-How long have you been natural?
I stopped getting relaxers in February 2005, but didn’t cut the last of the relaxed ends off until August 2006. So how long I’ve been natural depends on your definition. I’ve been growing natural hair since 2/2005 but have dealt with fully natural hair since 8/2006.

-What is your regimen?
What I do to my hair is simple (I’m just long winded). I prepare my hair for washing by using a pre-poo (adding conditioner to my dry or slightly damp hair for at least 15 minutes—to soften the hair and make it less likely that the shampoo will strip all the moisture out). When washing my hair, I do my first lather when shampooing w/ ORS creamy aloe shampoo (b/c there’s hard water where I am now), then I do the second lather w/ Porosity Control shampoo (been using this since before I was natural–it’s amazing and detangles great). I finish w/ Dove Intense Moisture Conditioner (dark blue bottle). I detangle in the shower w/ a wide tooth comb (I’ve started using the Jilbere shower comb—but any wide tooth comb works for me really) and a Denman D7 brush—while conditioner is in my hair.

I never detangle my hair dry. If my hair gets really tangly, from wearing it down or something, then I will re-wet the whole thing add some moisture to it (like Kids Organics Shea Butter Detangling Moisturizing Hair Lotion) and gently work out some of the worse tangles. I leave the thorough detangling only for when I am shampooing and conditioning my hair. I feel like I lose a lot less hair this way.

I shampoo 1-2x/week according to how my hair is doing that week. Even so, I probably fully re-wet my hair about 3-4x/week and at least try to mist it with water and reapply some moisture to it everyday. Because I’m often pressed for time, I don’t usually do a full conditioner wash. I usually just wet my hair, smooth conditioner through it thoroughly, wait, and then rinse it out.

After shampooing I smooth on Sunsilk Captivating Curls leave-in conditioner (and maybe a little Cantu Shea Butter leave in repair cream) while my hair is soaking wet (I don’t towel dry), then seal the moisture in w/ jojoba oil on the ends of my hair. If I don’t use jojoba, or some other pure oil like castor oil (which is thick and great for pulling moisture into the hair), I really like using Optimum Oil Therapy Hair and Scalp Quencher (it has jojoba oil, olive oil, palm oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil). I don’t comb my hair outside the shower (it frizzes up my curls). Then usually I put my hair in a ponytail and tie a scarf over it (to help lay down the edges w/o a brush). I air dry.

At night, I always make sure to sleep with a satin scarf or bonnet on. I don’t use cotton or polyester blends because they suck moisture from the hair. Occasionally, if my hair is feeling super dry (which happens a lot more during the winter months) I will wet it, add some conditioner to it, and sleep with a plastic conditioning cap on overnight.

Besides the above, I don’t really have a regimen per se. I just try to analyze the state of my hair when I go to do it and tweak things as I see I need them. For example, I don’t have a regular clarifying schedule, but if it seems like my hair has been dry, or my products aren’t working as well, then I’ll do it (I use Suave Professionals clarifying shampoo). I also like using ORS olive oil conditioning packs for my deep conditioning treatments.

-What is the one thing you’d tell a newbie to help her on her journey?
There’s a lot I could say but if I had to choose one thing it would be: learn what you can about hair from others, but don’t try to make your hair be someone else’s hair. When I first started being natural I gave away all my old products and became a little bit of a product junkie searching around for what other people said were the “best” products for natural hair. And I worried about creating a great routine that I could follow that mirrored some of the complex ones I’d seen others create.

But soon I had to give all that up. I prefer things simple. So I went back to using some products that had worked great for me, even while relaxed, and found a handful of products that work really well for me now. I also learned how to analyze the current state of my hair and to give it what it needs at the time (and not according to a preset schedule).

-How do you maintain length?
For me, maintaining my length has been about being consistent in doing the things that I know work for my hair. My hair loves moisture and thrives best when I moisturize it as often as possible. I also found that sealing in moisture with a nice oil (especially on the ends) helps protect my hair from splits and breakage. Keeping my hair well moisturized is especially important during the dry winter months.

Finally, and this may not be for everybody: I don’t get trims anymore. The last trim I went in to get (at Great Clips) turned into a haircut. I decided that I wouldn’t trim my ends unless it seemed like they needed it (which is my hair philosophy really—I only do if it needs to be done). And since I wear my hair curly most of the time, it matters to me even less about getting trims. But when I straightened my hair recently my ends still looked fine, and they hadn’t been trimmed for over a year and a half.

-What’s the best thing about being naturally glamorous?!
Honestly, I’ve always been a little styling-challenged when it comes to hair. So the best part for me is being able to have my hair look fabulous, and like I spent a lot of time on it, when it really took only minutes. I love that most of my bad hair days can be solved in less than five minutes by re-wetting my hair and adding some more moisture to it.

I also love being an inspiration to others. Since I went natural, my mom and my sister-in-law have gone natural, and about 3 or 4 of my friends are now in the process. They ask me hair questions and for advice about products or things—which I think is great because I love talking about hair. Everyday isn’t glamorous, but I don’t regret at all going natural. And good luck to everyone out there who is transitioning or learning to perfect their natural hair. 😉