The Journey to Natural Hair

“I am always relieved and joyful when I influence a woman’s decision to stop putting chemicals on her scalp. The more I see grown women who are struggling with this ‘hair thing,’ I understand that some women will constantly feel guilty about it,” said Pamela Ferrell, author of Let’s Talk Hair.  “I expect women to get weak and relapse. The turning point is when you discover why you keep doing it.”

The transition from hair that has been chemically altered for years to natural hair can be a challenging, and sometimes, tedious process.

“At times, I cried and thought about giving up when I had my bad hair days, but my faith and the end result is what kept me pushing,” said Jasmine Allen, a recent graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and blogger for Foxy CleoNaptra.

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Many of us grew up in a household where natural hair was just not the norm. Our grandmothers and mothers probably had straight hair, so quite naturally, we would be next when it came to altering the texture of our hair. Valerie Reed, CEO of Valana Minerals, a natural mineral makeup for people of color, recalls the time she first started going natural. “Some of my friends thought I wasn’t relaxing my hair because I didn’t have enough money and they would offer to pay for a relaxer or  braids. I accepted that their offers were out of love and politely said, ‘no thank you.’

The transition process varies from person to person. Some people may choose to do a “Big Chop” which consist of cutting off all the chemically-treated hair or gradually let their hair grow out while trimming it. “I clipped my ends every three months at a professional hair salon and did a lot of two-strand twists and pin-ups,” said Rose. “My transition was overall smooth sailing at times. I did not do the “Big Chop” but instead the long term transition.”

Two years ago when I first did the “Big Chop,”  I started to fall deeply in love with my tight curls. I never knew what my natural hair felt like. Like many women going natural, I started to do my research. I was both fascinated and obsessed when it came to researching natural hair. I wanted to know everything that I wasn’t taught growing up. I came across some pretty interesting and shocking research findings.

The main ingredients listed in the perms are either sodium hydroxide or calcium hydroxide, powerful caustics that burn the scalp and possess the ability to melt metal. The ingredients found in relaxers ,such as sodium hydroxide, are found in drain cleaners, bleach, oven cleaners, toilet cleaners and other household cleaning supplies. According to Medline Plus, Lye products are very alkaline. Inhalation can even cause breathing difficulties.

It’s obvious going natural is both a wise and strenuous decision. “Several years ago, I suffered a serious illness, which was worsened by an “overdose” of an ingredient commonly used in cosmetics and an allergic reaction to medication,” said Reed. “I became concerned for my health and began to make my own skin care ‘concoctions’ at home and began to let my hair grow without relaxers.”

More and more women are educating themselves about the effects of chemicals on their hair. Once women make the decision to go natural,  it then prepares them for a journey that not only involves hair, but their overall physical and spiritual health. “I started to pay more attention to what I let enter into my body,” said Rose. “I quit eating a lot of candy and started to replace sweets for fruit.”

When people start the process of going natural, they start to open up their chakras. According to worldwide health.com Chakras are wheels of light located all over our body. We have thousands of them in our body, but the seven major ones are located along our spine from its base to the crown of the head. Each chakra is represented by a color of the rainbow–red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.

Chakras are like the power stations of our body, bringing it to life, and keeping it healthy. They also mention how each chakra is associated with different parts of us and they need to spin totally in balance for us to feel good. “Some people are born with one or more chakras open” says Dr. Lawrence Wilson, author of “Nutritional Balancing and Hair Mineral Analysis.” “This is somewhat unusual and a mark of a more spiritually-oriented person. In most people, one must work to open the chakras.”

Immediately after going natural, women often start to feel a need to make the rest of their body as healthy as their hair. When I started going natural, I became aware of how food can both damage and heal your body. At the time, I was eating food that lacked nutritional value, which caused an abundance of health problems.

I eventually became vegetarian and I started to see a huge change when it came to my overall health. I was able to think clearer and started to have a more positive outlook on life. I received a lot of criticism from family and friends for changing my lifestyle. I became a more conscious-minded person and more aware of the chakras in my body. “Many methods have been used throughout history to help people open the chakras and move more etheric energy through the body, from yoga postures and special diets to chanting, praying and others,” said Wilson.

Spirituality starts to play a huge part in one’s life during the journey back to being natural. “I have become very spiritual since going natural! I don’t know what it is, but once you discover your true beauty you also discover your passion for God and that inner peace within.” said Rose. “I have started to pray more, attend church more and do good by others.”

Although it was tough at first, yoga and meditation started to come natural to me. “The first chakra is one’s connection with the earth, with grounding and knowing truly how to care for one’s body,” said Wilson. “Exposure to toxic chemicals, unhealthy food and eating habits and stressful lifestyles prevent the development of this chakra of energy center.”

My number one priority in life is to become a happier and healthier women so that I can pass down information that wasn’t passed down to me when I was growing up. Going natural is life-altering. It doesn’t involve just making our hair healthier, but becoming healthier mentally, physically and spiritually.

*Article written for Urbane Perspective Magazine.

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