T: My name is Tamara. I go by TravelingNatural on my blog and YouTube. I was born in Jamaica, but raised in Connecticut!
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
T: My mom travels a lot! So in turn my siblings and I (I have an older sister and younger brother) traveled often on family vacations. The night before leaving (or even a few days before), we would spend practically ALL DAY in the hair salon getting our hair done in preparation for our trip. My hair was always roller set, braided or straightened. It was annoying! I hated how my hair would look by day 3 or 4 of the trip. I would either have to walk around with a jacked up pony tail or find someone to re‐style my hair. And I could never really enjoy swimming or water sports because of my hair. Hairstylists had a love‐hate relationship with my hair. They loved the fact that it was long and thick, but hated having to detangle, wash and style it.
In university I decided I had enough of the “relaxed life” and started to grow out my hair. I remember the stylist I had settled with at the time did not really enjoy the transitioning process as much as I did. I loved inspecting my newly sprouting roots in the mirror and admiring the texture. But my stylist who had to wash and press my hair would take secret breaks in his supply closet to sip some wine because my hair was a ton of work to manage. I knew learning to wear my hair in its natural state would allow me more freedom. Plus release me from the fear of not finding a stylist who could (or wanted to) “manage” my hair texture when I was traveling. So finally I decided to just cut it all off after a year of growing it out. I loved my hair and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. I big chopped the first time at Miss Jessie’s Salon in 2006. But I did a second transition in 2008 and in April 2009 I cut the last bits of relaxer off! So I guess now these current tresses that are on my head are 4 years old.
How would you describe your texture?
T: My hair is multi‐textured. The front has a different texture from the sides. The sides have a different texture from the middle. The middle has a different texture from the back. It is very thick and quite dense. In the beginning I thought my hair was playing some evil joke by appearing so unified. But through trial and error I learned what products would work for different styles. I had to re‐condition my thoughts and ideals as they pertained to my hair and how I identified with my new natural tresses. At one point in my life I really thought my hair had more friends than I, ha ha seriously! People gravitated to it. And then I cut it all off (insert smiley face lol). I fell more and more in love with my new hair and identity, so did my friends.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
T: Honestly I style my hair in twists 99.9% of the time. Then I will style the twists in some kind of up‐do. I try to wear my hair off my face and shoulders and primarily tucked away. Well for one, I do this because I love the idea of protective styling. And two, I’ve learned from traveling the globe that people who do not come into contact with people of color often will exert a fascination with my hair that can only be explained as curiosity. This curiosity has led to my shoulder length twists being pulled and tugged from behind while I innocently sat on the bus or even while I have stood unaware in checkout lines. Thus keeping my hair tucked away leaves my tresses happy! And lastly I’ve become accustomed to the ease of styling twists. When I have worn my hair out I always dread having to detangle it afterwards. Maybe I’m a bit lazy when it comes to my hair. But I rather my hair be an afterthought rather than my focus, since I am so comfortable with it now. So I prefer to do a protective style and go!
What does wash day look like for you?
T: My regimen is fairly simple at best. I wash my hair twice a month. I have tried once a month, but I get scalp itchiness. And I used to do it every week but traveling has exposed me to the world and how other countries and communities utilize the little water they may have. I began to have regret with how much water I may be wasting during my weekly wash days. But that’s just me! I mainly co‐wash and deep condition on my wash days. I clarify my hair about every 6 weeks. The timing of the process may change based on my travel schedule but my routine is pretty consistent:
1. Detangle/pre‐poo/deep condition (same day or next day)
3. Moisturize and Style
My detailed step by step is listed on my blog. As for products, I use natural oils, butters, coconut milk, a bentonite clay mixture for clarifying and Aubrey Organics conditioners.
Describe your favorite go‐to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
T: For those days I put my hair, that’s probably already in twists, into a French braid. Then BOOM! Out the door ha ha!
How do you combat shrinkage?
T: I don’t “combat” shrinkage, I just embrace it.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
T: I guess the middle section of my hair where my coils are tighter. I think it just likes extra attention honestly lol 🙂
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
T: Hydrate often and put it in a cute protective style.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
T: I would say wearing a wool/knit hat without a satin scarf underneath. The second don’t I would say is sleeping on loose hair. I don’t ever allow this to happen! Even if I am sleeping on a satin pillow case.