My name is Carla Hill and I live in Miami, Florida. I went natural in the early 90s during the days of Le Nubians and Zhane. Back then, it was seen as a quirky yet cool fashion statement. I fell for the lure of the relaxer again in the late 90s/early 2000s. I couldn’t get enough of my bi-weekly blow outs and long locks!
In 2005 I was forced to transition. I was diagnosed with stage 2 cancer five years after having a kidney transplant 5 years before (I know!). Chemotherapy and mastectomy were needed to save my life. I lost my hair and my breast and was forced to examine and rethink all of things I thought made me an attractive woman. The cancer returned in 2007 in my other breast. While I did not have to endure chemotherapy for the second cancer, I did remove my other breast.
Hairless and breastless.
Instead of hiding behind wigs or putting my body through long and arduous breast reconstruction, I chose to be my own experiment in femininity and truly trying to be a role model for others struggling with self esteem and body image. As I started my new hair journey in 2005, the natural hair “movement” was gaining momentum and the products were improving every day. I wore my hair short up until 2 years ago. I decided to get serious about growing my hair out in 2011.
I haven’t had long hair since my first cancer in 2005. Growing my hair out has been exciting and scary since long hair is a reminder of my cancer diagnosis and brings back a sense of loss and feelings of anxiety. I am really proud of being able to push through those memories and enjoy the process of growing out my hair – even through the dreaded in-between phases.
Thanks to Instagram hair gurus like rock_yo_rizos, I’ve found a routine that works for my hair type and length.
1. Once or twice a month I finger detangle my hair with coconut oil before I shampoo. I leave it in for 1 – 4 hours or sleep with the oil in my hair over night.
2. I wash with Quidad’s Curl Quencher shampoo and conditioner. I’ve been loyal to this shampoo for over 6 years now.
3. Next, I gently squeeze out extra water and apply Kerastase Nutritive Nectar Thermique leave in conditioner. On the expensive side, but works great to battle frizz in Miami’s humidity. A little goes a long way too!
4. I then add good old Eco Styler Olive Oil Gel on my still damp hair. I add a little at the root for some lift and lightly on the ends.
5. I dry my hair with a diffuser
6. When hair is nearly dry, I add Weleda’s Rosemary Hair Oil to scalp and ends.
7. I use an old stocking to pineapple my hair at night a la blogger Afrobella’s technique.
This hair routine has helped me to maintain my curls for 3 days!
Remaining healthy is not just a physical challenge, it is a mental one as well. This new normal that I have had to get used to is not easy. I allow myself to have sad and angry moments. I do not allow myself to live in those moments, though. I am surprised at my own strength and the inspiration others have found in me. I work everyday toward living as normal a life as possible. My new normal involves a lot more beauty products and eyelashes, though. Make up and beauty products have been my therapy during all of my health issues. It helped me to be playful and renewed my sensuality. Being a breastless beauty is fabulous. Beauty has no limits!
Note: I have dipped my toe in the social media world as pre-blog experiment. I can be followed on Instagram @mscarlahill. My Twitter handle is @brstlssbeauty