Although we took the scenic route through Jheri Curl town, Just For Me Relaxer-Ville, and Wave Nouveau City, we ended our hair journey with natural hair. It was never even a thought to just be natural until 2013. Prior to that we were doing everything under the sun to our hair. Let us take you on a little trip down black hair memory lane to explain why we finally decided that natural hair was the best thing we could have ever done.
This is the earliest picture I have of us with our hair. Mom has her Jheri Curl and I’m natural, because, well, I’m a baby. This is so classic 80’s Cabbage Patch doll and all.
First Taste of Chemicals happened in the 80s
Mom was the first of us to get chemicals in her hair. Her first touch of it was in the form of a relaxer. I don’t even remember her having a relaxer, but she sure did. It was something everyone was trying once they were done with the traditional afro of the 70s. The Jheri curl became very popular amongst African Americans in the 1980s. If you’ve seen the funny Soul Glow commercial from Coming to America, then you know exactly what the Jheri curl is all about.
Like most women, Mom decided she’d transition her hair from the relaxer to the Jheri curl and in that instance, it worked out for her. She loved the Jheri curl so much because it allowed her hair to grow so long. Most of my early childhood I remember her spraying the classic Care Free Curl stuff in the yellow bottle on her hair. The Jheri curl was fun while it lasted, but Mom was ready for something new. Before we talk about her next chemical, let’s talk about my early beginnings.
Hot Combs Were A Staple in the Black Home
If you were a black female that grew up in the 80s or 90s, then you are extremely familiar with the infamous hot comb. If you have no earthly idea what it is, then it’s literally a metal comb designed to be placed on something hot (usually a stove). It is designed to heat up your natural hair enough to straighten out your hair molecules for a period of time. For me, unfortunately, that period of time was like an hour. This is why I wanted a relaxer. I didn’t have curly hair at that age, and if I did, we didn’t have the right products to make those curls look defined. I remember my natural hair always looking rather straight and puffy as a kid. Finally, my Mom agreed to let me get a relaxer at the age of 12.
Relaxers Were Our Best Hair Friend
Mom and I both got relaxers. I got mine first, but we do everything together, so eventually, Mom hopped on the relaxer train with me. We decided to do them ourselves using Just For Me for kids, and that’s when 2 hair relaxing monsters were born. At first, our hair looked great. I was finally able to see how long my hair could be and Mom had finally moved on from her Jheri curl. For a long time, our hair looked healthy, but we pressed our luck with highlights and different additional chemicals and ended up with very thin hair.
Our best friend, Just For Me, had betrayed us, and relaxers were no longer an option. You’d think we would have figured out that it was the chemicals that were the problem, but of course not. It was logical to us at the time that we just needed different chemicals. So it was goodbye relaxer and hello wave nouveau!
Wave Nouveau Used to Be Cool
I’m not sure when they were cool, but the wave nouveau was the next best thing smoking for us. We knew that we wanted to have texture added to our hair, after all, we had straight hair for so long. So in 2006, we started doing all this research on texturizers and landed on the wave nouveau. We also knew this bad boy was nothing like the process to do a relaxer, so our home salon was officially closed. We found only a few stylists in Atlanta that advertised wave nouveaus, so we had to drive 30-minutes to Jonesboro to get it done.
Once again Mom’s approach to trying a new chemical was to transition rather than doing a big chop and starting over. If you are unfamiliar with the term, “big chop,” then let me school you. There are 2 ways to go from a natural state of hair or type of chemical to the next. You can either:
- Transition– where you let your hair grow out natural and leave the ends processed or in Mom’s case, leave one chemical (relaxer) on the ends and get the wave nouveau on the new growth (natural hair). This is the least healthy road to a new chemical or state of your hair, because it usually leads to breakage because your hair has 2 different textures.
- Big Chop– The big chop is just as it sounds. You cut off all the processed hair or previously chemically treated hair and start new with whatever you decide to use. In my case, I grew my hair out a bit after having protective styles for a few weeks and then cut off all my hair.
My approach is always just to do a big chop and get it over with. Hair grows back, and it grows in far more healthy when you get a fresh start. The Wave Nouveau was a great change for us both at first. Our hair grew quite long for the first few years. But then by the end of 2012, we noticed our hair was thinning again, plus we had gotten back into adding highlights which is just chemicals on top of chemicals.
Chemicals are Out, Natural is In!
In 2013, we both finally bit the bullet and decided to go natural. Mom didn’t learn her transitioning lesson the first time, so she opted to gradually grow out her Wave Nouveau. I, on the other hand, did another big chop.
We tried so many chemicals to achieve a look we always wanted. What I realize now is that I’ve always had exactly the natural hair texture I wanted and opted to do a chemical that imitated a “better” form of that texture. When I was younger, my natural hair was already rather straight, but I wanted it straighter. Once I did that big chop, my texture had evolved to be quite curly, but I never gave that texture a chance to show. Instead, I texturized my hair to get a curly pattern with the Wave Nouveau. It’s so silly now that I think of it. So many times when I had the relaxer, I’d rod my hair to have curls all over and would keep it like that for weeks at at time. Now that I see my natural hair, it looks just like that!
Whatever your hair journey is, I hope you’re taking that journey for you and not for an ideal of how your hair SHOULD look. Going natural is the best thing we’ve ever done. As we continue discovering hair products and natural hair styles to do while we travel, we’ll continue to share them with you.
Hate Reading? Here’s a Video of Our Hair Journey
Natural Hair Products We’re Currently Using
Products Marilyn is Using: Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Heat and Humidity Gel- https://amzn.to/2JYs717 Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Defrizzing Conditioner- https://amzn.to/2VK22Fa Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Travel Set- https://amzn.to/2VK2F1u
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