Where do you live?
T: I was born in Boston and grew up on Cape Cod. I’m 21 and currently live in Taunton, Massachusetts. I will be attending the University of Massachusetts Boston in the fall going for a BS in Computer Science. It has always been a dream of mine to become a computer programmer (I’m a geek girl).
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
T: The decision was nearly made up for me back when I was about 13 or 14 (it’s been so long I can’t remember!) by a salon owner. My family and I had been going to her salon for a long time and she knew what my hair could and couldn’t take. I had always gotten mild relaxers, but my grandmother always put my hair up in really, really tight ponytails. I had continued doing this myself as a teenager. The ponytails plus the relaxer cut off my hair right at the tie. That’s when the salon owner said no more relaxers, they’re too damaging.
When I transitioned I didn’t even realize it because I continued getting press ‘n curls, so my hair was still straight. I really hated my hair straight. It was flat, boring, and frizzed up. Every time I got press ‘n curls the stylist would use an ungodly amount of grease and my scalp would pop up little pimples. It was gross! The reason I said ‘no more’ one day is because my family said they would stop paying for me to get my hair done. They had threatened this before which pressured me into getting it pressed, because no one had taught me how to care for it myself. From that point on I stopped using heat or chemicals.
Going natural taught me how to care for my hair. This sounds trivial, but how many Black women are equipped to take care of their hair in its natural state? I’ve been natural for about 8 or 9 years, but for many of those years I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I would go weeks without washing it or putting product in it. Then, when I did wash it, I was shampooing twice. Since learning how to properly care for Miss Diva, my eyes have been opened to the fact that everyone in the world — Black, Asian, White, etc…wants the same hair. And the ones with curly/wavy hair don’t even know how to care for it, because no one is teaching them.
Recently I started experimenting with my hair and trying out different styles. Twistouts, braidouts, and my current favorite — microbraids. It felt really good to put braids in my hair and not use any extensions.
What’s your regimen?
T: Right now my hair is in microbraids, so my current regimen is basically to cowash whenever and moisturize with coconut oil. But my normal regimen is to cowash every four days with either Organix Pomegranate Green Tea Conditioner or Organix Coconut Milk Conditioner. Sometimes both. The Coconut Milk is a protein conditioner (has egg whites in it), so I use it sparingly. When I cowash I also leave the conditioner in for the length of my shower and moisturize with the Pomegranate conditioner. Moisture after cowashing varies, from a homemade mix to Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk, to conditioner or coconut oil.
I shampoo twice a month with Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Shampoo. I also deep condition and detangle with a wide-toothed comb at that time with a combination of Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Hair Smoothie and Organix Coconut Milk conditioner. That is followed up by Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk and Hair Balm.
What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learnt from?
T: It needs to be washed often, but not every day. My hair can hold moisture, but it needs a little time to dry and shrink up so that something can be done with it. I did not properly moisturize it for the longest time and with moisture I learned that my hair hangs down a lot more than I thought it did. It likes SLS and those other unnatural things they put in hair products, but only in weak formulations. My hair cannot handle salon shampoos and conditioners, it will frizz up and itch after a few days.