CN: Were you a long term or short-term transitioner, and why?

I initially went natural in the early spring of 1999. My hair was relaxed up until late 1998. I got my first relaxer when I was twelve years old, after begging my mother (who was adamantly against me perming hair), so my hair was relaxed until was 19 years old. I got braid extensions for about three months to transition to my natural hair. After three months, I cut off the relaxed hair and I’ve been natural every since. So I guess you could say that I was a short-term transitioner.

CN: When did you BC? What was your initial reaction to your natural hair?
When I first went natural in 1999 I didn’t big chop because I was scared that I wouldn’t look good. I chickened out and got braids so that my hair would be long enough to twist when I was ready to wear it out. I was very excited to see my natural hair texture and I was thrilled to try different products!

About three years ago I started growing dreadlocks because I had grown frustrated with maintaining my natural fro and I didn’t want to go back to relaxing my hair. I chopped off my shoulder length dreadlocks on February 26th, 2011. I loved my locs but because I live in a very hot country in Africa, the dreads were becoming a nuisance and I was going through shampoo and conditioner like nobody’s business! I feel the same way I did 12 years ago when I cut off all my relaxer: free and liberated!

CN: How did family and friends react to the new you? What was your response to them?
When I first went natural, the reactions were very interesting. My family and friends were basically supportive– although my mother was hoping that I would wear my hair in neat buns and not my usual twist outs. I found that reactions would differ wildly between generation and race. The older the generation, the more they would dislike my choice. I also found that I got the most positive reactions from people of other races (i.e. White, Asian, etc.). It was Black people that were not particularly fond of my natural do.

When people with relaxed (and often damaged) coifs would ask me questions like, “What did you do to your hair?”, I would respond by saying “Nothing at all. But what did you do to yours?” That would often shut up the haters.

Where I currently live and work in Zambia (I’m originally Canadian), people tend to like women with long hair (even if it’s usually a weave, braids or a wig), so when I big chopped my dreadlocks last week many people reacted with incredulousness. I would say reactions here have been 50% positive and 50% negative, and this time the positive reactions were from Zambian women and Westerners and the negative reactions were from Zambian men.

CN: What was your transition routine?
Whew! I guess you could categorize me as a product junkie. When I first went natural I was loyal to the Nexxus Therappe line. Then, I matriculated to Redken All Soft, and eventually, I started using the Aveda Brilliant line. I wouldn’t say that any of these products particularly stood out for me as ‘sensational’ on my thick and coarsely textured 4b hair. I’m embarrassed to say that I totally fell for the hype on most of these products. One of my staple styling products for my twist outs was Sebastian’s Molding Mud. It would give great shine and hold, but eventually it would leave my hair feeling dry.

After moving to Africa one year ago and reading the Curly Nikki website, I’ve discovered new ways to care for my natural hair and the product recommendations have been phenomenal! I just purchased a truckload of products from Curl Mart and Amazon and I’ve started trying some out. I wash my hair with 100% Pure African Black Soap and it leaves my hair clean, soft and moisturized. I’m loving Jessiecurl’s Too Shea Moisturizing Daily Deep Conditioner! I mix a half a cup of the deep conditioner with one tablespoon of coconut oil and one tablespoon of organic honey and leave it on my covered hair for 15 minutes. It makes combing through my hair like combing through butter! I’m also in complete love with Kinky Curly’s Knot Today. It’s the perfect leave-in. I’m looking forward to trying out the Oyin Handmade Whipped Pudding I ordered for when I wear twist outs!

CN: How did you moisturize your hair to prevent breakage?
Actually, I’ve taken the advice of some of your readers and I seal my twists with castor oil or coconut oil. When I unfurl my twists they are soft and moist. This is a practice that I was unaware of when I first went natural hence my twist outs would always eventually get dry and dull and thus my hair would break. The jury’s still out on how my hair will fair in the long run.

CN: Why did you choose to go natural?
I chose to go natural for three reasons. Number one being that I couldn’t find a viable reason for relaxing my hair. Canada, the country I was born and raised in, is pretty liberal. We have high-level civil servants who wear dreadlocks for goodness sakes! So, there was no need to wear my hair straight in order to succeed in a career or profession. Number two; I was tired of looking like every other Black girl on the planet. I like to stand out and I’m not usually a follower, so relaxing my hair seemed ‘anti-me’ after a while. Lastly, and most importantly, I decided that I was going to love the hair that I was born with. We, as a race, have an inferiority complex that I think is extremely unhealthy. I have seen women who bleach their skin and wear ridiculous weaves/wigs in an effort to cover up their ‘blackness’. I’ve heard beautiful Black women talk at length about who has ‘good hair’ versus who has ‘bad hair’ and I it saddens me. Nobody has ‘bad hair’! Black is so beautiful. We should all embrace our hair, our race, our culture, ourselves!

This website has been a Godsend to me, and everyone I’ve recommended it to. I hope you continue to keep up with this great work!