CN: Were you a slow transitioner or a Big Chopper & why?
OO: I made the decision to go natural when I was in the 8th grade and have been natural ever since (I am now 23). When I stopped relaxing my hair, I didn't even realize that what I was doing meant I was going natural. I have 3 main reasons I went natural which are:
1) Because my older sister was (copycat)
2) I wanted to stretch my relaxer as long as I could hoping that the next time I relaxed it, it would be as long as this Black girl in my class who had hair past her shoulders
3) I had eczema on my scalp which made applying relaxer an excruciating process
I was tired of the chemical burns and yes, I used "kiddie perms," which in my opinion are the most dangerous! After about a year and a few months of transitioning, the tangling and shedding got annoying. A friend hinted that it was probably time to let go of the relaxed ends. I was a bit reluctant to cut them off because being natural was a very different hairstyle, and not most popular, but I'm glad I did it!
Had you always embraced your texture?
For the most part, I can say that I embraced my texture. In the beginning stages of being natural, I had to adjust to the fact that my curls wouldn't always look defined. Shrinkage was another thing that took me a while to embrace. Sometimes I just wanted my curls to hang but after a while, I realized that it wasn't going to happen unless I did a twist or braid out.
How did family and friends react to your decision to go natural? How did they react to the new you? What was your response to them?When I went natural, I had a couple friends also go natural soon after, so I felt like I had a support team. I did have a friend tell me that my hair looked unkempt, which didn't phase me because I knew that she just wasn't used to the look of natural hair. I had a male friend tell me that more guys would probably "holla" at me if I straightened my hair! My family liked my hair. My dad thought I looked like I was from the 70's and my brothers were fairly indifferent. My sister was also natural so she had to like it, and my mom was weirdly proud that she had a daughter who had long hair! Overall I had fairly mixed reactions but I always tried to respond in a way that was positive or that would help them see why I am natural.
Describe your hair.
My strands are fine to medium in diameter and also thin to medium in density. I have normal porosity up until you get to my ends, which are highly porous (probably due to it being color treated). My hair appears to have an ombre effect, however I just grew out the color I did 2 years ago. I have Type 4C in the front and middle, 4A/3C at the nape. My hair is the most dense in the middle and the least dense at the nape.
What's your current hair routine? How often do you wash, condition, and style? Favorite products! Deets!
I typically wash my hair once a week. I have recently started to use Bentonite clay to clarify my hair once a month. My usual process is to first detangle my hair using Suave black raspberry + white tea conditioner, a Tangle Teezer, shower comb, or just my fingers. As I detangle each section, I plait the sections in big, loose twist, about 5 or 6, or I use a scrunchy or clip to keep sections separate. I shampoo and condition with ApHogee then do a twist out using a mixture of aloe vera juice, Cantu or Garnier Fructis leave-in conditioner, Jojoba oil and castor oil. A variety of my most favorite things to use are Castor and Jojoba oil, Suave, and Bentonite clay.
How do you maintain your hair at night?
It depends on how I plan to wear it the next morning. If I am wearing a twist out that looks like it will last a few more days, I just throw on a bonnet. If I want a more defined curl, I spray my hair with water, re-twist, then put on a bonnet. If for some reason I am not able to use a bonnet, I pull all my hair to the top of my head into a very loose ponytail...like a pineapple.
How do you maintain healthy length?
I maintain healthy length by keeping my ends moisturized and protected. Every now and then, I wear a braided or weaved protective style. When my hair is out, I try to minimize manipulation as much as I can.
What's the best thing about being curly?
The best thing about being curly is inspiring others to be curly! I try to encourage the women that I encounter to go natural, many have and are happy they did. It makes my heart sing! Don't get me wrong, I love changing up my style with braided extensions and weaves, but I feel like there is nothing like being able to embrace the hair that grows out of your head. I love to see women love the hair that God gave them!
Where can folks find you on the web?
I can be found at : www.YouTube.com/MsOkwee