November 13, 2014

Cassandra Is Naturally Glam!

Tell me about yourself!
After many years of being held hostage by my need to always have the straightest possible hair (by way of relaxer), I decided to throw caution to the wind and go natural. You see, I'm a working mother of a rambunctious 4 year old son, and a self-professed "gym rat" and fitness competitor.

I workout at the gym 5-7 days/week. You can imagine that keeping relaxed hair straight was a near impossibility. Each night after my workout I'd ritually wrap my still wet hair and sit under a hood dryer for 30-45 minutes, while simultaneously praying to the hair gods that I'd wake up in the morning and my hair wouldn't be stuck to my scalp a la helmet hair. Finally I'd had enough of this ridiculous routine and decided I wouldn't relax my hair anymore. I had no idea what to do or how it would turn out...and that scared me...A LOT!

After trying every natural style (and product) in the book, I keep it simple now. I use minimal products and stick to low manipulation styles like twist outs and Bantu knot outs. After working out, I simply fluff my hair and keep going.  My hair has never been healthier and I'm still amazed 5 years later at the compliments I get on my styles. I'm so happy to live by my new motto "it's just hair".  I feel confident and look great while rocking my natural curls.


Were you a transitioner or a Big Chopper? What was your journey like?
I transitioned from a little more than a year.  During the transition time I wore braids, twist outs (the straight ends were always a challenge), and straight styles to camouflage the competing textures.

Had you always embraced your texture?
No, I initially had a love/hate relationship with my texture and have learned to embrace it.  My texture, like many women I’m sure, is different throughout my hair and that used to frustrate me before I learned how to manage my hair.

How did family and friends react to your decision to go natural? What was your response to them? 
My family and friends were very positive and supported my decision to go natural.

Describe your hair (fine or coarse, thin or thick, highly porous, low, etc.)
My hair is super thick, coarse, and low porosity.  In fact, my hair is so thick that I used to often break my stylist’s comb even when I had a relaxer.  Wash day is always a challenge to make sure that I’ve gotten my hair completely clean and detangled.  But the great thing about thick hair is that styles hold very well. My hair is thickest in the crown and nape sections and less thick throughout the other parts.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to your hair? 
When I was finally tired of transitioning, but still had several inches of straight ends left I did something so crazy and foolish.  After having shampooed my hair, I cut the straight ends off without having my hair straightened.  The result was uneven and jagged length which took some time to grow back out, and looked ridiculous.

What’s your biggest hair related regret?
I regret over-thinking my hair routine and all of the “useless” products I’ve spent money on.  I’m a recovering product junkie.

What's your current hair routine? How often do you wash, condition, and style? Favorite products! Deets!  
I’ve tried a bunch of products but have finally found some that work well for me, are affordable, and easy to locate in most stores.  I wash with shampoo on Saturdays after my morning gym time, but cowash once or twice in the week depending on how sweaty my hair has gotten.  When I’m not working out so much in the week, I only wash on Saturdays.  All of my favorite products allow my hair to stay moisturized, as I’m also very prone to dry scalp.

Favorite Products:
Shampoo: Crème of Nature Argan Oil Moisture & Shine Shampoo
Conditioner: Herbal Essence Hello Hydration Conditioner
Leave in Conditioner: Crème of Nature Lemongrass & Rosemary Leave in Conditioner & Shea Moisture Restorative Conditioner or Cantu Leave In Conditioning Repair Cream
Styling: Ecostyler Olive Oil Styling Gel & Shea Moisture Coconut &Hibiscus Curling Gel Soufflé
Other Products: Crème of Nature Argan Oil Gloss & Shine Mist &
Tangle Teazer for detangling while wet

Wash Day Routine – shampoo, conditioner, detangle while wet, apply leave in conditioners (2), allow hair to air dry for a bit then style.  Before styling in a twist out, I section in 4 sections and just before twisting each section I apply styling gels (2), twist the hair, then spray gloss and let dry.  To style after dry, I untwist each twist and separate the hair at the roots.

What’s your favorite hairstyle? Where do you get hairstyle inspiration?
My favorite style by far and without question is a twist out, mainly because I don’t consider myself a “hair person” and am not that great at styling.  I still haven’t mastered the flat twist but am working on it.  I also really like bantu knots and bantu knot outs, but have to rely on my stylist to do for me and is less convenient then doing a twist out at home.

I also have embraced not having to stick to my “natural” texture and experiment with straight styles, braids, Senegalese twists, and crochet braids to give my hair a break and to maintain versatility of style.

I get hairstyle inspiration from magazines, YouTube, and of course Curly Nikki.

Who is your curl crush?
Elle Varner – a beautiful woman with beautiful hair.  Can we say hair envy!?!

How do you maintain your hair at night?
Regardless of style, I always sleep in a silk bonnet.  Not only does it keep my hair moisturized, but keeps it controlled also (it’s getting pretty long).  When wearing a twist out, I retwist every night and brush the edges down with a little Eco styler gel before putting the bonnet on.  It’s not necessary to retwist every night but I find that doing so provides consistent results when I’m ready to style.

How do you maintain healthy length?
I get my hair professionally shampooed, conditioned, and deep conditioned at least once a month and have ends trimmed regularly.  I like to wear straight styles too, but make sure not to wear straight for more than 2 months so that I minimize heat exposure.

What's the best thing about being natural?
1. Versatility of style – I never have to worry about being bored with my hair because if I don’t like a style, I can easily wash and redo it.
2. Not being limited by my hair – I don’t have to worry about limiting physical activities such as working out and swimming because of my hair anymore.  Also, getting stuck out in the Houston humidity or being rained on is no longer a big deal.

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