*Prepared for BGLH by Meosha Tall of 1MeNaturally
G: My name is Gloria and I’m a 23 year old from Quartz Hill, California. I’m currently a student at Stanford University.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
G: My last relaxer was in August 2008. I spent the first 7 months post-relaxer trying (and failing) to work with my two textures. I ended up finishing my transition in kinky twists, which I wore for a little over a year. I cut off the last of my relaxed ends about two and a half years ago. I had a lot of reasons for going natural! The primary reason was that I had moved away from my hairstylist, who had always done my hair at a discounted price. I knew that trying to find someone else to put in my kinky twists for me was probably going to cost a lot more money than I was willing to spend. I also really wanted to grow my hair out, which was something I had been unable to do when I was relaxing and flat ironing my hair. I had a lot of hair when I was a kid, and I knew that the only real way I would be able to see any length retention was if I stopped using chemicals and heat on my hair.
Finally, I saw going natural as a personal challenge; I wanted to see whether or not I could learn how to take care of my own hair, kinks and all. This is a little weird, but every time I watched a stranded-on-a-desert-island TV show like “Survivor” or “Lost,” one of my first thoughts would be, “If I were trapped on an island with limited supplies, WHAT WOULD I DO WITH MY HAIR?” That situation is a little extreme, but I realized that it would be a good idea to learn how to care for and style my hair naturally. Hairdressers and chemical relaxers are not guaranteed in this life!
It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with my hair. I don’t believe in letting my hair define me, but I honestly feel more beautiful and unique with my kinky-curly hair. I also feel more like myself. I love to play with it; all of my friends know that I have perpetual Hand-In-Hair Syndrome! Twisting it, washing it, conditioning it, and detangling it is therapeutic for me. I know that a lot of people reach a point at which they get bored with their hair, but I am constantly confused/amazed/surprised by it. I’m not sure I’ll ever get tired of my hair.
How would you describe your texture?
G: My hair is a pretty even mixture of 4a and 4b curls. It’s really, really thick. The strands are also very coarse. My hair is pretty easy to style as long as I detangle it every night. I have my best hair days in super dry weather. This might be because I grew up in the desert. My hair will look okay when the dew point is between 40 and 50 degrees F, but as soon as the dew point drops below 35 degrees F, my hair will look fantastic. My hair’s strange that way!
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
G: I like to experiment with a lot of different products, but my one product that is in my hair 99% of the time is the Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie. I have used this in my hair almost every day for a year and a half, and my hair responds really well to it. On a typical night, I will wet my hair with water, apply some type of oil (right now, I’m using a mixture of olive oil and castor oil), and then I will style my hair into a bunch of big twists with the Curl Enhancing Smoothie. If my hair is super dry, I will rub a little Nubian Heritage Repair and Extend Butter in my hair before I wet it. If it’s really humid outside, I will rub a little bit of Giovanni Smoothing Serum over my twists right before I take them down in the morning.
I retwist my hair every night because it is the only effective way to keep my hair detangled. On the rare night that I am too tired to twist my hair, I will spritz my hair with water and gather it all up into a ponytail on top of my head. This will allow me to sleep without disturbing my curls. I also henna my hair at least once a month, but sometimes as often as every two weeks. I have a surprisingly large amount of grey hair for a 23 year old! (I’m the daughter of two people with premature grey hair, and I found my first grey hair when I was six years old.) Henna deep conditions my hair while dying all of my greys a vibrant red color.
What does wash day look like for you?
G: I wash my hair twice per week. Usually, my wash day is pretty simple. I shampoo my hair with either the Shea Moisture Curl and Shine Shampoo or the Shea Moisture Moisture Retention Shampoo. I’ll then put some sort of conditioner in my hair and let it sit while I wash the rest of my body (my conditioner of the moment is Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose Conditioner…this stuff is like a miracle in a bottle). After I rinse the conditioner out, I will immediately apply the Shea Moisture Curl and Style Milk to my hair. I’ll wrap my hair up in an old, worn t‑shirt instead of a towel, and I’ll let my hair dry like that for five to ten minutes. Then I’ll twist and style my hair the way I would any day. Once every couple of weeks, I’ll do an apple cider vinegar rinse in place of a shampoo.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
G: When I’m busy, my go-to style is a bun on top of my head. Actually, I only ever wear my hair down, in a twist out, in a bun, or in a ponytail puff. I don’t vary my styles all that much. If I’m feeling really adventurous (or if my edges are super frizzy), I’ll add a headband, a bow, or a scarf.
How do you combat shrinkage?
G: My hair is almost always stretched in a twist out, so shrinkage isn’t a huge problem for me. If I am having an issue with shrinkage, I’ll wear my hair in a ponytail on top of my head for an hour or so. When I take it down, my hair will be nice and stretched, while still maintaining its definition.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
G: I have one small section in the back left side of my head that knots up like crazy. I have no idea why, but it knots up way more than the rest of my hair. I have just learned to accept the fact that I will always have to spend a couple of extra minutes detangling and moisturizing that small portion of my hair.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
G: Do: wet my hair daily. Doing this had made a huge difference in how moisturized my hair is. Do: be gentle. I don’t use any heat, chemicals, combs, or brushes on my hair, and I think my hair has benefited because of this. I have found that finger detangling with oil is really gentle and effective, and it doesn’t take me any longer to style my hair now than it did when I used a comb.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
G: Don’t: leave my hair in protective styles for too long, especially not mini-twists. My hair tends to loc after it has been in twists for about a week, and this makes detangling a nightmare. I’d much rather have to take 20 minutes every day to detangle/style than 3 hours once every week to do the same. Don’t: get frustrated with my hair. Frustration can lead to less-than-gentle styling, which can lead to damaged hair. A bad hair day is never that serious. If I can’t fix it with a bun or a ponytail, then I’ll just be sure to smile a little more that day to compensate for it! This way, people are focusing less on my hair, and more on me.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
G: I have a Tumblr that I’m really bad at updating: naturalglo.tumblr.com. I also have an Instagram account that I am pretty good at updating: instagram.com/gjdallas.