I was a Big Chopper. It wasn’t planned, but I truly believe it was destined to happen that way. My hair was cut into a short-do on a makeover episode of Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model. Judges decided to give me a Halle Barry-inspired hairstyle, which was very hard to get used to. During the show I would have a professional hair stylist styling my hair from day to day, but once I left the competition I struggled with flat ironing my virgin curls. I turned to YouTube for advice and that’s how I’ve discovered the natural hair community. I remember the feeling of excitement and most importantly hope, as I set a goal to grow out my hair, this time long and healthy.
Had you always embraced your texture?
I used to relax my hair before, mainly just the front of it, so that it would blend well with my weave. I’d kept my hair straight at all times, so I forgot what my texture even looked or felt like. As I was transitioning it was fun to rediscover new things about my hair even though that’s the way it had been naturally.
I wasn’t always proud of my hair texture though. I grew up in Ukraine. I was the only black child in school and in my area (sometimes felt like the only black kid in the whole country), so I wasn’t a stranger to bullying, because of my race. My skin is fairly light, so I felt that it was my hair that gave out my ‘black’ identity, hence why I’ve always dreamt of having long straight hair. That way I thought I would look more like my white girlfriends and the bullying would stop. I didn’t care so much for my natural hair texture I didn’t see it as something beautiful; it was more of a problem for me. My poor mum had no idea how to care for my hair and there weren’t any products out there to help her, so detangling process was always long and painful. One day at age of 10 I took the scissors and snapped my waist length tresses into a short bob, which was my first big chop I guess. Only, since then, my hair never grew below my shoulders.
How did family and friends react to your decision to go natural? How did they react to the new you? What was your response to them?
My fiancé always hated when I would wear my hair straight. And he hated it even more when I would wear a weave. He just couldn’t understand why I am constantly trying to change my hair into something else when it’s beautiful the way it is naturally. Now that I am natural he loves it and tells everyone that it was his idea for me to embrace my fro haha. Now that my hair is out I feel more confident than ever and to be honest with you, I have never received so many hair complements in my life!
Describe your hair (fine or coarse, thin or thick, highly porous, low, etc.)
I think my hair is Type 3C, it’s very frizzy, thick and has small tight corkscrews curls. My shrinkage is ridiculous! It’s annoying, especially when you know that your hair has grown but you still can’t see the length unless you stretch it out.
What’s your current hair routine? How often do you wash, condition, and style? favorite products! Deets!
Ideally I shampoo my hair no more than once a week. During summertime I do wash-and-gos on a daily basis, so conditioner is my hair’s best friend. Now that my hair is a bit longer I experiment with up-dos or just leave it out. I would say that my routine is always changing, since there is always a new product or styling technique that I want to give a try. I am currently using Tresemme Naturals Conditioner, which I am happy with, and really love Cantu Shea butter leave in. Unfortunately there are many products out there that I don’t like, but when I find something that works with my hair I remember it and stick with it.
How do you maintain your hair at night?
When I am being good I detangle my hair, moisturise it with pure Aloe Vera and put Castor/Almond oil on top of it. Then I plait it and wear a satin scarf. I am trying to do it on a daily basis, but sometimes I still fall asleep with my hair out.
How do you maintain healthy length?
I reduce heat styling to a minimum and straighten my hair once every 2 months or less. I also find that my hair retains the most length not necessarily because of the products that I use, but due to low manipulation hairstyles, so no harsh brushing, pulling or twisting. I think we all have different hair needs. I’m trying to listen to my hair and through trial and error figure out what is best for it.
What’s the best thing about being curly?
For the first time in 23 years of my life I truly love my hair and I feel that I truly love myself as person too. All my life I’ve been dreaming about beautiful, healthy, strong, long hair, when the hair that I wanted has been always growing from my head. I just needed time to see it and understand it. I don’t pretend to be that sexy girl with a long silky hair (weave) anymore, now I am that sexy girl with an afro and this is who I really am and embracing it feels fantastic!
Where can folks find you on the web?