Were you a slow transitioner or a Big Chopper & why? (tell us your natural hair journey)
I did both. What I mean by that is, it took me seven years to fully go Natural. In a span of seven years I Big Chopped three times. Prior to 2008 I had no clue what I was doing, not a clue as to what going natural even meant. As I began my first year of college, I was changing as a woman and so was my hair. I was clear about one thing and that was that I HATED perming my hair. I hated the burning sensation during the process and the hair burns (scabs) that formed afterwards. I hated perming my hair so much that I would stretch it to 2 perms a year. And once my hair wasn't maintaining any length I remember my then hair stylist would blame me for the hair loss because I was not perming as often as I should have been (huh? really?).
I grew frustrated and became determined to define my hair destiny. I was on the hunt to discover how I could have blow in the wind curls. Ha ha. At the time I did everything I could under the sun, I experimented with texturizers, straw sets, wigs, weaves, water curls, I even did the Debbi Allen’s hair smoother, who remembers that? I was clearly on a mission to define my hair’s fate.
Until one day my hair caught on fire at a Christmas party, and to my dismay I took this as a sign from God that it was time to stop the madness. Six months later I moved to Brazil and felt pressured by society to have silky wavy hair, so I decided to texturize my hair one more time. But this time I regretted it and tried to transition without Big Chopping. That transition period only lasted for 5 months and then under the scissors I went again. This time I cut my hair off inch by inch and swore to never touch a texturizer or anything that will chemically alter my hair again.
Had you always embraced your texture?
Nope! During those seven years of trying to go natural I was always trying to create ways to get that perfect curl by using texturizers. But after getting fed up with what I thought 'looked beautiful,' I decided no matter what my curl pattern is after this Big Chop I am going to embrace the hair that God has given me. Yes I had to throw God into the mix because at times I don't know how I else I got through the rough bad hair days and weeks. Thank God also for resources like CurlyNikki and YouTube channels that assisted me to stay hopeful. Mental development and confidence assisted me to embrace my texture.
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 real family, specifically my Dad was relieved I remember him saying "finally, it's about time you just embraced your hair and stop putting fake hair in it." However, since I did my last Big Chop (2008) while I was living in Brazil, my Brazilian family was not very supportive of it. Mainly because they didn't understand what I was doing. Many of my friends' initial reaction was unwelcoming. I was often greeted with a weird frown followed with the question "Why did you cut your hair off?" I often responded, "I cut my hair off because I want to get to know who the true Añya Grant is."
Describe your hair (fine or coarse, thin or thick, highly porous, low, etc.)
It is very difficult to define my hair because I have 3 distinctly different hair textures. My individual hair strands are very thin. The very back of my hair is fine and often produces amazing definition, resulting in neat and defined ringlets. The middle of my hair is really dense and coarse, very difficult to detangle and has the shortest growing point. The front of my hair has thin, frizzy waves and is often very difficult to define. In order for all three hair textures to look uniformed and defined, with the right product, I often leave my twist in for 2-3 days before doing a twist out, and that seems to always do the trick. As of recently I've been trying styles with flexi rods and that really helps to mask the battle that I have with my 3-textured hair.
What's your current hair routine? How often do you wash, condition, and style? favorite products! Deets!
My hair routine starts on Sundays or Saturday night if I decide to deep treat my hair or if I have no Saturday night plans.
Step 1: I wash my hair every 2 weeks with one of my 2 favourite shampoos, 1. Shea Moisture Organic African Soap Deep Cleansing Shampoo 2. Trader Joes Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo. I wash my hair once and sometimes (depending how dirty my hair is) I add a few drops of Tea Tree oil.
Step 2a: I apply my favorite deep treatment to date, Camille Rose Naturals Algae Renew Deep Conditioner. Other times I deep treat my hair with Henna or Shikakai powder.
Step 2b: I either sleep with the conditioner in my hair and then rinse in the morning or I sit under my Huetiful Steamer and then rinse.
Step 3: I apply a conditioner to my hair, I'm still on the hunt for a good hair conditioner that I love. I'm currently using Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner, which I like a lot, then I give my scalp a 5 minute massage, and rinse.
Step 4: I apply another conditioner to my hair, one with lots of slippage, currently I'm using Suave Naturals Conditioner, detangle my hair in sections with a wide teeth comb or brittle brush, twist Hair in sections, and rinse.
Step 5: I apply a leave-in-conditioner. Despite the smell I actually really enjoy Giovanni Direct Leave-in Weightless Moisture Conditioner. I detangle my hair in sections first with my fingers then with either my Denman or Twister brush.
Step 6: I apply a moisturizer to each section of my hair - my ultimate favorite moisturizer to date is Koils By Nature Hair Butter, but unfortunately it is not readily accessible in my city so I'm still working on finding my 2nd favorite. I'm currently using A Life Balanced Hair Butter or Shea Moisture CH Curl & Style Milk.
Step 7: I style my hair, preferably in chunky tight twists.
Step 8: I moisturize my hair at night and then keep hair in style until washday.
How do you maintain your hair at night?
I spritz my hair with a little moisturizer; I'm currently using Alikay Naturals Lemongrass Leave-in Conditioner or Amazing Botanicals Aloe Mint Spritz. Every other night I place a small clear plastic bag over my hair, secure it with a knot, followed by my hair bonnet on top for added protection from my pillow case and bed sheets.
How do you maintain healthy length?
I've been really bad with this I think, or maybe I'm a little tough on myself, however I often compare my hair length with other bloggers and with my 5 year Curliversary fast approaching I don't think my hair is as long as it could have been. I've dyed my hair three times since I've been natural, which resulted in me saying bye bye to a lot of damage and split ends. Now that I'm back on maintaining healthy lengths again I have a low maintenance and constant hair routine. As you can see from my hair routine above, I don't do much to my hair. Low hair manipulations and taking lots of vitamins (morning nutritional shakes, a daily vitamin, a monthly body cleanse) really assist me with maintaining hair length.
What's the best thing about being curly?
The best thing about being curly is that I don't have to try and look like anyone else. My curls proclaim to the world who I am, my confidence heightens and my smile is never hidden.
Where can folks find you on the web?