J: Hiii! My name is Jessica Walker and I am from Grand Rapids, MI. I am a professional dancer and makeup artist residing in Chicago, IL.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
J: Since I was little my nickname from my family was fur or furbug, or furry bear, lol. As a child I had a lot of fluffy hair, and then at age 10 I got my first relaxer. Every brown girl I knew had a relaxer, and this was at the age when I wanted to be a little more independent and begin styling my own hair. We thought getting a relaxer would make it easier for me to work with, however after using flat irons almost daily, and an adolescent me not knowing much about how to properly care for my hair, the health of my hair started to deteriorate. It pretty much never grew past shoulder length and it would break off in tiny little pieces no matter how often it was trimmed. On top of it being unhealthy, I never really liked my straight hair. It looked thin, flat, weighed down with product, and my college friends and I would joke and refer to it as newscaster/mom hair.
In general I had always been sort of resistant to getting regular relaxers. I would go 4 sometimes up to 6 months between relaxing (I was never a fan of salons and the whole process–still not). After a somewhat horrific experience performing at an outdoor football game wearing my hair down in the rain (no bueño), I got my last relaxer to finish out the semester. After school ended I stumbled upon www.curls.biz, saw some amazing photos of women with curly natural hair, learned how to care for it, and stopped flat ironing my hair. All in all I just wanted to meet MY hair, the way it was intended. And I was surprised to find my hair consisted of tiny little ringlets, S’s, and squiggles. I started growing out my relaxer after graduation from college in 2009. I transitioned for a full year before I big chopped and have been fully natural since Spring 2010. So since the BC it’s been almost 4 years.
How would you describe your texture?
J: I would say my hair is predominantly 4a texture with medium density. Both the very back and front of my hair have a slightly finer, looser texture, while the crown is a bit more coarse and dry.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
J: I like to start the majority of my styles on stretched hair from using Curlformers. I install the Curlformers on damp hair using Jane Carter Solution Wrap & Roll followed by my Coconut Oil + Shea Butter mix to seal. If I want more hold I make a batch of Flaxseed Gel and use that in place of the Coconut Oil + Shea Butter mix. I use about 75 extra long and wide Curlformers total, and will further detangle with a modified Denman Brush if I want a very defined style. I also have an off brand of curlformers that I bought on eBay that are extra long and extra wide for a looser curl. I use about 40 of those. I sleep in the rollers overnight and remove them the next morning. From there I can wear the curls as is, but I like to twist them up into a top knot for a while to stretch and mess them up a bit, so the curls aren’t too perfect.
During the day I can wear my hair out or pin it into some sort of updo, and at night it’s in a top knot with a satin scarf. I wear it this way for half the week then I will typically do a two-strand flat twist out (8 or more twists, re-moisturized with H2O and Coconut Oil + Shea Butter mix) on stretched hair for the remainder of the week. Bantu Knot Outs are also a favorite of mine. In general I like to keep the amount of products and manipulation of my hair to a minimum. The less stress on me and my hair the better. Last year I was at the height of product junkie-ism. I felt the need to buy and try everything I heard good reviews about, even if I already had good products that worked for me. So to end my Product Junkie Binge I decided to gift away all unnecessary products and leave myself with the bare minimum. The result is much nicer on the wallet with happier hair, less clutter in the cabinet, and a happier me.
What does wash day look like for you?
J: I try to wash at least once a week, typically at night on whichever night of the week happens to allow the most time. I like to deep condition before washing for 30 minutes with a plastic cap. I follow Naptural85 on YouTube and her DIY recipes are my favorite. The recipe I use the most is the Mayo, Eggs, and Honey mix. I rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar while massaging the scalp to loosen buildup. Once a month I will cleanse with Terressentials Mud Wash (clarifies and gives my curls great definition). Next up, working in sections is conditioning and finger detangling with an ample amount of Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner, which is a great alternative to Kinky Curly Knot Today. It is great for detangling, has lots of slip, and it’s more cost effective. I rinse and seal with an oil blend and twist in 4–6 big sections. I pop on my Turbie Twist Hair Towel for a bit until I’m ready to set my hair.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
J: The top knot or giant bun (no donut needed) always prevails on days when there is just no time to prep for a style. I like to jazz it up a bit with headbands, clips, and bows to have fun. Or if I’m wearing an old twist out that has lost its definition, I like to two-strand twist random sections of hair for a boho-chic look.
How do you combat shrinkage?
J: Curlformers!!! They set the hair in a stretched state with no heat required. Then I am free to style how I wish without so many single strand knots. I typically bun my hair at night to keep it stretched as well.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
J: The crown of my head is more coarse and dense so it requires more moisture, conditioning, and a bit more time detangling. And then the texture in the front of my head is a little looser and finer. It’s sometimes stubborn to hold a style. Most often I need to retwist or reset the front at night.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
J: Moisture and more Moisture!!!! Deep conditioning treatments and H2O + a sealant on my ends at night. Stretched styles are the way to go. My hair is more manageable and there are fewer knots.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
J: Wash & Go’s. While I love the idea of rocking your shrinkage and showing off your natural curl definition, shrinkage is the devil in terms of knots once your hair reaches a certain length. Wash & Go’s become a thing of the past. As an alternative, I twist my hair into 4–6 big twists while it’s wet, let it dry overnight then untwist and fluff in the morning. Another don’t is over-manipulation and over-styling. My hair thrives when I keep styling to a minimum.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
J: I’ve considered doing a blog, but for now you can find me on Instagram: @jessicajwalk. And my makeup artistry website is BeautifullyBalanced.webs.com.