What are your reasons for going natural?
I wear my hair natural for several reasons. The biggest being that I want to “be true to myself”. We all say that but what does it really mean? It means completely embracing who I am in every way possible. I don’t have to live up to societies standards of beauty when I can embrace myself. I can’t do that if I’m chemically changing the molecular structure of any part of my body, including my hair with a relaxer. I can’t do that if I’m wearing synthetic hair and I just don’t want to attach anyone else’s tresses to my head. Weave is hot and heavy. That’s just not for me.
I wore a perm for 22 years before I realized that being myself took courage I didn’t know how my hair truly looked. It would only grow an inch or two before I slapped some creamy crack on it so I finally decided to get to know it in 2011. I made a vow to learn to love it as I learned to style it. I wanted to explore my hair; and more importantly, the values and perceptions I held about it. I must confess, I expected it to be an ugly, hot mess.
How did you transition (or did you BC: Big Chop)?
I transitioned for about six months. The first three I was in contemplation about whether or not I wanted another perm. I spent the last three months trying to blend my long permed ends with my short new-growth. I tried twist-outs but that didn’t work too well. Flat-twist-outs were my thing during that time but I wasn’t used to it. My arms got tired holding my hands up so long and I could never get the top twists right. I randomly big chopped on Halloween 2011. It was too much work and my curls were pretty despite being short. I decided to embrace me; and by doing so, I demand that the rest of the world accept me too, as is.
What emotional struggles, if any, have you faced since going natural?
At first, going natural in itself was scary. I was ashamed of myself because I didn’t know how my hair looked in its natural state, let alone how to maintain it. It was frustrating but I was determined. My sisters have beautiful curls so I was sure I inherited some of that. The problem was I didn’t know what products to use and I had no idea how to style it to bring those curls to life. I turned to YouTube and Pinterest. Unfortunately, all the styles I tried to imitate weren’t appropriate for my hair. I did what I could until I absolutely had to go to work and hoped nobody said anything that made me uncomfortable. I was constantly surprised by the positive reactions I got. My worst hair days were apparently my best look. That’s when I realized that YouTube has some advantages but I had to figure out what products and techniques would make me like the way the curls pop. This led to a lot of anger, apprehension, and excitement.
What’s your go-to style?
My go-to style is a wash & go, even though it’s not as simple as it sounds. It requires some work. The main thing is to remember that water is a curly girl’s best friend. There is no better moisturizer. That’s why we love the way our hair looks when it’s wet. It defines our curls better than anything. After you’ve washed and conditioned your hair (I like LCO), you apply your styling product. I prefer gels, jellies and custard. Cream and butter-based products usually just sit on my low porosity natural hair. For maximum definition, I put the styler on in small sections while my hair is still very wet or damp. I shake it out. If I used too much product, I use a paper towel to soak it up. I put on a sealing oil like POE Organics, JBCO, oil grape seed oil. I finger style it and let it air dry.
What are your favorite products and why?
I rocked hard with The Mane Choice the last summer. I believe in quality over quantity and everything about it this line has said quality. I’m their new self-appointed brand ambassador. First I noticed the packaging. Their marketing person knew how to find me. Purple is royal so every container feels like it’s made for a queen. I feel good buying it. Second, the products work well in my hair. I hate having high expectations for a brand that worked well for everyone else and being totally disappointed afterwards. I like all of the products but some I absolutely love. The Crystal Orchid Biotin Infused Style Gel is my favorite. It defines my curls without making my hair hard and crunchy. It keeps my hair moisturized and shiny. I also like the Tropical Moringa Oil & Honey Daily Moisturizer & Sealing Cream along with the Daily Restorative Spray. They mix well with the gel and are great for refreshing hair for several days. The Mane Choice recently came out with two new lines, the Pink Lemonade & Coconut and the Ancient Egyptian line. I like the regular line the best.
Conditioner is the most important product I use in my hair. I like to deep condition with masques/masks mixed with oils and other ingredients I think my hair needs. I deep condition at least once a week because of the color in my hair. I’m using Mielle Organics right now. I’ve used The Mane Choice, Shea Moisture and Tresemme Naturals Botanique the most along my natural hair journey. I always use a gel in my wash & goes. Eco Style (Aragan or Coconut), Kinky Curly Curling Custard, Camille Rose Naturals Curl Maker, Lottabody Shape Me Custard Gelle with Coconut & Shea Oils are a few that have worked well for me.
What piece of advice would you share with someone who is just starting out? *Please include photos from each stage of your natural hair journey*
My piece of advice for someone who is just starting their natural hair journey is to enjoy the process. Don’t expect your hair to turnout a certain way the first time you try. You have to be patient with yourself and learn what products your hair likes. Water, conditioner and finger detangling will make your hair grow fast. Always sleep with silk or satin protecting your curls. Don’t waste your time transitioning. The only way to really get to know your natural hair and learn how to make your curls pop is to work with it. The permed ends only takes too much time and frustrate you.