*Prepared for BGLH by Meosha Tall of 1MeNaturally
D: Dhyia from Chicago, Illinois.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
D: My road to going natural was accidental. I stopped getting relaxers because I would get relaxers every year or even sometimes year and half. Crazy, right? It just made my hair more manageable to get relaxers infrequently. Nonetheless, my hairstylist said I was doing more damage to my hair than helping it and that I really didn’t need it. So I stopped. I didn’t know about natural hair or the natural hair community at this time…but it didn’t take much for me to give it up. I despise relaxers, the smell…the burning…the scabs…the time, it was just an unpleasant experience.
After 4 years of flat ironing my hair, I got bored and wanted to be more authentic with my life. I felt trapped by my hair because my life revolved around it…exercising, swimming, preserving the first week of my style, scheduling frequent salon appointments and of course the money. It made me upset that I felt forced to straighten my hair (especially in business) while women with natural hair and women of other ethnicities had such a carefree lifestyle. I wanted that for myself, but I wanted to feel good about what was growing out of my head, especially when it wasn’t as widely embraced, especially in the work place.
At the same time, I had two friends who are natural hair militants. They’d always get on me about my straight hair and one day my friend Rebecca said, “Don’t straighten your hair for one year.” The concept was hard to even fathom…”not straighten my hair, what does that even look like?” However, I’m a risk taker and decided to accept her challenge. Shortly after, my stylist and a friend told me about Miss Jessie’s products. Somehow I found Miss Jessie’s YouTube tutorials, then that led me to find LeoBody71, then Taryn916, then Naptural85 and the rest is history. I jumped in the shower, wet my head and threw some Miss Jessie’s on it – let’s just say the beginning was a little rough! I’ve been chemical free for the past 5–6 years, however I wore my hair straight and flat ironed 99% of the time. I may have worn it curly once per year. I consider the beginning of going natural for me, i.e. no heat (and wearing my actual texture) September 2011.
How would you describe your texture?
D: I honestly don’t have a predominant texture. When translating my hair to others, I use a combination of the number (aka Andre Walker’s system) and LOIS systems. The hair that frames my face and the nape is 3b with an S curl pattern, it is fine and easy to detangle. The middle, moving closer to the crown is 3C with O curls. Then the crown, which I call, “Super Thick Town”, is 4a, with a combo of L and I. It really deserves its own number, like 10Z. This section is super coarse with a loose wave, some parts are even straight – remember most of my relaxer has grown out. I also thought it was heat damage, but the new growth is just as coarse, but grows in with a real loose wave. I have a lot of hair and it’s big, I mean Marge Simpson big. But it stretches easily. My hair loves to be stretched. I can’t manipulate it too much or I’ll lose my curls especially at the crown. Finally, my hair is cottony and very prone to tangles and frizz. I have only seen one other naturalista with this combination; TheRubyTulip on YouTube.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
D: My hair is currently in box braids, but prior to that I would wash every 9–10 days. I haven’t learned to appreciate co-washing yet. I will do a wash and go, then wear that for 3 days. Then wet my head, detangle with water and do a twist style. I’ll wear that twist style for three days and take it down and wear the twist out for another 3–4 days. Then I’ll wash it again and depending upon how tangled it gets, I’ll do a twist style again. Before I got the braids I decided to chop 6 inches off my hair, because the hair had so much heat damage and splitting, it was causing more tangles, thus more hair loss. After the cut, I started doing more wash and gos, as well as co-washing every three days with a combination of bantu knot and twist outs. Since the cut, I have shaved off about thirty minutes.
It took me a year to figure this out, but spend more money on your comb than your hair products. The right comb doesn’t have to tear your hair out. I have a German-made comb made out of vulcanized natural rubber with no seams. (Yeah, it’s that serious) I also recently fell in love with flexi-rod sets too.
What does wash day look like for you?
D: It’s a special day, where I block out 4 hours. I first start with a pre-poo, which is a mixture I made with conditioner, macadamia nut oil, tea tree oil, jojoba oil and rose water. I love it! I use it to lightly finger detangle my hair and prepare for it to be detangled. I proceed with detangling with a wide-tooth comb. I’m still searching for the best method to detangle, sometimes I do it in the shower, but sometimes I use a spray bottle – either way it takes an hour and a half. After detangling I separate my hair in three large twists, two on the side and one in the back. I rinse my hair thoroughly and wash my hair in each section then re-twist. I proceed with the conditioner in the same manner and re-twist. Next, I rinse the conditioner out with the twists in. Then I unravel the twists, put leave-in on, and style.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
D: High bun! At one point I was rocking it for like a month. It’s addictive, but will tangle and mat your hair up something horribly if you don’t take it down every night and moisturize.
How do you combat shrinkage?
D: I don’t mind shrinkage. My hair stretches pretty easily, which is why it was so easy to get my hair flat ironed when I stopped relaxing. I do avoid diffusers, it shrinks my hair, but my curls look amazing.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
D: The crown and the mixture of the three textures. Each texture requires a different level of treatment. I was beginning to lose a lot of hair because I would detangle the 4a and 3b hair together and end up pulling out the finer texture. Now I try to part my hair based on the texture, detangle and continue styling my hair as usual. My hair is super dry and I recently discovered moisturizer! I know one year and I rarely moisturized my hair. I now try to do it at least once per day, or my hair will break off.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
D: Hair management is key for me. I remember day 12 hair days and how I would avoid doing my hair at all costs, but I would pay for it later when it practically started locking up, lol! Now, I can do two, maybe three day hair with my wash and gos and 4 day hair with protective styles. I moisturize daily or every other day. And I need to wet my hair between styles because it needs real moisture every three to four days. I may start washing every 12–14 days now. Also, I occasionally stretch, because it promotes better hair management. I do that with flexi rod sets or bantu knot outs. If you are fed up with your hair, DO a braided style or find a short-term low maintenance style for a month or so. Then go back and look at photos of your hair. It will make you get all nostalgic and you’ll be excited to go back to rocking your curly fro!
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
D: Don’t touch my hair. It will frizz up like a ball so fast and tangle, plus it takes a lot of labor to get it styled. I feel like if I can’t even touch it, why should someone else, lol! Hand-in-hair disease (I used to have it chronically). Going more than 5 days without detangling, not moisturizing, and not embracing your own curl pattern.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
D: Yes, I’m on YouTube dmalikat and Instagram @dmalikat.