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True Life: My Grandmother Went Natural at Age 67 After a Lifetime of Relaxers

• May 15, 2014

by Tyra of Indigenous Curls

tyra indigenous curls grandma

Hope I Look this Good at 70!

Almost 3 Years ago, my grandmother, Jen, unintentionally went natural. For years, she would sit at the edge of her bed with grease, a wide tooth comb and magnetic rollers. She would roll her relaxed, ginger-colored hair in perfectly uniformed sections and place a silk scarf over her head. In the morning, she would unroll her hair and shape her cropped cut. This nightly ritual and her short crop were her staples as she conquered the real estate industry.

Today, she is retired, living a holistic life, using herbal remedies and an exercise regimen to stay fit. Since she spends most of her days doing community service and thrifting, she has little time to deal with the rigors of at home hair care. She began wearing a series of protective braided and weaved styles. She stopped getting relaxers and started taking multivitamins for hair and nails.

At 67 she began transitioning, trimming off a little bit of relaxed hair each time she changed protective styles. She was skeptical of how natural hair would look on her. However, today, she is 100% sold! She says, “Making a few changes to your lifestyle can make a big difference.” After spending nearly 3 years in protective styles and caring for her hair in-between each style, Jen was finally able to take a good look at her hair for the first time last week!

jen natural grandma

She only co-washes, and uses aloe juice to moisturize her hair underneath her protective styles. She uses protein-based deep conditioners in between styles. She also avoids heat and drinks plenty of water daily.

Jen’s First Twistout!!!

jen natural grandma twistout

As my grandmother’s 70th birthday approaches, she can’t believe how long, thick and healthy her hair has grown.

I am excited about this journey I stumbled upon, and I look forward to whatever it brings”.

 

Jen is my Boo, and Nana/grandma, Say Hi!

 

Tyra is a trained cosmetologist, curly hair enthusiast, recruiter, and writer. She big chopped over 3 years ago, & documents her hair journey, while giving 4c hair care tips on her blog Indigenous Curls.  You can follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ckcurls

About Editorial

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69 Comments on "True Life: My Grandmother Went Natural at Age 67 After a Lifetime of Relaxers"

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Miss Elisa K.
Guest

AMEN SISTER!!!! So much wisdom in those strands.

Jeannette (Tyra's Nan)
Guest
Jeannette (Tyra's Nan)

Txs, Miss E.……you are soooo right!

Erinma
Guest

Aww. How cool.

Yoli
Guest

Your hair is beautiful. I am 51 years old and starting my healthy hair journey. You have giving me inspiration. No matter what age you are we can still have healthy hair.

Jeannette (Tyra's Nan)
Guest
Jeannette (Tyra's Nan)

Age is only a number.…we’re always as beautiful as we feel! You go girl!

lala
Guest

its never too late to go natural 🙂 beautiful grandma

Vida
Guest

Awwwwwww!!!!!!!! Best post ever, we love our grandma’s God bless them, mine has been sick this week but thank God she is healing, so sweet, we appreciate and love our elders 3

Jeannette (Tyra's Nan)
Guest
Jeannette (Tyra's Nan)

My love to you and your Grandma Vida. May you both be blessed too!

mlank64
Guest

Now this is really inspiring!!! Kudos to your grandmother. Her hair is gorgeous.

Jeannette (Nana)
Guest

Thank you!

Shamenth
Guest

una historia verdaderamente conmovedora

KP
Guest

Gorgeous! I love hearing stories like this!

Elodie
Guest

My mummy just turned 66 yo and became a natural 4 days ago. I believe she has 3C/4A hair. She is looking for some hairstyles for people her âge. I think it would be nice to think about the older naturels…not everybody can go into a frohawk or some really nice but maybe too original hairstyles.
I hope BGLH will take that into considération and post articles and ions for the older naturels. Thanks in advance 🙂

Mami
Guest

oooh so inspiring! Your grandma is looking good Tyra !!
I have to say that I am really proud of my mom who’s over 56 and big choped over 2 months ago. My grandma IS the reason why I’m going natural: those pictures of a beautiful Senegalese fulani woman had me wondering “what if” and than “WHY NOT”!!
16 months into my 2nd transition and absolutly loving it!

