I began dying my hair when I was in 9th grade. Over the course of time I think I've tried just about every red, black, blue/black, ash blond, and brown dye that came in a bottle. Changing my hair color was always fun! That was until my hair started becoming more grey than brown and a little resistant to both color and relaxer. Keeping my edges “layed" while trying to keep my roots dyed became a chore, and color was no longer fun.
After admiring a coworker’s beautiful silver hair for a couple years, I made the decision to stop dying mine. Transitioning from color treated hair to salt and pepper isn't easy nor did I find it flattering. So during the summer of 2002 I decided to shave all of my hair off and let my silver hair shine. Since my hair was relaxed at the time of that “big chop” and the purpose was to return to my natural color, not my natural texture, I transitioned to a texturizer for a season and then back to my relaxer.
Without getting into the science of grey hair, I can tell you that as my hair began to turn grey my texture began to change. Not only did it become resistant, it became a little dry in the greyest areas and required additional moisture. This occurred whether it was dyed or not; it’s just the characteristic of the hair itself. My biggest struggle with grey hair when it was relaxed was keeping it from looking yellow and dingy due to the chemicals in the relaxer and flat ironing. Immediately after every touchup I had to use a peroxide conditioner to remove the greenish-yellow residue that the relaxer left behind.
In 2012 I attended a small natural hair event with my daughter who was there as a vendor (neither of us were natural). I was so amazed by the beauty and diversity of the natural hairstyles the young ladies were rocking that I decided to no longer relax my hair and returned to my natural texture the following month.
Since rocking my natural texture I became a lot kinder and gentler to my hair. I try to avoid harsh chemicals, dark oils such as olive oil and Jamaican black castor oil, and most hair products that aren’t clear or white. This reduces the battle of discoloration.
My current hair regimen now consists of weekly cleansing and conditioning, deep conditioning once or twice a month and your basic wash and go using the LCO (leave-in, cream and coconut oil) method, topped with a holding gel. Now that my hair is a little longer and since I workout a few times a week, I like to wear it up in a puff about 4-5 days of the week. At night, if my hair is out, I may put it in three mini puffs and sleep on my satin pillowcase or sometimes cover it with one of my sleeping caps, wraps or a locsoc. If it’s up in a puff I just sleep on the satin pillowcase.
I’m not sure which is more difficult to maintain, relaxed or natural hair, but I can say I can’t imagine going back to chemically processing my hair. I’m often asked if I’d ever blow it out and wear it straight. Honestly, that never crosses my mind.
To learn more from Mildred, follow her on Instagram at @NaturalSilverSista