*Prepared for BGLH by Meosha Tall of 1MeNaturally
M: Greetings! I’m Melanie, 23 years old, born and bred in Detroit. I’m currently living in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. I graduated from Columbia College with a degree in Fashion Management and a minor in Marketing. I’m a bubbly bookworm who lives for fashion, music and art. I currently work as a buyer in a great clothing store in North Chicago and I do fashion/photo styling on the side. 🙂
How long have you been natural?
M: I’ve always had very long, very thick hair that was a chore to style. As a kid, it was tough watching my classmates wear their bone straight hair down at school while I was still rocking braids and pigtails because my hair was so big and thick. I begged my mom to perm my hair so I could fit in with my classmates! I got my first perm at 13 and I finally decided enough was enough in my senior year of college. My once bra strap length hair had broken off over time. It was barely at my collarbone! I knew perming and heat damage was the culprit. I missed my once healthy, long hair. So after almost 10 years of perming every 2-3 months, I transitioned for 11 months by wearing my hair in a rod set style and trimming a few inches 1x a month. I have been natural since June 2011!
How and why did you transition into natural hair?
M: I really missed the hair I had as a kid! It was so healthy, long and full of LIFE. My permed hair was so lifeless. I was really nervous to go natural because I had no clue how I would style my unknown texture! I never knew I had this curly hair, but it feels so natural to me now, which is great.
I try to tell women interested in transitioning to not have expectations. It’s all about trial and error! Don’t get discouraged if a product doesn’t work. Focus on healthy hair and learning what your texture needs. Now for transitioning, I consulted with a family friend and hairstylist (specializing in natural hair) to choose the best style to transition. I knew weave wasn’t for me and daily styling would be a disaster. I decided a rod set would be best. The tight curl set masks the two textures! So every month, I got my hair rodded and trimmed and I’m telling you it was the smoothest hair transition EVER!! I didn’t have to lose a lot of length right away and got to rock an adorable curly set for a year. I could touch up the curls at home with perm rods. It was a breeze. Finally I chopped the rest of the permed ends in June 2011.
What are your must-have products for shampooing, conditioning and styling your hair?
M: I was a product junkie in the first couple months, but I soon realized my hair wasn’t being moisturized properly. It was constantly dry and frizzy. After researching natural hair moisturizers, I found my hair’s secret weapon – Shea Butter! As soon as I incorporated shea butter into my regimen, I’ve never had to worry about dry hair again! My hair also loves castor oil (black or regular), olive oil, aloe vera gel and juice and coconut oil. All of those can be found at the health food store; my favorite place to buy hair products. 🙂
My favorite shampoo is Garnier Fructis Pure Clean Fortifying Shampoo or Aubrey Organics Chamomile Shampoo. I shampoo 1-2x per month. My favorite moisturizing products are shea butter and coconut oil. My favorite sealants are castor oil, olive oil and coconut oil. I deep condition 1x per month with a mixture of greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar and honey and Curl Junkie Curl Rehab Hair Treatment as a deep conditioner 1x per week. Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque is great too, but I love making my own deep conditioners. My favorite styling product is the Qhemet Biologics Amla & Olive Heavy Cream. I apply that to wet hair to seal in the water and add light definition. LOVE that stuff! I also love Hair Rules Curly Whip for my wash&go’s and Curl Junkie Curls in a Bottle Hair Finisher to help with frizz control.
Currently, my favorite conditioner/styler for my wash&go’s is Tresemme Naturals Aloe Vera Conditioner! It’s so thick and creamy. In the morning, I apply that to my soaking wet hair in 4 sections, put a little coconut oil on top and let it air dry in the 4 twists (so my hair doesn’t drip all over the place) and shake it out before I leave the house. Super easy. I’m a fan of low maintenance styling so I try to keep it really simple. The most important part of my regimen is hair health and maintaining my hair’s moisture. I’ve learned if I focus on that, styling is easier. Win Win! I always style my hair wet or damp. I believe water is the BEST moisturizer so my regimen revolves around that. I saturate my hair at least 5 days per week and use a mix of shea butter, aloe vera juice, coconut oil and water to spritz my hair at night. I pineapple and cover with a satin bonnet. I also NEVER use heat on my hair. I’ve only had my hair straightened once for a hair show. I really think that has contributed to my hair growth and hair health.
Since going natural last June, I also changed my lifestyle. I now live a pescstarian lifestyle, eating only fish, veggies, grains and I cut out all soda and juice. I drink 3L of water a day and I try to eat clean (no processed foods). I think that has also helped my hair! I’ve definitely embraced a healthier lifestyle and researching ingredients and natural remedies for natural hair opened my eyes to that.
What is your signature hairstyle?
M: A wash&go! My hair is VERY dense, thick and curly. It’s very manageable in its wet state and very, very large in its dry state lol. So I usually style my hair wet…hence wash&go’s are my favorite. I live in the Midwest so the winters are brutal. I never leave the house with wet hair so I usually twist 3x a week at night (8-10 twists) on damp hair with my shea butter mix: water, aloe vera gel, coconut oil and castor oil. This method keeps my hair moisturized for days, but I HATE twist outs on my hair so I let take the twists down before I get in the shower and let the steam wake up my curls.
Did going natural affect your style choices at all?
M: Going natural enhanced my style! I’ve always loved art, self-expression and style and I’ve always expressed myself through my clothing. I used to feel like my permed hair was boring. Now my hair is so full of life. It adds so much to my eclectic style. 🙂
What are the three favorite things in your closet?
M: OMGGG that’s so hard! I love all my clothes so much lol! Ok, a 70’s vintage pop art dress from Tokyo I got from a vintage shop in Detroit, my amazing black, red and green African collar necklace from a shop in Hyde Park and my Motown earrings from Spiral Collective in downtown Detroit. 🙂
How would you describe your personal style?
M: I love style and fashion so much that I have about 15 different styles depending on the day lol! My true joy comes from vintage shopping and thrifting! Creating a unique look from many different sources is my specialty. I live for vintage clothing. Classic films from directors like Alfred Hitchcock, Spike Lee and Tim Burton inspire my style. Urban, gritty street culture, the elements of hip hop culture and music inspire my style. I’m a Detroit girl with an old soul so I pull a lot of inspiration from black culture from the 30s-90s, especially the Motown era. I love empowering black Africans of the diaspora so I always try to incorporate that in my style. I love color, texture and I’m a huge advocate for letting your style introduce yourself and I hope to inspire women to dress for themselves and inspire through expression!
Embrace your best attributes and work to build your inner and outer self up every day! Whether it’s adding more color, dresses or accessories to your wardrobe, small personal touches always personalize your look. Every woman can have strong personal style by just embracing your unique beauty. Fashion is exciting and I live for constantly experimenting with my personal style.
Thank you so much for this opportunity!
Stay Soulful Lovelies 🙂