On January 30, 2012, I was sitting in a salon getting a fresh relaxer and color put into my hair. I'd been getting relaxers for as long as I can remember. I knew going natural was not the route for me! So, what made me decide to go natural?
Historically speaking, I've never had too many problems with my hair; it's been long and healthy most of my life. My sister and I would go to a barber shop to get our relaxers. My mom started doing our hair to save money. Don't get me wrong! She did a wonderful job, but she's no cosmetologist! She did this for years, and we were doing well until August 2008.
That August my hair came tumbling down and off my head! I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was letting the relaxer sit, and I went to scratch my head. I looked down at my hand and I had strands of hair on my fingers.
"I was letting the relaxer sit, and I went to scratch my head. I looked down at my hand and had strands of hair on my fingers. "
I felt around my hair some more... and more hair was coming out. After I washed the relaxer out, I knew something was wrong. I lost most of my edges and a good chunk of hair in the middle of my head. Watching my hair fall out devastated me, but I was trying to be calm.
After that mishap my mom told me she was no longer doing my hair and that I needed to start going to a professional. So, in a city where I wasn't too familiar with the hair salons, I had to find somebody to do my hair. To make a long story short, I found a salon and stayed with that stylist for about 2.5 years. While there, I noticed this cycle my hair would go through. We'd cut my hair; it would grow out beautifully; it would thin out; and we would cut it again. Cut, grow, thin, cut! It was a very vicious cycle that was out of my control.
I would mention my thinning hair to my stylist and wouldn't get the answers, or comfort, I needed. I was tired of going through the cycle. Despite the many times I said I would never go natural, it was starting to look like the most viable option.
"Despite the many times I said I would never go natural, it was starting to look like the most viable option."
The first person I watched go through this process was a friend. Watching her care for her hair initially confirmed for my thoughts that going natural was not for me. A year into her journey, my thoughts changed. I was able to watch the process play out over time and it was really starting to look like a better option for me as my hair was starting to thin, again!
Weaning myself off the salon was hard, but I stayed out for about, hmm, three months! I did well with my hair, but it was long and fighting with the two textures made it even harder to handle. I went into being natural thinking I shouldn't go to the salon because that wasn't a part of the process. For some it is, but my goal was the have healthy hair. At that moment, that meant finding someone who could help me through my transition.
I found a salon and a cosmetologist who specializes in both natural and relaxed hair. I went for a consultation and committed to the salon then and there. I like having someone who knows what they're doing see my hair and answering questions; I like having someone to vent to when my hair is not cooperating with me!
The big chop was the next step. This was something I also heavily resisted. I've always had long hair, so I was very nervous about cutting my hair. However, I did it with little hesitation on November 13th, 2012 after transitioning for 10 months. The big chop was the start of a new chapter of my journey. It excited me and I was ready!
Here I am, four years later. This journey has been a wild one and during that time I've learned a lot about my hair and myself to include these four things:
- My hair isn't like a lot of the natural hair types I see on social media, and that's okay. My hair is special, just like me, so it requires special attention, time, care, and patience.
- Being natural is not easy. I have to be mindful of the different stages of hair growth and remember that things worth having are worth working for! I'm willing to give it the effort it needs.
- Everyone will not cheer on your decision to be natural. I'm okay with that. I live with my hair and take care of it daily. The only opinion that matters is mine.
- I'm committed to working towards my goal of healthy hair, regardless of what it takes. I'm in 100%.
"Being natural is not easy."
When I discovered my natural hair journey was not like I was expecting, I decided to blog about it. I'm documenting my journey so I can look back and see the changes in my hair over time. I also want to help people. I share my stories with the hope that people can relate to what I'm going through. Oh, you had a mishap when taking out your sew-in? Me too. Here's what I did! You just moved and you're looking for a salon in your area? I went through that exact thing. Here are the steps I used to find a new salon! My blog is out there for people looking for a real-life, non-fairy tale, resource.
This has been a growing process and it still is. When I decided to go natural, I had a goal in mind. That goal continues to drive my decision to be natural... on the good days and the bad ones.
To get the full story, with pictures, visit my 1 Year Naturalversary post at bit.ly/1sMvBbp.
BIOGRAPHY: Mionna L. Henderson; Founder and creator of the Natural hair and lifestyle blog, Just Mi! (www.justmiblog.com)
This post is part of HuffPost's My Natural Hair Journey blog series. Embracing one's natural hair -- especially after years of heavily styling it -- can be a truly liberating and exciting experience. It's more than just a "trend." It's a way of life. If you have a story you'd like to share, please email us at MyNaturalHairJourney@huffingtonpost.com.