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Curl · January 6, 2015

Why I'm Resolving to Embrace My Natural Texture

Ive always had problem hair. Some of my earliest memories involve running around the house with pantyhose on my head, trying to emulate Barbie and Blair from The Facts of Life. Their shiny, thick hair flowed over their shoulders like a waterfall. Family members usually told me mine was too tough, too coarse, too short, too everything.

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In high school, I got my first relaxer. Despite the fact that my hair obviously didnt react well to the chemicals and was so prone to breakage, I found my new straight texture easier to manage. For more than a decade, I continued visiting the salon every four to six weeks for what black women affectionately call creamy crack. Then one day when I was in my mid-twenties, a bad reaction to relaxer caused a golf ballsized patch of hair near my crown to fall out. My dermatologist advised me to lay off relaxers once and for alland I embarked upon what has become a long journey toward scalp recovery.

Over the next few years, I relied on braided extensions, weaves and wigs to allow my hair to grow out while I intermittently chopped off the chemically straightened portion inch by inch. Once fully back to my natural texture, I became an amateur trichologist, researching ingredients that would repair my hair, trying to make amends for all the pain Id put it through. I tried anything that said keratin or biotin on the bottle and grew dependent on shea butter and coconut and olive oils, despite not really loving how greasy and heavy they made my hair feel.

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The good news: I now pay a ton of attention to the ingredients in hair products. I honestly cant believe that I ever let a stylist put on gloves to protect her own skin, then slather a foreign substance onto my head. The bad news: Ive been so focused on scalp health that Ive completely neglected style. I dont know what to do with my hair (or even how to do it for that matter). Thankful for surviving the devastation of hair loss, Ive just been happy to let my limp, lifeless hair do nothing special.

But thats changed over the past year. I work with a bunch of natural-haired ladies with pretty, springy, spirally curls. And the naturalistas of Pinterest and Instagram give me massive hair envy as they post pictures of puff after stunning puff.
But, Ive finally made peace with whats growing out of my own head. My coarse texture used to make me feel ashamed. These days I see it as my best featureits what makes me me, a unique part of my cultural identity that isnt any less than anyone elses.

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Now Im determined to show off my budding bouncy, statement-making curls. What better time to start doing so than the New Year? For the next few months, Ill document my progress, letting you know what works, what doesnt, and any tricks I pick up along the way. I might not ever look like Blair and Barbie, but Im looking forward to having big, beauty, 80s-worthybetter late than never."

Author

Alicia