In early Spring, my friend down the street hosted an Easter Egg Hunt for the neighborhood kids at her house. One of the mothers caught my eye because her hair was shorter, curlier and more vibrant looking than I had ever seen it previously.
“Kyle,” I said looking at her neat, glossy twists. “You’re going natural?”
“Oh yes,” she said, he left arm akimbo. “And it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”
We got into an animated conversation, with me telling her how great her hair looked, and her telling me how freeing it was to be on this new journey. I think the word “journey” pulled another mom into the discussion. In just a few short minutes, us three grown women were standing around in our friend’s kitchen, extolling the virtues and beauty of natural hair. Natural curls were widely under-appreciated, we said, especially by Black women, whose hair is naturally curly. Kyle talked about how great her hair feels to the touch, without being fried and slicked down by straightening chemicals. Ann has a little boy, but she was still interested in talking about her own routine. And there I was, outwardly talking and complementing both of them, inwardly wondering whether I should make that leap once again into wearing natural hair.
Maybe that conversation was a one-off thing, you say. After all, I wore texturized hair for years before going “bone straight” as my stylist called it.
Well, the natural hair trend is not going away for now, and we’re not talking about a bunch of left-leaning, vegan 20-somethings with their hair blogs and YouTube channels, either. During a block party in July, I ran into another neighborhood mom who also sported a natural style. She dons a suit everyday for her job at a Big Four accounting firm. She doesn’t do any kind of chemical or heat straightening on her two beautiful daughters, who are actively involved in sports, and are also naturalistas. What about Melinda and Sharon, my cousins, who also hold professional jobs and rock the curls everyday? Let’s not forget my friends at work, who at turns inspire and infuriate me with how their thick, black, rich hair of different lengths and textures get longer and seemingly healthier everyday. Loads of people are ditching perms and letting their natural hair grow out.
I’m running out of lame excuses, especially at home, and especially now that Hubby is more educated about Black hair. About two months ago, he stopped by the Dominican salon I frequent, just as the stylist was nearing the end of my session. He happened to listen in on a lengthy discussion between me, the stylist, and the owner about the damage that a chemical burn did to my scalp. Then he became Mr. Let’s Look It Up. A few evenings afterward, he researched the harsh chemicals that go into hair straightening creams. He grimaced in abject horror as he described a demonstration of what perming chemicals did to raw meat. He reads the labels on the products I order for Baby. He sometimes watches me as I style her hair and groans when it’s his turn to practice pony-tailing. (Hey, I’m going to have to travel for work again, eventually. He needs to know how.) He once asked me why God gave Black women hair that requires so much work, and talks about how relieved he is that I haven’t permed my hair in a while and have switched to products with natural ingredients.
I was thinking of perming my hair again, just once to cover up all the uneven lengths, tame my new growth and try to correct the drastic shedding and breakage that has been happening for months. But I think it might be a lost cause. There has been a massive profusion of products, styles and management techniques on caring for natural hair in the last three years alone. Not to mention natural hair care shows and exhibits. So I’m going back to natural. Just as soon as I can book an appointment with a stylist who can help me through that first year of growing it out.
In the meantime, I’m passing along word about the World Natural Hair Health & Beauty Show. It’s happening in Atlanta in September. Doubtless, attendees will find enough products, styles and tips to help them stick to their natural care routines. I won’t be able to make it to this one. But who knows: maybe I’ll make it to the next show, whenever that is!