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April 2, 2013

Gradia is Naturally Glam!


Were you a slow transitioner or a Big Chopper & why? 
I transitioned for 17 months. My hair was just past shoulder length and I wasn’t confident enough to rock a TWA following a Big Chop. I first considered going natural when I saw Tanika Ray on the TV program Extra. I loved how she rocked her natural hair with such confidence!

When I told my stylist that I wanted to wear my hair like Tanika’s, he told me that I didn’t have ‘the right kind of hair’ and that I wouldn’t ‘look right’. Because I didn’t have problems with relaxers ---as I mentioned, my hair length was just past my shoulders---I trusted his opinion and continued to wear my hair relaxed.

In 2009 I watched Chris Rock’s movie, Good Hair. After seeing that movie, I was determined to go natural, whether I had the ‘right kind of hair’ or not. The timing was right because not long after I saw the movie, Essence magazine featured a segment on going natural. (I didn’t know about the natural community on YouTube yet).

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Had you always embraced your texture?
I didn’t embrace my hair texture when I was younger. I hated it. I hated to get my hair washed or wet. Not because it hurt for my mother to comb it out, but because I didn’t like the shrinkage. I never learned to swim because I didn’t want to get my hair wet.



How did family and friends react to your decision to go natural?
Most everyone was supportive. Two of my friends actually commented that they couldn’t believe I hadn’t gone natural years ago. (Me either!) I only had one odd reaction---one person asked me if I was going to ‘start chanting and burning incense’ (IKR?).

How did they react to the new you? What was your response to them?
My family and friends have been quite complimentary of my new look. I’ve also had strangers tell me they really like my hair. I appreciate the compliments. When someone asks me about returning to natural hair, I try to offer helpful information. Going back to natural can be a challenge on many levels, so if I can save someone a few headaches, I’m happy to share what I’ve learned.

Describe your hair (fine or coarse, thin or thick, highly porous, low, etc.)
I don’t know my hair type, as defined by the popular hair typing systems, and I haven’t performed any tests to determine my hair’s porosity. I just know that my hair is coily and fine. It thrives on moisture, and natural oils, creams/butters. My hair is happiest when I don’t go longer than two days without adding moisture.



What's your current hair routine? How often do you wash, condition, and style? Favorite products! Deets!
I’m in the gym 6-7 days a week, so I prefer low manipulation hairstyles that last a few days. I cowash once or twice a week. I use a sulfate-free shampoo every 3-4 weeks. I apply a protein treatment every 6-8 weeks. I sometimes add an ACV rinse every 6-8 weeks too. I deep condition weekly, and I use a leave-in conditioner anytime I cowash or wash my hair.

Regarding the products that I use, I’m a product junkie, so I’m always looking for my next fix!
Here’s what I use now:

• Cowash: VO-5 Strengthening Conditioner line, or As I Am Coconut Cowash
• Shampoo: Giovanni Deep Moisture or any Shea Moisture shampoo
• Clarifying shampoo: Kinky-Curly Come Clean
• Deep conditioner: Giovanni or Shea Moisture (I usually sit under the dryer or steamer when I deep condition)
• Leave-In: Giovanni Direct Leave-In or Kinky-Curly Knot Today
• Protein Treatment: Aphogee 2-Step Protein or Giovanni Smooth As Silk Xtreme
• Styling: Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie, Curls Milkshake or Curls Whipped Cream
• Oils: Natural oil mixture of coconut, EVOO, jojoba, castor, avocado, almond, whatever is handy

How do you maintain your hair at night?
My nighttime routine is pretty simple. I spritz my hair with water or one of my homemade concoctions; I seal my ends, and put my hair in loose two strand twists. If I want my hair to stay stretched for the next day, I’ll wrap the twists, similar to the way I wrapped my hair when I wore it relaxed. I use a silk headscarf and I always sleep on a satin pillowcase.



How do you maintain healthy length?
I wash my hair in twists and finger-detangle in conditioner-soaked sections. I keep my ends moisturized and I often wear a protective style. I converted to roller sets, and ditched the blow dryer/curling iron routine of my relaxed hair phase. I still like roller sets because I can stretch my hair without too much stress.

What's the best thing about being curly?
Walking, not running, in the rain!

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