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Photo: Hugh Kretschmer

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True to Form
Sales of relaxers—the chemical treatments African American women have used for 100 years to straighten their hair—plummeted almost 40 percent from 2007 to 2012, according to market research firm mintel. (they're predicting a full 50 percent drop by 2017.) and women aren't just quietly ditching; a YouTube search for "transitioning to natural" turns up 100,000 videos of the converted documenting their journey back to their original texture. "the decision to stop relaxing your hair is overwhelming," says hairstylist Edris Nichols, owner of the Edris Salon in New York City, who's helped clients grapple with the choice. "but going natural can be like coming out—a positive and life-changing affirmation."

Next: 3 gorgeous ways to style natural hair