Were you a slow transitioner or a Big Chopper & why?
I was definitely a big chopper. I’ve actually done it twice. Growing up I always had long natural hair, up until about the age of 14. I think I was in 8th grade when my mom finally gave in and let me get a relaxer. My hair was all the way past my waist when the hairdresser first put the chemicals in my hair. Over the next few years it started to get really thin and ‘melty,’ and started to break off. By the time I was a junior in high school I had dyed the ends and cut it in a million different ways. By then I was tired of my hair being so paper thin and breaking, and I wanted it back curly. In about 2005 I buzzed it off.
I let my little afro grow out for about a year until it was past my shoulders. I dyed it blue/black and gave myself blonde high lights - bad idea. I was in college and frustrated with trying to deal with my hair in a dorm room, so one Friday night I permed it again. In about a week I was really sad and hated it, so I buzzed my hair off again. This time I pretty much looked like a monk. I was basically bald.
After that incident, it grew out a couple of months and I bleached my hair white, dyed it pink, black, brown, silver, gold and then put a texturizer in it at the suggestion of a friend. It basically melted off due to all of the over-processing, hahaha. I cut it again. Then I got multiple sets of Kinky-twists. Oh I randomly shaved one side off over my ear one day. My scalp was super white so it looked really bad. I had to keep it covered with a scarf until it grew back. A couple of years ago, I cut out the last of the texturizer. After that I calmed down and left it alone. My hair has been pretty basic and regular since then.
Had you always embraced your texture?
When I was younger I didn’t care one way or the other about my hair. I wasn’t really aware I had it, except for when my mom had to do it, or when people would tell me how long it was when she pressed it for special occasions. I do remember vividly that I loved individual braids. My mom would sit down for 6-8 hours when I was about to go to camp or on summer vacation. She put it in so many little braids with the front cornrowed back. I hated the process, but I always endured it because I knew after she was done, I wouldn’t have to mess with it for at least a month. I never really liked to get my hair combed. You could say I’m tender headed. I didn’t start to care about my hair until I was going into high school and had to deal with it every day. It was super thick and long and I was pretty overwhelmed. In my mind, straight was easy and curly was hard to deal with. That’s why I ended up perming it, not because I hated it, but because I was really active in sports and dance. It was too much for me.
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?
The first time I cut all my hair off I was 16 or 17 and went by myself to a random beauty shop. It was about 3 or 4 inches long. I totally caught my mom by surprise when I came home. She wouldn’t speak to me, I think she cried. My brother told me I looked like a boy… When my dad saw it, he didn’t really care because it was my hair. He said “Do you like it? I think it looks good on you. If you like it, I like it.” That was by far the best response hahaha. Friends at school liked it too, but 5,000 people must have asked me why I cut my hair.
My freshmen year in college, when I buzzed it off myself with a pair of clippers in my dorm room, I came home for the next weekend. My mom asked me if I liked girls. I remember my friends started making little comments about whether or not I was a lesbian. One in particular didn’t want to be seen with me because she didn’t want people to think we were together. We had been best friends since we were 11. I stopped associating with her soon after (not just because of that, she had made some racist comments about illegal immigrants as well).
I had some artsy friends who were majoring in fashion design, drawing and painting who loved it. They said I looked like a model. That was nice.
Pretty much everyone loves my hair now, especially my mom. I think it’s just because my hair has gotten longer. It’s almost waist length. I think it’s funny how people judge you on something so surface-level. I’m exactly the same person, but I don’t get weird questions anymore. When it was shorter, strangers used to ask me every day if I was a boy or why I had “boy hair.” To be fair at the time, I was really into punk rock too, so that could be part of it, hahaha. Also, I’m from Texas >_<
Now people just ask me if I’m mixed (no), tell me they like my “dreads”, or ask how I “got my hair that way.” Overall I was really offended that people started treating me differently when I started wearing short natural hair or an afro. I’m still surprised by how many people assumed I was a lesbian or a boy. The whole thing made me kind of insecure for a while.
Describe your hair.
My hair is super, super thick. It’s fine, 4a and curly all around the sides and nape (kitchen). My crown is mostly 4B and it’s very coarse and hard to comb. That is where I get the most knots. The front is kind of like a wavy “S”pattern and very thick. This part straightens out pretty easily but is not very defined without some kind of product or gel. Otherwise, it just looks like fluff. That’s kind of the case for all of my hair. Without mud hair wash or some kind of gel or leave in, it’s very fluffy and undefined. Without coconut oil, it dries out, knots and tangles up easily.
What's your current hair routine? How often do you wash, condition, and style? favorite products! Deets!
My hair routine has changed recently because the longer length has been giving me knots, but there I basically wear my hair in three ways.
