CN: How long have you been natural?
What is your current regimen?
I have a very “zen” approach to my hair. I listen for what it needs and that’s what I do. Sometimes I just have to do what my life dictates. Typically I shampoo every 7-14 days with either Lavender Dr. Bronner’s or Fantasia IC Ice Shampoo and do a protein treatment under a heat cap (such as Aphogee 2-minute reconstructor or Henna-n-Placenta), followed by deep conditioning. I detangle gently with my fingers at each point and get all of the detangles out while deep conditining. I often sleep with it in my hair covered by a plastic cap. Then I style the next day. If I’m lazy and/or trying to stretch the routine an additional day, I will do an updo and then rinse and style the following day. My favorite deep conditioners are Hollywood Beauty Olive Cholesterol Deep Conditioner or Mane & Tail Moisturizing Conditioner. Sometimes I do a pre-poo treatment with olive oil or a hot oil treatment with whatever oil-based product I can get my hands on. I’ve used everything from melted pure shea butter to EVOO to Queene Helene to vegetable oil.
I style in the shower by rewetting my hair (not rinsing-remember it is packed with deep conditioner), making 4-6 sections, spraying with a mixture of Infusium 23 leave-in, Queen Helene Jojoba Hot Oil Treatment, and water, and smoothing on Kinky-Curly Curling Custard. I have been using KCCC almost from the beginning of my journey. I honestly don’t think I would have stayed naturally curly without it. I probably would’ve loc’ed or stuck with a TWA (and I look forward to doing both in the future). I try other products for styling but always come back to KCCC. Midway through the week I either start over at the conditioning step, using Herbal Essence’s Hello Hydration, or do an afro puff with loose tendrils crowning my face and at the nape until I wash again.
Sometimes I skip steps, including washing (but never conditioning) and sometimes the entire 14 days pass and I still haven’t gotten to the styling part, just wearing updos the entire time. I also play with small twists, twist outs, and straighten my hair for trims. I did dry twist outs for a couple of week and loved the result (very Tracee Ellis Ross) but I found it drying and hated having to retwists after serious sweat sessions in the gym. Either I seriously lack the talent or my hair just does not like sets. I suspect that it’s the former.
Also, I color with Dark & Lovely about twice per year. I usually let the roots grow out a good 6 inches (I love that with textured hair we can do that), but lately I have been keeping it fresh.
How do you maintain length? Moisture?
My routine is all about moisturizing at each step and often with water, oils, and leave-ins. I avoid heat and tension at all costs and never go to bed without covering my head or otherwise allow my hair to come into contact with rough materials. *I even took the headrest out of my car, partly so my hair could fit, but also because I hated it rubbing against my hair.*
How do you protect your curls at night?
At night I dampen my hair with the the above-mentioned mixture and put it in a messy bun on top of my head. This prevents shrinkage. The middle of my hair shrinks considerably if I pineapple or leave it lose. I then cover it with a satin scarf. In the morning I just undo it, shake my head, and go. Sometimes I put it in a loose afro puff on top of my head and cover with a bonnet and scarf (the only way to get it all in there), but if I do that then I have to do an afro puff until I condition again because the hair at the middle of my head will shrink considerably.
What is the best thing about being naturally glamorous?
Just one?! Well, when I had a relaxer my hair dictated my mood. If it was raining or I had new growth but it was too soon for a touch-up I would be such a b-word that my friends even did an intervention. I love to run and maintaining straight styles did not allow me to challenge myself the way I can now. I would never have run a half-marathon if I were still relaxed. So I’d have to say being carefree and loving myself (and others! lol) no matter what kind of hair day I am having. Now that I am natural, even when I don’t think my hair is perfect, I know it is exactly as it should be. This has taught me a lesson about life beyond hair.
If I could choose another it would be BIG HAIR.
What would you tell a new natural or transitioning diva?
Commit to doing the leg work and educating yourself. I am often stopped by people who want to know what my secret silver bullet is and they get frustrated when I say that my hair didn’t come out of a bottle. Learn YOUR hair. Be inspired by others. Fellowship with other naturals, but embrace and develop a relationship with the hair that is on your head. Remember that many factors are involved in caring for your hair, from the seasons, the contents of the water you use, and diet to the technique and tools you use to handle your hair. All of this can be overwhelming, but it’s also fun and adventurous. It’s about way more than the perfect conditioner or styling product. And it’s definitely NOT about emulating anyone else.
Anything else you would like to add?
I have bonded with others over natural hair in a way that I doubt we would have if I wore my hair straight. Over the years each of us (me, you reading this, CurlyNikki, and the like) have created a nurturing, supportive, community in which we can all celebrate our individuality and similarities. I am discouraged when the spirit of community is torn by devisiveness, which happens surprisingly often. I look forward to the day when labels, assumptions, and judgements are no longer a part of the dialogue. We are all here because we love hair. There is no bad hair and no hair is better than any other. Nor does any hair negate that of anyone else. Beautiful hair is healthy hair. Period.