Where do you live?
N: I live in Nashville, TN. It is where I was born and raised. Currently I am a secretary by day, Cuban Salsa dancer by night! You may see me in your city at the salsa club. I try to go to a new city to dance at least once a month. This year me and my group (Nashville Rueda) have performances lined up for Knoxville, TN, Huntsville, AL, and Atlanta so far.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
N: I was in undergrad and I was sooooo broke. I literally could not afford a perm so that is when I made the decision to go natural. I made the transition in 2004-2005 school year. I wore sew ins for about 6 months. When I took the sew ins out I cut off all of my permed hair and had a TWA. The transition for me was not hard at all.
Being natural has made me richer (no more paying for perms!), made me more spontaneous (sure I would love to go salsa dancing in the rain!), made me more accepting of myself, and changed my dating prospects. I realized that some men
are simply not attracted to perms, some are only attracted to naturals. I usually get a lot of international men that try to holla.
How would you describe your hair?
N: My hair is very very nappy. Less nappy in the front and the nape of my neck more so in the middle. It is medium thickness. It likes warm hot baths with grapeseed oil where I can lay back and dip my whole head in, it likes humid/rainy days where is can suck up all the moisture and water from the air. My hair likes long walks on the beach so it can soak up all the sun’s rays, though it does not like ocean water. It functions best in these conditions. It loves to be two strand twisted with a shea butter coconut oil mixture.
What’s your regimen?
N: My regimen is largely based on how my hair feels. If it is dry I will simply run wet hands through my hair and then put some grapeseed or coconut oil on it. Sometimes I use Shea Moisture Organic Raw Shea Butter Reconstructive Elixer as an oil moisturizer. I co-wash every week with Palmer’s Olive Oil Formula Conditioner and Jane Carter Solution Nutrient Replenishing Conditioner. I rotate these two out every other week.
If I do a full wash with shampoo it means my hair is gunky with styling products. I have to use a clarifying shampoo such as Herbal Essences Degunkify. Then I do a vinegar rinse with 1/3 part vinegar to 2/3 parts water. If I don’t do the rinse then my ends feel really rough. I then condition with the above mentioned conditioners. I buy avocados with the purpose of using them on my hair, but I usually end up eating them. I have used them before though and I got the best results when I actually left bits of the avocado in my hair accidentally because I was too lazy to rinse my hair some more. I did a blowout and my hair felt super moisturized and smooth.
To do a twist out I use this shea butter cream I made. It is ¾ part unrefined shea butter to ¼ part coconut oil. I put a bit of avocado oil in it. It seals moisture in wonderfully and I have not found a commercial product that works better. I put it on after my hair is towel dried and twist. In the morning my hair is soft and the shea butter act as a setting lotion to help the twist keep their shape.
To smooth my edges I use Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie. It did not enhance my curls, but it does smooth my edges. I also sometimes use good old fashioned Murray’s Pomade. I only use that if I am going to wash with shampoo soon cause it builds up a lot. When I do a blowout I use the shea butter/coconut oil cream I make.
When I want to get the perfect afro the best thing for me is to add the shea/coconut oil mixture to my hair, do a blow out or braid out, then let the hot water in my shower run to be it all nice and steamy, then let my hair absorb the water. It shrinks into the perfect halo fro around my head.
What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learned from?
N: Okay ladies…..#learnfrommyfails
My hair does not like color. You see the beautiful fiery red fro hawk? I had to do a big chop 2 months later.
My hair does not like to be straightened with a flat iron. I was in Philly for the purpose of getting a trim and she flat ironed my hair. The end result was a big chop. I did not learn my lesson and used a flat iron again on my hair, another big chop. So I have had 2 big chops since I went natural. When I flat iron my hair, It does not go back nappy and smells burnt all the time. Needless to say, I will never flat iron my hair again. Ever.
When using a vinegar rinse in the shower DO NOT shave first! If you vinegar on a freshly shaved body it burns like (insert STD joke here).
What’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
N: The best thing I have done is a sew-in. It just gave my hair time to relax. None of my real hair was out. I bought a satin hair bonnet to put over my headrest in my car. Now my hair in the middle back of my head has stopped breaking off! Going vegetarian and organic has helped my hair grow back quickly from all those big chops. Some naturals are so concerned about using organic all natural hair care products but will then go to the drive thru of McDonalds or Taco Bell and eat chemical laced foods. Good hair really starts from the inside, not from whatever products we put on the outside.
Ladies, get on YouTube! Every single style pictured I have gotten online.
Anything else you want to add
N: Yep! Ladies, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and experiment with your hair. In the grand scheme of things, it is only hair, it will grow back.