J: Aloooooha! My name is Jenell and I am from Chicago originally, currently residing on the beautiful island of Oahu.
Did you transition or big chop? Share your natural hair journey with us!
J: I BIG CHOPPED! After frying it, dyeing it, weaving it, lace fronting it, and everything else under the sun, I decided to let my crown be free; her abuse had come an end in 2009. My edges were starting to thin and the breakage was real! I went to my stylist and got the “are you sure?” which I’m sure most who chop hear, but it’s been a beautiful journey!
How would you describe your texture?
J: My hair is coarse, dense and primarily 4c, tighter coils around my perimeter and looser at the crown. A few years ago, I would try to manipulate to look like something I saw or had in mind. But the reality is each head of hair has its own personality and mine is a wild one! The more I got to know my strands the easier styling became. I have cut my hair out of styling frustration in the past. I used to think my strands were stubborn, but I was the one not listening. Your hair will tell you what it needs, what it likes, and even what it does not.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month, and the rationale behind your various styling decisions.
J: For twists I use whatever I have on hand at the time, since the goal of the finished product is rarely the look — the goal is primarily to stretch my hair. Lately Shea Moisture Curling Souffle or Kera Care Twist and Define Cream are my go-tos, (which can be sticky if you overuse) but I love how soft they make my hair feel. I re-twist about every other night concentrating on shed hair removal as well. The fewer shed hairs hanging around the better life will be!
What does wash day look like for you?
J: “Wash day” starts a day or two before free-flowing water actually hits my hair. I like to have a good finger detangling session with coconut oil and section beforehand so that wash day is not such an overwhelming task. I generally wash my hair twice a month, but also as needed depending on activities like beach time or a strenuous hike. I cowash about once a month between washes. Either way I do it, my hair is separated and clipped in sections. Otherwise, it’s a detangling nightmare. I use certain products depending on what my hair needs. If I have product build-up or my scalp is due for a deep clean, I shampoo with either Kera Care Sulfate Free Shampoo or Organix. I use Kera Care or Carol’s Daughter cowash. For detangling I use Herbal Essences Hello Hydration conditioner. For deep conditioning (which is done every time I shampoo), I generally use a mask or deep treatment of some sort and add in honey and coconut oil or olive oil, then cover my hair for at least an hour with a plastic bag and a scarf. I rarely allow my hair to air dry without at least being either pulled into ponytails or twists, because my tight curls are harder to manipulate without at least a little stretch while drying. Blow drying is a rarity for me.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
J: My go-to would definitely be The Puff! If I’m doing a quick puff, I layer my Cantu Shea Leave-In, olive oil, and Eco-Styler. I usually add my product in the shower after the steam has perked up my curls. I randomly pull and finger coil strands with Eco-Styler on my finger tips to give her a little more dimension and out the door I go! I tie down my edges to lay them flat while I getting dressed. If I’m really in a crunch, turban it is!
How do you combat shrinkage?
J: I moreso try to collaborate! I have come to terms with the fact that my coils are going to do their thing regardless. This realization saves me frustration and disappointment from unrealistic expectations. If I’m going for a certain style I try to prep my hair with the appropriate stylers to try and help maintain the look that I am going for. If I wanna go BIG for a night out I usually section and braid my roots, leaving the ends loose and curly. If it is a rush job I spritz my hair with water and then hand stretch hair with a blow dryer.
Tell us about your hair color!
J: I colored my hair at home with Crème of Nature Exotic Shine in bronze copper. I called myself playing it safe and only coloring the tips! I had colored my hair a few years ago but I had less hair to lose if things went south (lol). All is well and maintenance is about the same, I let my strands do the talking and I govern my regimen accordingly. I have not experienced much additional dryness or change in texture.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require extra care and attention?
J: The curls at my crown are looser so it generally requires a little more product, manipulation, or a combination of both. My nape also requires extra attention. My stretched hair sits right on my shoulders now, so I make an effort to make sure that the clothing I wear is curly girl friendly — even if that just means accessorizing with a scarf to protect my ends.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
J: One do would definitely be shed hair control. Making detangling apart of my maintenance routine and not reserving detangling for “wash day” has reduced knots, matting, and tangles.
Another do would be to let the strands dictate the next move. Early on in my journey I was so stuck on a regimen that I was paying more attention to the calendar and what day it was as opposed to what my hair was telling me. LISTEN!!
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
J: One don’t is saturating my hair without sectioning it off first, that results in a matted mess!
Another don’t which I am still working on is hair envy! I would get so frustrated with my hair if a certain product or method didn’t give me the results I had in mind. Each head of hair has its own personality, embrace it! Now instead of cutting my hair off out of frustration I find a protective style that tickles my fancy and give myself some time to miss my curls.
Is there a blog/webpage or social media account where we can find you?
J: There is! I am on Instagram as NellyNelle19 and I have some video ideas brewing, so stay tuned for that!