Meet Maria A… a stunning natural that reminds us not to judge others by the way they choose to wear their hair.

CN: How long have you been natural?

June 2010 will mark my 4th year natural. My transition was pretty unintentional in the sense that it wasn’t a conscious decision. It was my senior year of college and at the time, I was so fed up with getting relaxers that i kept putting off my touch up month after month until after about 4 months, which is when I officially made the decision to give up relaxers for good. I cut all of my relaxed ends off shortly after that. I recently did another Big Chop this February.

CN: What is your current regimen?
As I mentioned above, I recently did another big chop so my current regimen is pretty simple. Despite the fact that i’ve been natural for 4 years, I don’t actually have a strict regimen. At the moment, I wash my hair about once a week with either Cream of Nature shampoo or Giovanni Direct shampoo. I cowash almost daily using one of my favorite conditioners which are Pantene Hydrating Curls, Herbal Essences Hello Hydration, or Giovanni Direct Conditioner. After cowashing, I blot my hair with a towel until damp, then I apply Giovanni Direct Leave-In Conditioner. After that, I apply about a quarter size amount of Paul Mitchell Foaming Pomade throughout my hair, shake my head a bit and that’s it. I deep condition whenever I feel like my hair needs it using Organic Root Stimulator (ORS) Replenishing Pack. I also like Neutrogena’s Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Hair Mask.

When my natural hair was longer, my regimen was pretty much the same as above except that I used Fantasia IC gel for my wash and go’s instead of the Paul Mitchell Foaming Pomade. Also, I used 100% Raw African Shea Butter for my twists and twist-outs.

CN: How do you maintain length? Moisture?
I maintain length by keeping my ends trimmed and as healthy as possible. I maintain moisture by co-washing almost daily and deep conditioning whenever my hair feels dry. Shea butter also really helps in terms of moisture, but I’ve yet to find that miracle product that keeps my hair super moisturized all the time.

CN: How do you protect your curls a night?
I sleep with a satin bonnet on or if I’m not wearing the bonnet, I make sure to sleep on a satin pillow case. When my hair was longer, I would sleep with my hair in big twists.

CN: What would you tell a new natural, or transitioning diva?
I think one of the most important things to know about going natural is that you need to be ready to accept your natural hair no matter what. There are a lot of women who are disappointed with they’re hair texture once they are fully natural. Not everyone’s natural hair will look like Tracy Ellis Ross’s or like CurlyNikki’s or like mine, for that matter, but that’s no reason to be disappointed. By no means am I saying it’s easy, but in a way, you need to change your mindset and prepare yourself to embrace and be happy with your natural hair no matter what. Stay strong ladies!

Also, I think that it’s really important to focus on keeping your hair moisturized whether you’re transitioning or fully natural. Natural hair NEEDS moisture to thrive and stay healthy. Take time to try different products and find one that helps keep your hair as moisturized as possible.

CN: What’s the best thing about being naturally glamorous?
Although I do get frustrated with my hair sometimes, there’s so many things that I love about being naturally glamorous. I love the fact that I don’t have to panic and run indoors when it starts raining. I love the fact that I can scratch my scalp whenever I want to. I love the fact that I don’t have to endure a burning scalp and the chemical burns that would usually follow my relaxers. I love the versatility that natural hair allows. I love the fact that I am showing the world an aspect of who I really am.

CN: Anything else you ‘d like to add?
Just because I wear my hair natural does not mean that I look down upon women who do not do the same. I think that some women make assumptions about other women based on their hair which is unfair. I wear my hair in a way that makes ME happy and I think all women should do the same.