Were you a slow transitioner or a Big Chopper & why?
I transitioned for just short of a year and then I big chopped. I received my last perm in December 2011, after searching for a stylist I allowed a new beautician to perm and color my hair for me. It was a horrible experience, and I decided not to return to this beautician. In about February it was time for me to get another perm and I again had no one whom I trusted to perm my hair. At this point I started thinking maybe I didn’t need a perm- I can just continue to straighten my hair by flat ironing it. In March I found my way to YouTube, Curly Nikki and various other websites. I originally I had no intention of wearing my hair naturally or curly, but after reading stories and watching various videos, I felt like I had to. I was reading one particular blog which stated if you flat iron your hair repeatedly while transitioning you will miss out on seeing and learning your natural hair texture. I haven’t flat ironed my hair since that day in March.
Had you always embraced your texture?
My entire life, even when I had a perm, I enjoyed my hair. But there was definitely a transition period of learning how to feel beautiful with my new texture. Especially while transitioning both before and after my big chop.
Prior to going natural I had been wearing weaves for about a year, so I had begun to see myself as beautiful with long straight hair. It took time for me to find the beauty in my curly fro. When I first began transitioning I was trying different styles, but no matter how good I thought my hair looked something always felt a little off. I finally realized that that something was my perception and my mind.
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?
My interactions with my family and friends spanned all spectrums. I had friends that responded with “make sure you aren’t walking around looking crazy” to friends who were excited and happy that I was joining them on the journey. I was actually lucky enough to have a few friends who started the journey around the same time as me so we were able to bounce different ideas off of each other, including the good, the bad and the ugly. My male friends were the ones who I felt gave the most colorful answers regarding my going natural. Some of them told me it didn’t count that I was going natural because my hair was curly, others thought it was great, and the rest turned up the nose at the idea of anyone going natural.
Most of my family was very supportive, but mostly in a do-whatever-you-want kind of fashion. My boyfriend told me to do whatever made me happy as long as I didn’t cut my hair.
Describe your hair.
My hair is thick and mostly curly; some areas of my head are a lot tighter than others. As I go through the natural hair process and learn how to moisturize my hair more and more I can see my curl pattern developing and coming out a lot more.
What's your current hair routine? How often do you wash, condition, and style? favorite products! Deets!
Currently I co-wash my hair once to twice a week with DevaChan One Condition. One of these washes normally includes a deep conditioner.
On my big wash day (the wash which includes a deep conditioner) I detangle my hair with DevaChan One Condition and then rinse that out and then I deep condition. Recently I have been using an Alikay Naturals deep conditioner, but I have not yet found a deep conditioner that I want to keep in heavy rotation. Once I have the deep conditioner in my hair, I sit under my steamer for about 20 minutes. Then depending on my plans for the next day I either sleep with my deep conditioner in my head or wash it out and prepare for the next day’s style.
Once a month I will co-wash with AsIAm Coconut Co wash to cleanse my scalp. I stopped using shampoo this past February.
My favorite style right now is a chunking twist out. I love the texture as well as how big I can make my fro because my hair is so stretched.
How do you maintain your hair at night?
At night I either pineapple or put 2-4 twists in, depending on what I’m going to do with my hair the next day and how old my style is. The first 2-3 days after my wash and style I always pineapple at night, and after that it becomes twists or I’ll do a quick wash and go.
How do you maintain healthy length?
I maintain healthy length by making sure my whole head, especially my ends, are super moisturized. After my wash I make sure to lock in moisture with castor oil or olive oil. In addition to this I also make sure to be gentle with my hair when detangling. I finger detangle and make sure that I am delicate when I remove the knots and tangles, as opposed to pulling them out.
What's the best thing about being curly?
The best thing about being curly is that I finally feel like my hair matches my personality, because I can make my hair look however I feel that day. Also I no longer have to go to the salon and I have become the DIY queen. I put in my own twists and braids and I make sure I moisturize, so I have full responsibility for the health and look of my hair.
Where can folks find you on the web?
I can be found on both Twitter and Instagram as @juss_shakira,
I can also be found on Facebook under my name Shakira Wallace, and my tumblr is on the way :)