At this point, I could write a small post on what people don’t tell you about transitioning back to your natural hair. Lesson 1: it is not cheap from the standpoint of either time nor money.
For 30 years, my routine for hair care involved a 6-8 week chemical straightening of my roots (commonly called a perm), then a weekly wash and condition, with a heat-laden finish (blow-drying and flat-ironing).
Now my routine involves everyone in my family and everything but the kitchen sink. Correction: sometimes even the kitchen sink is involved.
After (avocado, honey, olive oil, and other sundry items not included):
The perm was $60, with tip. Having eliminated those, I’m saving about $500 a year. If I’m not careful, I’ll spend every dime of it on natural hair products.
There are less expensive ways to make this adjustment for sure, but I’m discovering that my hair journey really is an extension of what is happening to me personally. I’m committing to long-term health and wholeness with a vengeance as I embrace middle age (did I just say that?!)
What that has meant to me is a HUGE investment of time–to learn what works for others, and, through much trial and error, find what works for me. And here’s the kicker: while learning what works for me, I’m also having to learn what works for our two girls, who have two different hair textures (more on that below).
There is also a financial investment required. It is not hard at all to become a product junkie as I move through both sucessful and failed experiments, and redefining what healthy hair means to me personally. I have enough of various oils in this house to have squeezed every fruit and nut known to man. Olive. Shea. Almond. Jojoba. Coconut. And I have the audacity to walk into GNC looking lustfully at the grapeseed. Also, that’s just the oils! It doesn’t include my vegetable glycerin, the aloe vera gel, and the wish list, otherwise known as the I’m-going-to-buy-this-after-my-hair-is-all-natural list. It’s no wonder that the hair boards often refer to Whole Foods Market as the “Whole Check” Market. Hilarious.
Having said that, I’ve also had to back up from my anti-store-bought-hair-products radicalism. I got started on this kick when a fellow homeschooler said of herself and her infant daughter, “We don’t put anything in our hair that we can’t eat.” Though our son has cracked numerous jokes about that comment, it made such sense to me. What’s on your head soaks into your skin just like a lotion or other body product. So I totally abandoned what I’d done for years. I then realized (after a couple of failed experiments) that there are store-bought products that work wonderfully well, especially on the oldest’s 3C tresses. Her hair loves Pantene’s Deep Moisturizing Treatment and Garnier Fructis Leave-In Conditioner. I switched from the petrolatum-based product I used for years for moisture and found that jojoba oil suits her just fine.
This is the youngest’s curl pattern, taken as I was twisting her hair. You can see the hair as it looks wet on the right-hand side of this photo.
I think our youngest daughter’s curl pattern is closest to mine.
What does my hair love? Honey (just a small taste to avoid stickiness) and coconut oil. So here’s my hair regimen as of right now:
Cost of co-wash 1-2x a week with Oyin Handmade Honey Hemp Conditioner that doubles as a leave-in: ($18 for 16 oz. bottle)
Cost of moisturizing with coconut oil, or a shea butter/oil souffle with light shea butter every other night: ($13 for coconut oil, initial cost for ingredients for shea butter souffle, $60 (however, everything except the $12 shea butter is used in tsps, so it lasts forever)
Cost of deep conditioning monthly with a homemade mix of avocado, honey, and olive oil: ($9-10 initially, but only have to repurchase the <$1 avocado after that)
Cost of the oldest saying, “Mom, I’ve never seen you with this much hair before!”: priceless.