Were you a slow transitioner or a Big
Chopper & why?
I transitioned as well as big chopped. I decided
to go natural back in July 2010 after discovering your site, CurlyNikki.com, as
well as one of my biggest hair idols Corinne Bailey Rae who reemerged on the
scene with massive and luxurious hair. All my life, my hair was a huge part of
my identity and often dictated my self-esteem. Fortunately, my mother never
relaxed my hair but years of flat irons and blow dryers completely destroyed my
natural hair texture, similar to a chemical relaxer. I became tired of trying
to conform to society’s biased standard of beauty. That’s when I made the
decision to deviate from the homogeneous fray and go natural. I transitioned a little over a year
before officially big chopping on December 10, 2011. It was the scariest but
bravest and most rewarding decision I’ve ever made.
Had you always embraced your texture?
Honestly, I had no idea what my true hair
texture was until I big chopped. My hair during my childhood years was heavily
pressed, curled and greased down with bows and barrettes LOL But once I big
chopped, there was a period in which I had to adjust and even learn to accept
my hair texture for what it was. I didn’t have silky, loose curls that were
easily manageable. My hair was thick, unruly at times, and even fro- like. But
those were characteristics that I learned to embrace and are what makes my hair
decision to go natural? How did they react to the new you? What was your
response to them?
My family for the most part was very supportive
and positive. My mother was especially my biggest advocate and often said she
lived vicariously through my hair journey until she gave up the “creamy crack”
and big chopped herself this past December. A few of my friends were not as supportive and thought it
was just a “phase” I was going through. My best friend especially would always
make comments like, “I like your hair better straight. You look much
prettier!” Now he can’t keep his
hands out my hair and absolutely loves it!
My hair is very thick and fro-like. My curl
pattern tends to be looser and finer in the back and middle but the front can
be temperamental and at times a diva, especially where my hair tends to be
naturally lighter in color.
I usually start with a hot oil treatment, in
which I use Lisa Hair Elixir by Carol’s Daughter that I absolutely LOVE! During
the week that I shampoo, I’ll use a homemade avocado, banana, and yogurt deep
treatment and sit under my steamer for about a half an hour for added
penetration. I shampoo my hair once a month with a homemade mud wash recipe
from Naptural85, who I absolutely adore! With the exception of shampooing, I
co-wash once a week with Trader Joes Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner and follow
that up by sealing in moisture with my homemade oil that contains Vitamin E,
Castor, Avocado, Sweet Almond, Grape Seed, and Olive Oil. I style my hair with
my homemade Shea butter twisting cream, and Flax Seed Gel. I then apply
Curlformers and bun my hair for a couple of days- leaving my hair stretched for
a perfect mid week twist-out later on. I also use Carols Daughter Black Vanilla
Leave in Conditioning Spray for daily moisture and protection.
I maintain my hair at night by lightly
moisturizing my hair with water and my hair oil mixture (especially towards the
ends, which is the most drying) and pineapple it with a satin scarf, making
sure my entire head is covered and all curls are tucked away underneath the
I maintain healthy length most importantly by
daily moisturizing my hair with water! In the past, I never applied water to my
hair everyday and as a result my ends became damaged, forcing me to cut almost
4 inches off because of my ignorance and irrational fear. Protective styling
and low manipulation, such as buns, are also essential to my length retention,
which I wear mostly during the week. I also take hair vitamins, such as Biotin
and MSM vitamins, as well as drinking lots of water and eating (trying to)
fruits and veggies. What goes into your body has a tremendous affect on your
hair growth and health as well.
I love the versatility and how distinct it makes
you look! Without sounding cliché or melodramatic, in discovering my natural
hair I discovered myself. It’s allowed me to embrace the unique, eclectic, and
even unconventional qualities about myself, and has completely transformed my
overall image. I also love how I’m known for my hair, but in a positive way. For
the most part, African Americans are the only race with our own distinctive
texture of hair. Rather than view it as an abhorrence rooted in deep
self-hatred it should be celebrated for its uniqueness and beauty!
I can be found on Facebook: Jewell Bell
And my style blog: stopdropclothe.blogspot.com