This post is written from my perspective as a Natural with regards to the journey and salon/stylists experiences. It is written with the hopes of bridging the gap between Naturalistas and salons when it comes to quality client service, natural hair maintenance, affordability, and style. I am Anesha from Joliet, Illinois and I went natural in 2009. I have been natural for seven years now. I was excited and scared at the time I made the decision to be relaxer free! I was relaxed since elementary school and tried everything during those years to grow healthy hair, but my mother not myself ever gave up the relaxer. I tried braids for low maintenance and noticed healthy new growth, but as soon as I relaxed my roots, the shedding and dryness began all over again. Even in college I tried to spread out my relaxer regimen to 6-8 weeks, wash and condition between visits. I could not stand the itching and inability to scratch my head right before the relaxer. My hair constantly broke in little pieces all over the sink. I was tired of trying the relaxer and the heat became very damaging and my hair simply broke off. I had no idea of oils I was using and conditioner made a huge difference to my hair care. No education from my stylists. I went on a trip to Kenya, Africa in 2007 and had the privilege of getting micro braids by Hannah, a woman I met in the market there. She was happy to do my hair, but was tired after several hours of braiding because to her I had a lot of hair. The girls there wore their hair in a short boyish fade. They really liked my relaxed hair and once I got it braided they loved it even more. It only cost me $12 US to 200 Kenya Shillings for my micro braids, which was a lot of money for Hannah to buy food for her business, so I was glad to pay and tip. My micros were beautiful! After leaving Africa, I kept the micros in for about three months and had few inches of new growth. My hair was screaming for a relaxer and I gave in.
One night in 2008, I had a dream of having beautiful, black, full, and curly hair, but to only awaken upset with dull and shedding relaxed hair. Very disappointing! However, that dream helped me, so something in me said “it’s the relaxer” as to why I do not have that beautiful head of hair. It was the only thing I did not remove from my regimen of wash, condition, and moisturize. I went to my stylist that year and told her I want to stop relaxing and go natural. I asked her to help me in my transition. I thought she would accept my decision, listen to me, and make it happen. However, I was quickly shut down with, “girl you wanna do what?” “No, you gone have nappy roots with straight ends and it won’t look right.” I said, that’s why I want you to use perm rods to curl my straight ends to make it blend with the roots. The more I tried to convince her that’s what I wanted the more she talked me out of going natural. I relented and allowed her to relax my hair again. I did not have the support or the knowledge that naturals have today to walk out her salon and do it on my own. Plus, I just started a new job and would not have time to focus on my hair. I just wanted healthy hair relaxed or natural, but the education and service was lacking in beauty industry.
Stay tuned for part two tomorrow!!!
By: Anesha Beliberated