Over the past 10 months of my hair being natural, I have encountered many women who have asked me what I use in my hair, how do you get it to spiral like that, etc. I see many women whose hair I LOVE and admire, so of course, it felt good to be complimented and asked for advice. However, one recurring theme struck me - how many women have given up on going natural because they couldn't figure out what to do with their hair. I really wanted to say to them NOOOO!!!! DON'T GIVE UP! but most times, I keep my cool, saying that everyone's journey is individual, while encouraging them to stick with it by trying a new approach - go to a professional who will teach you what to do with your hair. We forget that we were all taught what to do with relaxed hair for most of our lives. Just because our hair is "natural" doesn't mean that we "naturally" know what to do with it.
When I wore my hair straight, I like many of us, could take a picture to my stylist and say, "I want my hair to look like this." With natural hair, it's a bit different - everyone's hair is a different texture and has a different curl pattern. A good natural hair stylist will have experience with a great many heads of curls (or zigzags) and will know what to do to uncover your hair's unique abilities. The key for us is to go in ready to embrace whatever your hair can do. While so many have found joy and freedom striking out on their own, there is no shame in going to an expert. I went to Giselle Grant, now of Salon Au Naturel in Marietta, GA, and she not only told me what products she was using and wrote them all down for me, but showed me in the mirror how she did what she was doing. She experimented with different products, washing out one that wasn't working and starting again. She showed me what my hair was capable of with just finger styling and no major manipulation (i.e. twisting, braiding, etc.). Armed with this knowledge, I was able to build on this foundation all that I would eventually do with my hair. If you don't really know what your hair can do, you will have given up without ever knowing.
This is a very personal path indeed. Yes, it will cost money in both salon services and hair products. You must be up for it. But I emphatically assert to you, the investment in yourself, in your education and empowerment, is worth it. Before I went to Giselle, I had done three months of research and had started a web site to share that research with everyone. I was prepared, excited, and eager to get my hair cut off, to see my REAL hair and what it could do! Research + expert instruction = empowerment. I was lucky to find Giselle. Not all stylists are thoroughly knowledgeable teachers. Seek out someone that will enthusiastically you and GET THEE TO A SALON!
Peace, love, and hair gel/souffle/pudding/meringue/custard/buttercreme/serum/balm ;-)