B: I was born and raised in the Valley (Los Angeles). I currently work for a non-profit that focuses on closing achievement gaps in education.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
B: I’ve been natural most of my life, but only recently decided to embrace my natural texture. I wore braids or pressed until senior year of high school, when I relaxed because I wanted long, smooth hair for prom.
I made the decision to transition pretty abruptly in May of 2009. I hadn’t seen my hair in a while, so after taking out my weave, I decided to get it straightened just to check in and see how my hair was doing. I was impressed with the length I’d gained, but was surprised and dismayed by the damage. While searching online for alternatives, I came across this and other natural hair sites and was so inspired I decided to go for it. That week I got 4 inches of heat damage cut, and haven’t straightened since.
In what ways has going natural affected your life?
B: Learning to nurture and style my natural hair has definitely taught me patience and flexibility. It has also forced me to deal with my self esteem issues head on. If I didn’t learn to banish negativity and stop being concerned about the perceptions of others, I would have only lasted a couple days, tops.
What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learnt from?
B: One mistake I made early and often was following the regimens of naturals with a different hair type and being confused when my hair looked and felt like poo. I also made the mistake of experimenting with different products and styles right before work or major events, which lead to a lot of stress and frustration.
What’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
B: Protective styling and staying away from heat has dramatically improved my hair. I also think avoiding ingredients like mineral oil, petroleum and sulfates has helped as well. I love steam treatments and henna for conditioning and shine.
What do you use in your hair?
B: I co-wash weekly with Oyin Honey Hemp Conditioner, and follow each co-wash with a deep treatment of Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose mixed with olive oil, and an apple cider vinegar rinse. For daily styling/moisture, I use aloe vera gel or Lustrasilk Shea Mango sealed with castor oil.
What is one of your favorite styles?
B: Most of my styles involve braidouts and a lot of hair pins. This one started with a braid out done with Lustrasilk and sealed with castor oil. I did about 15 small twists on my crown, then pinned them into a small pomp. Then I pinned up the sides. It usually starts out with the ends pinned up into a bun to keep it neat for my early morning meetings, but is usually loose by the end of the day.
How does your hair express who you are?
B: My hair expresses the person I am striving to be – comfortable with and proud of the features unique to me, confident, and self aware. I think natural hair often indicates a deeper knowledge and acceptance of self, now I’m working to align the inside with the outside.
What’s the best thing about being natural?
B: My little sister also started wearing her hair naturally shortly after I did (she’s in the 8th grade…and so fearless and fly!), and being able to learn about our hair together has been a great bonding experience.