C: Hello! My name is Casandra Austin. I’m from Springfield, IL where I currently reside.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
C: I’ve been natural for 3.5 years. When I was in college at SIU, I attempted to go natural, however became frustrated with the transitioning process. Needless to say, it took me nearly 10 years to gather the courage to do the big chop! I was natural as a young child, but was often teased growing up because of my coarse, big and poofy hair! Therefore, I wanted a relaxer. I maintained my relaxed hair for several years. When I did do the big chop, my hair was thinning (which was extremely abnormal for me) and I was going through some personal changes in my life. The big chop symbolized freedom for me. Freedom to be myself, love myself and accept myself just the way God created me. 🙂
How would you describe your texture?
C: Surprisingly enough, I’ve never identified the texture of my hair as 3a, 4b or what have you. I’ve simply stated my hair is extremely thick, coarse, and curly, and has a mind of its own!! Some days my hair seems more pliable then others and on other days I feel like I’m about to go to war with my strands; it’s all out of love though!
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
C: I work out a lot and live an active lifestyle, in result, I face the dilemma of sweaty hair. Therefore, I have to wash and co-wash my hair quite frequently. Don’t get me wrong, I most definitely have lazy moments where my hair does not get washed as often as it should, but I do so at the risk of my skin breaking out from sweaty, dirty product build up in my hair. Yuck! Nonetheless, I make every effort to wash my hair as frequently as time permits. I wash my hair with shampoo at least once a week to be sure I get all of the excess residue and product build up removed from my scalp. I love, love, love Crème of Nature’s Sulfate-Free Moisture and Shine Shampoo; it literally does as it says “hydrates and detangles”. I follow with their Intensive Conditioning Treatment after shampooing. I co-wash at least once a week as well to rinse the sweat out of my hair without stripping all of the essential oils I applied just a couple of days ago. I use Suave Professionals Almond + Shea Butter Conditioner. Although this is a cheaper conditioner, it works well for me.
I try to style my hair as simple and convenient as possible due to my hectic schedule (I’m a single mother of a 10 year old boy, a Probation Officer, and also do hair on the side as a part time gig). Two-strand twists are usually my go-to style following a wash. I use a concoction of oils that I mix together which include coconut oil, shea butter, argan oil, and any other essential oils I have on hand. I also love Cantu Shea Butter Leave In Conditioning Repair Cream and the Shea Moisture line of products. The combination of the moisturizer/leave-ins and the oil concoction leaves my hair moisturized, manageable and well nourished. In between washing and co-washing, and as my twist outs get old, I use that as an opportunity to put some protective styles in my hair. I find protective styling is easiest when my hair is in this state. My hair is already stretched, so all I have to do is spritz a little water, apply my special concoction of oils, and get creative!
What does wash day look like for you?
C: When I wash my hair, I divide it into 4 sections, detangling each section prior to twisting. I then wash each individual section while in the shower. This process allows me to thoroughly cleanse my scalp (with Crème of Nature Sulfate-Free Moisture and Shine Shampoo), get through it in a timely manner, and eliminate some of the frustrations that go along with washing thicker hair. I then apply Crème of Nature Argan Oil Intensive Conditioning Treatment to each section respectively, finger comb through my hair, re-twist each section, then place a plastic shower cap over my hair while I finish my shower. I rinse the conditioner out with the twists still intact; I personally don’t mind if a little conditioner is left in my hair.
After washing, I use an old t‑shirt to absorb as much excess water as possible. I do not use towels, as I believe they put stress on the strands by pulling and tugging, which can ultimately result in your strands being on the towel instead of your head! I then proceed with applying my concoction of oils and either a leave-in or moisturizer, and twist my hair. I also use this same process when co-washing my hair. I’ve just recently tested out a few samples of Entwine’s Cleansing + Growth Lathering Hair Bathè, Hydrating + Growth Crème Hair Rinse, and Exotique Leave-In Hair Potion. So far so good! So I may have to invest in their line of products soon!!
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
C: If I’m not rocking a twist out, as of lately my go to hairstyles are either a high bun or two flat twists on each side with a lower twisted bun in the back. These styles literally take me 5 minutes and then I’m out of the door!
How do you combat shrinkage?
C: If I want to stretch my hair, I use the pineapple/banding methods. These methods work pretty well in achieving a stretched state for my strands without putting any heat on my hair. I usually only apply heat to my hair once a year for an annual length check. I also welcome shrinkage though. I believe it brings versatility to my looks and I can rock a different style without having to cut my hair! I think it’s pretty cool.
Tell us about your hair color?
C: My hair is naturally this color. I am bi-racial, my father is black and my mother is white. I get the red hair from my mother, who also has red hair. I used to get teased and bullied growing up about not just the texture/fullness of my hair, but the color as well. I’ve learned to embrace all of my differences and now I love my hair and its color; it’s vibrant, original, and me!
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
C: My ends have always been my problem area. I combat dryness and split ends often. Therefore, I dust my ends often and try to keep them well moisturized. I also believe my diet helps me in this area. I don’t drink any sugary beverages, only water, and I eat pretty clean. I believe eating a well-balanced diet and drinking plenty of water are paramount in maintaining healthy strands.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
C: 2 do’s: 1) Water is a good thing, as long as I follow up with a good oil or moisturizer to seal in the moisture. 2) I try to wrap my hair every night with a satin/silk scarf to protect my strands, but I also sleep with satin and/or silk pillowcases for extra protection.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
C: 2 don’ts: 1) Too much combing can be a hindrance and cause breakage to my strands. I find finger combing works just fine in detangling my hair without adding extra stress to my strands. 2) If I wear a twist out for too long, or leave my strands loose for too long, they’re more susceptible to knots and tangling. I prefer to wear a twist out for 2 days max and then it’s to protective styling I go!
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
C: I have not started a blog/webpage as of yet, but I have been entertaining the idea. Right now you can find me on IG: c_fitmichelle08 or Facebook: Casandra Austin.