T: My name is Tina. Originally born and raised in Cameroon, West Africa, I now live in New York. I am a graduate student, a vlogger and a jewelry designer.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
T: I did not set out to go natural. I however, hated going to the salon. It always took a whole day where I was blasted with blow-dryer air and the smell of burning hair from hot irons. I started doing “braid-outs” and prolonging my visits to the hairdresser. (At the time, I had no clue about braid-outs and the natural hair community). I switched hairstylists and one day when I walked into the salon with my “braid-out” she was amazed by my hair and told me if I grew out my perm I could wear my hair natural. She said YouTube “natural hair” when you get home and when I did I was hooked. It just so happened at that same time I was looking for something new, something I could exert some control over as I was going through a challenging period. And so in the wee hours of March 26, 2010 I wielded that control and started chopping off my relaxed ends. With my stylist’s help I had transitioned for 7 months before chopping it all off! I am now 3 years and 2 months natural.
How would you describe your texture?
T: The hair typing system always confused me, especially since I have various textures all over my hair. I will say though, that my curls are looser in the front and become tighter as you move backwards. My hair is thick and of normal to low porosity. My scalp dries quickly so it’s a constant battle to keep both scalp and hair moisturized, and on most days my hair seems to have a mind of its own.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
T: When it comes to my hair care regimen, I keep it simple! I wash my hair every 7–10 days alternating either with my favorite conditioner (Herbal Essence Hello Hydration), or my homemade mud wash. I absolutely love using my mud wash because it cleanses without stripping my hair of its moisture and leaves my curls popping. I always follow with a homemade deep condition treatment to replenish any lost moisture and rinse thereafter with an apple cider vinegar rinse. I use a modified Kimmaytube Leave in Conditioner, apply my homemade shea butter moisturizer, seal with an oil, and style accordingly. For the most part I wear my hair in twists or fingercoils, which I’ll keep for 4–5 days and then separate into a twist out. As my hair has gotten longer I do less henna treatments due to the time it requires. I balance out my deep conditions with protein treatments as needed (typically every 6–8 weeks).
What does wash day look like for you?
T: If I’m in need of a cleanse due to product buildup I reach for my mud wash. Otherwise it starts with a co-wash with Herbal Essences Hello Hydration (HEHH). I detangle in the shower as HEHH gives my mane tons of good slip. Then I apply my deep conditioner (Aussie Moist 3 Minute Miracle, coconut oil, honey and tea tree oil). I let that sit at least 30 minutes then rinse out and do a final rinse with diluted apple cider vinegar. The acidity in the ACV shocks and closes my cuticles to help me maintain moisture and give my hair great sheen. I then style (twists or fingercoils) with either Shea Moisture’s Curl Enhancing Smoothie or my homemade whipped shea butter.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
T: When all else fails I can always rely on my top knot bun.
How do you combat shrinkage?
T: I don’t mind shrinkage. If I want a stretched twist-out then I pin the twists across my head to elongate them. Or I may tie it in a low bun. Either method stretches my hair.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
T: The front usually needs more care as it dries the quickest and is the area most exposed to the various elements.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
E: Moisturizers and deep conditioning treatments.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
T: My hair hates gel and heavy oils!