W: My name is West and I live in Atlanta, but imported from the tiny island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
W: My hair has been natural since forever (minus that one year my mom experimented). A year after my first relaxer, in the 6th grade, my mom made the decision to transition my hair back to natural because it simply was not thriving. I was at the age where my mom’s braids were not hot, and I was a highly active pre-teen so I wore my relaxed hair in ponytails daily which resulted in breakage, splitting, and everything else. So back natural, I was! This was when I began experimenting and learning to braid and style my own hair.
How would you describe your texture?
W: My hair is more 4a and some 4b. It can become very dry and frizzy pretty quickly, but is quite finicky as my strands are fine, so finding moisturizers which are not too heavy or too light is a challenge.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
W: I maintain my twists for a week by wearing them in a bun. At the end of that week I wear my hair in a twist-out for another week. If I really want to push the style to last longer, I braid the twisted-out hair in 5–6 jumbo braids using Pura Body Naturals Murumuru Moisture Milk and Cupuacu Hair Butter. With my hair being previously twisted, it allows for instant separation and/or big hair when I remove the braids. I also bantu knot old twist outs for the same big hair effect.
What does wash day look like for you?
W: Once a month I use shampoo, otherwise I deep co-wash every 7–14 days. A deep co-wash consists of applying a deep conditioner on dry hair (or hair that has been pre-pooed with coconut or olive oil). Right now, I use BASK’s Cacao Bark Deep Conditioning Hair Treat — sometimes, when using other deep conditioners I add a little Coconut Nectar to kick the moisture up a notch. I typically condition for at least 2 hours and sometimes overnight. When rinsing, I am sure to use the pads of my fingers to agitate residue that may be on my scalp and rinse cleanly. I braid or twist into 8–10 sections and dry my hair using a bonnet dryer. I like to moisturize with Pura Body Naturals Murumuru Moisture Milk in the drying and stretching process. I eventually style my stretched hair in twists for the week using Pura Body Naturals Cupuacu Hair Butter.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
W: If my twist out or braid out is on its last leg, an updo is my go-to style — it’s actually pretty easy and takes less than 5 minutes and no more than 6 bobby pins. On days where I can be a little more casual, I don a snood.
How do you combat shrinkage?
W: I stretch my hair every wash day and keep my stretched twists bunned. When my hair is twisted out, I am sure to re-twist in 4 twists each night and moisturize to prevent shrinkage as much as possible.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
W: The crown of my hair is coarse, yet prone to much more breakage than any other so I am sure to gently manipulate that area during styling.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
W: Deep condition bi-weekly – it is the first line of defense in the battle of moisture maintenance. Low manipulation styles – the less your hair is manipulated, the less likely your hair will suffer from breakage, helping to retain the hair that has grown.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
W: Wash and Gos are a no-no for me – my hair becomes dry, brittle, and let’s not talk about shrinkage. Skipping deep conditioning – deep conditioning helps to regulate your hair’s pH and prepare your hair’s cuticle for styling.