-Were you a long term or short term transitioner, and why?
I was short term. I wanted a short natural style and thought about it for a year before I finally did the big chop. I had relaxed hair that was about shoulder length, but it was always dry and prone to breaking and frizzing. I rarely wore it down because I couldn’t get it to look right and I hated spending lots of time on straightening and curling, etc. One day a girl at work came in with her new twa and looked AMAZING and incredibly beautiful (she would have looked gorgeous no matter what she did to her hair, lol, but still) and I started thinking about cutting mine short, too. I played with the idea for almost a year, pulling my hair back and squinting into the mirror to try to see how I might look. Then, in 2003, I moved to Oregon and started grad school. I was super busy and the weather was rainy and damp at least 8 months out of the year — bad hair city. So I grew my natural hair out for about 8 weeks and one day near the end of October 2003, I went to the salon and had it chopped off! The guy working at the front desk cheered. I actually met him again several years later and he reminded me of that day — funny.
Now I’m almost done with graduate school and I want a change. I’m growing out my twa into a nice, big, kinky curly mass of hair. My last haircut was October 30th, 2008. I’m looking forward to twist-n-curls and afros and other cute, hot hairstyles. The in-between phases can be a little challenging, so I read Curly Nikki all the time for ideas.
-When did you BC? What was your initial reaction to your natural hair?
I BC’ed about 5 years ago and kept it short that whole time. I pretty much loved it immediately. I liked the texture and I like how my face looked with curly, rather than straight, hair. On the bus on the way home from chopping my hair off, this teenage girl asked if I was a model. (Far from it! I was extremely flattered. 🙂 I took it as a good sign that my new style was as sophisticated and cute as I’d hoped.
-What was your transition routine? Staple Hair Styles?
I didn’t have a transition routine. I went from ponytails to a short twa at lightning speed. 🙂 For my twa I used Aveda’s Humectant Pomade and later Blended Beauty’s Happy Nappy Styles. I’d shower, apply the product to wet hair, throw on some makeup, and go.
Now that I’m growing the twa out, this feels more like “transitioning.” My hair is currently in that phase where it’s not a neat little twa and it’s not long enough to do anything but tiny twists or comb coils — and I’m really lazy about doing anything with my hair that takes more than 10 minutes. So I’ve been continuing the wash-n-go, currently with a headband to create some shape. On my longer hair I use either Kinky Curly Curling Custard with Kinky Curly Knot Today, or Curls Whipped Cream and jojoba oil. I’m liking the second combo better.
I use Giovanni 50/50 Balancing Shampoo once a week and Bumble & Bumble Super Rich conditioner afterward. For conditioner washes I’m using Herbal Essences Hello Hydration, which is fine, but I might try something all-natural after this bottle is done. I deep condition about twice a month with a rotating cast of conditioners. I don’t have a favorite yet. Most recently (yesterday) I used L’Oreal Nature’s Therapy Mega Strength Fortifying Deep Treatment. It has wheat protein and made my hair feel kind of stiff afterward, but it looks good and feels soft now.
-How did you moisturize your hair to prevent breakage at the new growth line?
Again, this was not an issue. I did find it necessary to use a good conditioner and a moisturizing styling product (this was why I switched to Happy Nappy Styles) on my short natural hair because it was very dry.
-Why did you choose to go natural? Are you happy with your decision?
I chose to go natural for a lot of reasons. One, I really started thinking about the fact that Black women are the only women on the planet who consistently feel the need change the texture of their hair. Is our hair really that unacceptable? I wanted to show by my own actions that I think our hair is perfectly acceptable and beautiful the way it is. Second, I needed an easy hair routine for my new schedule and climate. Third, I wanted a big change. I wanted to look completely different and cutting my hair was a good way to achieve that. I wanted a new experience of myself, and getting to know my hair was a wonderful way to jumpstart that process.
And I couldn’t be happier with my decision. Having natural hair has given me so much freedom and time that I would never have had otherwise. As my hair grows longer I can also be creative with my looks and really enjoy the versatility and drama that comes with this hair type. Of course it’s not always easy to fight the Euro-centric (or mixed-centric, lol) hair ideals, but it helps to surround myself with natural hair inspirations that have my hair type. Overall, I don’t think I could ever go back to relaxing my hair. I love it too much.
#1: My short twa, near the end of October 2008
#2: Today’s hairstyle, a wash-n-go with headband
#3: Side view