Now that the cut is done the real work begins. Figuring out what works for me and what doesn't! It's really easy to watch all the popular YouTube videos and look at all the pictures of the natural girls on Instagram and have curl envy or even curl delusions! Every natural girl won't have the easy ringlets or baby hairs that fall effortlessly into place or easy to manage hair and every product won't work in your hair the way it works in the next girls hair. I thought I was being realistic with my perception of my texture but I learned that even though I knew all about curl envy and delusion, part of me still fell for the fairy tale of the magic Afro. It's all good though. The only way to truly learn your texture is to practice!
It seems like everyone on YouTube LOVES using Eco Styler Gel to define their TWA (Teeny Weeny Afro). A lot of folks use the Olive oil Eco Styler (green top), but some use the Argan Oil (red top) claiming that it helped the hair remain soft. So of course this was the first thing I went to buy. I got this huge (and I do mean HUGE) jar of it from the beauty supply store for like $2. Unreal. So after I had chopped all of my hair off I got my trusty gel and my knock off denman brush (also from the BSS for $4) and went to work. My curls were defined, I had a lot of shrinkage but as you can see I had a very textured Afro. (excuse the ample straight hairs in the top pic, I took care of them later). The only problem is that when my hair completely dried it was extremely hard, crunchy and DRY! It's winter here so I couldn't saturate it in oils, leave in conditioner and water before I left to help it so I had to walk about with crunchy hair for a day. #FAIL.
Hawaiian Silky Gel ActivatorSo I decided to go find the product that I always wanted to try. My YouTube research told me that Hawaiian silky could turn the most resistant Afro into a curly masterpiece. But most importantly it was supposed to leave my hair soft. I got a small jar from my local BSS for about $3. I washed and conditioned my hair, got my denman brush once again and went to work. Sectioning small parts, applying the gel then brushing throught with the denman, making sure to slide my hair over the rubber sole. Initially I loved it. As you can see in the top picture it does bring out your curls and make them shiny but by the time I was done I had a mess. My hair was a lot softer but patches of my hair did not coil, despite me taking my time with the denman. By the next morning I had a bit of a mess on my hands and I do mean on my hands because this stuff is greasy! Another #FAIL!
Dark and Lovely's AU Naturale Coil Moisturizing Souflee
So once again I took a little shopping trip, this time to Target to pick up a product suggested to me by another natural friend of mine. I picked this up from Target for about $7.99, slightly more expensive than anything I got from the BSS. This was one product that I wasn't too familiar with so I did a little research and of course read the instructions on the jar to see how I was supposed to use it. This time I didn't section my hair into small pieces, I broke it down to four sections then raked it through my hair with my fingers. The product was really soft, smelled amazing and did bring out my curls, but very loosely (especially in the front, where my hair is practically straight). I liked the results up close but over all I didn't like the results. My Afro wasn't defined enough. I think Au Naturale might work better for me when my hair is a little longer but it does work well for a leave in conditioner.
Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing SmoothieWhile I was at Target I also picked up a curl enhancing smoothie by Shea Moisture for about $10. I've usually seen this product used in twist outs and by this time I was pretty much over the whole wash and go thing so I decided to do my first Twist out on all natural hair. #SUCCESS! I really love this product and the results. I did the first twist out while the hair was damp, I sectioned it with my fingers so I wouldn't have super defined parts, then I combed the product through my hair with the denman brush. The best part about it is that some parts of my hair were shaped by the twists and in other parts my natural coils formed, giving me an Afro with a lot of variety and volume. Not to mention this style stretched my hair, showing off my length. The next night I did a dry twist out on it because I was afraid my beautiful Fro would disappear if I didn't. This caused the smoothie to build up and flake in some parts which I didn't like but it wasn't too bad. The next night I just put a bonnet on and fluffed in the morning. This style lasted me four days, which is amazing!
All in all I learned that 1) It takes time, a little money and a lot of patience to learn which products will work for you. It's good to do YouTube research to see what other Naturals are using but just know that you may encounter a lot of high praise for products that won't work well for you. 2) Don't buy the big jar because you may hate it and never use it again *cough* Eco Styler gel *cough*. 3) Some products will work better at certain points in your journey. The Eco may have worked better when my hair was shorter but now it's just a mess. And finally 4) just embrace it, even when your twist out is old, it doesn't mean your hair is ugly or bad, just shake that Fro and wear it like a crown!