I have always had a love-hate relationship with my hair. I think most women in the western world feel the same way. Around the time I was 13, I started waking up early to straighten my naturally-curly hair. I dutifully sectioned it and dried each area with the help of my blow dryer and round brush. I was no expert, and my results varied day-to-day. Throughout my teenage years, I tried different boxed dyes at sleepovers with friends, always in pursuit of Nicole-Kidman-shade red hair (which never happened). Then when I went in for a regular haircut around the age of 21, a stylist suggested why didn’t I add a few highlights? The rest is history. Dry, bleached-blonde, over-processed history. Don’t worry – there is a happy ending. This is all about me learning to love my natural hair.
Stop the insanity!
In my 20s, I slowly started to accept my natural texture. Whenever friends would get a glimpse of my corkscrew curls on the days I hadn’t bothered to blow it out, they’d squeal with delight and jealousy. So I straightened it less often. But the constant dyeing continued. It was killing my wallet and my scalp, not to mention my hair. When I was almost 37, I got a new, shorter cut and decided to embrace aging, somewhat. I asked the stylist to color my hair more closely to my natural color (or what I figured it probably was by that point, having not seen it in its full glory in 16 years).
I visited the colorist one more time after that. Then I realized that the hair that was growing in wasn’t THAT much different than my dyed hair. I never went back, except to have haircuts to maintain my new, shorter style. Soon afterwards, I discovered that I didn’t even have to blow dry my hair. I wash it, let my hair dry naturally as much as I can, brush it out with a wide-tooth comb, and use product to encourage the waves. I have never loved my hair more than I do now.
Who’s that girl?
I look back at old photos, and while that blonde shade is pretty and I sometimes miss those long locks, I can’t believe how damaged my hair looked. I think some people can get away with constantly dyeing their hair and not have it show too much damage, but I am not one of those people. My hair looked like straw – it was practically crying out for moisture. And believe me, I was not skimping on conditioner. It was a constant struggle. The darker shade suits my skin tone better, my hair is more moisturized, and people constantly compliment the color.
My scalp is in amazing condition. I used to suffer from horribly dry scalp. Not dandruff, just itchy, dry, uncomfortable scalp. I used medicated shampoos to try and stop the itch, but they only did so much. Now that I’ve stopped dyeing, those itchies are GONE. Well, I admit, I DID recently try an at-home color-boosting gloss, feeling like my hair looked a bit dull, and I am now left with a slightly-more-itchy scalp. But still, the difference is night and day. I am also losing a lot less hair in the shower!
Bad hair day? What bad hair day?
It’s unreal how nowadays, I can literally wake up, run a comb through my hair and go. It really looks that good. I wet and condition it almost every day because of my exercise routine, but only shampoo it a few times a week. But there are those days when you wake up late, or you just don’t feel like washing your hair. It’s no longer a problem for me. I’m always ready for Sunday brunch!
All of this is to say that I would love to see more women embrace their texture and color and start their journey in learning to love their natural hair. I think the key is finding a hairstyle that suits both your lifestyle and your hair’s natural state. I am lucky enough to have done that. I’ll probably update the style in another year or so, when my current one gets boring or falls out of fashion. But I’m breaking up with the dye bottle FOREVER. It never treated me the way I deserved to be treated anyway!