How long have you been natural?
I was first natural as a child and had really long, frizzy hair that was hard to tame but my mom kept it braided, in pigtails, and hot combed. I got my first perm at age 8 by my aunt (without Mom's consent) so needless to say she was irate. It eventually grew out and once I turned 13, I started getting relaxers again about 2 or 3 times a year until I moved to Maryland at the age of 16. There I discovered I could do my own relaxer and hair color. After a while it became entirely too frequent to the point that it got so thin and unhealthy I was forced to go cold turkey and officially went “natural” fall 2005 (although I didn’t know it was going natural at the time). It will be 8 years this fall.
What motivated you to transition? Were you a transitioner or a Big Chopper & why?
My hair was always thick and long and I was often praised because of it. So when I damaged my hair my senior year in high school and everyone started asking me, “what happened to your gorgeous hair?”, that became the ultimate motivator. I gradually let the relaxer grow out because I didn’t want to cut it off so I kept it straightened and would get a few inches cut every 8 weeks until all the perm finally grew out. It was a really interesting but rewarding time because my hair was gaining its strength back and unbeknownst to me, started to become curly. Within a year, my hair was back healthy and I began a routine of wearing it natural or straightening it with a flat iron. Eventually all of my hair grew back until I cut it into a bob and decided for my 25th birthday I wanted to transition into a big chop. New age milestone and phase in my life…why not??
What has been the most memorable part of your journey? Has it been easy or difficult or both?!
The most memorable part was my so called transition into the Big Chop which actually ended up being an actual BIG CHOP! Let me explain… I went to Super Cuts, which I’ve been to before, however, I ended up going to a different stylist that I wasn’t sure I should let cut my hair at all. I told her I wanted my bob to be shorter for the transition and showed pictures but she ended up butchering the back of my head to nearly less than an inch. I was horrified! I quickly went to JCPennys hair salon to see if they could fix it but the stylist ended up cutting ALL of my hair in the front shorter than I wanted it and I abruptly left in tears! The worst experience ever! I went home to straighten to at least see if I could wear a pixie but my hair was uneven all over and too thick to lay flat for a sleek hair do, thus began my journey of my TWA.
To cope with my new short hair, I initially wore many protective styles which are still some of my favorites (such as custom wigs I make myself)!
What have your experiences been as a ‘natural?’ Any memorable reactions from family or others?
I’ve had two different experiences in my natural hair journey which was before my accidental BC and after. Before, over 85% of the time I kept it straightened which I was really proud of because I didn’t need a relaxer and I was really good at getting it “bone straight”. However, the frizzy nature of my hair caused it to be a nuisance and humidity was not my friend! It became an addiction and although my hair was still curly when washed, there was so much heat damage I couldn’t style it and it wouldn’t curl up all over the way I wanted. Straightening my hair kept me limited and in a box that I didn’t even realize I was in. It made me a slave to my hair and not allowing me to embrace my naturally frizzy hair. Although the Big Chop was traumatic, it turned out to be a blessing because now my hair is exactly how I want it and I’ve been able to inspire others around me to embrace going natural or if they already are, to wear it as is. My mother and other loved ones were NOT happy about my short hair because it was dramatic from the image I had for so long. Some of my family members still don’t understand it and ask all the time “when are you going to straighten it” and I say 'whenever I choose to'! At first I was ashamed of it and made wigs to make me feel more feminine and more like my old self. However, as I started to grow into it, my frame of mind changed and although I still wear protective styles such as custom wigs and Marley twists, it is not because I’m ashamed of my hair but just to switch it up like we females love to do!
What is your hair regimen (including fav products)?
When I first big chopped I had a lot of heat damaged so for the first 5 months I cut the ends until all of the damage was gone. I’m currently wearing my natural hair daily so I wash or co wash 2 or 3 times a week. My regimen is pretty simple, I just wash twice and mix my conditioner with a mixture of oils (almond oil, coconut oil, vegetable glycerin, and castor oil), comb thoroughly, and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. After washing and conditioning, I mainly use coconut oil for moisture and just go or I define curls with coconut cream and pick it out.
My favorite products include Organix, Suave Naturals, Aveda, and natural oils.
As far as my wigs go, I no longer wear sew ins because of the damage it can cause so I make my wigs with lace front closures to protect my hair and have the option of taking it off every night or sewing it around the perimeter of my head for a few days at a time.
What are some of your favorite natural hair websites, YouTuber’s, or blogs?
My all time favorite is TarenGuy, who by the way inspired me to want a big chop for my 25th birthday last year. I also enjoy Liquidlinerlover, Andrea’s Choice, Naptural85, HairCrush, and Fusion of Cultures. I read all of their blogs as well as curlynikki.com, shescurly.com, and naturalhairbeauty.blogspot.com. It is amazing to see how these women have been able to reach natural hair of all types and it has inspired me to do the same.
Anything you want the readers to know? Inspirational words?
I’ve learned that women do not have to be tied down by society’s standards of what beauty is and to embrace all types of hair. I have personally become more confident, free and expressive in my natural hair because I’ve accepted it. Many women think they have to wear weave or have a certain type of curl to be considered beautiful but the truth is that you don’t have to be anything or anyone but who you are which is who God called us to be. My journey has been a unique experience that has taught me so many lessons about my hair and more importantly, who I am to the core. I’ve learned to embrace all sides of me and continuing to learn the meaning of self love. It’s ironic how something as simple and vein as hair can lead you to such a revelation but one has to understand that there is something much deeper than what the eye can see. God created me in his image uniquely and beautifully, therefore I accept who I am and my beauty irrevocably.
Where can people find you for more information?
Facebook: A’LiMara by Annisa LiMara
www.ilovealimara.com (relaunch coming soon)