J: I live in California. I’m 19 and a sophomore in college
Why did you go natural?
J: I didn’t. My Dad actually made the decision for me, he told my Mom to stop putting relaxers in my hair when I was about 11 and he took me to get my first braids put in. I never got a relaxer after that and I never really cared or wanted one.
My Dad has dread locks and he has been natural all of his life (his hair is longer than mine at times). I guess he just knew my hair would never grow or be healthy with a relaxer. Plus at the time, I was going on acting auditions and my agent said that casting directors like for black girls to have a more natural look. So it was a mixture of those 2 things. But I stopped going on auditions after a few months and he still paid to get my braids put in and hair taken care of so my mom didn’t have to do it for years. Even today he still tells me to keep it healthy, keep it braided, don’t fry it, etc. I’m very thankful for his advice and support over the years!
When and how did you transition into natural hair?
J: As a teenager I never cared about my hair so I just kept it in braids or flat ironed. I guess that is when I “transitioned” but at the time I didn’t even know it was happening. I seriously NEVER took care of my own hair, I just went to a salon to get it done whenever I needed new braids put in or needed it pressed.
I have been natural for a long time now but I didn’t know how to take care of it until May of this year when I found blogs like BGLH and CurlyNikki. I didn’t even own conditioner before than. Now, I have a bathroom full of hair products and I feel more confident since I have more styling options than braids and pressed hair. I wore my natural hair “out” in a big twist out for the first time in May this year and I fell in love with it! This is the first time in my life that I have ever been proud of my natural hair.
How would you describe your hair?
J: My hair is everything. Kinky in some parts, and curly, coily, and undefined in other parts. It’s even wavy on the very top. I have thick strands and it’s dense all around though! It takes me about 2 and a half hours to completely detangle, that’s how thick it is. I’m not sure whether it’s porous or not, but I think it holds in moisture pretty well.
What’s your regimen?
J: I switch about every 3 weeks between braids, “curly twists”, and twist outs. Curly twists are twists that you braid right after doing them. Once its dry & you take the braids out, and you get stretched out, curly twists. I like them because they show a lot of length.
My favorite leave-in conditioner so far is Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner. My favorite shampoo is Organic Excellence Wild Mint Shampoo. And I always put jojoba oil in my hair after I condition it, and finish with unrefined Shea Butter. I am trying out A LOT of new products right now but those are really the only things I need.
What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learned from?
J: I have made every stupid mistake you can think of. Not conditioning my hair for the last several years, getting it pressed on the highest temperature without heat protectant, leaving braids in for 3–4 months at a time and then taking them out and combing it DRY with a fine-toothed comb, and putting Vaseline on it thinking I was “moisturizing” it. Luckily my hair is pretty strong so I didn’t completely ruin it. I had to cut 5 inches off in June because of all the crap I did to it though. Now I’m just trying to be gentle, keep it moisturized and and get it back to the length it was before. My goal is tail-bone length stretched. I was almost there before I cut it!
What’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
J: I keep it in protective styles, keeping them in for at least 3 weeks so I don’t have to manipulate it a lot.