10 Black Women Share Real-Life Stories to Inspire Your Natural Hair Journey

From discovering their favorite products to rocking an Afro for the first time.

Woman with natural hair

Instagram user @officiallykimwhite

Taking the step to embrace your natural curls is transformative for reasons that are unique to anyone on the journey. The natural hair movement has been on the rise for over a decade and as it grows, so do the new products, businesses, and campaigns geared towards loving and caring for your hair. Now, thanks to a community of influencers, stylists, and science-backed knowledge, taking care of your curls is much easier than it was in years past. Legislation like The CROWN Act is also actively fighting to end bais against people who wear their hair naturally in schools and the workplace. 

The future of natural hair is undoubtedly bright, but everyone's unique journey isn't complete without a list of "firsts." Whether it was discovering your first-favorite natural hair product, wearing your 'fro out for the first time, starting fresh with a dramatic big chop, or getting your first set of faux locs, those memories play a significant role in shaping our experiences. Ahead, we spoke to ten women who opened up about their earliest natural hair memories.

Kimberly White

“When I first started to embrace my natural curls, I was unsure of what I was doing. It took time, patience, and me trying out lots of different products to learn what worked well for my natural hair. After I became more comfortable with my natural curls, I felt excited and wished I would have done it sooner. Now, I love everything about my natural hair and feel so free embracing my fro."

Jiselle Singer

“My first natural hairstyle was a teeny weeny afro that I had following my first big chop. I used Aunt Jackie's Curls and Coils Defining Curl Custard to style my hair. I mainly felt nervous but excited to show off my new curls. This was a moment of self-acceptance and love for me because I had finally made the decision to learn how to care for my natural hair properly. Going natural was one of the best decisions that I have ever made in my life.”

Juanita Louis

"One standout moment in my natural hair journey was a photoshoot I did with my Afro. Before that, all of my shoots were done with my hair neatly tucked in place. However, the photographer wanted to showcase my hair in its most natural state for that particular shoot. I was nervous, but the outcome made me feel regal. It allowed me to embrace my hair in all its wild, free glory. It left a lasting impression on me, and my 'fro has now become my signature look. My go-to product for styling my hair is the Coconut Shea Curl Defining Creme by Eden Body Works. I love that it works well without layering products and keeps my hair hydrated."

CeeCee Valdez

“I chose to consistently keep my hair in an Afro was when I noticed the lack of representation of women that looked like me in the modeling and entertainment industry. In the summer of 2019, I decided that I wanted to represent women and girls like me, with Afros and textured hair. I wanted people to see that, ultimately, confidence is the real prize and that your hair is beautiful—even in an Afro."

Emani Hill

“I started my natural hair journey in 2013 when I noticed the damage that was being caused by straightening my hair biweekly. I gradually transitioned and stopped flat ironing, but still dabbled in the blowdryer occasionally. Eventually, I cut out heat altogether and I didn’t really know what to do with my hair until I started watching YouTube videos. I started with wash and go's and twist outs while I was in the transition phase. Eventually, my hair flourished and became super healthy. Now I only straighten my hair once every few months.”

Nikiko Burnett

“I started embracing my curls in 2010 when I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my acting career. At the start of your career in this industry, it is important to establish your 'look,' so I decided to let my curls free and see where it led me. My go-to styling product was the Kinky-Curly Curling Custard. My favorite style was parting my hair to the left side to show off my dimple. Now, I am extremely happy with what God gave me and I truly believe my curls have opened many doors for me professionally."

Andrea Lewis

"I've been natural my entire life, but I used to straighten my hair a lot. As a result, my curls were very badly damaged for a long time. The first time I can remember choosing to take care of my hair was in 2007. I was doing a play in Canada, and I had to wear wigs on stage. This was a good time for me to give my hair a break from heat styling and try to get my curls back. I started out using a combination of Mixed Chicks Hair Products and Miss Jessie's. My goal was to try twist-outs, which never worked in my hair—and still don't to this day. Then, I moved on to Bantu knots and tried any style to train my hair to curl again. Once I saw new curls and waves start to form, my go-to style was a messy bun and faux bang. It gave the illusion that my curls were healthy, but I still had a lot of work to do. It took me about five years from there before I understood my curls. I'm really happy I trusted the process."

Lyasia Janel

"After two years of transitioning from relaxed hair, I was anxious to finally see how my naturally curly hair would look. I did a wash & go using Camille Rose Naturals Aloe Whipped Butter Cream + Curl Maker Gel and couldn’t believe that I actually had curls! I'm pretty sure that I spent the entire day touching my hair. Choosing to embrace my natural hair has been very liberating and played a huge role in my self-love journey. Best decision ever."

Jasmine Usher

“The summer of 2015 was the start of my natural hair journey. Years before, I used a relaxer because I wasn’t happy with my tightly coiled hair. The chemicals damaged my hair, so I had to cut it into a bob and let my curls grow out. Months later my curls were flourishing and I started getting questions about my routine. It's taken a lot of trial and error, but I've gotten to a place of confidence with my hair."

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