Tell us a little about yourself and your hair journey.
My name is Lauren McCray. I’m 26 year and from North Carolina. I’m a proud new mommy of a bouncing 4 month old baby boy named Grayson Gabriel. He’s truly my pride and joy. I work with special needs children. I love to sing and read when I have the time.
How long have you been natural?
I’ve been relaxer free since 2008 and fully natural since June 2009, when I did my big chop.
What motivated you to transition? Were you a transitioner or a Big Chopper& why?
I decided to go natural while I was in college. I began to notice more and more people embracing the natural hair journey and decided that I wanted to experience it for myself. I’ve always had really healthy hair, even when relaxed, so the decision was solely based on my desire to do so and not because of damaged hair. I was a transitioner turned big chopper. I transitioned for 8 months before finally big chopping in June 2009.
How would you describe your hair?
My hair is extremely thick, full, and multi-textured. I have never really gotten into the depths of hair typing so I’m not sure of the actual type but I have kinks, coils, waves, and zig zags.
What do you love most about your hair?
What I love most about my hair, other than the versatility and freedom that it has allotted me, is how thick it is. I hear so many people complain about that aspect of hair, but I count it a blessing. My hair is very healthy and strong and I know that the older I get I will really appreciate that aspect more.
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 was the evening of my big chop. I remember sitting in the chair and feeling so liberated, then looking in the mirror, putting my huge earrings on and feeling like I could conquer the world. Once I got home that evening, I looked in the mirror and cried again and kept saying “what did I do to myself?” This was the first major haircut of my life. My hair was down to the middle of my back when I decided to cut it. Now I just laugh because that was the only time I felt that way. Once I woke up the next morning I knew I made the right decision and haven’t doubted myself ever since. It has been both easy and difficult for me. I enjoyed my TWA because of the simplicity. My hair grows really fast so I’ve done several big trims to keep it at a length that I’m comfortable with.
What are some of your favorite transitioning hairstyles or current dos’ ?
Roller sets! They were my best friend because I was so determined to stay away from direct heat. I probably wore every size roller set every created, but my hair grew so fast and my new growth wasn’t damaged at all.
What have your experiences been as a ‘natural’? Any memorable reactions from family or others?
Overall I have really had a great experience being a natural. I never knew that my hair could become such a conversation piece and even open me up to meeting and embracing new people so easily. Being natural has opened doors for me including becoming a 2013 Brand Ambassador for Natural Girls Rock. That, by far has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I just remember my mom always being so supportive and always encouraging me to go for it. She never questioned my decision to go natural and has encouraged me to pursue all opportunities related to it. The most common reaction that I get is people always think my hair is a wig and ask where did I buy it, then if they can touch it. Some people still think I’m lying about it being “home grown”. I just smile. I’ve learned to take it as a compliment.
What is your hair regimen?
My hair regimen is pretty simple. During warmer months I wash and/or cowash weekly or biweekly as needed and depending on the style I’m wearing. In the cooler months I wash biweekly to once a month based on the same, and just continue styling between wash days. My favorite products are water of course, my own shea butter mix, Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie, and extra virgin olive oil. For the most part I’m a twist and braid out kind of girl, and lately I’ve been rocking flexi rod sets which are really working for me. I only straighten my hair at most twice a year.
Anything you want the readers to know? Inspirational words?
Since becoming natural, I have always told myself that I did this for no one but Lauren, and not to simply become a part of a “trend.” Becoming natural was about more than just changing my hair, it changed my life. I always tell people to give it one solid year if you can make it and then consider other options if it just really isn’t working for you. After that first year, I felt like I could conquer anything and my hair was long enough for me to see that I really had made progress. Never succumb to fear, try different styles, use hair accessories, and no matter what love yourself and remember why you chose to embark on such an amazing journey. It also helps to follow people that have similar textures of hair to yours. I found that when I didn’t, it was easy earlier on to become frustrated seeing other people’s hair do things that mine may not do exactly the same because of textural differences. Also drink lots of water and learn what works best for your hair.
Where can people find you for more information?
You can follow me on Instagram at beautirolauren_, Twitter @beautifrolauren and on Facebook as Lauren A. McCray (my personal profile). I also have a page on Facebook called Beau-ti-FRO-lly Lauren.
***Dating While Natural***
When I first went natural, my boyfriend was not very happy. I just remember sending him a text saying that I got a cut, then I sent him the picture of my little fro. Let’s just say it was a while before he responded. He was so into my long flowing hair that it took him a while to love my kinks and curls, but he finally came around. Now when my hair is straight he asks after a while when am I going to wash it. Amazing! I have always felt a sense of empowerment since having my fro, and I think I have actually tapped into my sensuality and womanhood more since having it. It has given me a confidence that I never had while relaxed and I love that.
natural hair. Love your HAIR, if it is wavy, curly, kinky or coily.