Jeannette (Nana)
Guest

Self-esteem is so very important and you sound like you’ve got a lot of it. Keep on, keeping on. Kudos to you!

Nubiahbella
Guest

First off, I cannot believe that the woman besides you, is your 70 year old grandmother!!!!
In regards to her hair, the saying “it’s never too late” definitely applies here and I love although her advanced aged her hair looks very full and thick.

Jeannette (Nana)
Guest

Right on! Never too late to take BETTER care of ourselves. Thanks for the compliments. I wish you and yours well..

Puff
Guest

Your Nana is so inspiring!! You are both beautiful!

Jeannette (Nana)
Guest

Thank you for your kind comments. We all inspire each other.….Keep it up, ladies.

Queen
Guest

So awesome! Your nana looks absolutely amazing. My mom is about to turn 52 (I’m 22) and when I started transitioning (I still am lol) I convinced her to let me cut her relaxed ends from her Halle Berry pixie cut, and she fell in love with her hair! At 52 years old, she didn’t even know her natural hair was curly! She loves how low maintenance her TWA is and doesn’t plan to grow it out. So I just live through her at this point until I big chop 🙂 lol.

saige
Guest

your grandma is dope 🙂 super dope

Jeannette (Nana)
Guest

I don’t know what that means (smile) but it sounds like I should like it, sooooo Thanks Saige!

rlw
Guest

Never to late to go natural. Very inspirational story !!!

JazzWife
Guest

Well said and well done. Jen, a.k.a. Nana, is an inspiration!! This proves, it’s never too late.

lauryn
Guest

I’m happy to see older women embracing natural hair! I wish my 57-year old mother would be willing to try transitioning, but alas, she is still stuck in the mindset of “good hair/bad hair” that she grew up with. The funniest thing is that, based on her new growth, she probably has what could be called “good” hair.

Jeannette (Nana)
Guest

It’s your Mom’s prerogative to make herself happy in whatever style she is comfortable with. It takes time, planning, and a lot of courage to go natural. Don’t you agree?

anastasia
Guest

Ms. Tyra, you and your grandma make my heart soar!! I LOVE these inspirational stories! Ms. Grandma Jen, you are on my (s)hero list! Btw, Ms. Tyra, you are too cute!!

Aaliyah
Guest

WOWW!!!

smarie
Guest

Sometimes we forget the influence we can have on others. My mom also went natural after watching me as a natural for a few years. She did a chop in her 50’s and never looked back.

April
Guest

How lovely 🙂

Jeannette (Nana)
Guest

Thank you April.….….

nappy headed black girl
Guest

Grandma is working it! Yaasss!

lv
Guest

Good for Grandma. I thought I was breaking ground by transitioning at at 52. My concern with continuing to relax my hair after a certain age: if i lived to reach 90, another 35 years of chemical processing was surely not going to work. I need my hair–even at 90

Jeannette (Nana)
Guest

Wise thinking!

LA
Guest

Really love the positive articles 3 thank you. As smarie shared, I too, as the youngest child, unexpectedly inspired my Baby boomer Mommy and older sister. Never too late. Would love a hairstyle article for older naturals as Elodie stated, to share with my mom who keeps returning to her twists protective style for this reason and hasn’t had her hair out in ages.

LA
Guest

My parents are increasingly organic and holistic as well 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/Neosoulsistahs3000
Guest
https://www.facebook.com/Neosoulsistahs3000

Grandma looks great. Kudos to her for living a healthy lifestyle.

