-How long have you been natural?
I’ve been natural all except 4 or 5 years of my life, and wearing my hair unstraightened since 1996.
-What is your regimen?
I don’t really have a consistent regimen. Before finding the hair boards in early summer 2007, I washed once a week, conditioned (usually), detangled with a pic, lightly blow dried, and put into a puff. Occasionally I did twists. Since finding the hair boards I decided to try to grow my hair out and this regimen is too hard on the hair for that.
More than I have a consistent regimen, I know several things I can do and which have the highest rates of success. Two good routines for my hair are:
1) Twist the hair in medium twists. For each 1/2 of the twist, coil it before twisting the two halves together. Only in this way can I wash twists and not have them try to lock up on me. Wear these twists for one week, wash, wear for another week, wash, and wear them or their twist out for the 3rd week. Then take them down. This way I can avoid combing for up to 3 weeks.
2) Wear a twist out or braid out. Detangle hair before washing by coating in castor oil and V05 Vanilla Mint Tea conditioner in sections (at least 10). I can use fingers or a comb. Fingers cause less breakage, a comb is faster. Twist or braid these sections up and wash and condition hair in these braids or twists. When I want to apply my treatment, Aveda Damage Remedy intensive treatment, I’ll undo a braid after washing, coat in the treatment, and braid it back up. Leave on for 5 or 10 minutes and rinse out. Let air dry. A braid out will last 3-4 days and I can rebraid that 4th night and that should take me through the rest of the week. A chunky twist out will last about 2-3 days and I can retwist at night every other night until the end of the week.
-What is the one thing you’d tell a newbie to help her on her journey?
For many people I hear that being natural in this society is a hardship. I don’t want to downplay anyone’s experience, but I also want to emphasize the role of perspective. Maybe the perspective can be altered. I have 4b hair, what has never been called “good hair” by anyone. My parents didn’t like my kinks and wanted me to continue pressing. They told me I couldn’t get a job or a man with my hair like this. I went natural in the 90s, before it was popular and before there was so much to cater to naturally curly and kinky hair. I did it in southern California, what some might call the land of the fake, um, faux. Yet despite all this, I didn’t feel like my hair was a hardship. Maybe some people didn’t like it, but there’s always people who aren’t going to like something about you. Just pay them “no nevermind,” as they say. There will also be people who don’t care (I think this is most people, actually) and people who like it, especially now that natural hair is becoming more popular.
-How do you maintain length?
This is a hard one for me. My hair is very prone to tangling and getting the tangles out is generally what causes breakage or actual cutting. The best thing for me is to try to keep the hair from getting too tangled in the first place by one of the two routines I talked about in the regimen section. Also, I try to be very gentle with my hair and how I detangle. Just approaching combing and detangling in this new gentle way has made a lot of difference.
-What’s the best thing about being naturally glamorous?!
There are a lot of benefits. My big hair is ultra-fab in a world full of same ole straight hair. I can take care of it all by myself, my initial reason to stop straightening my hair. That last saves me time, pain, and money. Also, my hair can easily be styled in so many ways without too much skill on my part.