From Straightened Hair to Kinky, Curly Coils

Over the weekend, I reverted my silky straightened strands back to its original kinky, curly texture. As I allowed my fingers to guide through the wet, textured strands drenched in conditioner, I thought of a line from one of my favorite Maya Angelou poems. . . “I reached in the mass for the sweet honeycomb there . . .Hah. . .God how I loved your hair. . .”

I loved my hair. I loved the straightened hair, but I also loved the textured coils, and I missed them. It takes time to detangle wet, textured hair. I believe my hair is worth the time and effort though! For me, it’s an extension of the self-love I generously give myself every single day.

I have a hair ritual that is so therapeutic. I put on soothing music, pull out my hair products, moisturize and twist my curly coils into a protective style. A protective style for me is simply a style that gives my hair a break from daily manipulation.

Even though it takes way more time grooming my kinky, coily hair than it does my straightened hair, watching these kinky coils go from dry to moisturized, bouncy spirals gives me life! I guess the best way I can describe it . . .is simply it’s another practical form of self-care.

I’ve had plenty of time this week to think about black natural hair care, and the evolution of it, from the post-slavery days until now (thanks to the COVID-19 shutdown). How we care for our hair as black women is evolving every day as new and improved haircare products are constantly marketed. Through my research, I’ve found that there are vegan hair products currently being produced. I thought all hair products were vegan, but I do not profess, by any means, to be an expert on any haircare products. I’m only an expert on what works for my hair. But I digress.

I do remember, as a little girl, that getting my hair from kinky curly to a straightened state was literally painful! My grandmother took me to her hair stylist about once a month to get a good wash, deep condition, and press (straightened with the archaic hot comb).

The chatty stylist, who was my grandmother’s friend, sat me in her chair to hot comb my kinky coils. I was intimidated by the hot comb resting in the hot comb stove. I could smell the heat and burning hair! For what felt like several hours, she’d grease my hair, and proceeded to glide that smoking, hot comb through my thick, coily strands. At times, the heated grease fell on my tender scalp, and I’d screech in pain! The response was a simple, “Oh sorry baby!” And then the salon conversations would continue as I held back tears, thinking I’d eventually die from the hair straightening process! But I survived!

I’m grateful that my salon and spa experience weeks ago didn’t include any screeching pain. Although I still have a tender scalp, there was no burning experience that left me crying! The beautician used a light product to smooth my strands with a flat iron instead. There was way less smoke, and no grease. Thank God for improvements to black natural hair care!

I watched the Madam C.J. Walker series on Netflix recently, and it left an impressionable mark on me. I knew the famous story, but thinking of how black hair care is responsible for creating the first recorded, self-made female millionaire in the U.S. is beyond revolutionary. Black natural hair care is a 2.5 billion-dollar industry in the U.S. today, and that number is growing rapidly.

At any rate, the silk press I got weeks ago left my textured hair extremely dry. Therefore, I had to moisturize my hair with my favorite Cantu Shea Butter product, the Leave-In Conditioning Repair Cream and another favorite, the Melanin Twist-Elongating Style Cream. My hair is still healthy even though I had a little heat damage; I cut the stands that didn’t revert.

I notice heat damage immediately after washing my hair. It’s when one of my curly coils suddenly remains straight (or really loose) after the wash. Most of the time, I have to cut that strand or either allow it to revert slowly over time.

With the risk of permanent damage looming, why would I straighten my hair . . .one may ask. Mine is a practical reason. I feel it’s good to go to a salon every now and then to, not only pamper myself, but to try a new style and to get my annoying split ends evenly cut. I did have split ends, and I asked the beautician if she could cut them with my hair in its kinky, curly state. She said she had to straighten it to clearly see the condition of the strands. So it was straightened.

However, to prevent further heat damage, I usually minimize the heat I put on my hair throughout the year. If I want a new style, I simply roller set my tresses or find other ways to stretch out the curls without heat. Heat can cause so much damage that one would need a full hair cut to restore it to a healthier condition. After years of growing healthy hair, that’s not an option for me right now. However, sometimes a good haircut can be refreshing and liberating. It all depends on your hair goals.

Published by Naturally Ms. Tawanda

I have worked in various areas in ministry, mainly as a ghostwriter for more than 14 years. I'm a teacher and leader at a local Celebrate Recovery. I call this blog Naturally Ms. Tawanda because as a black woman, I always receive questions about my freaking hair, which I wear in its natural state most of the time. My hobby is finding new ways to keep, not only my hair healthy, but also my body, mind, and spirit. I strive to find contentment, peace, love, joy, and happiness in life. . .in every single moment. I'm on a journey to remain whole. . .spirit, soul, and body. I hope what I discover on this journey can help you somehow. Thanks for visiting my blog. . .my humble abode on the internet.

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