I would be lying if I said this was my first time “going natural”, my first attempt was in 2004. This attempt was not one that was intentional it was more involuntary than anything. It was about that time again to relax my hair and who knew that this time would be any different from the other times I’ve relaxed my hair…but it was. As I went through my usual application process something was different, I noticed that my hair was reverting to curls. Curls? With a relaxer? How was that even possible? I looked in the mirror to see if what I felt was real and then as soon as a touched my hair, I had a head full of hair in the palm of my hands; my hair fell out….
About her journey….
Talk about being devastated, shocked, appalled…in utter disbelief; I cried. As a result, I had to shave my once bra-length hair completely off. Was I bald? No. But let’s just say it was my first “big-chop”.
One would think I would’ve learned my lesson but as my hair started to grow back out, I wanted my straight hair again. It made me feel beautiful, well, that was my mindset at the time. So what did I do? I gave back into the “creamy crack”. Almost as if it promised me profound beauty, lush locks and confidence; it was what I needed.
A year later I relaxed my hair again.
The next attempt would reveal itself in 2009. Instead of relaxing my hair every 4-6 weeks, I started to relax my hair every 3-4 months (sometimes I would go as long as 6 months). But by this time, I had gone so long without a relaxer my hair was consumed with “new growth”. I was so excited to see my curl pattern again! I was so overwhelmed with excitement and curiosity I decided to “big chop” my hair myself. It was the most liberating experience until I looked in the mirror with “big chop” remorse. So, what did I do? You guessed it; I went back to my relaxer.
This was truly an ongoing battle of self-acceptance and false perception. My natural hair journey has been a rollercoaster of emotions, self-doubt and vulnerability. But my third attempt would be different. Now I see why they say the third time is the charm. By the time 2011 rolled around, I decided to become a transitioner. I learned that doing a big chop was a bit too shocking and dramatic for me; I needed a solution to help me ease into my natural hair process. I choose to wear a sew-in as I transitioned from 2011 to 2012 and in October 2012 I had a good friend of mine and my hair inspiration cut all my relaxed hair off. It was more of a “semi big chop”, my hair was much longer and it was less dramatic. Was I a bit self-conscious? Yes. Did I have any idea what to do with my hair? No, but I decided instead of falling back into the same trap, I opted to wear a “curly” sew-in to mimic the similarities of my natural hair. So from November 2012 to February 2013, I transitioned a bit longer until I was comfortable with the length of my natural hair.
Now to date, I can say that allowing my hair to grow in its natural state was one of the best decisions I could’ve made. It also helps that I have such an encouraging and loving fiancé in my corner and motivating friends all around me. Deciding to go “natural” is not easily, you have to tear down barriers within yourself, build self-confidence and love who you are and what you have.
Had you always embraced your texture?
No, I have not always embraced my texture but with time and patience I don’t see how I ever doubted myself. The way my hair first looked is not the same way it looks now. It is so important to emphasis that over time through nurturing and care your hair transforms into a bed of health hair. Also with the right regimen and products your hair will look like you never thought it would.
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 friends and family are extremely supportive. They continue to push and encourage me. There are times I get frustrated, down and to some degree feel helpless about my hair. Yet, they continuously reassure me that I did not make the wrong decision. Having loved ones in your corner helps push you through the times you want to take the easy route and give up.
Describe your hair (fine or coarse, thin or thick, highly porous, low, etc.)
My hair is filled with waves, curls and coils. It is extremely thick with low porosity. If I had to type my hair, I would say it is 3c/4a. My hair loves conditioners with very thick consistencies, olive oil, and aloe vera. Gel gives my hair extra definition and I use cream-based stylers as moisturizers for styles such as braid outs and twist outs.
What’s your current hair routine? How often do you wash, condition, and style? favorite products! Deets!
Currently my go-to style is a Wash-n-Go. This is how I achieve it:
Cleanse. I wash my hair once every 3–4 days, alternating between a shampoo and a cleansing conditioner product.
I alternate between Giovanni’s Avocado & Olive Oil Ultra-Moist Shampoo and EDEN Bodyworks All Natural Coconut Shea Cleansing CoWash to clean my hair.
I use the shampoo when I feel I’ve developed product buildup overtime and I use the cowash on a regular basis to cleanse and detangle my hair.
Condition. After washing, I apply a deep conditioner, Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Replenishing Conditioner or EDEN Bodyworks Jojoba Monoi All Natural Deep Conditioner to clean hair. I split my hair down the middle and divide my hair into 6 sections and detangle each section gently with my fingers, twist and move on. Once I’m done I place a shower cap over my hair.
Depending on time, I may choose to sit under a hooded dryer for 30 minutes or let the conditioner sit for a couple of hours.
When rinsing out the deep conditioner, I unravel each twist then massage my scalp and re-twist each section. This process makes it easier for me to apply leave-in conditioner without having to resection and detangle all over again.
Leave-in; Define. After rinsing out the deep conditioner, I apply Giovanni Direct Leave-In Weightless Moisture Conditioner to soaking wet hair by ranking the product through each section of my hair with my fingers. Ranking and smoothing the product through my hair allows my curls to become defined and clump together.
Using a leave-in conditioner which also defines your curls gives you the option of deciding whether or not to use gel. It also serves as a great base if gel or a cream-baesd styler is added.
When I do use gel, I use IC Fantasia Gel with Sparkle Lites.
Air-dry; Diffuse. To finish, I wrap my hair in a t-shirt for about an hour or so then allow my hair to air dry. If I am pressed for time, I use my diffuser on high speed-medium heat to stretch and dry my hair.
When using heat on my hair, I ALWAYS use a heat protectant.
Also, allowing your hair to air dry or using a t-shirt to soak up the excess water helps decrease the amount of heat you use when diffusing.
How do you maintain your hair at night?
At night, I maintain my hair by sleeping on a satin pillow. My satin pillow has become such a lifesaver for me! It allows my hair to retain its shape and my hair lasts a few days longer without much manipulation.
How do you maintain healthy length?
In addition to my current hair regimen, I drink about 2-3 bottles of water and take multivitamins every day.
What’s the best thing about being curly?
Being curly is fun and playful! It opens up this bottle of confidence in which you never knew existed. It’s so freeing and it allows you to be who you are and have fun being the person you were always meant to be!
Where can folks find you on the web?
As of now I have an Instagram: @mstasharenee