Growing up, I was natural for most of my life and my hair always hovered around shoulder length to collarbone length. I pretty much stayed in some type of braided style (cornrows, box braids, single braids with barrettes, etc) with the very rare press and curl (I hated using heat tools after being burned at a salon as a child; I pretty much avoided them as much as possible until my transition in 2011). I did use chemical relaxers, but there was a recurring cycle of:

1. Virgin application of relaxer. For some reason, I would never get a touchup or one at most.
2. The relaxed hair would slowly break off from poor upkeep
3. About one year post relaxer, my hair was fully natural and somewhere near my pre-relaxed length

This is exactly what happened when I relaxed at ages 8 and 12, and when I got a jherri curl at 9. Only when I got a relaxer at 14 did I stay relaxed for any length of time (four years, not including my transition)

I never had “awful” hair care techniques before my HHJ; I didn’t use heat, didn’t color my hair regularly (I did try a few semi-permanent rinses at 15) and relaxed at 8 weeks. However, I would go long times between washes, only had deep conditioners at the salon and moisturizing? HA.

My Relaxed HHJ (2009-2011)

I was looking for hair growth tips when I found LHCF in February 2009. I became excited at the prospect of having my own long hair and couldn’t wait to begin my HHJ! I officially began my HHJ on May 1, 2009 and started off with a trim back to NL, but it was OK!

 (Left) My hair when I officially began my HHJ on 5/1/2009. The one on the right (taken 5/16/2009) was after a much needed trim

I began cowashing, moisturizing and sealing, deep conditioning and stretched my relaxers for four to six months. By late 2010 (about a year and a half into my HHJ), my hair had grown to BSL. I pretty much hovered around that length until my transition, when I did finally reach MBL in late 2011.

My hair in June 2011

 

Sorry about the pic quality. Picture taken in July 2011.

 

When I reached MBL in December 2011. I was 7 weeks post relaxer at the time.

My Transition (2011-2012) & Natural Hair Journey (2012-Present)
My last relaxer (a self relaxer done at home) was on October 26, 2011. I had planned to try self relaxing again in February 2012 for my birthday, but I decided to transition instead! I had been toying with the idea for awhile and thought, why not? My original plan was to transition for 20 months, which would’ve put me at a June 2013 big chop date (looking back, it feels a bit overambitious). However I had a lot going on in my life at the time, so my transition was really trying at times. For a good portion of my transition I would just wash, blow dry and flat iron every week or two. But then summer and it’s humidity came around, so I was forced to give up the heat and actually deal with my hair.

Pretty much how I wore my hair throughout the summer during my transition. It’s just a simple bun with Kankelon hair added. I was about eight months post relaxer here.
A bun with my own hair at 11 months into my transition

I had no patience and would ignore my hair, so my relaxed hair began to break off. I finally big chopped on November 5, 2012 since I was pretty much natural anyway. I never did an official length check, but I think I was somewhere around SL-CBL stretched. Unfortunately I wasn’t ready to deal with my natural hair when I initially big chopped, so I continued to neglect my hair and it broke off a lot. In March 2013, I decided to “restart” my HHJ; I began to truly care for my hair and it began to flourish again 😊 It bothers me a bit that I don’t have many pictures from the first year of my natural hair journey or many loose hair pictures, but I figured since I stayed in protective styles, pictures wouldn’t be that interesting anyway.