Jeannette (Nana)
Guest

Many thanks… wish you all much wellness too

rileynak
Guest

Quite lovely!
My grandmother also started transitioning middle of last year at the age of 64 (albeit due to getting sick and being unable to maintain a relaxer). She’s doing much better though and I was able to convince her to stay the natural course. Her new growth is like 2B-2C and she’s just going with it.

Jacky
Guest

That’s great! Thanks BGLH for posting!

Redseouls
Guest

Such an inspiring story! Both ladies have great hair!!

Rosie
Guest

I love this!!! My heart smiled.

TyM
Guest

It is great that she is embracing her natural hair, but a lifetime of relaxers? Her mother would have been close to 40 when relaxers rose to popularity, so I highly doubt she relaxed her hair her entire life. Women in the 50s, 60s and 70s lived by the hotcomb not the creamy crack. It wasn’t really until the 80s that everyone just had to have a relaxer.

Miss T
Guest

Black folks been relaxing their hair since the early 1900’s. You can google it.

Jeannette R (Nana)
Guest
Like the many others who have responded with knowledge & facts.…Hair relaxers have been available to black people since the early 1900s. In order to escape the kinks, knotty and coarseness or just to straighten the hair without the use of heat which was not always effective, crème relaxers, pressing oils and the slick-look was the thing to do. Affording beauticians regularly was also an issue for some. Along came the comfort and beauty of wigs, then weaves. Black people like everyone else always wanted to look good too and diverted to whatever worked. That started since early lifetime for… Read more »
od
Guest

The first relaxer was invented in 1913. You might want to educate yourself before you blast on something as trivial as in using the word “lifetime”.

TyM
Guest
Looks like some of you should Google and educate yourself. Just because hair relaxers were invented in the early 1900’s doesn’t mean they were commonly used by black women. It wasn’t until the no-lye relaxer came on the market in the late 70’s that hair relaxers became prevalent and a must have for every black woman. Why don’t you start having conversations with people over 50 and you would know this. My mother is 76 and got her first relaxer in the 1980’s like everyone else. She was in her forties. It wasn’t until the 80’s that the hair relaxer… Read more »
Jeannette Robinson
Guest
Hello TyM, Let history be told. All during my H.S. days (1960–63) I ws forcd to deal with hot combs, pressing oils, humidity, nitely hard hair rollers and bad hair days regardless of all that work. Independent choices in adulthood especially with children, career and a beautician in my, family convinced me of the need for crème relaxers which were available to me in the early 50s. Being comfortable with the easy-combing results (still using rollers every nite) I elide upon these relaxers as a curefor syling, relaxation & career growth, dispite the scalp burns, timing risk and occasional loss… Read more »
TyM
Guest
As I said previously, I am not debating whether relaxers were available. Of course they were, but did they dominate the hair industry prior to the 1980s, where children getting relaxed? No to both of those things. I think it is wonderful that women embrace their natural curls. My last relaxer was nearly 3 years ago and I have no intentions of going back. But I am sick of the misinformation. Black women have not been slaves to the creamy crack for 100+ years. Giving my posts a thumbs down isn’t going to change history. I know this is hard… Read more »
Jeannette (Nana)
Guest
Prior to the 80s, Afro’s were the popular style for Black Americans (male & female)mainly because it required less maintenance, upkeep, care and less costly than going to the Beauty Parlor regularly. Much to say about the natural beauty of it all! No one said, Black women were slaves to crème relaxers for 100 years”, as a statement of fact. Experience and actual facts are noted in history. A Black man, Garret A. Morgan Sr successfully founded his own crème hair relaxer in 1913 (do the math). It wasn’t until 1971 when lye relaxers were produced commercially, followed by no-lye-relaxers.… Read more »
NUbianPrize
Guest

I was a kid in the 60s & I remember women in my neighborhood &college girls getting relaxers. Guys were getting “konks” in the 50s. James Brown had one & so did some high school boys.

s marie dingle
Guest

That is soooo cute, I ain’t gonna lie, cried when I got to the end of the post, lol. Go Nana 3

locdgoddess
Guest

this is great. it is never too late to have thick, healthy hair. this should be a notice to some that just because a person is “of a certain age,” that hair will automatically become thinner and shorter. it really is all about taking care of the hair itself as well as living a healthy lifestyle.

