How long have you been natural?
I have been natural since 2005. I first tried during summer break of 2000, but sadly, my mom wasn't having it when school started so I restarted my journey in April of 2011.
What motivated you to go natural?
I decided to stop relaxing because I wanted options. I wanted to be able to switch from straight to curly whenever I wanted. I also loved highlights and knew I couldn't have both a relaxer and dye in my hair. So, I chose color.
Were you a transitioner or a Big Chopper & why?
Fortunately, I have both transitioned and big chopped. I decided to cut my hair long after I stopped getting relaxers in October of 2005 and my hair had grown to bra strap length. I let my sister's college friend braid my hair as a protective style, but ironically, the take down was devastating. I had to cut it shoulder length. Soon after, I saw a gorgeous short cut and was inspired to be adventurous. I went to a stylist that was known for her short haircuts and I just KNEW she was gonna hook me up. I let her cut my hair in a short pixie and after, she said "if you want it to look like the picture, you're gonna have to RELAX it". I was hot! I walked out in tears because I felt as if I couldn’t get the look I wanted the natural way. At that point, I had been begging my mother for a "perm" since I was 9, and I was tired of the hassle. Sticking to my initial promise to myself and my hair, I got a new cut the weekend of the Circle City Classic, a huge event in the HBCU world. I thought I was gonna be FLY for the weekend, but with the new cut, I looked horrible. My friends grabbed a bucket of brown gel and went to work.
After 5 years of being natural, I thought I had the swing of things. I had tried it all. Obviously not on the same page as I was, my hair said no more! It was completely damaged from hair color and heat damage, two patches had completely melted and broken off during a highlighting session and what was left was bone straight. April 2011 was the official start of my transition. Even though I had a bad experience with the big chop, I’m grateful for the ability to understand both methods of going natural.
How would you describe your hair?
I would describe my hair as an attention seeker. No matter what style we choose for the day, (yes, “we”, because my hair has a mind of her own) I will get some stares and questions. My texture is closer to coarse waves than actual curls and I have ringlets in the very back and side edges. My texture is also finer in those sections.
What do you love most about your hair?
I absolutely love my hair for the versatility. I can go bone straight or wild and crazy. It responds to the elements and steers my attention toward things I never considered important. For example, I know to pay careful attention to the weather and dew point because experience has taught me that a bad hair day is sure to follow if I don’t do my homework!
What has been the most memorable part of your journey?
The most memorable moment of my journey is the learning curve. It's been almost 8 years and I’ve finally got a firm grip on the ropes. I am so lucky to have a huge family with lots of women whom I have encouraged to stop relaxing. The women in my family are 100% natural, and I’m so proud that I’ve helped them see that healthy hair is beautiful hair. It doesn’t have to be a certain texture or certain color. I’ve given countless pieces of advice and spent so much time with all of my gorgeous ladies. We all have different textures. It’s amazing that no matter if we are sisters or cousins, not one texture is the same. We’re also all in different stages of our journey, ranging from many years natural to recently transitioning to locs and Sisterlocks. They keep the journey fun! Plus, we’re our own natural hair community, supporting and rooting each other on. Going natural is an incredible experience, but there’s nothing like going natural with the people you love.
What were some of your favorite transitioning hairstyles?
My favorite transitioning styles are braid-outs and roller sets. I used Curlformers for two years straight, every single week. I would set all my styles on dry hair, since air drying is not my cup of tea. I wish I had a dollar for every time I woke up with wet hair. My current styles include wash and go’s and flexirod sets that I use like a curling wand.
What have your experiences been as a ‘natural?’
My experience has been one of extreme diligence and growth. Taking the time to learn about your hair is so much more that being vain and shallow. Having healthy hair starts from the inside. Having a proper diet and exercise routine will allow your inside health (or beauty?) to shine just as bright on the outside. Being natural has encouraged me to take control of my body. I started competing in fitness competitions after falling in love with being a better me.
What is your hair regimen (including fav products)?
My hair regimen consists of weekly washing and deep conditioning after EVERY shampoo. No exceptions. I always pretreat my hair with an infused oil treatment that I conjured up myself. I shampoo with a gentle or low sulfate shampoo followed by a no sulfate cream shampoo and detangle. Once a month, I’ll clarify to get rid of any build up and start fresh. My weekly deep conditioning session is broken up into 30 minutes with a protein condish and then 20 minutes with a moisturizing condish. If I wash my hair twice in one week, I only use the moisturizing conditioner after the second wash. I then rinse with cold water and style. I use this routine no matter the style but products vary.
What are some of your favorite natural hair websites, YouTuber’s, or blogs?
My favorites are Courtney Natural Hair, Natural Neiicy, Curly Nikki, Taren Guy, and Black Girl Long Hair, just to name a few.
Anything you want the readers to know? Inspirational words?
This is YOUR journey, no two are alike. Getting to know your hair is so much more than the physical aspect of it. It’s about loving and taking care of yourself. To new naturals, be patient. If you make a mistake, it's just hair, learn from it and move on. It will always grow back. To those that have been around for a while... Chill.. it’s just hair. Have fun with it and enjoy the moment.
Where can people find you for more information?
You can find me on Instagram @_nikkilane_. I also have a YouTube channel with my sister MiixMiiBeauti.