Where do you live?
M: I currently live in Phoenix, Arizona. I was born in Philly, raised in New Jersey and I moved to AZ after graduation. I work in a corporate office while sporadically attending classes to become a graphic designer and get my entrepreneurial plans on track.
Why did you go natural?
M: When I was a child I had mid back-length natural hair. My mom never let me wear it out it stayed in chunky braids 24/7. I HATED anything involving a comb near my head. I was terribly tender-headed. It was so thick and huge that no one really knew how to handle it. My grandma would tell me to lean in one direction while she pulled in the other so she could get a comb through it!
As I got older I tried relaxers but after a year or so my hair would fall apart so I always went back to natural. Each time though I never let anyone see it out. I never handled it or got to know it. My hair stayed in individual braids for 2 straight years. After my last bout with relaxers ended in dryness, breakage, and an unwanted cut I went online to search for hair tips and was so inspired by the naturals there that I decided to go natural ‘for real’. I wanted to wear it out, and big, and proud and finally have healthy hair that didn’t stick out because it was dry or break because it was so fragile.
I started a transition that lasted 7 months before I gave in a relaxed. It sounds so silly now, but there was a huge weekend of parties and events coming up and I kinda freaked a little and ended up leaning over my sink rinsing out box relaxer. I regretted it almost immediately and began my transition over. The second time it stuck, and I was able to go 17 1/2 months before big chopping last July.
Throughout my transition I was very low mani for the most part and I tried to be very very gentle with my hair. I wore buns or french twists (always with a swoop bang, lol!) almost exclusively. When I felt myself slipping I tried some protective styles I’d seen online and experimented with extensions for the first time. The distraction kept me from ending my transition too soon or doing something I might regret.
Finding the online community was a big eye opener for me. It was the first time that I realized not just looser textured naturals could just wear their hair.… out. It was the first time I realized how versatile natural hair could really be. I was surprised to learn that the hair that had been too thick and crazy in my youth was considered a desired thing in some circles. It seemed like such a foreign and exhilarating concept!
What’s your regimen?
M: Low manipulation to the max! I wash and go every 4 to 7 days. I don’t really “do” my hair. I use diluted shampoo when I have build up, and throw it up in a puff to change things up.
Suave conditioners; Tropical Coconut, Rosemary Mint, Shea Butter & Almond
Eco Styler Gel; clear or olive oil
Natural Oils; Vatika Oil, Coconut Oil, EVOO, Castor Oil
Indian Oils; Jasmine Oil, Amla Oil
Drugstore Products; Stay Soft Fro, S‑Curl No Drip
Food for Hair; Honey, Aloe Vera Juice, Yogurt, Bragg’s Amino Acids & Apple Cider Vinegar, Coconut Milk &/or Cream
Tools; Jilbere Shower Comb, Denman (rarely), Melba Detangling Comb, fingers
Treatments; Aphogee 2 Minute, ORS Replenishing, Jherri Rhedding 100% Protein
I like to have a serum on hand too, but the brand changes. I know many naturals don’t like cones, bit when ever I use cones or gel I always oil my hair first to protect it and keep it happy underneath. So far serums/cones have helped me detangle, helped me dilute gel (for softer hold) and ultimately helped me retain length.
What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learned from?
M: You can’t rush through a style when you have very opinionated hair! I used to always try to do things last minute and end up dissatisfied or unhappy. Don’t try to fight your texture and turn it into something it’s not. I see a lot of ladies wanting “slick edges”. Sometimes that is just not going to happen. I’m sorry. The beauty of having natural hair is just letting it do its thing. Sit back and relax a little bit. Detangling can be overrated. Natural hair does not need to be 100%tangle free all the time. You’ll drive yourself crazy trying to accomplish that.
What’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
M: Let it be!
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
Anything else you want to add?
M: If you’re thinking about transitioning, follow your gut. Take everything you read online with a grain of salt and hold your head high.