Tales of a Transitioner: Kendall’s HairStory


Describe yourself in 20 words or less.
I’m Kendall. I have some alter egos. They try to co-exist. Young professional, living in NYC until I move again!

When did you receive your first relaxer?
My first relaxer was in elementary school.  I think I must have been about 7 or maybe younger.  I remember going to the salon and when my hair was done I was so amazed at the way it moved and flowed (just like the women on TV-yeah that brainwashing starts early). But I was even more amazed by the way that after she washed my hair I didn’t have any knots or pulling when she detangled my hair!  I was so happy to not have my hairdresser pulling and yanking the knots out of my tender little head that I was addicted to that feeling!  I never wanted to go back to sitting in the chair and crying over how much it hurt to detangle my natural curls.

Why did you choose to go natural?
Mainly I was sick of the damage! The heat and the chemicals just got to be too much and the more I thought about, I had been damaging my hair for most of my life. I didn’t, and in some ways still don’t, know what my hair looks like now. (My texture may have changed from when I was little).  While my hair has retained a good length while I was using chemicals and heat, it wasn’t healthy and my ends were always splitting or breaking off.  I love the idea that I have a head of who know what type of curl that I’m getting to know, embrace and take care of in a healthy way!

Senior prom - relaxed with glue on extensions. GLUE ON!!

Are you a long term or short term transitioner, and why?
As of right now, I’m about 7 months post relaxer! But it wasn’t until June of this past summer that I started learning about what it meant to be a “healthy natural.” I’ve been doing my research about the Big Chop and transitioning times and I think I’ve decided to be a long term transitioner.  The shortest I’ve had my hair was a bob-like cut a couple of years ago. I think, like most other transitioners who are long term, it’s about the preference of having a certain length of hair to work with, and I love being able to put my hair up and out of the way so that I can’t play with it. I’m planning to big chop and get rid of all of my relaxed ends after 2 years of new growth … so 2013 (sounds so far away right now but I’m going to make it!).

First time attempting to transition. Flat-ironed through attempt.

What was your initial reaction to your growing natural hair?
My reaction to re-discovering my natural hair  is one of excitement and fascination!  The more my natural hair grows out the more I just want to look at it and touch it!  It’s like meeting up with an old friend that you haven’t seen in a long, long time!  I just want to know all about it!  And every time I see a curl I get so excited!!

How did family and friends react to the new you? What was your response to them?
I haven’t experienced any negativity so far, but then again I’m still transitioning. For the most part, when I tell people that’s what I’m doing, everyone has been positive and supportive. I have to admit though that being in New York now has made a huge difference. I feel like if I had tried to go natural while at school in LA, it was a much bigger struggle in terms of the community outside of my closest friends and family. New York seems to be very pro-natural hair and whatever variations it may come in.

What is your transition routine?
I’ve finally got my routine down *pats self on the back*. On the weekends I deep condition my hair with Aubrey Organics GBP conditioner. I usually put it on and then throw on a plastic cap and let it sit for about an hour or so.  Then I shampoo with Giovanni clarifying shampoo, rinse, then shampoo with DevaCurl No Poo. But when I shampoo I only focus on the scalp and just let it cleanse my ends as I rinse it out. I follow up the shampoos with Giovanni 50:50 Balancing conditioner which I don’t rinse out.  I leave the conditioner in and run my head under the water for more slip and then use my denman brush to detangle. I usually put my hair into about 11 twists, braiding for the first inch or so by the roots and seal the ends with argan oil.

What is your staple transition hair style?
I’ve been keeping my hair tucked away, 1. so that I don’t play with it  and 2. to protect my ends from getting dried out. I usually leave my twists or braids in over the weekend and then come Monday will take them down and reapply oil and put them away in either a low or high bun. I keep it pretty simple with the hairstyles, just because I don’t have the patience to try to re-do fancy styles that are only going to last one or two days.

How did you moisturize your hair to prevent breakage at the new growth line?
I think keeping the conditioner in my hair helps keep it moisturized. But I also apply argan oil to my hairs and edges every other day. I’ve also started using Curly Pudding on the ends and edges to keep the frizzy-ness away. So far I haven’t seen too much breakage, although I know it’s coming as a part of the transition process.

What do you love most about your natural hair and/or going natural?
I love knowing what to do with it! Natural hair can be so overwhelming, which is why when I’ve tried to go natural in the past, I’ve relapsed and gone back to relaxers.  Learning about what was naturally given to me and how to care for it has been my favorite part of this transition so far.

Do you have a “hair crush?” If so, who?
There’s a young MC named Marz Lovejoy who is friends of some of my college friends who are in the music industry. She has some beautiful curls! And Corinne Bailey Rae! But I think everyone has a crush on her though!

Who do you follow online (i.e. blog/website, Youtube, Fotki, etc.)?
I found this site through Curly Nikki, but I also follow Chime “HairCrush” and Longhairdontcare2011 on YouTube. Terri from Tightly Curly has an amazing hairstory! I love looking through her pictures and website to see her transformation and to stay motivated through the transition phase. I actually use Terri’s method of washing and conditioning as the basis of my hair care regimen.

What advice would you give someone who is contemplating going natural and/or becoming discouraged with their natural journey?
Patience!  This is something I have to remind myself of every time I walk down the street and see a beautiful relaxed head of hair!  I think it’s important to think long term and know that the change you want to see won’t happen over night but it WILL happen! The other thing that I would stress is individuality. Because I’m transitioning, I’m not even really sure what my hair looks like naturally. I see the roots and that gives me an idea, but I’m trying to remember to do what’s right for me.

Transitioning - Pressed

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