Hello to all naturals! My name is Maya Congo and I’m from Silver Spring, Maryland. I’m a pre-nursing major at Old Dominion University which is in Norfolk, Virginia. I am now a junior and am 20 years old. I love educating myself on natural hair in the African American community and exploring versatile styles with my own hair.

How long have you been natural?
I have been natural all my life thanks to my mother. She was truly a stickler for keeping my hair natural when I was young because she had a perm as a child and it ruined her hair. She was determined to keep my hair healthy and thick. But in high school I always wore my hair straight to fit in and I suffered major heat damage. Even worst my senior year I got highlights using bleach and my hair started severely breaking off. I went from bra strap length hair to shoulder length. Just last year to get my hair back to health I decided to transition from heat damage and promised myself to stay away from the flat iron until my curls were back to optimum health.

Read On!>>>
What motivated you to transition? Were you a transitioner or a Big Chopper& why?
What motivated me to transition (from heat damage) was seeing all the fabulous naturals on Youtube. One, in particular, was HairCrush and seeing her long beautiful natural hair reminded me of how my hair looked as a child and I wanted that hair back. She also inspired me to do more research on ways I could wear my hair natural or without using heat. I also wanted to show people that African American hair is beautiful whether it be curly or kinky! That motivated me to go on my journey of achieving healthy and long natural hair so I could help to inspire and motivate others.

How would you describe your hair?
My hair is very thick and very curly. I have a huge mixture of textures throughout my hair. Around the edges my hair is very thick and kinky similar to 4a hair and the rest of my hair is looser and more on the curly side like 3c hair. Contrary to popular belief, my hair is actually very manageable and tends to do what I want most of the time.

What do you love most about your hair?
I love how thick and big my hair is. I think the bigger the better! I also love how versatile my hair is and all the many different styles I can create with it.

What has been the most memorable part of your journey?Has it been easy or difficult or both?!
The most memorable part of my journey is actually getting back to the way my hair was as a child. I love how thick my hair is getting and healthy. I also have been enjoying the feedback that I get when I style my hair because I never knew that my hair could be beautiful natural. I always thought my hair could only look nice straight. I feel that my journey started off difficult because just last year when almost half my head was still heat damaged it was hard working with the two textures and getting nice curly styles. But as my hair started growing out it became easy and routine to take care of my hair and now it’s basically just a part of my lifestyle

What are some of your favorite hairstyles?
My favorite hairstyles for transitioning were using flexi rods which I still love doing today. Now my go-to styles are braid-outs because they are simple and last a good amount of time. I also love big buns as a protective style.

What have your experiences been as a ‘natural?’ Any memorable reactions from family or others?
My experience has been a very great one. I just feel so enlightened on how beautiful African American hair can be. Once I decided to stop straightening my hair I was apprehensive because I felt people would make fun of my hair but I got the total opposite reaction. Many of my friends and family encouraged me to wear my hair natural more often and loved what I was doing with my hair.

What is your hair regimen (including fav products)?
Every weekend I wash my hair with Shea Moisture Retention Shampoo in sections to prevent tangles. Next, I deep condition with Tresemme naturals conditioner and sit under the dryer for about 30 minutes. I then rinse that out and let my hair air dry to about 60% dry in about 8 braids. Next, I put in my leave in conditioner which is Cantu shea butter leave in and seal that with Organix Penetrating Argan Oil and braid my hair up in about 15 smaller braids for my braid out and I roll my ends with perm rods to protect them from hanging loose. The next morning I take my hair out and wear a braid out for the remainder of the week. Every other week I do a protein treatment with ORS Hair Mayonnaise and sometimes I deep condition with Shea moisture deep treatment masque just to switch it up. I also mostly finger detangle unless I decide to use flexi rods, which then I use a Denman brush to keep my strands smooth.

What are some of your favorite natural hair websites?
My favorite natural hair website is blackgirllonghair.com because they give a lot of information and tips about how to care for your natural hair. My favorite natural hair youtubers are NaturalNeiicey, MiixMii, and MahagonyCurls they do great tutorials and all have fabulous hair that inspire me to get more creative with my own hair.

Anything you want the readers to know? Inspirational words?
Never let anyone tell you your hair is not good enough! All hair is good hair whether it be kinky, curly, or a mixture. No one texture is better than another and I think that we should all learn to accept the hair that God has given us. He makes no mistakes and there is beauty in ever texture of hair out there. Also there is no such hair that “needs” a perm. Perms are a choice, not a necessity.

Where can people find you for more information?
Instagram: manely_maya

Global Couture is trying to spread the word about embracing your natural hair. Love your HAIR, if it is wavy, curly, kinky or coily. See more at http://www.globalcouture.net/ and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Are you naturally fierce? Email us to share your hair journey at [email protected]