Where do you live?
M: I currently live in Santa Cruz, CA where I’ll be receiving my B.A. in Literature from the University of California in June… but I am originally from Oakland, CA.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
M: I decided to go natural after becoming fed up with my permed hair’s slow growth, rough patches, different lengths, and hair loss. I desperately wanted to grow the front and sides of my hair back which I had been struggling with since I was a small child. I was given a perm at an ungodly age (5 years old) which resulted in severe scalp burns which have since turned to scar tissue. I also wanted to find styles that reduced the heat damage and pulling that many relaxed hair styles require.
Also, I had no real recollection of what my natural texture looked like or felt like and I thought that it was a shame that I was so out of tune with what many women consider to be an important part of their bodies and appearance. I was constantly telling my mother, who has very manageable 3C 3B (curly) hair, that it was unnecessary for her to have a perm, but I was not taking that advice myself. I decided that I needed to beat the hypocrisy and take the leap into naturaldom with the support of my boyfriend who was tired of my hair being “off limits”.
As a student, it was also economical to be natural and it allowed me to fully enjoy myself while at the gym, in the ocean, in pools and in other places that I had written off as a relaxed girl. Living just a block from the ocean means that I can embrace the sun and fun of the beach without concern over my roots getting curly or sweating out my perm. I can’t believe I did that for so long!
What’s your regimen?
M: I am very care free with my hair. I like to let it do its’ thing and sometimes it looks pretty rough, but that’s how I like it! I pride its cleanliness, strength, moisture and health over appearance most times. This means that I sometimes look like a frizzy head, but that’s just appearance, my hair is actually very moisturized and untangled.
I wash almost daily with an Alberto Vo5 shampoo and detangle with Alberto Vo5 conditioner and a wide tooth comb or my fingers. I rinse that out and apply a quarter sized amount of “good” conditioner. Usually, it’s a conditioner that is a little more expensive and thicker like Aussie brand’s Moist conditioner or Tresseme’s line of products geared toward curly hair.
I then use my denman brush to further detangle and apply Giovanni Leave in conditioner, natural oils, and shea butter to portions of my hair. I then, twist, coil, air dry, or diffuse my hair depending on my mood . While I have noticed the benefits of using natural products like shea butter and coconut oil, I do not shy away from other products that many naturals avoid. I believe that we’re all different and different products work well on some rather than others. One of the few product ingredients I shy away from, though, is petroleum. It does nothing for my hair except tangle it and leave it greasy.
What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learned from?
M: I sported a raggedy (and dry!) TWA (teeny weeny afro) for longer than I needed to. Soon, I found that the key to beautiful hair was moisture and as soon as I began to deep condition, found a leave-in conditioner, and natural oils, my curl pattern became apparent. As my hair became longer, I found that doing protective styles and portioning off my hair into smaller sections made it easier to lengthen and maintain my longer hair. If I didn’t do this, I would have a matted and messy afro.
Another huge mistake I have made in the past was wrestling with my hair when it had just been shampooed. Now, I shampoo it, and condition directly afterward. I leave the conditioner in for a few minutes before running my fingers through to detangle rather than trying to detangle freshly shampooed hair. Doing this has greatly cut down on the time I spend freaking out about my hair and tugging on it while trying to detangle. I have found that working with your hair rather than fighting it is the key to strong and long hair.
What’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
M: The most effective thing for my hair is moisturizing and doing protective styles like twists to keep my hands out of it during the day and to make it easier to apply products. Shea butter has been my go-to product for the past few months when it comes to keeping my hair soft and moisturized. Also, I have MUCH less breakage now that I only brush or comb my hair when it is in a wet state.