Jeannette (Nana)
Guest

It’s a fact, only if a person actually lived in earlier times can one speak with so much knowledge of the experiences we had with our hair care, styles and upkeep, regardless of whether one was a child, teen or adult. Black hair care was a problem to some. Until no lye cream relaxers became available followed by botanical products it was a lifetime of hassles for most black people who had kinky, course hair. Others happily relied upon wigs, braids, afro’s, etc to ease the expense of professional beauty salons. Indeed, you understand because you were there!

Jeannette R (Nana)
Guest

As we all age, changes in health, diet, lifestyles and daily living will bring a lot of bridges in your lives to cross and changes to bear that will (not may) cause your hair to change in many ways. Thank goodness that some of us can cope with what’s available to succeed in life. Do whatever makes you happy!

Faith
Guest

Ladies in your quest for more knowledge on the origins of black hair care please read Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America by
Ayana Byrd and Lori Tharps. You will not be disappointed.

Namaste,
Faith

Vee Hx
Guest

Her hair looks, thick, lush and beautiful. Props to her!

Jeannette (Tyra's Nan)
Guest
Jeannette (Tyra's Nan)

Txs for the compliment!

Jeannette (Nana)
Guest

Yes Vee, after practically a lifetime of relying on trials of crème relaxers and protective styles, my hair has taken a positive turn for the better once I stopped and started with helpful nutrition of vitamins and better haircare. Too bad it took all these years to learn such a vital message, so now we of the older generation is passing this info on to you.

Jeannette (Nana)
Guest

Whatever you choose to do, just make yourself happy. Please yourself and not worry about what other people do that makes them happy with theirselves. We are all individuals, living various lives and making varied choices in life, that may or may not last a lifetime.

Jeannette (Nana)
Guest

It may have taken your mom some time to transition to a natural hairdo for whatever her reasons, and believe me, I’m sure she had a reason. I’m glad to hear you are both looking good and encouraging each other.

sha-sha
Guest

What a great story! It’s definitely inspiring me to continue with my transition. Thanks for sharing.

Jeannette (Nana)
Guest

Good for you. You’re smart! Take what you’ve learned and go with it. Whatever makes you feel good, let it be.

Jeannette (Nana)
Guest

Thank you Sha-Sha for your comment. You too are an inspiration.

Melissa
Guest

I am extremely late. But, I have to say Nan is gorgeous! Love her freckles. Good for her for embracing her natural hair. I don’t think that she transistioned a little later than some is a bad thing. We are all constantly learning.

Jeannette (Nana)
Guest

Thank you Melissa for your comments. Life is a learning experience in everything we do, at any age. There’s a lifetime of knowledge to be gained, shared and appreciated. Enjoy living!

Crystal Coleman
Guest

This is great!! What’s up with older women and the color ginger My grandma has the exact same routine. Hair color and rollers.

Tyra's Nana
Guest
Hi Crystal C. I am a natural redhead. Yes, there are a great many of us black people with natural red hair, male & female. As you mentioned, the color “ginger” may be dyed by some but I’ve always identified my hair color as “auburn” (reddish brown). Many older woman are so accustomed to using hair rollers nitely and simply never transitioned to newer methods, styles & conveniences. Point is, “whatever makes one happy & content”. I’m sure your grandmother would love to do her hair with less work, but the fact that she is so accustomed to doing it… Read more »
TWA4now
Guest

Congratulations to Ms. Jen and her continual natural hair journey! It goes to show us that age shouldn’t be a factor! Just do it! Thanks for sharing!

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