Back To Black – Reclaiming My Natural Hair Color

There is one thing that I have not done in my entire hair journey, that’s to wear my natural black hair color. This is because I have always had a fascination with hair color; brown, golden, blond, orange, you name it, I’ve considered it. When I was relaxed I also had this fascination but after the hair meltdown of 07 when most of my relaxed hair fell out the week following an ill advised cinnamon red box color incident, I curbed my appetite.

I discovered first hand why you absolutely must never color relaxed hair. But when I finally allowed my natural hair to grow the world of color was again opened to me and barely two weeks after my big chop, I got myself my first set of highlights. Oh the wonder! Curls popped and best of all my hair didn’t melt off overnight (as long as I kept up with the protein treatments of course).

In spite of this I still have a slight mistrust of hair color. You may have noticed that I have never in fact colored all my hair. I always choose instead to highlight small sections, particularly near the top, so that when my hair is down gives one the impression that more of my hair is colored than it really is.

Anyway, having established my hair growth rate last year as 4 inches, this year the original plan was to see if I could increase it by way of supplements but you may already know how that went down. Truthfully though I don’t feel as though I’m actively chasing length any more (surely my hair is long enough?) so tracking my growth rate doesn’t seem all that important.

Even though I only just highlighted my hair a short while ago, I thought it was time I rediscovered my black unadorned hair in all it’s glory. I was planning to do a henna/indigo to color but even though I already have 3 packages of henna, for the life of me I couldn’t find indigo in any of the local Asian shops in my area. I was not willing to patiently wait for Amazon to deliver so it was time to unleash good ole Bigen powder color.

I used two boxes of Bigen. A mix of black and oriental black both of which I’m pretty sure are way darker than my off black natural hair color, but I figure that some of the brashness will wear off as time goes on. I guess that my regular henna treatments will also soften the color too over time so I don’t mind.

I am pleased with the results.

Natural hair colored black and blown out

I am attending the Afro hair and beauty event this weekend, actually I am driving to London today. I have racked my brains as to what is an ‘appropriate’ hairstyle for a hair show, especially one that I hear that Afrobella will be attending but having considered the merits of straight, curly or natural texture, I decided what the hell, I haven’t straightened it for a minute so that that’s what I’m doing!

In any case I’ve got a natural hair show (natural hair week) to attend in July so I suppose that I can wear it natural and curly for that event instead. See that’s the problem with being natural, to many choices of how to wear your hair! πŸ™‚

So anyway, I colored, blew out and flat ironed. Nothing y’all haven’t seen before . . .

Flat ironed hair


It's simple and free. Just enter your email address below.

  • MsCurlyKat

    You’re not in the US, so it may be different there, I don’t know the FDA-type laws where you are, but beware, because in the US, Bigen recently changed their formulation to add PPD, which is considered a big no-no, because of its carcinogenic properties. Please double check the label before you use Bigen again. It may be listed as PPD or as para-phenylenediamine. It used to be in all black hair colors except of course the Henna/Indigo process, and a good amount of other haircolors as well. It can also be a potent allergen, and some have been known to develop an allergy to it over time. Conversely, it isn’t rough on your hair. But these days the risks seem to outweigh the benefits. So please be careful! Waiting for an order of Indigo to use in conjunction with your henna is so worth it…

    • I know about ppd in Bigen MsCurlyKat, actually that’s why I tend to use indigo to color mostly but I must confess that at the time I was without patience so call this my version of sailing close to the wind. Terrible I know.

      Still, I occasionally eat barbecue meat, eat burnt toast and even sometimes down a diet coke all of which are also carcinogenic. But what’s life without a little risk?

      • MsCurlyKat

        ah, ’tis true, ’tis true!

      • NubianPrize

        “But what’s life without a little risk? ” That’s one of the things my dad used to say when I begged him for years to stop smoking. Years later he died from colon/lung cancer & emphysema. I found out about PPD years ago & that’s another reason why I quit Bigen. The other being that it made my hair dry & brittle,so it broke off.

        • OK Ms Nubian Prize. Point taken, I will not use any more Bigen anymore. It was the last lot that I had anyway.

  • Nadine Fletcher

    Well Ms Alma it was actually because of your site a while back I chose henna, as my color of choice.

    I have also been searching for Indigo but I decided to order online as well. Since I definitely will not

    be using any Bigen hair color at all. It breaks me out really bad and leaves sores in my scalp. I will

    never, ever go back to it. But I must say your hair does look really nice. But because we love you

    and you supply us such good information. And I’m Patiently ( lol ) awaiting your hardbound or paper

    back hair book. I, just like MsCurlyKat want you to be careful OK!. But I do agree what’s life without

    a little known Risks.

    • Lol, sorry Nadine, I’m being a terrible role model. πŸ™ Well, YOU must never use Bigen, henna/indigo all the way (do as they say not as they do right?)

      Hopefully I won’t keep you waiting too long for that paper back lol, although I find that the site takes up way too much of my time. I mean I’m sick with flu right now and a hundred things need my attention.

      Ah well, the life of the full time blogger. It seemed like the best job in the world when I first started and in a way it is but where other ppl can work 40 hrs per week and forget about work, for us it’s 24/7 . . .

