CN: How long have you been natural?
I made the decision to go natural while I was in college and playing rugby (~13 years ago). It started to become WAY too hard to blow-dry and flat-iron my hair after every practice, workout, and game. On top of that, all of the heat started to take a toll (split ends, lots of damage, etc). At some point I decided I wasn't going to blow-dry or flat iron any more! I would just wet it, let it fall and dry naturally. At this point, I reduced my perming/relaxing to about once a year, and even though the reduction of heat helped at first, I was still processing my hair. As a result, the bottom part of my hair was permed, while the top part of my hair was semi-permed and it did not look cute, so I had a friend of mine literally chop off about 4 inches. The chop was for the best. After this, I went on with my routine of getting yearly perms for about 3-4 more years (bad idea) - I thought of this as a way to "maintain" my out of control curls. Also back then, I had a VERY tough time finding products that worked well, so getting this perm would help in some ways. I'm sure you can imagine - eventually these yearly perms also started to wreak havoc. I realized that I was still getting major split ends and damage, plus my true curls were being masked. Finally I decided I never wanted to get a perm again. This was about 5-6 years ago, and I have not had a perm since.
CN: What is your current regimen?
My typical regimen can be described as a “wash & go.” I will wet my hair in the shower, and while under the water I'll detangle with a very wide toothed comb. Then, apply something like a hair milk or light leave-in as a base coat. Then on top of this base coat I will apply something a little thicker (more creamy/fluffy, less grease-like), and finally will add a touch of some kind of gel for hold. Then, air dry. I don’t like to do the wash & go routine everyday so I will also rock a bun about 3-4 times a week. I’m a strong believer in protective styles.
As for products, I like to use ones that are 100% organic, or close to that. I LOVE Karen Body Beautiful’s hair milk and Kinky Curly’s leave in, Oyin’s Shine and Define is the BEST, as well as Shea Moisture’s Coconut & Hisbicus Curl Enhancing Smoothie, and finally the best gels are Aubrey Organic’s B5 and Moisturizing Jelly, as well as Kinky Curly Curling Custard.
I’ll also add, I have tried almost EVERY product out there. It took me some time to realize that these organic products were the ones that made my hair look the best consistently. Living in Philly has also made me realize that I need to change up my regime, depending on the season. Like in the winter, I have to make sure my hair is more moisturized than in the summer.
CN: How do you maintain length? Moisture?
Overall, I think the best advice is to listen to your hair. If my hair is feeling dry, then I'll do a deep condition or coconut oil treatment. If my ends look like they need a trim, I will trim them. If my hair seems to be too heavy or weighed down by products, I will do a co-wash or bentonite clay hair mask. Overall, I listen to my hair and I think that's what helps me maintain length and moisture :)
CN: How do you protect your curls at night?
If I'm on the heels of a wash & go, then I will put on a silk scarf and just fluff up the curls in the morning. Most of the time, I put my hair up in a loose bun on the top of my head. I think this saves the curls from getting damaged at night.
CN: What would you tell a new natural, or transitioning diva?
I think it's important to note that when you are first transitioning, you may not love your hair right away. But, don't give up! The long term benefits of going natural far outweigh the short term cuteness of a relaxer :) ... I also think that no two naturals are exactly alike, unless you have the same mama and began your transitions at the same time :) ... So, everyone's journey needs to be their own. Take the time to research what works best for you.
CN: What's the best thing about being naturally glamorous?
Going natural with my hair has pushed me to go "natural" in other aspects of my life, both beauty and health-wise. In educating myself about the benefits of using natural products, you can't help but to want to incorporate these benefits in more parts of your life than just your hair. Additionally, I feel a sense of pride in wearing my hair naturally. "Black is Beautiful" is the truth, so I feel like I am doing my part to portray that :)
CN: Anything else you'd like to add?
Gotta say, I think sites like this are wonderful and essential for us Curlies. When I started my transition I honestly felt like I had no direction, so the fact that this exists is wonderful! ... Also, my best friend and I started a blog a couple of years ago to help log our "Natural Journeys," so feel free to check it out! http://www.rachelandjanelle.