When I turned16, the highlight of my day was my Mom taking me to get my hair chemically straightened. In my mind, I was now an adult because I could run my fingers through my hair, it could blow in the wind and I could fling it from side to side. Within a month, it started to develop split ends, the heat appliances I used to curl it fried my hair and no amount of moisturizers of all kinds could cure the dryness. I tried switching to foam rollers, but that always pulled on my fragile hairline. I gave up curling it and started wearing it in a pony tail. I deep conditioned it twice a month, used hot oil treatments yet within a year, it looked like straw, dry and brittle and by 18 , most of it had fallen out.
I cut it down to a short Afro and had it braided and my hair grew back very rapidly. Once it got down to shoulder length again, I stopped braiding it and chemically straightened it again and bought the best hair products, cut down on the heat appliances, yet in no time at all, breakage and dryness had resulted in me returning to the short Afro and braids again.
When it grew back out again, I decided I was going to stick with braids, and was amazied that without chemical relaxers, even with little to no moisturizing, my hair kept growing and growing.
For a few years after that, I would take out my braids about every three months, comb out and condition my hair and put it right back in braids again.
When I met met my hubby-to-be, he encouraged me to ditch the braids (doing them every three months entailed sometimes up to $300, unbraiding my hair and combing out shed hairs, plus hot combing it as, ironically, most braiders find it easier to microbraid straight hair) and learned to manage my own natural hair. It took a lot of reading and practice but I took his advice. I found out that many hair products just weren't made for black hair, that because of the way our hair coils, washing less often helps maintain natural moisturization, and that the texture of my natural hair was awesome. The reason it grew so well in braids, was that I wasn't dumping chemicals and heat on it all the time.
After years of enjoying my natural hair, I now wear my hair loced, and couldn't be happier!!! Much less maintenance, lemme tell you). It's been almost 14 years loced and I will admit there are times that I miss feeling the curly kinks of my natural hair, but those are few and far apart.
Here are a few more images of natural hair. In Joy!!