Struggling Beyond the Comb
When I first went natural it seemed like I was doing the best thing for my hair and my culture. I felt like I wanted women of color, especially younger women, to look at me and feel a sense of pride like, “Wow, her hair is beautiful, I can do that, too!” When I found out how damaging relaxers could be to my personal health and how good it would be to just get back to my true roots, my journey began. This article is not going to be another how to guide for our hair care or what to use and why because there are plenty of those but an honest to goodness heart and hair check for the natural black woman.
In the beginning, natural hair maintenance was easier for me. I would just finger some olive oil and shea butter through my hair and it would curl up and obey. But I had some difficulty getting through the “awkward phase”. That was the point where I, personally, felt I couldn’t do anything creative with my strands besides rock a scarf or head wrap. My coils were too long for a cool short do and too short for bows, braids, headbands and ponytails. I couldn’t really twist it myself like the salon or afford to pay someone every other week and I wasn’t into the retro fro. I was learning about all these new products because they were exciting and my hair was hungrier than ever! I needed more of everything!!!
It got to a point where I was stuck on the road in my new journey. So every now and then I would revert back to my trusty old wig. I didn’t want to wear a weave because I didn’t want to weigh my hair down and maybe damage it. After being totally honest with myself and doing some true soul searching and praying, I realized I had to learn to be comfortable in my own skin, wig or not. I was afraid of being me, naturally because I was unnatural for so long. I remember feeling uncomfortable wearing my own hair. I would say I was just going to wear my wig for a couple of days but it would turn into weeks and then months. I even found myself saying that when it gets longer I would wear it out more. But the crazy thing is whenever I would see another sister sporting hers natural, I would fall in love again and want to wear mine out, again. We need more Sister Support on the natural hair journey, it helps keep combing forward, lol. Seriously, even with something as simple and new as our natural hair journey, God promises to be with us for the duration of the ride and after, “See I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” Isaiah 43:19 NIV.
Honestly, isn’t that what we do when things are foreign to us? Instead of sticking through it, we want to revert to what is old and familiar. We desire to go back even at times when our past situations weren’t good for us. However, we trick ourselves into believing the lie that “at least we know what to expect and how to handle it”. Suddenly, we slip back into old habits and the new isn’t good enough, anymore. Sin is the same way. When we first get saved everything is going great! Then we begin hitting some turbulence and the first thing we want to do is run back to our old lives because we know how to survive in that old territory. This “new thing” is scary. Can we really trust that God has our back? Of course, we can! When you give yourself to God, you cannot turn back because he won’t let you. You are His now and no one can pluck you from God’s hand (John 10:29). He is doing something new in you. It is different but it will not be like before because He is going ahead of you to make it better, as long as you stay on the path. Just like finding the right products to care for your natural hair journey, you have to learn to use your spiritual weapons of warfare to help you fight the enemy. You have to do your research by getting in your bible and learning the word and get it penetrate deep in your heart, guard your mind, watch your tongue because of its true power and potential and learn the tricks of the enemy (Ephesians 6:10-17).
One thing was certain, as sure as I wasn’t going back into the world, I was staying natural! First, I had to seek out and squash the lies fed to me earlier, which were that I was ashamed and didn’t like my hair because the truth is I love it! I found it wasn’t that I was uncomfortable with my own hair, I just didn’t want to comb it, at all! It was painful for me. I just needed a solution to get past my tenderheadedness. More combing, maybe, lol? I also really do like my wigs not because I am regretful of who I am but because they offer some variety and like most girls, I love to play dress up.
Truth is, all the products people claim work on their hair did not work on mine. As my hair got longer, it was drinking most of those products up like water and screaming, “What’s next on the menu?”
My cabinet was beginning to look like the haircare isle of a store. I was spending too much money on things that weren’t working and too much time watching videos of other people's hair success stories. I needed to get in the game. I needed my own answers. So, I got smart and decided to find the natural ingredients all these other products were claiming to have in common but sold for ridiculous prices. I went back to the basics of when my hair was first cut and got some coconut oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, moroccan oil, argan oil, avocado, honey and shea butter. All these products combined and sold in large containers do not run over $50 and last a long time. I’m still learning about the Cassia plant and other good stuff, too.
Next, it was a matter of figuring out how much to use. I found that too much coconut oil dries my hair out and makes it brittle because of the protein,. However, it is a great detangler and hair softener. I could rinse it out as a conditioner and add a little to leave in after I rinse to seal in moisture.
Most of the products were good as conditioners but the main one I love in my hair is olive oil. It is a hair healer, provides moisture and shine but the smell isn’t all that hot to me. Well, there are plenty of good smelling hair sprays for that or natural scents and herbs. I figured, olive oil is mentioned in the bible so many times that there must be something to it. Not only was it used to anoint mighty men of God, it was used for nourishment and healing. When Esther had to spend a year learning beauty preparations before being presented to the King, six of those months were spent learning oils of myrrh and another six on perfumes and cosmetics (Ester 2:12 NKJV). I’m pretty sure olive oil played a large part in her beauty regimen for her hair and skin, as well.
In life there will always be struggles but when it comes to your natural hair, it’s just a matter of finding the best combination that works for you. So, be comfortable in the the hair you are in! Remember, if and when things get crazy, as they sometimes do, don’t go back to the past to dig up the old habits. Instead, push forward to the future! Whether it's with the comb, people or life issues; you must stand your ground and finish the fight, naturally!