R: I live in the DC Metro area, but honestly, I rep Detroit. Detroit is where I went to school, where I got schooled, and where I learned about who I really am. I am a mother of 3, and a bi-racial 3c (super thick!!) curly girl. Currently, I work with a small non-profit that services middle school girls in Southeast DC, where we teach them the arts (I focus on drama and theatre), as well as goal setting, academic focus, and help to guide them as they learn to steer their own paths to success. I am also a stage actress/director and singer in my spare time.
Why did you go natural?
R: As a child, I thought I was cursed with all of this “good hair” and “PeetuhRican hair” (I know yall have seen Crooklyn), because no one knew what to do with it. My mother is from Central Missouri, where black folks are a rarity…so when she had this brown baby, she was all kinds of confused, and would send me to a salon weekly for a washing and style (2 braids, parted down the middle. I thought I was big stuff when I got bangs, yall!).
Then came relaxers, which caught me up in their ‘issues’. My stepmother gave me my first relaxer when I was in the sixth grade, and I kept it that way for years to come. After relaxing my bra strap length hair in 2002, I ended up with a patch of hair an inch long at my crown, and had to cut. It wasn’t worth it anymore! I began growing out, and eventually, did the big chop…and we all know that once you do the BC, its so easy to keep going!
After growing all of that hair back (and even locing my hair) in 2006, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. In being treated for that, I lost my locs, and had no choice but to start over.
Going natural has effected me in many ways. After losing my hair from cancer treatments, I was terrified of losing it again, for whatever reason. I was afraid to comb it, to sleep on it, to style it. When I finally calmed down, I became ‘fully aware’ of my hair. I began a regimen that included only edible items. If I couldn’t put it in my mouth, I refused to put it in my hair! Everything that was put into my hair could be bought with an EBT card, lol! I have since loosened the grip on the variety of products that I use, but that period of time has taught me to value my hair for what it truly is.
What’s your regimen?
R: It changes depending on the weather, my mood, my travels or my kids. Some days, I’m lazier than others (I KNOW I’m not the only one!)
When I cleanse, I like to use NJoiCreationS Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo Bar. It gives me the lather I need, while giving me the ACV I like to use at the same time. While it does smell of ACV while using it, its gone after the rinse. I am also fond of Oyin’s Grand Poo Bar, but I use NJoi’s more often, because of my scalp eczema.
I condition exclusively with Oyin’s Honey Hemp Conditioner, and wish they sold it in a gallon jug with a pump! I use this as a daily conditioner; I add a little to my spray bottle; its my deep conditioner; sometimes I will even add a small amount of baking soda and use it as a co-wash…like I said, EXCLUSIVE! I also like to use their Juices and Berries for detangling, plus it just smells RIGHTEOUSLY DELICIOUS! (And no…while I do LOVE my Oyin, they are in no way twisting my arm to speak on their products. They just happened to be the first company that I loved after my cancer ordeal)
I spray daily with water, with a concoction of things added, depending on what I have on hand. It may be conditioner and almond oil or honey and extra virgin olive oil. Sometimes, I will add peppermint or grapefruit oil as well, just because I like how they smell.
For styling, I have found that Oyin’s Whipped Pudding and Burnt Sugar Pomade are best for pull backs and ponytails, as they help keep things sleek and shiny for me (WP also helps my scalp eczema, and smells heavenly!). When its time to let the curls out, and rock a big fro, Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding does the job! Honorable mentions go out to Hair Rules Curly Whip and Wavy Mousse, as well as NJoiCreationS Coconut Cream Hairdressing.
How do you retain length?
R: As far as retaining length, I NEVER comb dry hair, and I have a series of tools that I use when I do comb through…beginning with the wide toothed comb in the shower, to a denman brush, a triple row comb (for my extremely thick hair) and a rat tail comb or bristle brush for smoothing. I get regular trims, because hair this big often has single strand knots, and split ends. I also vary the positions of ponytails, and sleep on the satin pillow cases that I found at your neighborhood “giant, taking over the world, all in one discount department store” (at only $7 each, and in 5 different colors, these are a must Natural Beauties!)
What mistakes have you made with your hair that you learned from?
R: Mistakes that I have made…hmm…well, back in the day, I used to carry around my spray bottle, because I loved the look that my wet hair had. This was before I discovered my styling products of course. I noticed that my hair would stink though, and eventually realized that it was mildewing, since I never gave it a chance to fully dry! Also, getting my hair cut while its straight…HUGE MISTAKE! Of course, if its straight, its dry…and then you wet it, and notice its flat in the back…looks like I’d been napping all day, and came out of the house like that! No Sir! Never again!
What’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
R: This may sound really corny, but its true. A few years back, Ma$e (did I really just type that? lol) had a song called “Breathe Stretch Shake”…and I always did the dance with my hair. I have to let the fro out and just be free (Breathe); sometimes I need the protective styles (two strand twists, braids, etc) to stretch it out. I shake it out, to get the full looks I try to acheive, and sometimes, I just have to ‘let it go’, by wearing a hat or a scarf…but I like to call that being “Lazy, With Style”. I have to keep it creative, because I have been blessed with a FULL head of hair once again, and boredom usually makes me think drastic thoughts (of which, I would never forgive myself!)