J: My name is Jewell Bell. Based in Michigan, I am also a student finishing up my last few semesters at Michigan State University.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
J: I went natural back in July 2010, but after transitioning a little over a year, I officially big chopped December 10, 2011. I decided to go natural because my entire life I’ve always felt like a “slave” to my hair. Like most young girls my hair was a large part of my identity and I never truly felt beautiful unless it was flowing and silky straight. Little did I realize that I was conforming to society’s biased standard of beauty. Fortunately my mother never permed or relaxed my hair. However, years of straightening it with blow dryers and flat irons were just as detrimental to my hair, and completely destroyed my natural hair texture and curl pattern. The summer of 2010, my mom started advising me about the idea of going natural due to her discovery of a few natural hair blogs. Coincidently, I remember Corinne Bailey Rae (one of my biggest hair idols) arrived back on the music scene with a huge mane of luxurious hair. At that moment, I knew I had to go natural and have never looked back since.
How would you describe your texture?
J: If I had to describe my hair texture I’d say it would be a combination of 3c/4a, perhaps in small areas 4b. My hair is very thick and VERY fro like. My hair texture tends to be a lot more fine and curly (also easier to work with) in the back and partially in the middle. The front tends to be a lot more of a diva LOL!
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
J: TWISTOUTS!! I literally cannot stress that enough! Unlike a lot of other naturals, I’m not very creative in my hairstyles and sadly cannot braid or even flat twist, but my hair seems to prefer twist outs anyway. I always use my own shea butter twisting cream that I make, which is full of all natural ingredients such as coconut oil, castor oil, aloe vera gel, vitamin E, and a few essential oils. Depending on how defined I want my twist out, I’ll use a flax seed gel that I make as well. I also LOVE Curlformers, which I tend to use on my washdays, which leave my hair stretched, shiny and silky. After a couple of days, I will do a mid week twist out. I always have the best twist outs after my Curlformers! If it were up to me, I’d leave my hair wild and out in a fro, however I tend to leave my hair in a high bun a lot for protective styling. Plus, it’s a very chic and simple style. I also like bantu knots. No matter what hairstyle I do, I always spray it with a leave in conditioner, usually Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Moisturizing Leave-In Conditioner, which is my favorite!
What does wash day look like for you?
J: Depending on what my hair needs, I start with either a hot oil treatment from Carol’s Daughter called Lisa’s Hair Elixir Restoring Hair Oil, or a homemade avocado-Greek yogurt-banana deep conditioning treatment, which I allow to penetrate under my hair steamer. I only shampoo once a month, and when I do I use a homemade mud wash, which I learned from my favorite hair idol Naptural85 on YouTube. I use an apple cider vinegar rinse to help eliminate buildup from my scalp. For my conditioner and co-wash (which I do every week) I use Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner and immediately apply my hair oil mixture that I make to help moisturize and strengthen my hair. I then style my hair with Curlformers or twists, where I use my homemade shea butter twisting cream and flax seed gel.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
J: I would have to say a big, high bun. However, if I’m feeling pretty brave I’ll just grab my hair pick and pick my hair out to a massive fro.
How do you combat shrinkage?
J: Like most naturals I HATE shrinkage! I use Curlformers on my washdays, which really help stretch your hair, and I’ll wear a high bun for a couple of days, which also prevents shrinkage. When I do twist outs, I always pin my twists around my head, so when I take them down the next day I’m left with the best stretched twist out!
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
J: My ends! Up until recently, I have to admit I’ve been afraid of applying water to my hair on a daily basis. As a result of my irrational fears I had to cut almost 4 inches off due to dry, split ends. Now, I moisturize and seal my hair (especially my ends because they tend to be the driest) on a daily and nightly basis.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
J: Hot oil treatments and co-washing. My hair is such a dream and responds the best whenever I use hot oil treatments and co-wash, probably because my hair is easily prone to dryness.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
J: Commercial based shampoos and deep conditioning treatments. For some reason my hair tends to be extremely dry and brittle whenever I use those two, which is why I tend to make most of my own hair products. My hair responds best to homemade and all natural ingredients.