J: My name is Jill Louise B and I’m from the Bay Area (California).
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
J: I’ve been natural since December of 2009. I can’t even own the decision process. I didn’t “go” natural. It was the holiday season and I was in law school—which I hated—and I needed to eliminate a stressor. I shaved my head, took a deep breath, and got ready for finals and Kwanzaa like the avoider-of-all-things stressful that I am. Time went on, I dropped out of law school, I started drinking a lot of tea and doing a lot of yoga and the hair seemed to go along with the new lifestyle, so I kept it growing.
How would you describe your texture?
J: When I looked at those letters and numbers I immediately felt the heart palpitations kick in. I had no idea what those meant. Not only that, my hair has the most extreme textural differences I have ever seen on a human being. It looks as though it made its own commitment to diversity and like, it means it. So I probably have a little 6Y, a little 9QHT, and some N101. But if I have to settle on one, I’ll go with 3C…reluctantly. My hair behaves itself for the most part. It’s thick and dense and sort of curly and can really take a lot of neglect and abuse, so it works out.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
J: When my hair was longer my monthly hair regimen was intense. Well, probably not to normal people, actually. But for me? Yeah, it was a headache. In the beginning, I woke up, threw some Mane and Tail on my hair in the shower, washed it out, toweled it off a little bit, dug my hands in there and moved them back and forth rather quickly. Then I moved them in a counter-clockwise direction. Then I shook my head a few times. Done. After a while, I started dating a woman who was super into her natural hair and maintaining it/growing it (purposefully)/um…combing it/etc. She took one look at my hair up close and was like, “Seriously, Jill?” Soon, she took it over and started combing and braiding it once a week. Once we broke up I realized I had no idea how to braid hair. What did I do, you ask? Well, of course I made my mom do it. After a few months of that, I realized that dealing with my hair as it was just wasn’t for me. So I chopped it off a few months ago with the help of some scissors, some clippers, and a couple of mirrors. I still comb it regularly (maybe twice a month) and I finger-comb it daily. But no more braids and no more mom. Okay, fine. She cut it that first time. But since then? All me. I use whatever is under my sink. Sometimes it’s Matrix Curl Life. Sometimes it’s Shea Moisture Restorative Conditioner. And you know what? I still swear by Mane and Tail. If it’s good enough for Mr. Ed, it’s good enough for me.
What does wash day look like for you?
J: Wash Day is the worst day ever. I use more cleaning products than hair products because when I’m done there’s hair everywhere. But that’s neither here nor there. Now that I’ve cut my hair, it’s much easier. I use Matrix Curl Life Shampoo and condition with Mane and Tail Leave-In Conditioner. It takes about 45 minutes and I do it in the shower. It’s not the “greenest” activity in the world, but luckily it’s only a couple times a month. When my hair was longer, I washed it a lot, but I didn’t comb it out every time. The result? The greatest fro the world has ever known. Was it basically just one large dreadlock? Sure. But I got so many compliments…
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
J: I only really have one style these days. When my hair was longer, I’d sometimes sport my comb-out day braids a few extra days if I didn’t have the time to deal with it. I’d wear them all pulled back or a throw a beanie on over them. These days my hair doesn’t really have the option to rebel and it doesn’t take a lot of time.
How do you combat shrinkage?
J: Shrinkage, huh? I just roll with it. It’s much better now that my hair is shorter, but even before…I didn’t try to fight it. I used the same methods to do my hair and eventually I’d wake up one morning, look in the mirror, and realize, “She’s baaaaaaack.”
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
J: The back of my hair is the most ridiculously textured section. It looks like I stole it from a newborn baby and glued it in. One time my little brother asked me why my hair was young Michael Jackson in the front and older Michael Jackson in the back. In fact, I made the mistake of trying for dreadlocks once. The rest of my hair—no prob. The back of my hair was like, “Sorry, homie. Not in this lifetime.” It unraveled immediately. Right now I’m battling it by simply cutting it shorter than the rest of my hair. It hides the texture and I know it’s time for a cut when I see it trying to curl and act grown. Get it?!
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
J: 2 Do’s for my texture? Always deep condition (especially during a wash) and wear a headband when you exercise. I try to avoid forehead rashes at all costs.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
J: 2 Don’ts would be: Don’t pull out all those little knots that show up at the ends of your fro (no matter how fun and deeply satisfying it is), and never go to sleep on wet hair. You’ll wake up looking like Laura Winslow in those later seasons. LAID.