NOVEMBER 28, 2018



Like many black and brown girls, my hair defined my beauty for many years. I got a perm at the age of about seven or eight. At that time I was so excited because “beautiful” women had straight hair; all the women around me did.

While growing up changing hairstyles was something I did frequently. Having a talented sister like mine meant that I didn’t need to spend hundreds of dollars each month at a hairdresser to get my hair done. My sister would teach herself to do just about every hairstyle I wanted. Despite how painful some hairstyles were I would always repeat the words my mom would say to me after she heard me complaining about my tight hairstyles or uncomfortable shoes, “beauty is pain”. I would then take some painkillers and smile at all of the compliments my new hairstyle would bring.

I made a decision to cut my hair and go natural in 2011. My sister who did the big chop a year earlier inspired me. Before she committed to cutting her hair she would spend hours looking at Natural Hair YouTube videos and then ask everyone how they thought she would look with short hair. When the thought came to me to also start over and go natural I too watched hours of YouTube videos and was fascinated by how quickly each person’s hair grew in just one year and how beautiful each of them looked with their natural curls. I watched each person’s loose curls and hoped my curls would be the same or at least, close to them. Being that I permed my hair for the majority of my life, I had forgotten what my curls looked like.

My short hair was easy to manage but I did not have the loose curl I was used to seeing on my sister or on the YouTubers. I would wash my hair often and use organic products like shea butter, coconut oil, castor oil and many other natural oils. My hair grew very quickly and I was able to style my hair in whatever style I wanted in no time. I would create nice loose curls by doing twist outs, braids, faux dreads, twist and much more. Occasionally, I would straighten out my hair silky straight; I loved seeing how full and healthy it looked.

As my hair continued to grow, more and more products for natural hair started to show up on the shelves of my local beauty supply store, and they all promised growth, curls, and hydration. At this point I had forgotten about all of the natural products I used when I first cut my hair. There were so much more options now. The YouTubers I watched consistently used a new product every week and I found myself doing the same. One of my favorite products was the Eco Styling Gel; I used it almost everyday for months.

I later began to notice that my hair was not growing as it did in the beginning. It stayed the same length and seemed to have gotten thinner. I noticed the same with the YouTubers I watched as well. Recently my sister shared a video with me about hair products for black women that scared me so much that it made me consider starting over again.


I listened attentively as the video described the potential dangers in the ingredients that are in so many of the products that I was using. Most shockingly, the Eco Styling Gel that I loved so much had ingredients that could cause cancer.

I gathered all the products in my bathroom that was harmful to my hair and body and placed them all into the garbage.


I decided to cut my hair a few weeks later. I had a realization that my intention for cutting my hair the first time was not as pure as I thought. I wanted my hair to grow quickly and when it did I never appreciated the beauty of my natural 4C curls. I covered it up with different hairstyles and products to make my curls appear looser.


I made a promise to myself that I was going to put my health and my hair first at all times and to appreciate my hair growth journey at each stage.

There is only one you. And there will never be another one. That’s your power.

—Mel Robbins