A Natural Hair Story: From Natural to Relaxed and Back Again

All Images  © Jen Marshall Duncan

This is my oldest daughter. She was born with straight, fine hair. As she got older it started to get curly.

Image Credit: Jen Marshall Duncan

And then it got curlier. I found a book called It’s All Good Hair and tried to learn how to put her hair in protective styles. When she was little, it was easy to do her hair. In fact, she used to fall asleep while I spent hours putting her hair in braids. I tried really hard to learn to care for her hair, which was a challenge because her hair is so different from mine and so different from anyone else’s in our family.

But as she got older, she became less cooperative. She no longer fell asleep while I combed and braided, and she wouldn’t sit still long enough for any protective styles.  She had a very tender scalp and a very sensitive nature (her ADHD and Anxiety make it hard for her to sit and relax.) She hated having her hair combed and would scream and throw fits. The only style she would allow me to put in her hair for the longest time was afro puffs.

Image Credit: Jen Marshall Duncan

Eventually, she became so sensitive that she wouldn’t let me comb through her hair without a knock-down, drag-out fight. We tried putting on movies and bribed her with treats, but nothing worked. I often wished I could be an octopus—I needed at least eight arms to hold her down and comb her hair out!  It was all becoming too much.  We both got tired of fighting and were both left feeling miserable afterward. She begged to have straight hair, and since I didn’t know what else to do, we got it relaxed.

Image Credit: Jen Marshall Duncan

Her hair seemed healthy for about two years and then she started experiencing a lot of breakage. We asked fellow Multicultural Familia contributor, Brooke, for some help on her blog Untrained Hair Mom. We got some ideas about products to use for moisture and some styles to try. Unfortunately, though, we discovered that there is no way to repair breakage.

Image Credit: Jen Marshall Duncan

We again tried some protective styles. My daughter was a little older and not quite as sensitive. She looked at the styles on Brooke’s blog and started searching other natural hair websites. She decided to get some of her relaxed hair cut off and said that she wanted to go natural again! Over the course of six months she gradually got her relaxed hair cut off. We learned that this is called transitioning.

Image Credit: Jen Marshall Duncan

And then on New Year’s Eve, she decided that she wanted to start 2012 all natural, and she went for the BIG CHOP!

Image Credit: Jen Marshall Duncan

So far in 2012, we have a happy girl and healthy hair (and that makes for a very happy mom!).

What’s your natural hair story?



  1. GoldiLocksNMe says

    Great story! I remember reading about this on untrained hair mom and I'm so glad this beautiful little girl has found peace with her hair. Way to persevere mom! I know it was difficult for you. Thanks for sharing Multicultural familia!

  2. Michelle G says

    I remember reading about your daughter on UHM. Such a beautiful girl, regardless whether she was relaxed or natural. I hope that this hair journey is better for you both. Many blessings to you.

  3. says

    Great story! Her hair color is gorgeous I love it! What an amazing decision your daughter made to go natural again. I hope you guys have a healthy fun journey :)

  4. MrsCNSmith says

    It's a beautiful thing to see a beautiful baby with their natural tresses. She looks amazing. I am truly glad that she decided to go back to her 'roots'…

    Thanks for sharing!


  5. jenmardunc says

    Thank you, Eryn and everyone else! Your comments really help her, too! Most of the feedback she's gotten at school has been positive, but some of it hasn't been. It is great to be able to show her the comments here, on Facebook and on Twitter that are from so many wonderful, supportive people! It has definitely been a journey for all of us!

  6. jenmardunc says

    Thank you Eryn AND everyone else who commented! It has been a struggle, but for the most part everyone has been very supportive and positive about her choice! I appreciate the love she's getting here, on Facebook and Twitter. It just makes her feel that much better about her choice to go natural :)

  7. UntrainedHairMom says

    I love her fro, she is such a gorgeous girl. I am so glad she has decided to transition and that everyone is happy :) @jenmardunc