After much prodding, hounding and finally a request from one of you, my sis is finally sharing her HairStory ;)!
Describe yourself in 100 words or less.
Daughter. Sis. Granddaughter. Niece. Aunt. Friend. Writer. Mktg pro. Jersey girl. Honorary Ethiopian. Smarter than the avg bear. Lady of Troy. Living & loving life.
How long have you been natural and why did you chose to go natural?
Once upon a time . . . I was an au natural little girl with braids, beads, cornrows, barrettes, ponytails, rubberbands, press-n-curls and the such.
I think that I started relaxing my hair in middle school. I guess you can tell it really wasn’t that big of deal for me, since I can’t even remember it. My mother did it in the kitchen and the bathroom. My hair didn’t break off and my scalp wasn’t burned. For a while, it was relaxed every six months and eventually I was down to every 3 months, 15 minutes for thin/fine hair. At my most frequent, it was two months, but that was maybe once a year.
My relaxed days were pretty uneventful. There was the one time that I went to a beauty salon to get it relaxed and chopped from shoulder length to above my ears. The ends were kinda damaged, so the chop was a welcome change, but the stylist (and I use that term loosely) burned my head.
I ain’t never in my life . . . that leads me to the other highlight of my relaxed days, learning how to relax my own hair. It was just in time to save my newly chopped hair from more damage from my momma’s heavy-hand and going away to college. My hair really began to grow after my big chop. I learned a lot about my hair and we get along like best of friends.
My last relaxer. My sister’s wedding was my last “special hair day,” April 29, 2001. It really wasn’t a planned thing. But I just started wearing my hair curly more often. Then, Shelli was also wearing her hair au natural and her transition seemed so shock-free, no drastic changes. The possibilities also intrigued me. My natural sister and myself had virtually identical styles for the wedding.
It just didn’t make sense to relax my hair when I could achieve the same look with my own hair. We do have slightly different texture hair, but close enough to judge possibilities with my own hair. I had been considering going natural for a while, but in college, the way people made the transition really turned me off, from motives to attitudes to the trendiness of it all. But, in April 2001, it just seemed natural (no pun intended) for me to start my journey.
Did you transition or big chop?
I guess I big chopped. I transitioned for about six months. I only relaxed my hair every three months. Then, I wore my hair in kinky twist extensions for two months. Taking the twists out was a pain in the @$$ and dealing with the two textures was impossible, especially when rushing to get to hospital an hour away to welcome my niece to the world. I went to a “general population” salon in a suburban Jersey mall and asked the first available stylist to chop the relaxed hair off. I had about 3 to 4.5 inches of natural hair.
What is/was your biggest hair challenge/obstacle? How did you overcome it or what are you doing now to try to address the problem?
Hmmm … I guess my hair tangles very quickly. I just accept it. Sometimes, I will twist after detangling to deter tangling and/or, more often, style quickly after washing my hair. My hair is also fine (hair shafts) and thin (density). I just accept that too. I don’t really do twists and twist outs, because it’s all scalp. My mainstay style is the wash and go, which gives my hair the appearance of being thicker and fuller.
What do you love most about your natural hair and/or about being natural?
I love waking up, fluffing my curls and going. When I was relaxed, I would have to make time each morning to curl and style my hair. When I get my hair pressed now, I don’t even know what to do with myself, between wrapping it at night, keeping it dry in the shower and styling in morning (trying to remember how to work all the hair appliances)!?!.
What is your current regimen? Has it changed in any major way since you first went natural?
I co-wash my hair once a week (or every two weeks when I’m busy or being lazy). I use Herbal Essences® Hello Hydration!, Aussie Moist Conditioner and/or Suave Natural Tropical Coconut Conditioner. I co-wash in shower. I detangle with hair saturated with conditioner, starting at ends with wide tooth comb, working up to roots. I only move in direction hair grows (i.e. I don’t wash my hair like they show in commercials where they pile hair on top of their head and moosh, aka tangle, it all up). I’ve always done it that way, even when I was relaxed. I only wash with a low-poo cleanser every 3 or 4 months.
After I co-wash, I deep condition using the Ouidad technique (Cool & Seal) without her products, which are ridiculously expensive to me. Basically, I distribute deep conditioner through my hair, separate in four sections, do a two strand twist in each section (to avoid having to detangle, again), clip up, apply heat, let hair cool down, apply rinse out conditioner on top of deep conditioner section by section, and then, rinse it all out with twists intact.
Afterwards, I apply leave-in conditioner and gel by section and spritz with ORS Nature’s Shine. Now, I’m using Jaded Tresses’ technique (raking and shaking) and love the curl popping results. Then, I let it air dry. I use a discontinued leave-in conditioner called Aura Elixir Leave-On Conditioner. I have about a case and a half. No shelf life issues. Thank goodness. It foams when I apply it to my freshly washed, sopping wet hair, which helps clump up the curls. The gel I use is La Bella Lots of Curls. It comes in a big jar and is cheap, which I love! I actually was told about it by a natural brother with luscious curls a long time ago, but didn’t find it in stores (Walmart, Walgreen, Duane Reade) until recently. I love the curl definition I get with this combo. (Disclaimer: I’m cool with shrinkage, because it makes my hair seem denser. If you do not like shrinkage, I wouldn’t recommend the leave-in or gel.).
What are your Holy Grail and staple products?
Aura Elixir Leave-On Conditioner
Herbal Essences® Hello Hydration!
Aussie® Moist Conditioner
Suave Natural Tropical Coconut Conditioner
La Bella Lots of Curls
ORS Nature’s Shine
What is your “go to” style (share a picture of it, if you have one!)? Do you wear protective and/or low manipulation styles? If so, how often and why?
Wash and go afro to wash and go afro puff. Wash, rinse, repeat.
How often do you cut/trim your hair? How do you cut it (salon, DIY, straight, curly, in twists)? If you go to a salon, would you recommend it?
I’m bad. I get my hair trimmed, like, once or twice a year. I get my hair pressed at a salon and they trim it. I go to Charles at ULTA (540 Nassau Park Blvd., Princeton, NJ 08540) or Eboni at A-Nu-U Salon (1272 Hamilton Avenue, Trenton, NJ 08629). They get the job done, reasonably priced, and you are not sitting there all day.
Has going natural impacted other areas of your life (i.e. health & fitness, style, environmental consciousness, etc.?) If so, how and in what ways has it affected your lifestyle?
Do you have a “hair crush?” If so, who?
Naptural85. I love her thick, lush hair.
Who do you follow online (i.e. blog/website, Youtube, Fotki, etc.)?
Nobody really. I’ll check in once in a blue moon. When I first natural, I had my own blog and I was on the message boards all the time. I found what I like for my hair and I don’t need the product junkie temptations.
Where can we find you online?
@shay_lafemme on Twitter.
What advice would you give someone who is contemplating going natural and/or becoming discouraged with their natural journey?
Be patient. Be confident. Accept your hair for its own beauty and uniqueness.
Anything else that you’d like to add?