CN: Were you a long term or short term transitioner, and why?
S: Well, the answer to that question is…both. I transitioned to natural hair twice. The first time was in 2006, when I gradually let my hair grow out. Afterward, I was 100 percent natural for about two years. During that time I visited the salon religiously. Bi-weekly I would get it pressed, and I rarely wore my hair in its natural state. Long story short, I went on a study abroad to Ghana and during my stay I wore braids for over a month. When I got back to the United States my hair was WILD to say the least. Being without a press for so long my hair was difficult to manage. Subsequently, I got a perm and cut my hair into a super fierce bob. That was my last perm in Fall 2009. I decided shortly after I would NEVER PERM MY HAIR again. I began to admire the natural hair of one of my nieces. Her hair is thick like mines, and it’s beautiful and healthy. I missed the versatility of my curls, so I transitioned for a few months then I big chopped my hair in 2010.
When did you BC? What was your initial reaction to your natural hair?
On June 29, 2010 I big chopped my hair. I decided it was time to bite the bullet and just get it over with. Dealing with two textures can be a daunting task at times, so I thought long and hard before I did the BC. I also love to color my hair and I would never dare to color it while I also have a relaxer in.
Initially I honestly thought my head was too big to rock a short haircut, but when I chopped off all my hair I realized my head was actually rather small. I just had a lot of individual hairs on my head, thus making my head appear large, lol. After the BC I felt so free. A wave of sexiness and strength flowed over me. It was amazing! It was almost as if a heavy weight had been lifted off my shoulders (well, technically some weight had been lifted off my shoulders). For the first time in a long time I was embracing every part of who I was. Now that my hair has grown out of the TWA phase I miss it. I sometimes want to cut my hair off again. Simply put, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
How did family and friends react to the new you?
My family and friends loved my hair and were very encouraging. I began blogging to help keep myself consistent in my endeavor to go natural. I shared my experiences with friends and strangers on my blog hair.sophibe.com as a result I was able to convince many people to also go natural. Some of my friends have nicknamed me “Miss New-Do” and “SoFly” because I always have a new hairstyle every week. So when they saw me wear my TWA for a month straight they realized I was really serious about going natural.
Going natural has also enabled me to bond with my family members. One day, my mom showed me a picture of herself at my age and she was rocking a retro afro. It was cool to see that even now in my generation the afro has made a comeback. My brother also began growing his hair out and has decided to get dreads for the first time. He’s usually a low-cut fade kind of guy, but now he’s trying something new –I’m pretty sure I had a role to play in that.
What was your transition routine (products included)?
During transition I tried everything from bantu knots (or chiney bumps, that’s what we Jamaicans call it), to braids, kinky twist, wigs and rod sets. During transition I used Crème of Nature shampoo and conditioner, but then I discovered Totally Twisted by Herbal Essence and I immediately fell in love. I also used Cantu pomade and Jamaican Black Castor Oil often.
What was your staple hair style during the transition?
While I was transitioning I did braids and rod sets, but when I big chopped wash-and-gos became my staple style. I’d simply co-wash in the shower with Totally Twisted conditioner, add a little Cantu leave in conditioner and olive oil then let my hair air dry.
How did you moisturize your hair to prevent breakage at the new growth line?
I used a combination of water-based, oil-based and cream-based moisturizers. I have done a lot of research during my journey to natural hair and I learned about the porosity of hair and how to maximize growth. As a result I used Cantu leave in conditioner after washing my hair then added Cantu Shea Butter olive oil to my hair once it’s dry (or Jamaican Black Castor Oil). Then at night I usually rub Profectiv Roots stimulator into my troubled areas before I go to sleep. I also co-wash my hair three times a week during warmer months and I wear protective styles during the winter.
Why did you choose to go natural?
I chose to go natural to simply be who I am; kinks, curls and all. I realized that there is no ideal beauty and that each individual is usually more beautiful with their God given traits. Although I love a little color here and there perms are not for me. I’ve also decided to lay off the color and return to my natural brown locks. I wanted to embrace every ounce of me and just be true to the human being God created me to be. I believe a God somewhere out there took the time to take attributes of both my parents and design me to be a unique person. I also wanted to set an example for my nieces, my little cousins and my future daughter. You don’t have to follow the crowd or buy into the latest trends to be beautiful and I wanted them to know that. I also told my nieces if they ever perm their hair, they’re going to be in big trouble with Aunty lol.