I stopped relaxing my hair in the spring of 2009, and finally did a full big chop to an inch and a half of hair in right before the New Year. I had cut my hair before, but never any shorter than chin length, and certainly never to wear my natural hair texture. Relaxers were a consistent thing for me since age 5, and I had never dealt with my natural hair. While I was happy to be experiencing my natural texture and dabbling in product junkieism, I had a nagging thought in the back of my mind: “What if it never grows back?”

My hair when I first big chopped – I had never seen it this short!

You often see black women touting that we can grow long hair, but not without extra special care and treating your hair like “a cashmere sweater.” And so, that’s what I did. Trims can hinder your hair growth (trimming off the hair you just grew, as hair usually only grows 1/2 an inch a month), so my goal was to trim my hair as little as possible, and that meant keeping it in tip-top condition. The first year I was fully natural, I rarely used any heat on my hair and the only dye I used was henna. I also frequently did ayurvedic treatments, extended deep conditioning, wet my hair daily, and did frequent length and health checks. I even had a length check shirt! And when my hair grew out, guess what happened? One of my friends confessed to me, “Honestly, I didn’t think your hair could grow and that’s why you wore it short.”

Honestly, it got to be exhausting and I wasn’t enjoying my hair. I still felt boxed in somewhat, same as when I had a relaxer. I spent nearly all of my free time researching hair health or doing things to my hair that were supposed to promote hair retention. I looked at other women experimenting with their hair and to be honest, I was a little jealous. I found myself using responses like, “Oh I can’t do that to my hair,” when someone would ask me something about color or straightening. I wouldn’t dare put bleach on my hair because I thought it would instantly dissolve. I wouldn’t even try styles on my hair because I didn’t want to deal with the tension or mechanical stress, checking my ends as I watched TV and using a tape measure to monitor my growth.

As my hair grew longer, I started to incorporate a little heat and color, but the obsession was still there. My hair goal was bra strap length curly. I began to feel like my mentality about my hair wasn’t much different from my relaxed state, and that was disheartening.

I first started branching out with my hair because I figured that I wanted to enjoy my hair, and if I messed it up, I could always cut it and let it grow back. Once my hair was “long,” I stopped caring about length checks and avoiding trimming. Maybe it was because I proved that I could grow my hair back to myself. The first time I used bleach was when I got purple highlights at the salon. To be honest, I felt like you could barely see them in my thick head of hair and I paid WAY too much for them, so it only made me want to bleach my hair more.

Lackluster highlights, eh.

In 2016, I vowed that I was going to enjoy my hair rather than let my fears dictate what I was going to do it. I bleached it and dyed it teal and purple. Nothing bad happened and the only thing I changed in my regimen was being more cognizant of protein use (my hair is low porosity naturally so I previously avoided protein treatments for the most part). This year, I bleached my hair again to get a light rose gold color, and am loving the freedom I have to do what I want to my hair and without examining it every five minutes. I’m even thinking about cutting it, although I’m not sure I want to give up the convenience of buns. But at the same time, my hair weighs a lot so it was much more bouncy when it was shorter. As for the color, I’ve dyed it twice in the past two years with lifting dye, and I probably won’t do it again. Triple processing really isn’t my thing but I also don’t want to go back to boring brown hair.

Current hair color – this is a blow out.

At the end of the day, I just want to love and enjoy my hair. I don’t want to feel restricted or like I have to follow a certain regimen to be a “good natural.” After all, if something happens, it can grow back!

Have your thoughts about your hair changed throughout your natural journey?

Elle

Elle is the editor and creative director of the YouTube channel and blog, Quest for the Perfect Curl at www.questfortheperfectcurl.com. Her channel focuses on natural hair, beauty, and fitness. She loves products that smell like dessert, yoga, and glitter. Follow her @qftpc.

