C: My name is Christina Patrice, and I’m from Los Angeles, California – born and raised!
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
C: I’ve had natural hair pretty much all my life. The only time I ever had a relaxer was when I was around 6 or 7. But growing up, I always had my hair pressed bone straight by my grandma or mom. In high school, I was at the shop every month, getting a fresh press and curl, and I kept this going through college (except I bought my own flat iron because paying a hairdresser on a college student budget was NOT happening). I continued to rock my straight hair after graduation in 2008, and it continued to thrive. In 2011, I took a new job that was a lot more demanding and stressful, so I began paying less and less attention to the health of my hair. It grew, but the ends would split so badly that I would have to trim whatever new growth I had. Between December 2011 and January 2012, it began shedding and breaking a lot more whenever I washed or flat ironed it. My once long and thick hair was now incredibly thin and lifeless. After doing tons of research, I decided to try various treatments – from henna and oat flour (don’t ask, a total fail), to products promising to repair, thicken, and restore hair. None of them worked (except the henna, but for other reasons), and ultimately in late February of 2012 I was forced to confront the reality that I had severely heat damaged my hair, and if I ever wanted it to be thick, full and healthy again, I would need to give up the flat iron.
In February, I did more research on what I would need to do to take my hair from a lifeless mess to gorgeous and thick. I found Kala of The KG Lifestyle, and realized that I completely identified with everything she said – all her frustrations, styling woes, and more. In fact, it was her no-heat challenge that inspired me to go without heat in March of 2012. After my first 3 months, I realized what I was doing was transitioning to natural hair. After seeing so much of my hair’s thickness and health return in such a short amount of time, I decided to keep going. I made a rule with myself that I was only going to straighten my hair once every 3 months, safely. After 21 months, I decided to chop my ends at the Devachan Salon (click here for my account of that experience), and I haven’t looked back since. I originally went natural just to get my thick and healthy hair back, but my hair is thicker today than it ever has been, and I don’t anxiously await my next straightening like I used to. I love the versatility, health, and appeal of my natural hair. I get more compliments on my hair now that I’m wearing it natural than I did when it was straight!
March of 2013 marks what would have been a complete 2 years of transitioning to natural hair. I officially began my transition from heat damage in March of 2012, and at the same time I re-launched my blog. I chopped the rest of my heat damage on December 5th, 2013 just 3 months shy of 2 years transitioning! So technically, I’ve been 100% natural for 3 months.
How would you describe your texture?
C: I don’t typically ascribe to texture typing, but it is helpful in some cases. I definitely have multiple textures across my head. I’d say for the most part it is 3c, with a little bit of 3b on the back layers of my hair (particularly on the left side). The right side of my hair has a clear curl, while the left in the back has a looser wave. My crown has tighter curls, and the front of my hair has a tight wave to it (a definite S, no curl in sight). My hair is definitely thick, with a medium-high density. It is somewhat coarse in the crown.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
C: During my transition, I experimented lots with texture blending styles like straw sets, bantu knot-outs, twist and curls, and satin strip braidouts. The satin strip braidout was definitely my go-to style because it gave me a super-textured look to the point where you couldn’t even see my heat damage. I have a video tutorial on my satin strip braidout, which can be seen here. To achieve this style, I always used a product like EcoStyler Olive Oil Gel (the green one), and a moisturizer like Curls Whipped Cream that would blend with the gel without leaving white buildup and clumps.
As my transition drew closer to the end (after around month 15 or so), I began relying heavily on wash and go’s, and that is my #1 go-to style that I rock about 90% of the time. It’s pretty much a no-fail move for me, and they typically last up to 7 days. I’m a serious product junkie, so I’ll use any number of leave-ins and moisturizers at the base of my wash and go to keep it moisturized. But as far as stylers and curl definers go, I stick closely to a handful of must-haves: TIGI Catwalk Curlesque Curls Rock Amplifier, tgin Twist and Define Cream, Soultanicals Curl Blaze Hair Glaze and Obia Curl Enhancing Custard.
What does wash day look like for you?
C: Can I just say that this question really excites me? I just super simplified my wash day, and I am extra pumped about it. My wash day used to be really complicated (largely because I’m a product junkie), but simple is the name of the game for 2014. I wash my hair about once a week, but I am aiming for twice a week because I work out almost every day. I always pre-poo with an oil for about 20 to 30 minutes before washing – typically Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, or Red Palm Kernel Oil (sustainably sourced by Nutiva), or Darshana Ayurvedic Oil. Then, I hop in the shower and let the water run over my hair for about a minute. I follow that up by saturating my hair with a cheap and slippery conditioner like Aussie Moist or Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle to separate my hair into sections, detangle, and co-wash. If it’s shampoo time, I’ll pull out my all-time fave, tgin Moisture Rich Sulfate Free Shampoo. It works like no other, seriously! After that, I’ll either deep condition with ApHogee Curlific Texture Treatment, Eden BodyWorks Jojoba Monoi Deep Conditioner, Hydratherma Naturals Amino Plus Protein Deep Conditioner, or tgin Triple Moisture Replenishing Conditioner. Can you tell I have a thing for deep conditioners? I either leave the deep conditioner on for 10 minutes or so while showering, or I hop out and sit under a hooded dryer. It all depends on the amount of time I have. After rinsing out my deep conditioner, I go back throughout my hair and apply 2 or 3 pumps of Aussie Moist to each section, and don’t rinse it out. It helps keep my hair soft and moisturized while cutting down on frizz.
Once a month I do a conditioning henna treatment to strengthen my hair, and to help with my scalp psoriasis. I have a video on how I make my mix here. I do my henna treatment after washing my hair, but before deep conditioning. I usually leave it on overnight, and rinse it out in the morning with a conditioner like Aussie Moist or Suave Professionals Almond and Shea Butter. I follow that up with a protein-free deep conditioning session, and then it’s time to style!
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
C: I honestly do wash and go’s for that precise reason. I pineapple with a scarf every night to preserve my style and in the mornings I am able to refresh quickly with my Q‑Redew hand-held steamer, or if my moisture is just fine I’ll shake and go. I typically “start over” or wash my hair on Fridays, and will rock my wash and go through that next Thursday or Friday. But if something happens, and my hair gets out of whack, I’ll do a high bun (admittedly, those were a lot easier as a transitioner), or double loop an elastic headband and do a low puff ponytail.
How do you combat shrinkage?
C: Because the front half of my hair has so much more texture than the back half, I am always stretching the front half (particularly right in the middle) of my hair. I typically do this on day 1 of my wash and go by clipping the front of my hair back into an off-the-face style until it is nearly dry. At night before bed I use the banding method on that same area of hair, and put it all into a scarf pineapple. By day 2 and 3, my hair is stretched into a bigger, more full version of the wash and go I had day 1. I also have a video on that here.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
C: Definitely my crown. It is a lot more tightly curled and coarse than the rest of my hair, and I have to be careful to take extra care when handling it, especially during detangling.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
C: Only detangle when soaking wet and covered with conditioner, and deep condition often. Both of those things keep my hair happy, healthy, and cut down on breakage.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
C: Don’t keep protective styles in for more than a week. Whenever I do mini or chunky twists or braids, they get fuzzy and begin to unravel. I’m definitely jealous of ladies that can pull those looks off for weeks at a time. The second don’t is sulfate-free shampoos that contain sodium cocoyl isethionate. There is nothing wrong with this ingredient per se, but my hair hates it. Any sulfate-free shampoo or cleanser with this ingredient makes my hair feel crunchy and dry. Every. Single. Time. So I avoid it at all costs!
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
C: Yes! In addition to writing for BGLH, I have my own blog at http://www.maneobjective.com. You can also follow me on Instagram @maneobjective, add me to your circles on Google+ (http://www.google.com/+ChristinaPatrice), subscribe to my channel on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/themaneobjective, and like my Facebook page www.facebook.com/maneobjective.