The summer before I entered high school my mom finally allowed me to get a hair relaxer. I had been wanting so badly to wear my hair in all the trending styles. Up until then my hair was naturally curly, never altered, not even with the heat of a blow dryer. My hair had always been long, thick, and curly. Even though I wanted a relaxer, it was more out of the desire to fit in rather than hatred for my hair. I had always received positive messages about my hair while growing up.
Heat styling, coloring, and choosing to make my hair routine easier, so I thought, started a vicious cycle of me slowly destroying what was a head full of healthy hair. It took me almost two years to notice the huge difference in my hair after relaxing my curls.
During the same summer of getting my hair relaxed, I picked up a hobby, hair braiding. Friends and family were my first clients. Braids were a popular style for males at the time so I had many requests for braiding. Braiding eventually turned into my side hustle. As a teenager and during my college years I worked braiding natural hair.
When I did decide to take my practice to the next level, natural hair was not popular for most women. Most of my clientele consisted of males and little girls. After I became licensed as a natural hair stylist in 2001 I had only two adult women clients with completely natural hair. I continued to perfect my skills with natural hair. Even though it was not popular at the time I decided to focus on natural hair exclusively.
My early years braiding taught me how to care for natural hair. Managing natural hair became easy for me. I had no idea that a shift was coming. I just kept doing what felt right for me and my clients. I learned about the products that worked best to keep natural hair softer, more manageable, and healthy. I had grown to love and appreciate naturally curly hair. It didn’t matter how long, thick, or curly it was, I could work my magic on the hair. I was much more comfortable working with natural hair than relaxed hair.
My clients were impressed with how easily I managed their hair, but, most were still not accepting of their natural hair. When women began transitioning to natural hair by the droves, I was ready to serve them with gentle love and care. However, at that time I was not ready to address the level of disgust many women held for their natural hair at that time. Back then I did not try to change my client’s mindset around their natural hair. I just kept giving my best care for their hair.
Clients began working with me to get services that hid their natural hair with extensions or altered the natural appearance of their hair. Overtime as they begin to experience healthier hair, their confidence grew, and they began to appreciate and love their natural hair. I noticed a mental shift in those women and in how much weight they gave their hair in their overall appearance and level of self-confidence. They began to give their own hair a chance without extensions and were surprised by how many compliments they received about their natural hair.
It can sometimes take time to accept one’s natural hair. Sometimes that shift is ushered in by life changing events that have nothing to do with one’s hair. Now women are transitioning from relaxed hair to natural hair because it’s trendy or they’ve experienced hair trauma (loss) or just out of curiosity.
Whoever coined the term “natural hair journey” was so right. There is a transformation that takes women from loathing their natural hair to wearing it proudly. It is a journey! I’ve witnessed the shift transform women from stressing over appearing perfect for the world to rocking their natural hair with confidence.
My personal experience with my own natural hair plays a big role in why I love caring for natural hair. I learned that this journey to healthy hair requires a mindset shift around the way one thinks about oneself and how one takes care of oneself. I learned early on that it is a journey toward increased self-awareness and self-love. The synchronicity of it all is why I love caring for natural hair.
Naturally You Salon was born out of the wisdom, knowledge, and experience that I’ve gained over the years working with myself and working with thousands of women and their natural hair. My logo is a woman sitting in solitude because the natural hair journey starts with YOU.
I love being part of the process where women and young girls discover yet another beautiful part of themselves. My childhood hobby turned into my passion, my livelihood, and my special gift that I feel blessed to share with women seeking a healthy natural hair journey
My catalyst for changing my mindset around wearing my natural hair was seeing the damage I had caused by mistreating my hair with chemicals and heat because I didn't understand it's needs.
What was your catalyst for changing your mindset around wearing your natural hair with confidence?
In what ways have you learned to love yourself more since transitioning to natural hair?
Share in the comments below.
Ebonee Shelton is a licensed natural hair stylist dedicated to teaching women how to grow and maintain healthy natural hair with loving lifestyle choices.