My name is Yasmin Mitchell and I currently live in Queens, NY. I currently work at BET Networks and have been in the Television Advertising industry for over 15 years. My decision to go natural within corporate America was a tough decision. Prior to joining my current company I was at CNN and the idea of transitioning to natural was definitely not what I expected. When co-workers first heard and noticed the changes, to my surprise the idea and concept was embraced! Many of my Caucasian co-workers from all levels as high as Executive level (CEO) status all thought it was a great idea and felt that I should have gone natural a long time ago.
How long have you been natural?
I’ve been natural for exactly 1 year and 8 months and I did not do the big chop, instead I chose to do a slow transition. I cut off the last bit of relaxed ends this past May. So I’ve been fully natural for about 2 months now and I LOVE IT!!!!
What motivated me to transition was pretty much damaged hair. I used to get my hair done at the Dominican Hair Salon every 2-3 weeks. Even though I stuck with roller sets and little to no blow drying on my hair, over time my hair just started thinning. I experienced a ton of breakage on the crown on my hair due to too much heat from the hooded dryer etc. It was at that time I had enough and was fed up and decided no more hair salons for me. I didn’t quite know what I was going to do with my hair though. All I knew was no more relaxers and hair salons for me. I transitioned over the course of one full year and finally chopped off the last bit of relaxed ends this past May.
How would you describe your hair?
My hair has a mind and mood of its own. While it does whatever it wants to do, it’s obedient at the same time. It can do whatever I tell it to do. I have kinky curly hair. With the right products it can do wonders. What I love most though is letting it have it’s way with me. It’s unruly and I LOVE IT! I’ve learned to embrace all aspects of my hair. The Frizz, the tangels, you name it. I try my best not to worry or get caught up in the perfect curl or wave. If my hair gets frizzy I just leave it and move on with my day.
What do you love most about your hair?
What I love most about my hair is that I have hair! I’m grateful for the mane God gave me – every last strand. I feel blessed to even have hair. I was diagnosed with Hyperthyroidism about 6 years ago and a symptom of that condition is thinning hair and shedding of the hair. God is so good because since I’ve been natural I have not experienced any thinning or shedding. ☺ Another aspect of my hair that I love is that my hair tangles and gets quite unruly, I love that it forces me to be patient. I love how my hair reacts to the different products that I use. It lets me know when it’s in love and when it can’t be bothered. I love the thickness of it and the way it feels. The feeling having natural hair gives me is invigorating and liberating.
What has been the most memorable part of your journey? Has it been easy or difficult or both?!
The most memorable part of my journey was about 5-6 months in to my transition when my husband and I was on the NYC subway commuting into the city and he looked and me and said “Yasmin, you do comb your hair when you get to the office, right?” LOL!! I gave him this look and said “But of course” – actually I was not combing/styling my hair the way he was accustom to as I kept it in a simple ponytail for about 2 months during that stage since I did not know what to do with the different textures. It was easy at times and also hard at times. That next weekend is when I got onto YouTube and started doing research. That was my saving grace. All of the amazing tutorials from Naturalistas were like angels sent from God to guide me through the amazing journey of discovering a new/original me that was buried under the creamy crack for 27 years of my life.
What were some of your favorite transitioning hairstyles and current dos’?
Some of my favorite transitional hair styles were simple buns, pompadors and braid outs with flexirods. My current favorite styles are braid outs, twist outs and wash and go’s
What have your experiences been as a ‘natural?’ Any memorable reactions from family or others?
When I first decided to go natural I had went to the hair salon and had them chop off about 6 inches of my hair off. That was a big deal for many of my friends and family since I had long hair my whole life.. When it started to grow out I remember my mother-in-law making a comment saying “Why did you chop off your hair, it was so pretty the other way… don’t you know hair IS a woman’s beauty?”. At first I felt kinda funny about the comment but I quickly remember that people were just accustomed to the long straight hair cascading down my back. My response was “Beauty lays in our character not what grows out of our heads”. What they didn’t know was that it was thinning, breaking, shedding etc. I initially got comments like that – the “Why did you chop of all that hair?” “Don’t you know people would kill for that hair?” “Girl you look better with long straight hair” “What is your boss/job gonna think?” . This was a memorable time for me because you really do start to question what beauty really means and what defines beauty. I learned that making a decision to accept the hair I was born with was in fact beauty in itself. “Acceptance” of “what was”, “what is” and “what will be” was my new definition of beauty. Defying the common perception of beauty by way of my mane was a powerful decision and for all those who are natural are helping to re-shape the standards of beauty among Black woman.
What is your hair regimen (including fav products)?
I typically wash my hair at least once per week. I use either Shea Moisture products to wash my hair or Topganic’s Argon Oil Hair Mask. To style I enjoy using the Cantu Shea Butter Daily Conditioning Repair Crème for my braidouts on the first day (its important to use enough product to prevent frizz and to assure the braidouts/twistouts set). Days 2-6 I typically will use the Cantu Coconut Curling Crème. This product really adds moisture to the hair to assure shine and bounce without weighing it down. Oh, it smells amazing too. I also re-braid my hair if not every night for define curls, at least every other night. I also try to wet/spritz my hair every other day to assure my hair remains moist until the next wash. I love and prefer braid outs for a very full voluminous look and feel. I also love wash and go’s where I can enjoy that quick and easy wash and wear look. For my Wash and Go’s I use the Shea Moisture products to wash with and I like using the As I Am Curling Jelly to style with. Once a month I like to use the As I Am Coconut Co-Wash to wash my hair to assure all build up from products are completely removed. For the most part though I stick strictly to washing my hair with conditioner or conditioning hair masks only. It seems to work best for my hair. After every wash I apply Almond Oil or Coconut Oil to my hair as well for additional moisture. I pineapple my hair at night for the days I choose not to re-braid or twist my hair. I add a silk/satin scarf before bed and viola!
What are some of your favorite natural hair websites, YouTuber’s, or blogs?
I normally engage in about an hour day watching all of my YouTube favorites. TarenGuy, TarenGuy916, MahoganyCurls, NikkiMae and Naptural85.
Anything you want the readers to know? Inspirational words?
Going natural was one of the best decisions of my life. While challenging at times, I feel like I really know myself more today than I did prior to being natural. I get stopped in NYC constantly and it feels good to know that there are so many people from all backgrounds that love to see natural hair. I feel that I am helping to send a message across also about loving oneself just as how God created us. Being natural and being on that journey caused me to dig deep and question how conditioned I really was to society standards of what beauty is supposed to be and look like. The experience negates all of those preconceive notions of beauty. You wake up while on your journey and you look in the mirror and you say…“I’m Beautiful because I’m finally ALL me” – All Natural! It doesn’t get any better than THIS!
Where can people find you for more information?
I can be followed on my Instagram page under my name Yasmin Mitchell (@Nimsay8838)