It’s everywhere. People are always giving advice about how to have the most success with your hair journey, but what is a hair journey? This post is all about what a journey is (in my humble opinion) and what it isn’t.
What A Hair Journey Is (despite what others tell you)
Your hair journey is just that, YOUR hair journey.
To put the definition in my own words (based on what I’ve learned over the years), a hair journey is a collection of steps that are set by an individual (you) which are intended to help you reach whatever hair goals you have.
Some people want to focus on length retention, while others don’t really care if their hair is long (or prefer it shorter) just as long as its healthy. Then, there are those (like myself) that want BOTH longer and healthier hair.
Now, that being said, while I can’t speak for every natural, I think its important to note that it took me years just to figure out which steps should even be in my regimen. I guess that’s why they call it a journey instead of a quest.
A Learning Experience
This is especially true if you’ve decided to go natural after years of getting chemical relaxers (guilty). It’s going to take time getting used to your naturally kinky texture after having straight hair for so long.
You’ll likely get frustrated (especially if you’re transitioning) when your hair starts growing out and one way to become less frustrated is to get to know your hair.
As I stated before, your hair journey is yours so its really important you spend time focusing on learning about your hair’s characteristics because knowing this is going to help you start your journey off on a less miserable note than I did (by the way, you can learn more about the start of my hair journey here).
It Takes Time
I’ve been natural since 2011 and although I’ve learned enough about my hair to form a game plan for my hair, even now I’m still learning new things about what my hair loves and hates.
It’s so easy to form unrealistic expectations with all the YouTube videos showing the progress of others, but its important to keep in mind that no matter how great someone’s journey is going for them, it took time for them to reach their goals.
Creating a natural hair regimen consists of taking all the things that work for you and consistently combining them for your desired results.
Finding the things that work for you (along with finding alternatives because sometimes companies discontinue products or change formulas) is going to take time, but its totally worth it!
It’s A Lifestyle (Usually)
Some naturals are just bored with their relaxed hair and want to go natural for a few years until they decide to go back to relaxers, but most naturals I’ve come across are in it for the long haul and don’t plan on ever going back to the infamous “hair crack”.
The reason I decided to go natural was to make it a lifestyle. I never planned on going back to relaxers (and haven’t even entertained the thought since shaving my head) and I started my journey in order to embrace my natural beauty and simplify my life by not spending hundreds of dollars on hair maintenance and hours of time at a hair salon while a stranger digs through my hair and tells me what I should be doing to “keep it pretty”.
I mean, why is this hair on MY head if it was meant to be taken care of by a complete stranger? The more frustrated I got during my transition, the more clarity I seemed to have about what I really wanted.
When you choose to go natural, ask yourself if this is a lifestyle for you or just a temporary change. There is no wrong answer, but its definitely something you’ll want to decide.
Don’t worry, its your journey and your hair and of course you can change your mind at any time.
Trial and Error
The only way to learn is by making mistakes. As naturals, we often think we’ll be able to start our journey without any mistakes and that we’ll be able to get things right the first time.
I blame this on the success stories of others because its not often that people mention how many times they’ve had setbacks or how long it took them to figure out what worked for them prior to posting those glorious before and after photo we all love to admire.
I won’t say its IMPOSSIBLE to have an easy breezy journey, but its not common because most don’t start their journey’s knowing all the facts about their own hair. Let’s not forget the bad habit naturals have of comparing their own hair and success to the results of others.
Mistakes will be made. The mistakes you make may be as simple as trying a leave-in conditioner that doesn’t work for you or it could be as major as heat damage or chemical damage caused by bleaching your hair.
Let’s not forget the common setback of having a scissor happy stylist chop off two years of growth in less than five seconds.
Peace of Mind
Having type 4 kinky hair may be overwhelming at first, but it gets easier as you continue to find what works for you and ditch the things that don’t.
Once you get into your routine, your hair journey will give you peace of mind because you know you’re doing what’s best for your hair and you start to see the positive changes in your strands.