  • Nadine Fletcher

    Hello Alma sorry to hear you have the flu πŸ™ . You know my mama always told me ” one man’s poison
    is another man’s medicine”. And you know Cathy Howse will use no other hair color product but
    Bigen. It works for her. Some people cannot use Henna natural or not. I just loveeee! Henna. So one
    thing I did learn from your site and others is, what works for one may not work for someone else!
    I can attest to this your site has done wonders for my mostly 4b and some 3c type hair.
    So I would welcome your book and lot others too. We can never have too much information on black
    hair and it’s upkeep LOL! I imagine it can get rough for you at times because your Blogs are so
    detailed—–lyyyyy!. Which we loveee. So I know your book would be Good! with all of the information in one place. πŸ™‚ we could go read our books.

    • Awww, You are totally getting a free review copy when I finally publish my book!


    I love your hair… but nobody talks about the gray natural hair.. it is so unruly. it does what it want to do.. i’ve tried everything all kinds of conditioners and I cant stand the gel’s billed up..Plus it won’t even take a color…

    • I’ve only got two or 3 grays at the moment so I don’t really notice the coarseness at the moment TBH. Something to look forward to tho. lol

  • LittleBabyBug Jones

    sounds like me. for ever since high school up until this past year i’d been obsessed witch color, dying my hair and touching up roots like clockwork. about 6 or 7 yrs of basically forgetting what my natural color was. it’s been revealed through my recent efforts as black, almost jet depending on the light, and i have to say, i fell in love with it. but then my old tendencies crept back in, and i ended up dying the 10 inches of jet black curls i’d rediscovered a burgundy, light brownish mix. didn’t like it, and it’s still in my hair. another year of growing it out, of course, and a lesson learned. i’m resolved to never dye my hair again, because through abstaining from dye my eyes were opened to the reality that my hair actually is noticeably smoother when left absolutely chemical free. so no dyes for me. it’s not a horrible difference, but i could tell that my hair tangled more post dye despite protein, whereas prior it was silky and naturally detangled well. hmm.
    in any case, i have liked all the colors you’ve tried (that i’ve seen) and i think i favor…probably the brown/bronze-looking color you had a while back, when you did the post that documented your hair growth? the black is pretty, as in a way, natural’s always best, but that color from back then rly stood out to me πŸ™‚
    but i’m a hair color fiend, so don’t listen at me lol

    • I know exactly the one you mean. I actually thought it was too brash straight after coloring but I got used to it and fell in love. Don’t talk like that though, I still miss my color and I’m still vulnerable but I’m trying to stay as far away as I can until I grow my layers out.

      I can’t say that I noticed anything that different about my colored hair in terms of tangling or silkiness except perhaps that it’s a little bit more prone to breakage so needs to be seriously babied to retain length. πŸ˜‰

  • Robyn

    I know this is LATE, but anyway, here goes. I had a similar melting experience when I highlighted my hair myself – big mistake! My hair broke like it was being paid, I cried at the sad sad sad state of my hair. A friend of mine recommended her stylist to see what we can salvage. My friend’s hair was alos a hot mess before she started going to this stylist and it has become amazing! So I took her word for it and made an appointment. Normally weary of hairdressers in general I walked into the salon with trepidation. Lo and behold, she was brilliant, and cared about the health of my hair. Gentle shampoos, many deep conditioning and steam treatments, scalp massages, quality products and a gentle hand was the name of the game. Two months after going to her every fortnight, my hair was getting back on track, the broken locks grew like wild fire and we gradually trimmed my hair until we arrived at a uniform style. It was short, but back then I liked short hair.

    Mind you, I have always been relaxed, so she nursed my relaxed highlighted busted hair back to health. Once my hair was at its optimal strength for a relaxed head we started playing with colour and she was amazing! At one stage I had about 4 different shades in my hair – my natural dark brown, streaks of auburn reddish brown, streaks of an even brighter red and streaks of bright blond. My hair looked ON FIRE in the sunlight (I miss that so much!). And it was still strong, healthy, no breakage, minimal shedding, beautiful. This stylist has unfortunately moved away, which was the catalyst for me to go on my own hair journey. But from that experience I know that double processing is possible as long as extra care is taken. I’ve been thinking of getting red and blond highlights again this summer, but I know that I need to be even MORE vigilant regarding the care I bestow on my hair if I do. And of course, I shall not be doing such silly things like highlights at home by myself, lol.

    • Interesting Robyn, that stylist sounds like a miracle worker! lol Most of the stylists I’ve ever gone to only give you a deep conditioner for an extra Β£20, they don’t come as standard. sigh.

      See what I wonder is this. I have seen PLENTY of women wish shorter lengths who have very healthy looking double processed hair. What I’m not sure of is if the highlighted hair can remain attached for the 5 years or so that is required for your hair to be considered ‘long’. Perhaps you have seen it at your friend’s salon but personally I have never seen it with my own eyes.

      I remember a relaxed blogger back in the day with the most beautiful thick hair that had been colored lightish brown. At the time she was down to APL or a bit below that but alas that was before I actually followed blogs and I don’t remember her blog now. shame

      Also a long time ago I knew a girl who had shoulder length relaxed hair with the most beautiful red/purple color (all her hair was colored) which looked gorgeous. Unfortunately we lost touch so I don’t know how she’s faring now.

      If you do decide to color, please keep me updated, I would like to know how you maintain your hair and color while growing it long.