When I am going to straighten my hair, I put it in 8-12 sections (twists) and separate them with those big plastic clips. I wash each section separately with V05 Moisture Milks Strawberry shampoo, and then again with Neutragena T-Gel shampoo. I do it twice because the first time, it usually doesn’t lather up and I need that lather! I know, I know, don’t judge me, hahaha. After that I put Tresemme Natural’s Nourishing Moisture Conditioner in the pump bottle on each section and smooth it. Then I detangle from the bottom with a wide toothed comb under the water and comb it though. After that I twist the section up. When I’m done with my whole head, I wrap a towel around my hair, turban style, and finish other showering business. Then I take the towel off, flip it around to the dry side, and put it on again. When I get out of the shower, I let my hair air dry. The next day, I straighten it.
To start the straightening process, I take a small amount of coconut oil and distribute it on a twist. Then I squeeze out a tiny pump of the Frizz-Ease anti-frizz serum with thermal protectant in it and distribute that over that twist as well from root to tip. I just smooth with my hands. When I’m done, I blow dry each section from bottom to top with my Gold n’ Hot dryer with the comb attachment. Then I twist that section up. I do my whole head like that. When I’m done, I get out my CHI. I split each twist into two sections and using a Denman brush, do the “chaser” method. Sometimes I break the twist into smaller sections depending on how thick it is. Usually flat ironing doesn’t take long because the blow dryer gets it pretty straight and tangle free. When I’m done flat ironing, I put it in a bun as usual, hahaha. Straightening for me is really about convenience. I get fewer knots that I have to cut out.
If I wear my hair curly, I wash it the same way (in sections) and leave the twists in to dry. If I’m going to do a twist out, I wash my hair in eight sections. After it’s dry I rub a generous amount of coconut oil over all my hair while still in twists and separate each of the eight twists into two (because there’s two sections). I leave my hair in those twists until I’m ready to wear the twist out for up to seven days. When I’m ready, I just untwist and separate…the end J. Sometimes my hair gets in my face, so I tend to twist small sections in the front back up and put them behind my ears so I can see!
If I wear a wash and go, I wash my hair just like I would if I was going to straighten it, only I dry it with a t-shirt, lightly, instead. When I get out of the shower, I take down one of the eight sections. I split the twist into two and add Proclaim curl activator gel to each, smoothing on about a quarter size amount. Then I use the same amount of Eco Styler gel from roots to ends. I smooth it down with my hands, I don’t comb it through. Then I let it air dry. If I’m in a hurry, I just blow dry the heck out of it with a regular blow drier and fluff. Sad, but true.
Each of these hair styles I wear for at least a week. I gotta make ‘em stretch! I wash my hair weekly if it’s curly and every two weeks if it’s straight.
My staple products are:
Shampoo: V05 Moisture Milks Strawberry, or Neutrogena T-Gel Shampoo. I get an itchy scalp and co-washing just doesn’t do it for me.
Conditioner: Tresemme Naturals Nourishing Moisture . It’s super slippery and makes my hair soft.
Tools: Wide tooth comb, Denman Brush, Rat-tail comb, CHI flat iron, Gold and Hot Blow Dryer, $9 Sunbeam blow dryer
Oils:Organic, Virgin, Unrefined, Cold Pressed Coconut Oil (NOW Brand), Frizz-Ease Thermal Protectant Formula Anti Frizz Serum
Oh, and I trim the ends 2-3x a year, depending on how they look.
How do you maintain your hair at night?
When my hair is curly, I just pull it up into a high samurai bun and sleep on a satin pillow case. If I’m wearing my hair straight, I put it in a high bun and tie a satin scarf around the front to stop my edges from getting fuzzy. I’m pretty low maintenance when it comes to my hair in general.
How do you maintain healthy length?
The biggest thing for me is to be careful when I’m combing. I only comb my hair in two ways: (1) If my hair has been straightened or blow dried, I section it in at least four sections, add an oil like coconut or Frizz-Ease and comb carefully from bottom to top with a wide tooth comb. (2) If my hair is curly I only comb it if it’s soaked with water and enough conditioner to give it that “sea-weed” feeling the hair bloggers always talk about. I have to have very high water pressure for this. I section it in 8-12 sections with clips in the shower and detangle with a wide tooth comb that way. Tresemme Naturals Nourishing Moisture Conditioner has worked really well for me in this area.
I also think the fact that I’m really lazy when it comes to my hair and don’t do many styles keeps it healthy. I just don’t have the time, patience, or skill to do anything really intricate or time consuming to my hair. When I was in college, I liked to do mini twists because after you wash them, they tend to look all fluffy and soft like locks. I had to stop that because I was getting too many single strand knots that I had to cut out. I also used to like kinky twists so that I wouldn’t have to mess with my hair, but they were expensive and left me with a lot of buildup…and sometimes my hair would lock. For some reason, small twists give me a lot of knots when it’s time to take them out, so I don’t do that.
What's the best thing about being curly?
The best thing about being curly is that my hair can do all kinds of things. It can be straight, or curly, or an afro, all in the same day. It can hold braids and twists without hair ties or clips. I also like that I can have all kinds of volume with no effort. I like that my curls are very unique to me. I haven’t met anyone with hair just like mine yet. My curls make me feel special.
Where can folks find you on the web?