My Natural Hair Journey

 My biggest achievement this week has been finally getting around to deep conditioning my hair. This is a small milestone that I do not take lightly and one that should be celebrated. Deep conditioning is believed to be an important step in the haircare regime that nourishes, strengthens and promotes hair growth and one that definitely requires you to include it into your weekly planner. I find it quite tedious and an endeavor that my schedule does not always permit, and although I know how beneficial it is for my natural hair, a shampoo and quick condition usually have no choice but to suffice. It’s not so much the act of conditioning that I find time-consuming but the time allocated to letting my hair soak in all that goodness. 

 After applying my favorite Mielle leave-in conditioner along with my oils of choice, I decided it was way more feasible to deep condition my hair overnight as apposed to rinsing it out after an hour or two, which would've resulted in me not having ample time to do the other tasks on my to-do list that day. 

Before going natural….

I was 6 years old the first time I got a relaxer. After having an in-depth discussion with my friends and trying to find a common thread in our recollections, I found that there was never really a discussion around getting a relaxer. Something so permanent, you’d think it would warrant a sit down and thorough explanation of all it’s pros and cons. Maybe I might have been too young to make such a huge decision if given all the information, which begs the question: why was I getting one in the first place? 'But even if I may have been given the choice' I thought, I doubt I’d have refused. Admittedly, I loved how the wind had enough space to pass so effortlessly through my hair, I loved how my sleek and straight hair made me feel, how it made my face look. How the more sleeker my roots were, the more beautiful I felt. 

When my ‘hairgrowth’ would start bulking up at the root and proudly announced quite boisterously that I was soon due for a relaxer, I knew what time it was. Relaxer days were ones I looked forward to, minus the blisters that formed at the back of my neck. I remember that burning sensation like it was yesterday; waiting till the very last minute until my head couldn’t take it any longer because God forbid I go through all of that agony for my roots to be anything less than super straight.

One day, I was getting my routine relaxer done by my grandmother who was occasionally tasked with doing it. She had accidentally forgot to add the activator to the mixture.  After my mother held up the activator with a perplexed and horror- struck look on her face, she frantically ran me to the bathtub to wash it out. And as you may have guessed, yes my hair did fall out. Was that horrific incident enough for me to bid farewell to the creamy crack? Absolutely not. 

In my second year of university, I decided to ditch the relaxer and finally become acquainted with the real hair that grows from my head. “I wonder what my curl pattern is?” “Would natural hair suit me?” “How would I maintain it?” “Will I be less attractive?”All these peculiar questions filled my mind and later made me realize how insane it was that I was not sure whether my own natural hair would suit me, THE HAIR THAT GROWS OUT OF MY OWN SCALP?!

 I’ve been natural for close to 6 years now. Although I can’t picture myself without my coils that take on a life of it’s own, It’s still very much a complicated and personal relationship. I still don’t deep condition my hair as much as I need to, I’m not completely sure if my hair is either high porosity or low porosity and I still prefer my hair braided than left in a fro to run free. 

People often equate going natural as this act of bravery and the resistance to euro-centric beauty standards. It’s as if it’s this final destination of self-acceptance and entering a new realm of self-love. Do I love myself a little less because I reluctantly wear my natural hair out only to follow the black-girl-universal-rule of giving your hair and scalp atleast a few days to breathe before braiding again, as apposed to rocking my fro because I actually want to?

A part of me feels it isn’t that deep but I can’t help but think about how wearing my natural hair out makes me feel vulnerable; like the stripping away of my amour, baring my true self. I feel somewhat exposed when I wear my natural hair out, just as I feel when I leave the house without make-up. 

I’ve been trying to do right by my hair, making deep conditioning an equal part of my weekly schedule and moving towards treating my hair like an appreciated extension of myself. I’m learning to love it in it’s entirety. To not dread having to deal with it and decide to tame it with eco-styling gel and a hard bristled brush every chance I get, trying to let it spring freely and roam whichever direction it chooses, however it may please. It’s a journey, one that requires me to face my insecurities and grow a deep love with my hair and all the other parts of me that i’ve chosen to keep hidden for so long.

And on that note, I should really start on this twist-out…

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Kendra Hunsley is a 20-something-year-old BA graduate, writer and fashion enthusiast from South Africa who currently resides in Los Angeles, California. Launching her blog in 2014, Kotton & Silk remains an extension of her style and an avenue for everyday women who are passionate, driven and constantly moving towards a higher sense of self. This platform is an expression of her passion for writing, style, content creation and the upliftment of women.

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