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Since going natural more than seven years ago, I can say that I have spent a pretty penny on hair care in that time frame.

You would think that maintenance for the hair that naturally grows out of your scalp would be easier (and less expensive), but that hasn’t been the case. Here are a few of the costs I’ve incurred during my natural journey.

Hair products

I am a self-admitted recovering hair product junkie. When I first went natural, I thought it was mandatory to try every “essential” shampoo/leave-in conditioner/twisting cream. I spent $10-$20 per item to see if this would be the magical product to transform my curls into the luxurious locks of the Youtube natural hair vloggers. Many dollars and unused products later, I realized that magical product probably didn’t exist. Then I stumbled upon Curlbox, a $25 monthly subscription box with sample and full-sized bottles of natural hair products. Since I spent more than $25 on one or two products, Curlbox was the answer to my natural girl prayers. I could get more bang for my buck, and indulge my inner product junkie. A few months into my Curlbox subscription, every shelf in my bathroom closet was filled with hair goodies. I noticed I was receiving a box before I finished trying the products from the previous one. Also, my frugal senses were beginning to tingle, and I questioned if it made financial sense to spend $300 a year on hair products. I canceled my Curlbox subscription and vowed not to buy new products until I finished using what I had. I’m proud to say that I currently own shampoo, conditioner, and 1-2 hair mask treatments and curl creams. This may sound like a lot, but for a former product junkie, it’s major progress!

Total cost: $300-$500 (1-year Curlbox subscription + products bought on my own)

A snapshot of my hair products…and this is only about 1/3rd of what I owned at the time.


Coloring services

Anyone who has been in the military knows there aren’t many hair color options you can try when you’re in (or out of) uniform. I colored my hair a lot as a teenager, but never had the opportunity to do so during active duty. I suppose I could have colored my hair during times that I was on leave, or worn a wig to conceal colored hair while in uniform. However, wigs have never been my thing, and rocking colored hair for a couple weeks felt like a waste to me. Once that DD-214 was in my hands though, it was on like Donkey Kong! I quickly scheduled an appointment with a stylist to get purple highlights put in. It was nice, but a bit subtler than what I wanted, so I went to a local beauty school for something bolder. The stylist told me she would need to “strip” my natural color before putting more purple in, and she bleached my hair to get the process started. She didn’t have the color that I needed at the salon, but said she could finish the color at her house later that week. I left the salon that day with blonde hair, and I was kinda digging it, so I kept the blonde for a few months. The same year, I was done with life as a blonde, and went to ANOTHER stylist for a magenta/burgundy dye job (I was out of control, I know).

Total cost: $250

Repairing damage from coloring services

So yeah…all that dying and frying really did a number on my hair. I didn’t realize it until I attempted a twist-out, only to discover that my ends were limp and lifeless. This threw me into damage-control mode and I immediately researched what I could do to save my hair. I tried protein treatments to restore my hair’s resilience, and kept it in low-maintenance styles like braids or twists. As my hair grew, I trimmed the damaged ends little by little, but grew frustrated with the multiple textures, and eventually got a tapered haircut.

Total cost: $75

Days when I can’t deal

Managing natural hair is just as much of a challenge as keeping it relaxed (if not more). I have thick hair with a mind of its own, and once I’m done working, spending time with my husband, doing homework, and other errands, I hardly have time or patience to do my hair. I usually do single-strand twists, the only style that I know will produce hair suitable to leave the house with. Going to a hairdresser is a luxury, but I make an appointment when I want something different, or if I’m on the verge of chopping all my hair off because it won’t cooperate. I’ve spent anywhere from $60 for a perm rod set to $150 for micro braids during my first deployment. I know it sounds crazy to spend that much on a hairstyle, but after dealing with sore muscles from fighting with my hair, I almost feel like I should pay more. I will continue to do my own hair, but I’m making room in my budget for days that I’d rather pay someone to deal with my crazy mane.

Total cost: $885

How much money have you spent since going natural? Do you prefer to manage your hair or let a hairdresser deal with it?

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