Where do you live?
A: I live in Arlington, TX. About 20 minutes west of downtown Dallas. I was born in Sun Valley, CA which is in the suburbs of Los Angeles. I’m reppin’ Cali for life regardless of where I live :o)
I just earned my Texas State Braiding License and Natural Hairstyling Certification through Isis Institute of Ancestral Braiding, over this past weekend of August 18th- 21st. Isis is a natural hair pioneer who fought and continues to fight for the rights of natural hair stylists here in TX. Due to her determination (including being imprisoned for practicing natural hair care and braiding without a TX State regulated Cosmetology license) she got the TX laws changed that required those practicing chemical free hair care (like braiding) to get a 1600 hr cosmetology license. She fought the charges and won her case in 1997 getting those 1600 hours reduced to 35 hours. I am truly grateful to her for it.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
A: My mother (RIP) is who I owe my passion for natural hair care to. I wore my hair natural until I turned 15. At the time I believed hair that shrinks was undesirable and having straight hair that wouldn’t shrink up when it was wet became too much for me to resist. The first 2–3 years were great. When I wore my hair relaxed it was still curly because I didn’t relax it to bone straight. I would leave the mild chemical relaxer in for 5–10 minutes and rinse it out giving it more of a texturized look. I figured that would lessen the damage. I was wrong. My mother reluctantly gave way to my endless begging and nagging, allowing me to get a relaxer. Long story short, by the time I was 19 my BSL length natural and pressed hair dissolved away to neck length.
When and how did you transition into natural hair?
A: I transitioned twice during the 6 years I wore my hair relaxed, once in 1993 at age 19 and again December 1995. There was no such thing as “Big Chop” then, at least not to the degree Sisters are doing it now. I transitioned from March 1993 to about November 1993 and cut off all my relaxed ends. I wouldn’t call this big chopping because by that time my hair even with the relaxer cut out would still fit into a ponytail holder. My hair grew back to BSL and in December 1995 I got another relaxer at the recommendation of my son’s father. This time it was a FABULAXER by Revlon and I’d been using Revlon Realistic in mild. He put it on my hair and it processed about 10 minutes. I got into the shower and all of my hair rinsed down the drain. That was it for me. My thick shoulder length ponytail was the width of a .2 pencil. I cried for days and ended up getting individuals installed shortly after. I don’t know why my hair reacted that way to the relaxer to this day. All I know is it scared me straight (literally) and I have never looked back.
Over the next 17 years I wore my hair both thermally straightened and in its natural kinky-curly texture. I took my hair care much more seriously over the years, using high quality products like Joico, Sebastian Colour Shines, Nexxus, Aphogee products, and Matrix Biolage. My hair length over the years ranged between APL and BSL. Around the end of 2002 I started looking into natural hair care and thought about going to school to become a stylist. Styling hair has always been a passion of mine. I found out about Taliah Waajid and the classes she was giving in Atlanta and wanted to train with her. I printed out her entire syllabus online and never pursued it further. I also joined a website called Nappturality.com where other Sisters would share photos and hair care tips. Still didn’t move me enough to change to a heat free hair care regimen. There weren’t even any “natural” hair products. I would keep my hair in a low bun when it was curly and the few times I did wear it down I used Worlds of Curls Curl activator gel and spray. The activator would run and leave dark spots on my shirt collars like I had a Jheri Curl so I stopped using it.
Fast forward to May 2010. By this time my desire to go heat free was in full drive. I loved and admired black women who were not embarrassed with shrinkage and confidently sporting their natural kynxx. YouTube had loads of vloggers who were doing tutorials on styles and offering great hair care advice. I was working for this financial institution here in TX and kept seeing this one Sister in my department with about a 3 inch twa rockin’ it so fiercely, I thought to myself, if she can do it and look fab not caring about what others think, so can I. I vowed not to use heat on my hair until all my heat damaged ends were back to curly. It’s been over a year and I have only blown it out one time this past July in preparation of some cornrows I did to make the parting process precise and easy for me.
In what ways (if any) has going natural affected you?
A: Wearing my hair in its natural state really hasn’t affected me the way I always thought it would. I assumed I wouldn’t be able to get a job. I assumed men would not find it attractive. I assumed it would be expensive. I assumed it would be boring after a while. All of my assumptions have been proven so wrong!
How would you describe your hair?
A: A multi-textured loosely curled to tightly coiled bundle of kynky joy!!!
What is a brief description of your regimen?
A: This is as brief as it gets… ;o)
Deep Conditioning weekly: Amla powder, Brahmi powder, extra virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, section hair into 4, apply root to tip, place shower cap on and leave for 1- 2 hours. Rinse w/cool water
Bi Weekly DC: Organic Root Stimulator Replenish Moisture Conditioner; baggie, dryer for 30–45 minutes, rinse cool water OR a hot oil treatment using EVOO, Coconut oil, Castor Oil, with Rosemary and Lavender essential oils about 4 drops of each to 8 oz of carrier oils.
Every 4–6 weeks: Henna Treatment mixed with all above oils used in weekly dc and distilled water. mix to paste consistency let sit for an hour, apply henna from scalp to ends, leave in minimum 4 hours or sleep over night. Rinse cold water. Follow up with DC.
Styling Products: Naturalista Cosmetics Juicy Leave In Conditioner, Kinky Curly Curling Custard and Knot Today, organic coconut oil, homemade flaxseed gel, and soon introducing KimmayTubes Leave- In pH balanced recipe. These products vary in use depending on my style of choice.
What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learned from?
A: Mini twists although very cute and versatile are not for me. My ends curl way too much and I end up with single strand knots. I learned that oils although beneficial are better for my hair I get better results (aside from coconut oil) when I use them as a hot oil treatment then rinsed out.
One huge mistake was washing my hair with Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap. Although it is a great clarifier, the ph level is too high for my hair and leaves it feeling brittle.
What’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
A: Follow an Ayurvedic hair care regimen. Without it I would probably be bald. I had a very serious and scary bout with hair fall after the birth of my last son in 2005. My hair shed for 4 years and although it was still lengthy I lost a lot of density. I spent so much money looking for a magic treatment to stop my hair fall. Nothing worked until I Google searched “stop hair loss” and an article about Amla oil came up. I was hesitant to try at first after reading the reviews on Amazon and how people complained of the strong scent. I bought some and oiled my scalp with it over night using the baggie method and my hair fall was put in check after the very first treatment. Due to the high content of mineral oil found in the amla oils sold in local Indian markets where I live I changed to powder forms of Ayurvedic oils instead.
Learning the importance of pH balance has been very effective. I think Kimmaytubes leave- in will be my go-to since I’ve seen what it has done for her hair AND for several of my FB friends who use it faithfully.
Keeping a consistent regimen and not being a product junky based solely upon the results other women have without researching the products benefits. I always take into consideration my hair and what it needs as well as my skin as well before I try anything.