May 29, 2014
Hi there, my name is Michele Santiago and I am from Sterling Heights, Michigan. I am a 44 year old Elementary teacher, wife, and mother of 3 beautiful daughters.
Were you a slow transitioner or a Big Chopper & why? What was your journey like?
I was a slow transitioner. My hair had been relaxed since I was about 10 years old (I didn’t even remember what my actual hair texture looked like!). I got my last relaxer in November 2011. During my next hair appointment, I met my new hair stylist (Shaylin Jones) in February 2012. She immediately encouraged me to go natural. I did not want to do a Big Chop. Instead, for the next year and a half, I visited Shaylin about every 2-3 weeks for TLC and trims as my natural hair grew. The summer of 2013 was the first time I wore my natural hair and I have not looked back since!
Had you always embraced your texture?
During all those relaxer years, I always thought my hair was way too unmanageable as my new growth would begin to appear. I always felt that I “needed” to relax my hair. I expressed this to my hair stylist and told her that I was “petrified” to transition but ultimately trusted her expertise. She taught me that I didn’t “need” the relaxer.
How did family and friends react to your decision to go natural? What was your response to them?
My family was very supportive. Not one person said “Don’t”. My husband especially loves my curls. When I have my hair straightened for length checks or just for a different look, he always tells me he prefers it curly. So straight hair may last 1 to several days and then I have to go right back to my curls! My students have also expressed that they prefer my curly hair! J
Describe your hair (fine or coarse, thin or thick, highly porous, low, etc.)
My hair is fine and thin and highly porous. I think the curl type is 3a or 3b (I have never really been sure). I had to learn through trial and error that my hair responds best without heavy creams and butters but with lighter products.
What's your current hair routine? How often do you wash, condition, and style? Favorite products! Deets!
I shampoo my scalp only about once a week with DevaCurl NoPoo. On most days I Co-Wash my hair with DevaCurl One Condition. After I co-wash and detangle with a large tooth comb, I rinse out the conditioner. Then, I use a leave-in (Giovanni Direct Leave-In) and rake or comb it through with a big tooth comb. All of the previous steps are done in the shower. Next, out of the shower, I apply Olive oil (2-3 drops) to seal in moisture and DevaCurl Light Defining Gel. I then scrunch my hair to help lock and form the curls. I part my hair before I blow dry then I diffuse with an Ion blow dryer and scrunch out any hard cast left by the gel. This leaves soft bouncy curls! For volume I use my fingers or a pick at the root of my hair only and lift all over. Sometimes I vary the kind of Leave-In but I always use something light due to my hair type.
What’s your favorite hairstyle? Where do you get hairstyle inspiration?
I love to wear my hair parted on the side and down for the most part. I like defined curls with volume (some frizz is fine). Sometimes I will wear it pinned up in a curly puff using bobbi pins or small clips. I get my hairstyle inspiration from watching tutorials on YouTube. Although, I do have to be careful when looking for a hairstyle because as a woman of a particular age not every curly hairstyle looks becoming on me. But I am so thankful for the hair knowledge that so many ladies share!
Who is your curl crush?
I have loved watchingTaren916, Shameless Maya and SunkissAlba on YouTube. My latest crush is MissCharmsie because we seem to have a similar hair texture (fine and highly porous).
How do you maintain your hair at night?
I maintain my hair at night by putting it in a pineapple (pulling hair up on top of my head and wrapping an elastic band around once) on top of my head and then sleeping on a satin pillowcase.
How do you maintain healthy length?
I maintain healthy length by using mostly natural products. I also take Biotin daily and eat as healthy as possible. Lastly, I visit my stylist about every 6-8 weeks for trims.
What's the best thing about being curly?
The best thing about being curly is that everyone gets to see the real ME! I am able to adhere to my heritage (African-American), at a deeper level, and not to other people’s standard of beauty.
Where can folks find you on the web?
I am on Facebook (Michele Jackson Santiago) and at firstname.lastname@example.org