My name is Ashley, and I was a Serial-Straightener. Well I was at least. I, like many Serial-Straighteners, didn’t see any value in my own curls. In my mind, curly hair was unruly, hard to maintain, hard to care for, and a waste of my time. Unfortunately, my mom had the same mindset that I had and decided when I was ten years old to straighten my hair. Remember those pressing combs back in the day that you had to put on the stove to heat? Well that’s what I used to straighten my hair until I was 16 (keep in mind flat irons had been on the market long before then). When I got my first job, I used my first paycheck to buy my first flat iron, and heat styling my hair became more and more frequent.
Before my first flat iron, I would straighten my hair every two weeks. But during my teens, I was straightening my hair every two days. I loved flat-ironing my hair, and I became a pro at using it. I had never done a relaxer in my life, but since my hair was so consistently bone-straight people would ask me if my hair naturally grew that way. I loved the compliments I had gotten on my hair, and I took pride that I had never relaxed it and that I didn’t have to put chemicals in my hair to make it look great.
Regardless, I continued to flat iron my hair with reckless abandon. My hair-styling time was cut in half because my hair had thinned over the years, and heat styled so often that it didn’t require the effort it once did. The thing I loved most about my hair was that it looked so straight and it looked thick at the same time. But now I that I had lost the thickness and was only working with the illusion of thick hair, I didn’t care for straight hair like I once did.
So I hoped on my laptop and typed the question into Google: “How to get back natural hair after heat damage.”
Forget curl patterns and curl types; I had no idea what a “big chop” was, or what “transitioning” was, or how much products I would have to use and buy, or how much conditioner I would have to invest in. But I learned very quickly, and tried to gain as much knowledge about
Before my adventures of Googling, my hair regimen consisted of shampooing and conditioning my hair once every two weeks, then blow-drying and straightening it. Now I made it a point to deep condition once a week, and condition my hair twice a week. But my hair was still thin, and I didn’t enjoy wearing it straight as much as I used to. So I went back to the drawing board. I tried to look up hairstyles that I could wear while my hair was growing out, and decided to try a weave. After wearing one for two months, I felt more confident and was complimented more as a result. But after realizing how expensive and high-maintenance a weave can be, I knew it would only be a quick fix to my hair problems.
But it was when I took my weave down is when I saw them, the familiar “S” pattern extending from the edges of my hairline. All of my hard work was actually paying off! After about three more weaves and many DIY deep conditioners, half of my hair was back to its former curly glory, while the ends of my hair looked like a stringy mess.
Now, it was the straight hair that was unruly, my straight hair was now hard to manage, and my straight hair that I didn’t have time for. So I opened my bathroom cabinet and got the scissors out, and cut all the damaged ends off. The damaged and straightened ends had weighed down my curly roots, so when I began cutting the ends off I would let go to see my hair spring into their natural place! I actually had a curl pattern! I was so excited; I kept pulling on my kinky coils watching it jump back into its shrunken state with a huge grin on my face.
I’ve learned so much about my hair and how it grows, that I have a newfound appreciation for natural hair. I love wash day. I love deep conditioning. I love going in the beauty supply store to buy more products. I love seeing my hair after it’s freshly washed. I love seeing girls with naturally curly hair flaunt their long tresses. I love thinking about how my hair will look when my coils will be down my back. I’m still no stranger to protective styles, because I love knowing how much my hair is growing while I have one. I love detangling (But I am not a fan of broken brushes or missing bobby pins).
Oh and my flat iron? It broke on October 16th 2015, three years into my natural hair journey. I have yet to replace it.