K: Hello, everyone! My name is Karla and I was born in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic to be exact. I left my country when I was 10 years old and I now live in Rhode Island where I’m growing in my career as a teacher.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
K: I’ve been natural since October 2012 and I have no regrets about my decision. I only wish I would have done it sooner. I had been toying with possibility of returning to natural for a long time prior to me finally doing it, but was hesitant because I knew I did not want to transition. I knew that I’d want to do a big chop and taking that plunge really terrified me. I worried about not being happy with how I looked with short hair, and I also worried about regretting my decision, especially due to the fact that relatively speaking, my relaxed hair was ‘healthy’ and long. I was religious when it came to my hair appointments for wash and sets, and I never missed my touch ups every six weeks. My hairdresser could always count on me as a faithful client.
Nevertheless, I finally decided to face my fears, stopped postponing my decision, and went for it. One afternoon (October 7th 2012), I grabbed the shears my sister used for her bangs and forced my mother to cut off all of my hair. All the way down to the little bit of new growth I had. I had to force my mother to do it because all the while I’m asking her to do it I’m crying my eyes out, so her fear was that I’d regret my decision immediately thereafter. However, I thankfully never did. I wanted to return to natural because I no longer wanted to conform to what most of society considers to be beautiful. I wanted to learn to accept the way my hair looked. Accept the way it grew naturally out of my scalp. I needed to embrace the fact that God did not make any mistakes. Moreover, accepting and learning to love my natural hair was akin to me displaying and expressing to the rest of the world that I embrace and am proud of my African roots. I am very proud of the fact that the country I was born in is racially diverse. It has a rich history comprised of African ancestry as a result of the slaves that were brought to the country. It is rich with our indigenous ancestry, and also our Spaniard heritage, which resulted in us speaking the language I so love.
How would you describe your texture?
K: I really have no clue about how to categorize my hair type. If I had to guess I’d say between 4a-4c? If I were to wash my hair and leave it without any hair product it would feel very dry and brittle. My strands are coarse and very tightly coiled, however I have the loosest coils in the back of my head, the tightest coils in the middle, and medium coils in the front. I’m unsure if this will make sense to anyone, but I’m going to say that my hair is thin and dense at the same time. It looks dense because of my tight coils, especially as I near wash day, but for the most part it’s pretty thin.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
K: My styling regimen over the course of the month really only consists of 3 hairstyles: my coily afro, a sleek low bun, or a high messy bun. For my coily afro I’ll start off with freshly washed hair using my VO5 products, then I use a few products to moisturize and define my coils. Right after I’ve washed my hair, I’ll dry it a bit with an old t‑shirt and re-wet it with a mixture of mostly aloe vera juice and some water; then I thoroughly coat my strands with Organic Root Stimulator (ORS) Curls Unleashed Leave-In Conditioner followed by Proclaim’s 100% Pure Coconut Oil. Next I add 3 crèmes to my strands: ORS Curls Unleashed Curl Defining Crème, Beautiful Textures Moisture Butter and Beautiful Textures Curl Control Defining Pudding. After adding these 3 crèmes my hair looks white due to the liberal amounts of product I’ve added, but I just attach the diffuser to my blow dryer and use it on my hair for about 15 minutes (I don’t completely dry my hair this way) and voila, my coily fro is set to go! I can rock my fro for a week and a half to 2 weeks and it looks great during this period of time.
As needed I’ll use ORS Curls Unleashed Curl Boosting Jelly or Eco Styler Olive Oil Gel on my edges, and perhaps once during this week and a half to 2 week period I’ll need to water-bag my afro (Naptural 85’s term) using my spray bottle with aloe vera juice to spruce it up a little, but other than that this hair style is pretty good to me. All I do every night is divide my hair into 6 sections with hair ties to make sure that my afro doesn’t flatten out and get matted. I remove them in the morning, fluff, and the afro is back in full effect. If I want to change up my look I’ll just grab all my hair and put it in a high (small) messy bun, leaving some coils out for a ‘romantic’ look. And thirdly for my low bun all I do is wet my hair with my aloe vera concoction, add L’Oréal EverStyle Smooth & Shine Crème, One ‘n Only Argan Oil, and generous amounts of Eco Styler Olive Oil Gel and I’ve achieved my low, sleek bun. To get the bun looking pristine I tie a headscarf on my hair while I finish getting ready, and then I’m golden! Additionally, I make sure to do a good moisturizing treatment every three months when I color my hair using Ion Color Brilliance Jet Black Cream Hair Color. I have other products in my arsenal, but the aforementioned ones are the ones I use most often. I also definitely plan on using some other products I’ve learned about on this website, which were mentioned by Style Icons with a hair type similar to mine.
What does wash day look like for you?
K: Wash day for me happens every week and half to 2 weeks. I do not do co-washes because I use a lot of product and I have a lot of build up, so co-washes would be of no use for me. When I first returned to natural I spent so much money on different shampoos and conditioners and on different styling products looking for that holy grail. But for now, I’ve settled for VO5 shampoos and conditioners, which work well for me. When I wash my hair I finger detangle then quickly run a wide tooth comb through my ends. I don’t fully detangle my hair every time I wash because this usually results in me losing a lot of hair. How can one differentiate between shed hair and hair that’s breaking? Maybe someone can help me with this… The reason I opt for finger detangling, although my hair gets tangled easily, is for fear that the hair that’s left in the comb is hair that’s breaking and not shed hair. To remedy the fact that I do not often completely detangle my hair every time I wash it, every month and a half to 2 months I have my mother detangle my whole head. I sit between her legs and she sections off my hair into small sections then braids each section after it’s been detangled. It is so easy to style my hair every time she does this (¡Gracias, mami!).
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
K: My go to hairstyle without a doubt is my afro. This style lasts me for a long time and it requires minimal upkeep. All I need in the mornings is 5 minutes to fluff it, spruce up my edges, and I’m all set to get my day started.
How do you combat shrinkage?
K: There isn’t much I can do to combat shrinkage because my hair is so coily, so I’ve learned to live with it. Shrinkage does not bother me to the point that I’d resort to straightening my hair with heat to achieve more length. Ever since I embarked on my natural hair journey, I’ve not used heat to straighten my hair and never plan on doing so. I only use my blow dryer with a diffuser, and whenever I decide to straighten my hair, I plan on using Naptural85’s heatless method.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
K: As I mentioned above, my problem is differentiating between normal shedding and breakage. Can anyone help with explaining the difference? I am always sure to be extra gentle with my strands so that I do not cause any breakage.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
K: 2 do’s for my hair texture are (1) moisturize, and (2) periodic detangling. When my hair is dry it looks and feels brittle, and it looks lackluster overall. My hair is very thirsty, so I make sure to coat my strands with products that work well for my hair to keep it happy. Another must for my hair texture is to periodically and thoroughly do a good detangle because my hair can get matted easily.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
K: 2 don’ts for my texture are (1) constantly detangling (no matter if my hair is dry or wet) because this causes breakage. And (2) a lot of manipulation because styling can also be rough on my hair, so I try my best not to do this.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
K: I did have an Instagram account but I disabled it because I found myself spending too much time on it. Nonetheless, I’ll be sure to check the comments section in my feature in case anyone has any questions or suggestions for me. Thank you for reading my feature, ¡hasta pronto!