A few months ago, I found myself looking in the mirror and seriously considering cutting all my hair off, which was odd for me as I used to have panic attacks at the thought of having my hair even trimmed, let alone cut. Like full-on hyperventilating, blurred vision, shaking hands, and sweating panic attacks, that would leave me off-kilter and full of anxiety, and I knew exactly where it stems from.
I grew up with my grandparents as my mom was frequently traveling for work, and when I think about my hair, the voice in my head is that of my grandmother. I would hear that my hair was too thick, too coarse, and just “not good,” and by 13, whenever my mom was away, I was taken to a barbershop to have my head shaved. I hated it, and when you throw in some kids (and adults) who made some not-so-nice comments about my hair, describing my relationship with scissors and my hair as precarious would be an understatement. I vowed to never cut my hair again and just let it grow because I “don’t like short hair.”
For years, I hid my hair behind protective styles like box braids, weaves, or cornrows, and while my natural hair grew to bra strap length and I loved it in private, I always felt like I was prettiest when no one could see my natural hair. It took switching hairdressers to a friend from high school for me to finally trust someone with scissors near my head. It was a vulnerable moment for me, and I held my breath throughout, but when she said she’d cut off half an inch and then showed me how little hair that actually was I realized that maybe a trim is not so bad. I still only wore protective styles but when the pandemic hit and I had to actually deal with my natural hair, I really struggled. I have very dense hair, with a mixture of 3B, 4B, and 4C curls, and to put it kindly, my hair had become unmanageable. No matter how many methods or products I tried, my hair was dry and brittle, filled with single-strand fairy knots, and it felt like my hair was just falling off. I tried to learn how to do my own protective styles, but when my hair just ended up looking messy and imperfect, my self-confidence would plummet.
I was desperate for a way to fix it, so when I found myself admiring Blake Gifford and Lily Yange’s hairstyles, I began to think about just cutting off all my hair. I talked about it with my therapist, my mom, and friends, and as I realized that it’s just hair and it will grow back, I came to the conclusion that maybe it was exactly what I needed to do. I ordered the clippers, prepared myself to call my hairdresser/friend if it went completely wrong, poured myself a cocktail, and then just shaved all my hair off on a quiet Saturday afternoon. There was the briefest moment of panic when that first chunk of hair fell, but I didn’t shed a single tear. Turns out, I actually don’t hate short hair, I just really disliked having my autonomy violated.
Cutting all my hair off has served two purposes: it was an easy way for me to just get rid of all the damage and stop fighting with my hair, but it also was a way for me to start over. I unknowingly tied a lot of my identity to what was on my head and would hide away my natural hair as if that was a way to hide. A lot has changed for me over the past decade, including becoming more vocal in my personal and professional life, but as I cut away my hair, there was nothing left for me to hide behind and it felt like I was also cutting away any stress, anxiety, and depression of the past.
With it short, I feel lighter, happier, and—for the first time in a while—truly excited about having healthy natural hair and learning more about it.
How My Routine Has Changed
An unexpected bonus is how effortless the styling is. I quickly realized that I would need to wet my hair daily in order to properly brush out my small, tight curls but my wash day routine has completely changed. Before I would set aside 4-6 hours on a Sunday to wash, deep condition, and dry my hair, whereas my new routine takes less than 10 minutes. While I wet my hair daily, I only wash it every 2-3 days with a gentle shampoo and a conditioner that keeps my hair hydrated. The real hero of my routine is lightweight hair oil. I use a couple of drops of the Olaplex Bonding Oil daily before brushing it out with a boar bristle brush. On days that I wash my hair, I mix some of the oil with the Olaplex Bond Smoother Creme, so that my hair is moisturized and shiny without being weighed down. It took a lot of trial and error, and I went through a lot of product in the process, but I have reached a point where I feel like I have a handle on my hair.
My Favorite Products
If you are considering cutting your hair, I recommend just going for it. Shaving my head was one of the best decisions I ever made (and that’s coming from someone who said for years they never would cut their hair short.)
Short Hair Inspiration
Thinking about going short? Here’s what to show your stylist: