M: My name is Melissa. I am 23, Haitian American, and have been living in the small city of Coral Springs, Florida for 15 years now.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
M: I have been natural since September of 2009. I was somewhat of a kitchen beautician and did hair that was both natural and relaxed, but always had issues with my own hair. Though it was long and thick, in the right lighting and close inspection it became apparent that I had weathered ends and mid-shaft splits. I trimmed and even got a bob haircut, but they would still be there when I looked closely. I was already into stretching my relaxers out up to 3 months at times, and one day I discovered my curl pattern(s). I was fascinated by it and couldn’t believe that it was MINE. From the s curls to the tightest coils, I was in love! I began to explore YouTube and blogs to learn more. I even managed to pull off decent looking wash and go’s with my relaxed ends. One day I got home from a stressful day at work and took out one of my kinky twists. I wet my hair and cut off the relaxed ends to see my curls in all their glory. Eventually both my emotions and curiosity got the best of me. SNIP, SNIP! Three hours and a nearly clogged sink later the deed was done!
How would you describe your texture?
M: I have 3c curls on the flat portion of my head, 4a on the sides and back, and 4b in my crown area. My strands are thick and medium density. I treat my hair as if it is on the high end of the porosity spectrum due to the fact that even though my drying time is rather long, I still have mid-shaft splits. I keep those in check with the search and destroy method along with an overall trim once I detect any feathering or ‘see through’ ends. So far I have been able to maintain relatively blunt ends with this tactic. My hair is also very prone to matting at the roots and SSKs.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
M: I do twist outs for the most part. My curls are most manageable in its stretched state and allow for more styling options. Not too long ago I revisited wash and go’s, but after 3 or 4 rounds my lust for defined curls was sated. My curls were popping, but so were my ends! The SSKs found during detangling were enough to bring me to my senses. Maybe next summer…
What does wash day look like for you?
M: I begin by pre-pooing on stretched hair. After much reading and experimenting I’ve learned that detangling on damp hair works best for me. I apply virgin coconut oil (my favorite to use) and anything from a mist of plain water to a dab of low end conditioner to add a source of moisture. The order of application matters because my wet hair means immediate shrinkage, increased potential for SSKs and not to mention worsening/tightening of preexisting tangles. I value lubrication over moisture during this time to allow the strands to slide over one another in order to decrease breakage and cumulative damage from weekly sessions. I eventually break down the section and go from using fingers, to a large toothed, seamless, shower comb, and end with my Tangle Teezer.
I twist each section and proceed to wash with Shea Moisture Moisture Retention Shampoo or Head and Shoulders depending on the state of my scalp. I use a bottle with a nozzle to focus on my scalp, massage and rinse. I then do (what I consider) a light protein treatment with Aphogee Keratin 2 Minute Reconstructor, and follow up with a deep conditioner if necessary. My hair is still either in twists or sections with a light finger detangling between products. After rinsing, I blot with a t‑shirt/towel, add my doctored up Eden Bodyworks Coconut Shea Leave In Conditioner (using the Kimmaytube recipe), and dry using the tension method on a low or cool setting. The last step is to avoid styling on wet hair and cut drying time. I also skip the leave in and air dry to cut time on occasion. Either way, I use a rich styler like my shea butter mix or the Eden Bodyworks Curl Defining Creme, and set my twists. I do this 1x per week and it takes about 2–3 hours, with detangling taking the most time.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
M: My go to style is a free flowing twist out with a part. On the occasion that I don’t re-twist, I pineapple. For me, this means more frizzies in exchange for some stretch. This gives me that big hair look, which I just adore. Twisting just a few sections in the front or where the hair will be parted helps it look more polished and defined.
How do you combat shrinkage?
M: I combat shrinkage by setting my styles on dry hair. This gives me an extra few days before too much shrinkage naturally creeps in from re-twisting, the Florida humidity, or other sources of moisture. When I don’t use the dryer, things like holding off on using product in conjunction with a good towel blotting help speed up the air drying process. If forced to work on damp hair, I use my usual leave in and styler, but on the first few nights re-twist in larger sections, and avoid use of water-based products unless my hair feels parched. Pineappling with a scarf /hair tie and banding (usually reserved for wash and go’s) are my other options.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
M: My current problem area is my kitchen or nape area. It grows just fine, but feels extremely dry and rough to the touch as of late. I’ve been trimming little by little and moisturizing more often. I believe that it’s due to the hair rubbing on my clothes. I’ve also begun lightly oiling my ends before leaving the house when my hair is down. On the bright side, now I have a faux Deva cut hairstyle that I actually love!
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
M: I would say acceptance first. As a natural, my hair may look similar to some, but it is not identical to anyone else’s. From its likes and dislikes, to my mix of textures, and even the results after using the same technique as a fellow natural; it is unique in every way. That is why I must take the time to learn these things and pay attention when it is clearly sending me an S.O.S! These are the things that have helped my hair thrive, not the products or tools. Another do for me is I have to accept that my hair can be a pain at times and that it is does not have a uniform pattern all over. I accept that it is big and some people find it obnoxious; even family members. I especially had to accept that my hair and mid-shaft splits just go hand in hand! I don’t suffer from excessive breakage, and I still retain length. I used to cut inches thinking that it would end the struggle against them. I just ended up cutting a lot of healthy hair that was caught in the crossfire and stayed at the same length for almost a year. I also accept that there are certain things that my hair can and cannot do! I cherish the versatility that it does have over the reality that I can’t rock a wash and go as often as others.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
M: Two don’ts for my texture(s) are wet styling and over manipulation. Though I haven’t pin pointed the exact cause of my mid-shaft splits, I feel that avoiding these things help keep them to a minimum. When I use heat, it’s just enough to get my hair about 80% dry. As I mentioned earlier, decreasing the number of twists by increasing their size or even pineappling my hair at night help me avoid over manipulation.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
M: I can be found on Instagram, where I post pictures and give real life tips @Melibunnn. I can also be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.