R: My name is Rhea T‑W. I’m from London, England. I am a dancer/aspiring choreographer, currently working in fashion retail.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
R: I have been natural for nearly 6 years in total (including my transition). When I first went natural I transitioned from texlaxed hair and grew my hair to bra strap length. After experiencing damage from using the Tangle Teezer I got my hair shaved off for a fresh start. It’ll be 3 years that I’ve been growing the hair on my head now as of July 2014.
To be honest what really pushed me to go natural was damage. My mom used to talk about how curly my hair was when she used to wash it when I was younger. I used to look at photos of how thick my hair was before I began to get it texlaxed, and I loved the way my new growth looked. Towards the end of secondary school I started straightening my hair a lot, sometimes everyday (not cute). Due to the damage, my hairdresser had to give me a massive trim — that was the last time I got my hair texlaxed.
How would you describe your texture?
R: I have about 3 different textures. My hair is mainly a mixture of 4a and 4b with a little bit of 3c. It is really thick, tangles easily, and it seems to have become even thicker since I shaved it!
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
R: I often wear my hair in a high puff. I love how it looks and the fact that it’s a low manipulation hairstyle. For my puffs I use a stocking, water, olive oil/coconut oil and Eco Styler Gel to slick my hair down. If my ends are feeling dry I’ll apply some Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie or Taliah Waajid’s Protective Mist Bodifier.
I like to wear my hair in two donut buns when opting for a change, or two puffs, one on top and one on the bottom, or two puffs on either side of my head. Recently, I’ve started to wear my hair half up in a puff and half down stretched. Whenever I wear my hair stretched I stay away from using water-based products. I tend to use coconut oil. I’m trying to experiment more with hairstyles. I rarely protective style simply because I never can keep a protective style in for more than a week without missing my hair lol.
What does wash day look like for you?
R: If I am doing the full works (pre poo, shampoo, deep condition, condition, and style) I begin by sectioning my hair into about 6 braids. I pre poo with a mixture of extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil (sometimes with Jamaican black castor oil). I have reduced the frequency that I shampoo my hair, but I always shampoo areas ridden with product build up, which are usually my nape and crown from slicking down my hair lol. To shampoo I use either Dr. Organic Tea Tree Shampoo or Tresemme Naturals Nourishing Moisture Shampoo.
To deep condition I use Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Replenishing Conditioner without heat, and I leave that on for about 30 minutes to 1 hour. I condition with Tresemme Naturals Nourishing Moisture Conditioner and Herbal Essences Hello Hydration. This combo helps to rid my hair of tangles, which makes detangling easier for me. To detangle I use a wide tooth comb, however I’ve recently been experimenting with finger detangling. I love how defined it makes my curls look.
While I’m detangling I separate my hair into smaller sections which I twist, then braid the twists together. I rinse out the conditioner with warm water while my hair is still in the twists to minimize tangling. I use an old t‑shirt to help speed up the drying process. Depending on what style I’m trying to achieve, I apply Giovanni Direct Leave-In Conditioner with olive oil or Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie and proceed to style.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
R: The high puff!
How do you combat shrinkage?
R: Shrinkage isn’t really a problem for me, as I wear my hair up in a high puff 95% of the time. But if shrinkage does affect the way my puff looks I’ll try to fluff it out using my hands. If I want to stretch my hair I braid it in large sections and I stay away from products which encourage it to curl up.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
R: My hairline was starting to become tender from pulling my scarf carelessly when styling my hair into a puff, but it has gotten better from oiling my edges and reducing the tension.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
R: Moisture, moisture, moisture and low manipulation.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
R: My hair tangles easily, so I’m asking for trouble if I’m lazy and don’t spend quality time detangling. Fine tooth combs or brushes are also a no no.