Have you always been natural?
-No. I permed my hair when I was 12 and kept it relaxed throughout high school.
How many years have you been natural?
-I’ve been natural for 5 years. August 1st is the anniversary of my Big Chop!
Why did you decide to go natural?
-I wanted a change.
My freshman year of college as a dance major I was spending money on a wash-and-set on Saturdays that would be a hot mess by Wednesday from sweating in class. I didn’t know whether to dance with my hair wrapped in a scarf or with my hair out. I felt like I was wasting $20 every other week. I eventually started to do my own wash-and-set to save money. Towards the middle of my freshman year, I became more involved in the New York dance scene and every time I performed, I’d have to tease my straight hair to have a cool style. It was unhealthy and a hassle so in January of 2006, I stopped getting relaxers. I also started to notice other professional dancers with huge curly hair and I fell in love! I thought it was so beautiful and it definitely had an influence on my choices. By July, I’d had six months of new growth and I liked the look and texture of my roots. I asked friends what they’d think if I cut off my hair and no one supported the idea, nor did they believe I would do it. I went online to research natural hair salons and I made an appointment at Afrogenix in Manhattan. On the sunny afternoon of August 1st, I chopped it all off! I wasn’t too worried about what anyone else thought of it, because I loved it. It’s funny because I was the first person I knew in my college with natural hair, sporting the big chop. By time I was a senior though, all the black females I knew were either natural, in transition or getting ready to chop it all off. I like to think I have something to do with that. It’s also fun being natural at home with my family. We were all relaxed at one point in our lives but now my mother and cousin have gorgeous locks, my sister and aunt are natural as well, and my father is a man who supports a woman rocking her own hair, in its natural state.
What is your regimen?
- Most nights I put my hair in a few twists and sleep with a satin scarf. In the morning I let my hair get damp in the shower and I style it with different products. I straighten it about twice a year to check on the length and thickness, and get a trim. I just trimmed it yesterday! I only wash my hair with shampoo once a month, sometimes less often. But I do co-washes often. (Washing with conditioner only)
What products are currently your staples?
- My staple product in the beginning was Miss Jessie’s curly pudding and buttercreme, but now my hair is longer and requires too much of the product, which is wildly expensive.
My staples now are shea butter, mango butter, coconut oil, rosemary, tea tree, jojoba oil, castor oil, emu oil, aloe gel and aloe juice. I don’t use all of them at once! [giggles] Nor do I use them everyday. But I switch it up between these staple products.
What advice can you give to those think of going natural?
- Do it for you. It’s not about what anyone else thinks. Your hair is your crowing glory and how you feel about it is all that matters.
What's the best thing about being natural compared to being relaxed?
- I can wet my hair in the shower daily, with no worries and no shower cap!
Would you ever consider going back to relaxers?
- I would never go back to relaxers. The only time I think about it is when I want to wear a weave, which I’ve only done once because I can only get a full weave with a bang. That’s because I don’t want to leave any section of my hair out; it would have to be straightened everyday and that section, would be drastically damaged compared to the rest of my hair once I take out the weave. So now, If I wear a weave, I’ll clip in the extensions and take them out at night. The only other times I think about a relaxer is when my blow-out or wash-and-set gets frizzy.
If you had 1 product to recommend, what would it be?
- I recommend using Shea butter- raw, unrefined, unbleached Shea butter. It can be the base to a D-I-Y moisturizer. You can add it to coconut oil, rosemary, castor oil, or aloe juice, or use it alone. Your hair won’t be dry, nor will it be ridiculously dripping with grease as though you’ve used Soul Glo (ref: coming to America)
What's one trick you found that works with your hair?
Wetting it everyday is the trick. It needs water like a plant, not too much and not too little. I have another trick though, Do not comb it when dry. I ONLY comb my hair when there is conditioner in it; so yes I comb my hair once a week or bi-weekly.