J: My name is Jillian Knox and I am originally from Washington, DC. I have lived in Chicago, IL, Atlanta, GA and Savannah, GA (where I went to school at SCAD). I currently live in San Francisco, CA with my fiancé, dog Molly, and cat Saki.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
J: I have been natural since August 2010. I transitioned with chunky braids, (a la Poetic Justice) and then when I moved to San Francisco in August 2011, I cut off the remaining part of my relaxed ends. It was the best thing I ever did for myself. I went natural because I found out I was allergic to relaxers, and got so many chemical burns on my scalp that I decided the pain and the money was just not worth it. And besides, I only got a relaxer for convenience when I went to college. And even then it was a hassle.
How would you describe your texture?
J: I have never been able to define the texture of my hair. I have looked at so many charts and photos of other women to see who I compare to, but I have never been able to figure it out. But to put it plainly, I would say that it’s a bit of a mix. My strands are thin and very dense, but the hair on the crown and temples has a much looser curl (mostly wavy) than the back of my head, which is very tight and kinky. My strands look like 3C curls when completely soaking wet, but when it dries it turns out to be a whole other story…
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
J: In terms of hairstyles, I sell vintage for a living, so I love retro styles like victory rolls, updos and pompadours. I also really love asymmetrical French braids and twist/braid/bantu knot-outs. Usually you can find me wearing some sort of hat or pin-up style scarf in the cold months, so asymmetrical French braids with a pomp in the front are my go-to quick fix in the morning. When my hair is nearing the end of the week (or when I know I want to do some serious victory rolls), I throw it up in a giant bun/top-knot. That one has been my signature for many years. I have learned that when I do a top knot, my hair stretches to almost straight, so I can do great vintage styles without heat! Holler!
I don’t like to put a lot of strain on my hair, so I use a lot of vintage hair combs and bobby pins. I love braids and I have found they preserve my length, and not to mention they don’t pull at my edges. I also don’t put a lot of strain on my hair because my Aunt Claudia told me so when I was in high school, and her hair is ridiculously thick and long even now, in her 50’s. She only uses one clip in her hair (seriously). During the week for extra moisture (especially in the cold months), I use Orange Cinnamon Organic Shea Butter Cream by Feleciai; it smells like cake! I love to use Cantu Shea Butter Oil Sheen for everyday styling, especially victory rolls and twist outs. When I’m doing a wash and go, I use Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Lite, but when I want a well-defined braid out, I also use it. Rarely, when I straighten my hair (or if I know it’s going to be windy outside for my wash and go), I use Bed Head Control Freak Serum.
What does wash day look like for you?
J: I pretty much have to designate about 3–4 hours to doing my hair on a real wash day (depending on what style I will be wearing that week). I have eczema, and my scalp has become the number one spot where breakouts occur. I have a very dry scalp and I have to keep it moisturized ALL THE TIME. If I don’t, welcome to flake central. But this also means I can’t wash it too often, or it will dry out as well; it’s all a delicate balance. So, I wash my hair once a week.
I usually detangle my hair before washing with an altered Denman brush (I removed every other row of bristles so my hair doesn’t break in the brush) or a wide tooth comb and a spray bottle of warm water. I do my co-washes with Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner (with a dab of their shampoo from the same line), with a little liquid African Black Soap and CPR by Motions to seal the deal. I section my hair in two parts (right down the middle) and wash and condition each side individually. I have stopped using a wide tooth comb in the shower. I realized that if I detangle before I start washing, I don’t see as much hair in my brushes and on the shower floor. I have found that I get better curl definition too if I just use my fingers to detangle the sections during the washing process. The liquid African Black Soap has helped combat my flakes and dry scalp in a big way, and I believe that combining this with the anti-fungal power of Trader Joe’s Tea Tree line creates a great balance for my scalp (also the TJ’s line doesn’t have any sodium laureth sulfate, so I feel good knowing I’m not using any chemicals). The CPR is used only at the end of my washes, and mostly on the ends of my hair (I also color my hair). I leave it on while I’m showering and then rinse. Sometimes I will do an olive oil treatment with the Tea Tree Conditioner and leave it on for about 30 minutes under a plastic cap, catch up on some guilty pleasure TV, and then rinse and style.
I also really love argan oil as a post wash product, as it gets absorbed completely into the hair shaft, and doesn’t sit on top and make my hair feel heavy. This is also a great product if you want to straighten your hair. It protects against heat and doesn’t weigh your style down.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
J: Buns and Top Knots! They make my face look longer, and are great for when I wear platform shoes or maxi dresses. I instantly grow 3 inches! But my stand by are my vintage hats, so I will slap a couple of French braids in, throw on a hat and I’m out the door.
How do you combat shrinkage?
J: You know, I have never really thought about this because I keep my hair braided so much, and in the summer I just do a wash and go or refresh and go with the spray bottle. But I am really fond of twists, and then wrapping them around my head under a satin scarf before bed to maintain stretch.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
J: My eczema is my worst enemy. I get really bad flakes around my temples and my ears, and it’s been something I have been battling for a few years now. I think the years of relaxing my hair changed my scalp sensitivity, so anything can set it off. I recently started using apple cider vinegar, so we shall see if this helps. From everything I have read, heard, and watched (Dr. Oz) I think it will work great!
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
J: Keep it light: use light products that don’t weigh down your hair and Keep it moist: use products that will moisturize your strands and protect against frizz and flyaways.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
J: Pulling/yanking via improper hair styling tools (fine tooth combs, hair ties with metal, etc). Using too much heat. You will snap your ends right off, girl!