I didn’t know what my natural hair looked like until three years ago. Straightening your hair, like shaving your legs, was an unquestioned right of passage while growing up in Jamaica. It’s not until my hair started thinning and falling out from years of chemical straightening that I decided to discover the beauty of my natural afro hair — and boy, have I learned a lot.
My natural hair journey has been such a joyride of experimentation. Over the past three years, I’ve gone blonde and brunette and rocked a medium-size fluffy afro and a cropped pixie cut. I’ve installed box braids, passion twists, and rocked different types of wigs. I’ve come to understand what my curl type is (4a/b with some 3c in the back) and what it needs to achieve the right moisture balance. I’ve also discovered some truly incredible products, like the best curl creams and deep conditioners for afro hair, while trusting natural remedies like apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and castor oil. But the best thing about growing out my natural hair has been acceptance. Your hair does not, in any way, make you more or less beautiful or feminine. I’ve reached a point where if my hair were to fall out tomorrow (fingers crossed it doesn’t), I would be pretty OK with it — and that, in my opinion, is true growth.
Ahead, check out the dozens of hairstyles I’ve tried since going natural and the best tips I’ve learned for maintaining strong hair and a healthy scalp.