CN: How long have you been natural?
I've been natural for about 11 years.
CN: Were you a long term or short term transitioner, and why?
I guess I was a relatively short term transitioner, if you could even call it transitioning. I BC'd at 6 months post relaxer. Those terms and the idea of "transitioning" didn't exist in my world or vocabulary at the time. I got my first relaxer and hair cut at 13 at a salon. From then on, either my mom or I relaxed my hair once every 6 months with a home perm. I could probably count on my 2 hands (maybe even 1) the number of times I got my hair professionally relaxed. I was too cheap for that. Anywho, at about 26, I had a bad experience with a relaxer that a "stylist" insisted she must put on my hair for a doobie at a Dominican blow out spot. I hadn't had a relaxer in 6 months; my norm. The stylist (if you could even call them that, because it was like a huge factory assembly line in this spot) decided to pull that junk through almost the entire length of my hair and not just the new growth!!! My hair started to break off badly after that. So, that was it for me. Plus, I wore my hair curly even with a relaxer because I worked out 5-6 days a week and sweat like a race horse. I very rarely even wore my hair straight for that reason, because it would have meant putting heat on my salty hair on a daily basis. I knew that was a no-no. So, I relaxed my hair, but then I would use products to scrunch in the curls (my hair was never bone straight anyway). So, the decision to go natural was easy and practical for me. I didn't wear my hair straight anyway and I was experiencing breakage, so at the point when I would have usually gotten another relaxer, I did the BC.
CN: What is your current regimen?
LOL. It's changed a lot since discovering CurlyNikki.com on President's Day 2010=). Currently, I'm participating in the GOC, so I'm trying to follow a very consistent regimen. On a weekly basis, I pre-poo and detangle my dry hair with Vatika oil for 20 minutes to an hour (depending on how I feel). I was using the Tangle Teezer to detangle, but now I'm scared because of Nikki's update about it shredding her ends and the fact that I just got a major trim and have fine strands too! So, I'll probably go back to finger detangling. Then, I wash with DevaCare No Poo for color-treated hair (find it more moisturizing than the regular one). I put my hair in 4 twists, not because it re-tangles easily, but because it helps encourage my wavy sections to be more curly. Lately, I've also been using a black tea rinse to see if it decreases my shedding (picked that up from TiaShauntee's "Her Best Hair" blog=). So, I'll pour the rinse over my hair and put on a plastic cap for 20 minutes. Then, without rinsing the tea, I apply my deep conditioner, which has been Darcy Botanicals Pumpkin Seed Conditioning Rinse as of late. I untwist to apply the DC and then re-twist, then I clip the twists on top of my head, pop the plastic cap back on and go under the bonnet dryer on medium heat for an hour (or, if I don't feel like finishing my hair that night, I'll put my satin bonnet over the plastic cap, then put on my twistie turban and go to bed=). After an hour or when I wake up, I let my hair cool for about 15 minutes. Then I'll usually put a "conditioning rinse" over the deep conditioner before rinsing my hair entirely with cool/cold water. The conditioning rinse is just conditioner thinned with water. Lately, I've been using Aussie Moist for that (newer purchase b/c of CN). But, sometimes I use DevaCare One Conditioner for color treated hair (staple of the last 5 years, at least). Once I rinse the DC, I apply a leave-in to my hair in sections and comb through to make sure my hair is detangled (again, was using the Tangle Teezer, but think I'll go back to my wide tooth shower comb). I then apply a styler for hold and moisture and do a twist and curl (TnC). The TnC has become my staple style over the last year because of CN=). Before that, I was a WnG girl for YEARS! Lately, my leave-in has been DevaCare One. I've been experimenting with a variety of products for styling though, including Shea Moisture Coconut Hibiscus Curl Smoothie, the SM Smoothie or Carol's Daughter Healthy Hair Butter (another long time staple) mixed in my palm with Eco Styler Olive Oil and, most recently, I've been testing a friend's new butter product. I've also used CD's Health Hair Butter and Murray's Lock and Loc gel for installing small two strand twists that I wore for a week. Because I'm participating in the GOC and want to see if I can grow my hair to WL, I've been using TnCs to stretch my hair and then putting my hair up in protective styles (buns, faux hawk, pin curled updo, etc). So, that's my weekly regimen. I also try to henna once a month and use Nikki's basic recipe, except I use 100g Jamila henna with 50g Dulhan. I use brewed green tea as my acid, add honey and sometimes I'll use Sally's GVP Conditioning Balm in the mix too. I had been doing a full head of henna 2-3 a month, but my curls have really loosened, and that is not a side effect I desired. I tried amla to preserve the curl, but I experienced a lot of itching with it and think it irritated my scalp and caused excessive shedding last year. So, my new plan is to henna only my roots and do a gloss on the length. I won't give up henna because I love, love, LOVE the red color and it makes my crazy amount of greys look like fire red highlights. Well, I LOVE the highlights in the front. In the back, it makes my head look patchy (lol), so I use a two step henna and indigo for the entire back half of my head=).
