“My Journey To Natural” By Alexis Jenkins Vigil

With a mix of black and Spanish ethnicity, my curly fro has become my trademark ever since I went natural with the Big Chop by Pamela back in 2013. It is a decision I will never regret, however the journey to natural hair was quite bumpy at times.

Like many black girls, I had relaxers put in my hair as a kid so that it was easier to maintain. I was quite tender-headed and my mom wasn’t havin’ all the screaming and crying. Although the natural hair movement was growing, I kept up the relaxers through my early twenties, only admiring natural hair from afar and never thinking that I could pull it off. The courage to go natural actually came from my then-fiancé, now husband, who wanted me to give it a try. I studied all the methods – transitioning (the breakage points where the wavy roots meet straightened hair worried me), weaves/extensions (my hair is way to thin for that, I’d go bald! And not to mention the tender-headedness again…), wigs (the good ones are expensive!), and the method that scared me the most – THE BIG CHOP (cue the suspenseful music).

 

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Well, it turned out that shortly after our wedding we would be overseas for 11 months, so we chose to chop. In my mind, since I would be around people I didn’t know, it didn’t really matter if I had the worst-case scenario of 11 months of bad hair days. Pamela did my then-relaxed hair for my wedding in Florida, and then a week later I went to California where she cut it all off. I’m not gonna lie, I was scared. I cried that morning and hid my tears so that Pamela wouldn’t get nervous, tried to suppress my trembling during the haircut, ended up loving the cut, but knocked out on the drive home from wearing myself out with all the stress. I’m telling you, my hair has never been easier to maintain than that first month after Pamela cut my hair!

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While overseas for studies, I pretty much did wash-n-go’s and co-washes for the first couple of months and then blew out my hair to sport an afro. I hadn’t gone to a hair dresser the whole time while overseas, so when my ends got a little crazy towards the end of our trip, my husband and I attempted to trim it ourselves by twisting and dusting. Our trimming attempt was terribly uneven, but it did the job. When I returned to the US, I knew it was time to get a professional trim. As every black woman knows, finding the right hairdresser is a serious decision. As kids we hear horror stories of how some hairdressers will burn your scalp and ears, or cut your hair super short if they are jealous of your length (I don’t know if that’s all true, but it’s something I can’t un-hear). Also, we are VERY weary of “pigment-challenged” hairdressers. The ONLY white hairdresser I have ever trusted my hair with was Pamela, and that’s because she’s my sister. I figured she would be very careful to not mess up her big sister’s hair, and if she did, I’d remind her that I KNOW WHERE SHE SLEEPS and then I’d forgive her of course (haha just kidding Pamela). And you can take it from me, Pamela’s definitely got talent, I would trust my hair with her again if I lived in California! However since I live in Florida, the first thing I did was ask for hairdresser recommendations from family.

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My aunt goes regularly to a hairdresser named Jan, and I asked my aunt a lot of questions like, Has she ever burned you with a curling or flat iron? Does she work with natural hair? What topics does she tend to chat with you about? Jan came highly recommended, so I gave her a try, and have been going to her ever since about every 3 months to get my hair washed, blow-dried, flat-ironed, and trimmed. The first time I saw Jan for a trim, she asked how my hair got so uneven. I told her about our self-trimming attempt overseas, and she replied, “Wow, I see you guys had fun back here!” Fortunately, she got me all cleaned up and my curls are looking healthier and healthier each visit. Now that my hair is too floppy for a blown out afro, I’ve gone back to wash-n-go’s and co-washes for the curly fro look. Overall, I am very very happy with the decision to go natural, a supportive husband throughout this whole process, and the blessing of having great hairdressers on each US coast!

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