Where do you live?
T: Maple Shade, NJ (considered a Philadelphia Metro area). This upcoming fall I will be attending Rutgers University for Early Childhood Education.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
T: My hair had been chemically processed since the age of 5. To me, the thought of being natural hadn’t even materialized because I knew no black women with natural hair. Finally, when I turned 21, I decided that I was tired of relaxing.
Sometime in June 2002, 3 weeks post relaxer touch-up, I had my father cut my hair very, very low, so I didn’t really have a transition period. I remember that I wasn’t entirely comfortable with my hair at that time so I went to get my hair professional braided but the woman told me it was too short to catch so I was forced to get to know my hair because I had never been a fan of wigs and weaves.
At the time, I got very few compliments and several negative remarks to my face, but I was determined to stick it out. Even the guy that I was seeing at the time told me I had issues like Lauryn Hill (she had just shaved her head bald) and told me to come back when my hair grew longer. I remember laughing it off because a new natural co-worker of mine told me that my natural hair would ‘keep most of the losers at bay’. She was so right!! That same co-worker told me that when it came to confidence “fake it till I make it’. And I did.
What’s your regimen?
T: Every 7 to 10 days I wash with Giovanni Smooth As Silk Shampoo and Conditioner (thanks kimmaytube!), separate my hair into 6 sections, gently detangle and put in medium twists. For my twists I use Carefree Gold Curl Activator (shealoe in the winter time) because it is non-greasy but provides good moisture balance for hair. I also spritz daily with water/glycerin mix. I used to be a product junkie but it was too expensive and very wasteful.
What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learnt from?
T: I had to stop with the constant big chops!!!! I have done this 5 times since 2002; I would let it grow to about 12–14 inches then get frustrated with the length…I think that was because I was doing too much to my hair and the length/volume was overwhelming to me. Now I keep it in twists, occasionally switching up with single braids, and this works wonderfully for me.
What’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
T: Twists, twists, twists, staying away from heat, daily spritzing and gentle handling; just because it’s highly textured doesn’t mean it’s teflon.
How does your hair express who you are?
T: When I first went natural, there was no one around me to give me advice about it. It was truly trial and error. Now when I see my hair, I see my hard work and determination and it makes me feel good to know that I can persevere. As cliche as it may sound, going natural has been one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done and because of that, I really believe that I can do almost anything I set my mind to.
Though it has not been easy, I love being natural. I love running my hands over my twists and feeling the coils and springs. I love not having to carry an umbrella or using a shower cap. I love that I can manage my hair on my own and not have to wait for someone to make time to style it for me. I love that I have overcome the conditioning that in order for my hair to look beautiful it has to be straight and smooth. I love that I have accepted what others may loathe about their blackness. I truly love my hair.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
T: Anyone interested can find me on Facebook.