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21 Comments on "Opinion: Having Natural Hair Became Fun For Me Once I Started Coloring and Bleaching"

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Aly
Your hair should be yours to enjoy! As for me, my hair is super fragile. I haven’t really experimented with color except for Bigen permanent dye in black (ammonia and peroxide free) to cover my greys (face look 25, but my hair be revealing I’m in my 30s) that I use 2x-3x per year. Once I reach my goal length (bra strap length in two strand twists), I will experiment more. My hair will be damaged, need more protein and more frequent trimming, but since I will be focused on maintaining my length and not gaining, the extra trims will… Read more »
Salisha

I am going through the same ish. I went crazy with the coloring and basically took my thickness for granted my hair is so brittle now I’m disgusted. I took off about 10 inches I have a lil more left to get rid of I first wanted to make sure I was able to put it in a bun but my patience is wearing thin. What are some good product to use with gives really good moisture. My hair is super dry

Laura

I’ve always enjoyed my hair relaxed, curly, straight, flexi rods, natural, fingercoils but definately the highlights I’ve had over the 10 years has definately made my simple styles pop!

Kay

It’s so pretty! I ?? the color.

Holly
I love your hair! It is beautiful! My hair was pretty healthy in 2011, then I started Uni and relaxing because I didn’t want the hassle of controlling my curls or applying heat every day. BIG mistake. my hair was much thinner, and ended up becoming shorter – just above my shoulders! I then turned to clip-in extensions, and soon after, weaves. I love wearing a weave (with leave out) because the length made me feel confident. But my own hair was still in bad shape so I would have a good cut before re-installing. Sept 2015 I shave one… Read more »
Laura
Hi I think the issue is what you have mentioned. The straightening, the excess brushing and weaves. No matter what products you use at the moment the issue is with how you mechanically treat your hair. I brush my hair once a week and that’s when I’m detangling after a deep condition and wash. I then use conditioning spray, castor oil, shea moisture or cantu twist creme and define etc and my hair is done for a week with a top up of a light oil and moisture cream midweek to refresh my curls. When I straightened my hair I… Read more »
Laura

Oh and I never had a weave because if you want the curls, colour or natural hair my motto is ‘go hard or leave it alone ‘ lol basically it’s not gonna happen over night so enjoy the journey no matter how long the time or length of your hair is and have fun with it because you’ll learn a lot along the way 🙂

Kristie

This gives me encouragement. I’ve recently found out that I had to pink between relaxers and color. I chose color. Love your current color, thanks for sharing!

http://www.fashionnotfear.wordpress.com

Jay

That’s Cute… and brown hair is beautiful. Not boring. Growing out our scalps natural and wonderful ?

Relle
I have come to this realisation of recent. I became natural in 2006, but became OBSESSED between 2009-2015. I wouldn’t sneeze if there was a 0.01% chance it could affect my growth ? then it just became too much, I couldn’t be bothered with the all day wash routines and the melt downs if I saw a broken hair in my sink. I shaved it all off – I had enough. I really enjoyed my low fade, it was cute as hell too. I became pregnant and left my hair alone, literally did nothing to it and it grew like… Read more »
Bri

I have gotten so obsessed with my hair journey and am so bored. My hair is almost bra strap length and is 4c so I am so fearful of anything when it comes tommy fragile strands. I’m tired of not going somewhere because I don’t want to manipulate my hair or because it’s wash day. This spoke to me.

Relle

You have got to a lovely length. Why not try something new – just research so you can make considered decisions rather than fearful ones ?

Kat Evans
Th, I think other people put too much emphasis on what natural hair should be. I’m In my opinion, natural hair is the state of natural YOU want it to be. I had locs for 12 years and tried EVERYTHING I wanted to try- from coloring to styles. I never let anyone expose their ideas on me. I just felt like this was MY natural hair and I wanted to do what I wanted to do naturally. I colored-blonde, red, purple, blue and anything in between….i cut and style according to how I felt like it!! I cut my locs… Read more »
Fatima

Hello Sisters…Your hair is fabulous! Just remember that “bleaching” strips your hair strands. I lightened my locs for several years then I noticed that my once large, heavy, beautiful locs were thinner. Because of the bleaching. My unsolicited advice: Don’t bleach every 8 weeks. Let your natural color come through and grow for a while. Let your hair “rest”

Tara

Wow, the rose gold is beautiful! I love seeing people just having fun with their natural hair. Very inspiring.

Stefanie

Your hair looks fabulous in all of these pictures! <3<3

Tika

Which ayurvedic treatments did you use?

Michelle

Oops that was not a question mark at the end. It was supposed to be a heart

Michelle

Love that rose gold. Looks amazing! Good for you for no longer being a slave to rules and enjoying your hair however you see fit ?

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