CN: How do you maintain Length? Moisture?
I never struggled with maintaining length, but I've achieved my longest hair in the last year, which is about an inch past BSL. Recently, I requested a "trim" that turned into a cut and it looks like I've lost a couple of inches=/. I have learned over the years that there are probably four things that stimulate my hair's growth and allow me to maintain a healthy, moisturized head of hair. Those things are deep conditioning every time I wash my hair (once a week or every two weeks), applying a leave-in conditioner and combing through my hair before styling (learned from a Ouidad stylist - makes detangling a breeze the next wash session and keeps my hair moisturized), using a hair butter or oil to seal moisture into my ends and staying away from protein heavy products (conditioners, stylers and gels - thanks Nik;-). Oh, and there is one more thing that I think has been very important, but has not been in my regimen as of late. If I am wearing a WnG, I never re-wet/re-fresh with water. If I re-wet/re-fresh it is with a leave-in conditioner (like Infusium 23) or a regular conditioner diluted with water.
CN: Night time routine?
I sleep on a satin pillowcase and wear either a satin scarf, bonnet or both. I sometimes pineapple if wearing a TnC, but it's still not the best solution for me. My nape hair is almost completely straight and I have to work to make it blend in with the rest of my hair. The pineapple can stretch that hair and ruin my blending efforts. However, given that I've been wearing a lot of protective styles lately, I haven't had to worry about securing loose hairstyles.
CN: What would you tell a new natural, or transitioning diva?
You know, the most important thing for me to tell a new natural or transitioning diva is to love their own head of hair. I think we all have moments of curl envy as we see all the gorgeous heads of hair out there. You may think that someone has the most fabulous head of hair ever and that they couldn't want anything else, but you'd probably be completely wrong. I drool over hair of all different shapes, lengths, curliness, kinkiness, thickness, etc. and wish for thicker hair, curlier hair, hair with more shrinkage, longer hair etc. But, at the end of the day, I'm good with my head of hair=). I enjoy it immensely. So, I think it's important to look at these blogs and youtube videos with a healthy appreciation for all the variety out there, but a healthy appreciation for your own head of hair too. There's nothing I hate more (well, that may be a fib ... but, I'm trying to prove a point;-), then someone saying "you have 'good' hair" or that, if they had my grade of hair, they would have been natural years ago. It's nothing against the person who says it, but I get annoyed that our world that has "taught" people this lie. I just want them to know that no matter the texture or length of their hair, it is and can be beautiful if they take the time and have the patience to learn how to treat their hair well.
CN: What's the best thing about being naturally glamorous?
For me, the best thing is inspiring others to be naturally glamorous! My sister and mom both went natural shortly after I did. My mom rocked a short, tapered cut with a Jerri Curl for a couple of decades!! Long before I decided to stop getting relaxers, my sisters and I would constantly tell her she should stop getting Jerri Curls because the "new growth" at her shaved nape was full of gorgeous curls! So, it was very rewarding when my youngest sister, then my mom, went natural within a few years of my BC. All of our textures are different and I constantly want to get my hands in their curlier heads to experiment with all of the styles that I've learned over the last year=)! Also, a few people at my job went natural after I did, and I think I was the one who inspired them to do so. So, it is really rewarding to see others let go of the "chemical dependency" and embrace healthier hair.
CN: Anything else you want to add?
Yes. Thank YOU Nik for all that you do. Since finding your site (at the recommendation of a friend - Thanks Meesa!), I discovered this whole online universe of natural hair. However, your site, with the information, inspiration and support you provide, is the best out there by far. YOU are my natural hair staple=). So, thank you for starting and maintaining such a wonderful place for all of us to visit, even in the midst of new and far more important responsibilities in your life. YOU are MY Hair Idol=).
February 27, 2011