*Prepared for BGLH by Meosha Tall of 1MeNaturally
B: My name is Brené. I live in Prince George’s County. (As Wale puts it, “DC chillin, PG chillin.”)
I’ve been told I do too much. I’m a student at Morgan State University (I’ll be graduating this May!!), I work at school part-time and I’m currently (alongside others, of course) working on a proposal to open a charter school.
Now for my other side…I’m really an artist at heart. I model, sing, draw, paint, sew, knit, and I’m an avid shoe buyer, which I attribute to my love of art/fashion.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
B: In a routine of getting relaxers one day I just thought, “Why am I getting a relaxer?” I love my hair as is. The chemicals are unhealthy and cost money, and I could give myself a lot more options as to the way I wear my hair if I were natural. So there it was.
When and how did you transition into natural hair?
B: I got my hair cut into layers, dyed my whole head honey blonde, and got a relaxer for my high school senior prom. Then about a month later I decided I would go natural, but without doing the big chop. (Recipe for disaster you think??)
The months to come were a little difficult. Prior to college, my aunt, a hair stylist had been “responsible” for my hair maintenance. I guess you can say I had to get to know my hair at this point. I tried my best to keep it moisturized as I was told was the best thing to do, especially considering the bleach. I wore my hair straightened most of the time. Occasionally I would do Bantu knots. I was familiar with the style because my mom used to put them in my hair as a child. After reading a little about how important it is to protect your hair, you could see my hair in a scarf most of the week.
In what ways (if any) has going natural affected you?
B: It wasn’t so much that going natural affected me in any major way; it was the beginning of me making a conscious decision pay more attention to my body. I break out in eczema or just have an allergic reaction in a second from the wrong make-up, a lotion with too much fragrance, too much processed food, etc. I try to keep it all natural now, pun intended.
How would you describe your hair?
B: It’s thick and curly and eats plenty of product. The hair on the crown of my head is actually a slightly different texture than the rest of my hair. It coils much tighter. My hair is pretty manageable though.
What is your regimen?
B: Honestly, I don’t have a clear, scheduled hair regimen. I kind of pay attention and recognize my hair’s needs. Most of the time I wash it with African Black Soap. If it looks and feels depleted (or stressed from one too many flat iron sessions) before I wash it I make a mayonnaise mixture and leave it on for about 2 hours with a shower cap. Afterward, I usually put on a mixture of Jojoba and Olive oil before twisting. If I don’t condition with the mayo mix I apply a mixture of coconut, shea and olive oil after washing.
How do you retain length and moisture in your hair?
B: Sometimes, when I get in the shower and I’m not getting ready to wash my hair, I will just leave it uncovered. The steam makes it soft for easier combing and gets it ready to accept whatever products/oils I’m about to put in.
What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learned from?
B: When I was transitioning, the dye I had gotten prior may have been a mistake. Moisturizing and retaining moisture was a struggle, but gave me a chance to learn my own hair. That’s most important.
What’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
B: Even without combing it my hair sheds a lot. I comb with my fingers most of the time now. I use to comb my hair and I swear I pulled out enough to make a wig.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
B: I’m currently working on a website to offer the things I make; the hair products, box purses, and other accessories. Look out for that through my tumblr page! www.breneashley.tumblr.com
Anything else you want to add?
B: Happy Natural!!!