“Whoopi Goldberg looked like me, she had hair like mine. I’d been starved for images of myself.” – Lupita Nyong’o
Welcome to Lydia on Life
The decision to stop chemically straightening my hair was basically made for me when I was in secondary school. My mum was tired of the process and I was tired of managing the constant changing textures. Within 3 weeks of perming my hair the regrowth would come back so soon we struggled to keep up with the frizz. Despite my hair being thick enough to handle the chemicals, my mum knew if we continued it would eventually damage my hair. Nobody wants that! So in year 9 (age 14) my mum decided to stop with the perming and start with the learning.
Lucky for me I grew up around people who could help me maintain my hair despite not understanding how to take care of my natural hair. From random hair sessions in the playground and after school to weekends spent at an aunt’s house or the hair dressers. I did what I could to maintain my 4C thick and curly hair. After a few years of getting my hair done by someone else I decided to learn the trade for myself. Saving some money and gaining more knowledge on my hair didn’t sound like a bad idea to me.
Thank God for YouTube! I could kiss Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim right now.
Watching video after video and practising on myself and anyone that would let me, I learned how to do basic styles and tailored them to my liking. Natural hair is a mystery to a lot of people and I’ll admit it takes a long time to truly understand it. It’s kinky but soft, its oily yet coarse, you can have more than one texture and don’t get me started on the shrinkage!
I’ve been natural for about 10 years now and it’s only in the last 3, I have really started to understand and appreciate my natural hair. I love rocking my natural hair but it’s taken a lot of self-confidence to allow me to ignore certain views society has on black natural hair. I’ve had my fill of comments like “your hair is huge” (am I rocking a bush on my head?) or my personal favourite; touching my hair whilst asking “can I touch it?” (am I a pooddle?)
I get a lot of these comments (at work and other places) but as a black woman you kind of get to these comments. I choose to take them as compliments despite how uncomfortable I may feel at times.
We go through a lot of challenges as women whose naturally frizzy hair may not necessarily fit society’s standards of beauty. I could talk about that for ages but we’ll save that debate for another post. It’s not an easy thing to deal with, but it’s worth dealing with it if your natural hair is what you want. Kinks and all!
If you are going to embark on this journey (and trust me, it’s a journey) you will need a little help and a lot of inspiration along the way. I know I did!
So I thought I’d share with you some of the YouTubers who have helped me and are still helping me along my journey.
Here we go!
YouTube: Halfafrican Beaute
YouTube: April Bee
YouTube: Janae Mason
YouTube: Shantania Beckford
What I gained from these beautiful and talented women was the knowledge to maintain my hair but i had to tailor what the information they provided to suit my specific type of hair. For example a lot of the products they incorporated into their routine weren’t necessary for my hair (or I couldn’t find them in the UK) so I had to find alternatives. This took some trial and error but it was worth it because I managed to grow my hair whilst keeping it healthy.
I did that by listening to my own hair – what it liked, what it didn’t like and how much attention it needed. You’ll be surprised how much your hair cooperates when it gets what it wants. Aren’t we all like that anyway?
Every hair is different and what works for one person may not work for another, but it’s worth trying, right? What you learn from trying is knowledge that will be useful to you and someone else.
One of my goals for 2017 was to reach bra strap length hair and in June 2017 I achieved that. You can too if you take the time to learn how. Hopefully once I get used to this blogging thing I’ll share some of the products I use and routines that have helped me so far. There are people out there with far much longer and thicker hair than me but that’s their hair and this is mine. They shared their story and I’ve learned from them so why not share mine.
I hope this has been helpful to you in some way and be sure to check these ladies out.
Till next time!
Have you been on a hair journey? What have you learned?
Share your experiences, questions and tips with everybody in the comments below or get in touch with me via…
If you have your own favourite natural hair YouTubers or websites, please feel free to share them too. I’m also on the hunt for a good natural hair salon in London so please let me know if you have any recommendations.