I get this question so much that I needed to write this blog. It was a LONG ROAD to get to this point but my journey was so worth the lessons learned. After being naturally straight for 8 years, I knew it was time for a change-up. I was bored with my hair and over color which used to do the trick. So I did some research and learned about a DevaCut. I was excited about the potential, but it took me 2 years to execute (it’s crazy to think that I am 5 days from being a full year into this new phase of my journey!) and fully embrace my natural texture. I will share this story in 2 parts (don’t worry, it’s already written it will post next week!) and it’s always important to start with: Why?
Crippled by Research & Insecurities
We all know that if we search for anything long enough we will eventually find enough evidence to support either decision, stick with what you’ve been doing or make a change. I prepared for the worst by telling myself, “it’s just hair, it will grow back eventually.” That’s easy to say until you find disaster stories that fuel self-doubt. Can you imagine? What if I ended up with a TWA (Teeny Weeny Afro)? What if my “natural texture” was a hot mess? What if my hair was cut into a terrible shape? These are the questions I asked myself over and over and over. The worst result I framed in my head may not seem that bad, but they played on my deepest insecurities. See it took me a long time to begin to love the skin I am in (most who know me now will be shocked by this, those who knew me then might somewhat understand my personal journey). Growing up as a child, I was never the “pretty girl,” I was the sidekick (or so said that voice in my head – I need more time to unpack this, I tried but it I realized I haven’t fully come to terms with it so more to come).
I always assumed I would never have long hair. I walked away from relaxers in 2007 and for the first time ever my thin and fragile hair grew in thicker and healthier than ever before. But then I was stuck at shoulder length hair and could not understand why so I changed stylists (also realized that the prior one was scissor happy and used way to much heat) and refocused on the right goal: healthy hair. So after years of straight hair, I experimented with protective styles, let my color grow out and primarily straightened my hair when I traveled. Overcoming my biggest insecurities historically came at a cost for me but in this case it came as a precious gift, for delivering 2 babies over a 2 year period, I learned that my hair could grow.
I have been natural since 2007 but up until 2010, I wore my hair straight all of the time (as you can tell from the images above). I started experimenting (while I was on maternity leave, it was perfect timing since I didn’t have to go anywhere most of the time) with styles and products I saw on YouTube. 9 times out of 10 the result was a HOT MESS – Dry, no real curl pattern – (I AM NOT EXAGGERATING – see Exhibit A)! I convinced myself that my hair just didn’t look good natural, I didn’t have “that type of hair” most of us have been brained washed at some point in time to have a reference for what “good” looks like.
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I started experimenting again in 2012 (another maternity leave so another time to figure out my hair life – see Exhibit B). I figured out a solid wash in go routine but it required me to wet my hair daily (drench is likely I better word, fully wet and detangled in the shower with a Denman Brush) and use a ton of product (Kinky Curly Knot Today and Miss Jessie’s Coily Custard were my staples). I hung the mission accomplished banner in my mind. I finally figured out how to be curly and straight, go me!!! And for the first time in my life I had long hair . . . (Yet another thing I told myself was never possible. I wasn’t wrong, as long as I continued to nuke my hair with Chemicals and Heat, it was in fact not possible, it only took me 14 years to try something different. That is LITERALLY INSANE).
But then several life events happened, I was extremely stressed and not taking great care of my hair (I took long hair don’t care to a different level). So I cut my hair (positive is that it made my wash day and wash and go routines even easier – see Exhibit C) but I felt like I was back at square one and it was time for a change. But I needed a game plan to ensure success or at the very least have a back-up in case it didn’t work out.
To transition from why this was so difficult to how was I going to move forward, I had to create a plan:
- Figure out what you want: I watched ALOT of YouTube videos and landed on pursuing a DevaCut. It seemed like the perfect way to go all in on my curl journey
- Pick the right stylist/salon: I visited a lot of websites, read reviews, and watched videos to finally land my decision (This video in particular sealed the deal for me). Southern Curl Atlanta is the only salon I found that fully embraced curly hair and all curly hair types. Given that I’d been 50/50 for so long, I felt I needed a salon that didn’t offer alternatives to my natural curls
- Determine your hair goals – short and long-term: I follow curly girls on Instagram that represent #hairgoals so I saved images of how I would like my hair to look over time. I focused on the shape and length because those are the factors I can control/influence, the curl pattern is already pre-determined
- Fully embrace the process: In order for my natural curl to emerge I had to stop manipulating my hair. Given that this is all I’ve done for as long as I can remember, I was extremely afraid but I knew I had to at least try so I set a goal to fully stick with the curl plan for one year
- Prepare a backup plan: If the DevaCut was a disaster, I had to know what I would do next. So my emergency plan was to wear a wig, I literally told my coworker “if you see me wearing a wig on Monday you will know that it was a DISASTER!” My longer term plan was to wear a sew-in weave, I did this in the past to transition from a relaxer to “natural” hair so this was not foreign to me (This required time to execute however because my preferred hair comes from California and I no longer had a stylist that specializes in weaves)
Have you been a straight natural, like me? What are your hair stories – the good, the bad and the ugly? What kept/keeps you from embracing your natural curls? If you took the leap and went for a DevaCut, what was your experience? I’d love to hear about it. Drop a line below and let me know your thoughts! – Z’Marie