Tell me about yourself!
My name is Nerlynn Etienne and I am a Make-up Artist at Be Fabuolous Salon in Fort Myers, FL, a licensed and ordained minister at Agape Christian Fellowship, and a theatre actress/dancer. I grew up in Miami where relaxed hair, weaves, Ampro Gel (Black before the clear existed) and spritz is the norm. I decided to go natural in 2005 after moving to Atlanta to attend Clark Atlanta University. I saw a variety of beauty black women who were natural. A drastic contrast to the perm and weaves that I grew up around. I was so young and had yet to develop my style as a young lady. Prior to this experience I hadn’t seen a style (hair, clothing, etc) on a woman that I wanted to emulate. The natural community in Atlanta was so beautiful, confident, ethnic….and I wanted to be apart of that. I went natural hoping to discover my own style and I did. When I went natural I felt that my journey into womanhood had begun.
Were you a transitioner or a Big Chopper? What was your journey like?
I was a transitioner because natural hair was so new to me in 2005. I wore a lot of sew-ins and braids. As my natural hair grew out I would trim between hairstyles. Eventually, I built up the confidence to begin wearing my real hair in an afro.
Had you always embraced your texture?
Initially, I was frustrated with the texture of my hair (Type 4b) because there weren’t many products on the market that catered to it. I thought that all natural hair was the same until I grew in my knowledge.
How did family and friends react to your decision to go natural? What was your response to them?
Initially my family and friends were shocked and scared. I went away to college with a weave and came back with an afro, and a new perspective. I think many people expected my natural hair to be a phase. Of course I was a bit hurt that my new look was not welcomed with open arms. Then I came to the realization that their perception of natural hair wasn’t any different than my perception a few years prior. The only difference was that I had the privilege of seeing the versatility and beauty of natural hair on a daily basis while in college at Clark Atlanta University.
That same beauty that I observed the naturals in Atlanta wear was what I needed to display to my family and friends.
As I grew in my education of natural hair, so did the people around me. When I genuinely began to embrace my hair, it was a domino effect. In the following years, most of my friends and family went natural and have been ever since.
Describe your hair (fine or coarse, thin or thick, highly porous, low, etc.)
My hair is beautifully coarse and moderately thick the way God designed it to be.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to your hair?
When my hair grew to a considerable length I began wearing really huge twist out. My twist outs looked like Lisa Simpson.
What’s your biggest hair related regret?
I actually have no hair regrets after I went natural because I’ve learned so much from those experiences.
I do regret that I grew up viewing straight as the only image of beautiful hair. All hair and healthy hair should be presented as beautiful.
What’s your current hair routine? How often do you wash, condition, and style? Favorite products! Deets!
I wash my hair every week with products by Alikay Naturals. Although there are many products on the market that are great for natural hair, Alikay Naturals is the one that I choose to use. It has had the best results on my hair. I begin by applying the Deep Conditioner first because I have dry hair and I want to spend more time infusing moisture in it. I use Alikay’s Honey & Sage Conditioner. Then I wash and condition as one would normally do. The next step is very important because it involves sealing in moisture for the week ahead of me. I use Alikay’s Lemongrass Leave-In, and finally two strand twist with Alikay’s Shea Yogurt. I usually keep my hair in two strand twists all week, wear a twist out Sunday and wash on Mondays.
What’s your favorite hairstyle? Where do you get hairstyle inspiration?
My favorite hairstyle right now is yarn wraps. I usually get ideas from random pictures on social media or playing with my hair.
Who is your curl crush?
My hair crush is anyone who loves their hair and enjoys discovering new things about it.
How do you maintain your hair at night?
At night I either two strand twist my hair, or it is in a protective style so I don’t have to do anything to it.
How do you maintain healthy length?
I maintain my length by wearing a protective style for 1-6 weeks. Either I am rocking yarn braids/yarn warps, a headwrap, a natural looking half wig, or a really cute style where the ends of my hair are tucked away from the pollutants in the air. The ends of the hair are the oldest part of the hair so I give them the most care. I even put extra product on my ends.
What’s the best thing about being natural?
I take a lot of pride in the fact that the hair on my head is all mine. That is the best thing about being natural.