When you know you’re doing things right, natural hair care really does become easy and you may even begin to ENJOY taking care of your gorgeous kinks.
Feel free to tweak and alter things to make them work for you. Your hair is unique and no matter how similar your hair is to someone else’s, what’s going to end up working for your hair is likely going to look quite different from what works for the next natural, despite the fact you have similar hair characteristics.
What A Hair Journey Is NOT
Now that we’ve covered what a hair journey is, let’s get into what its not because I don’t want you to have unnecessary setbacks like I did by only having part of the process of starting a hair journey.
One Size Fits All
How many times have you gone out and bought a product because, “That person used this product and got the results I want, so it’ll work for me, too!”? We’re all guilty of it at some point, even those of us that know better already fall for it.
There’s something about seeing the success of others that makes us want to try what they try. I’m not against trying something another blogger has tried, but I’m against trying products ONLY because it worked for someone else.
When deciding to try a new product or regimen, pay less attention to the physical appearance of the other natural’s hair and focus more on the characteristics of their hair.
Once you’ve done that, consider the similarities of their hair (are you both high porosity, high density, fine or thick strands, etc.) and THEN you’ll have a better idea of what may have made this product work for them and be able to decide whether your hair is likely to respond well to it based on what the product function is and what YOUR hair’s needs are.
If you haven’t noticed, I keep stressing how a hair journey is about you and YOUR hair. That’s because its one of the main things you want to keep in mind throughout your journey because if you forget this, it can lead to wasted money, time and could affect your hair in ways that make you hate it.
Let’s not hate our hair. Let’s keep things focused and positive.
Instead of thinking hair journeys are one size fits all, think of it as your size fits you.
For The Impatient
If you’re impatient, then you’re going to have a hard time sticking with a regimen long enough to see the results you want. When trying new things, it takes time to see how your hair reacts to it and if you can’t stick with things long enough because you want instant results, you could be missing out on great products and a regimen that helps you reach your goals.
I personally give new products or routines at least 3 months before deciding if what I’m doing needs to change or if its going to stay because certain things can take more time to see results than others.
For example, you’ll know if a leave in conditioner doesn’t work for you instantly (it may be too sticky, heavy, or have too much protein), but you won’t know if applying castor oil to your scalp daily will strengthen your roots if you only apply it once before deciding it doesn’t work.
Intended For Perfectionists
Ummm… I don’t even think my hair was “perfect” when it was relaxed. As a matter of fact, I think taking care of relaxed hair (for me) was even more stressful than going natural simply because i always had to take time to get touch ups and make salon appointments.
Anyway, if you’re one who likes to have “perfect” hair and feel the need to make sure every single hair is in place at all times, then you’re gonna be really disappointed because one characteristic of type 4 hair is that it likes to do its own thing as far as which direction it goes or how its gonna curl.
Natural hair isn’t intended to be “perfect” but its intended to be perfect for you (there I go again stressing how this is about you). While there are products made for slicking and sticking hair down that give great results, expect to find imperfections when styling, especially if you style your hair daily.
Kinky hair like ours goes in so many directions that its damn near impossible to get a flawless finish. It used to bother me, but I’ve learned to embrace it and make pretty much any style work simply by accepting the fact that my hair likes to grow up and out instead of flat and downward.
Type 4 hair is big and bold and that’s why I don’t do any extreme slick buns (laying edges) or styles that require a ton of products to be held in place for the day.
I’ve always made it a point to work with my hair, not against it.
So, What Is A Hair Journey?
Simply put, your hair journey is whatever you make it. Remember those choose your own adventure books that were so popular in the 90’s? You get to choose what happens and no one else gets to write this story.
It’ll be as amazing (or tough) as you allow it to be, so its up to you to get to know your hair and try whatever you think may work for you.
What does being on a natural hair journey mean to you? Comment below! I’d love to hear from you!
Here’s to your fantastic 4 kinks!