” as my sister says, for reasons I wouldn’t figure out until years later. My hair was always limp and never grew very well. I was never attached to it straight, so I had little problem of accepting my nappiness.

I had no idea what I was doing, and neither did anyone else. My mom was not on board in the beginning, and understandably so. Nevertheless, she braided my hair every night in chunky cornrows, which I would then undo and fluff until they were something like this>

It wasn’t the best, but it was all we could do. I’d scour the internet for hours, looking for resources on how to comb my hair, should I be combing my hair?, moisturizing my hair, styling my hair, on and on and on. There were nothing but forums and a few blogs, but very few, if any of them had hair that was like mine. Because of this kind of “bootstraps” “McGuyver” method of learning my own hair, there have been missteps and disasters. I’ve had stylists give me texurizers because they didn’t know how to style raw natural hair, I’ve dyed my hair to the brink of oblivion (nearly destroying my skin in the process because of my allergies), and I’ve relaxed it and cut it all off.

This was the freshman year of College, new year new me hairstyle to compliment my new personality. Because that’s not how personalities work, I cut it off after a week or so in my dorm room. My roomie was devastated and concerned.

In the years since, I’ve been natural without complication. I still resist the fact that I can’t dye my hair, and now my hair has taken on an assortment of greys all over the place. That’s life. I’ve since named my hair Coffy. So now that I’ve told you about it, lemme explain my hair.

Hair Type: 4C, low porosity, fine

Hair typing is an imperfect science but the general gist is that hair can be categorized on a spectrum from straightest to kinkiest, 1a to 4c.

My hair sits firmly among the 4s, especially 4b and 4c. It’s low porosity, meaning that large molecules won’t penetrate my hair shaft – if you tried to moisturize my hair with oil, for example, it would just sit on top of my hair. You’d end it up with a greasy mess, not to mention how my scalp hates oil on it (the problem gets itchier the longer it goes on). To maintain the lightness of my hair, I use water-based products, leave-in conditioners, “milks,” and lastly creams – rarely any of these together in the same cycle. Too much hair product makes my hair stiff and unhappy.

Lastly, my hair is fine. There’s a technical way to explain this, but I’ll use the analogy of uh… cotton vs satin. If you wet some satin, it’ll collapse under its own weight. Cotton will resist, and that’s my hair in a nutshell. It doesn’t get big, it kinda grows up, but then again, it kinda doesn’t. As for a regimen, I don’t have one. I’m currently using a lot of As I Am products to combat my scalp issues, but those issues change from season to season and it’s about to get hot.

So there you go! A sorta-quick rundown on my hair. Any questions, concerns, general notes – leave em in the comments.



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