Where do you live?
C: The place I call home for the past 9 years is Brooklyn, NY, Crown Heights area but I’m originally reppin B’more (Baltimore, Maryland). I am an artist, activist, closet stylist and newbie blogger but what I do is work for a film company as a Production Coordinator and Costume Designer.
Why did you go natural?
C: I have only used chemicals on my 4b-c hair at four stages of my life but as of now I have been completely natural for 4 years. My mom took such good care of my hair when I was younger and since I am an identical twin she had two sets of hair to deal with (whew, I really have no idea how she did it with a full time job while attending one of the top universities in the country… plus my hair was twice as long then).
I do remember being complimented by adults and teased by children when I was younger. I know the reason my mom broke down to the leisure curl was time management and years ago they promoted leisure, which was seen as a less harmful alternative to the relaxer which I now know is 100% false.
In high school I had a leisure curl for about 3 years when my dad decided it was too expensive (I didn’t understand then but was one of the best decisions for my hair at the time). At 17 once I stopped the leisure curl my hair started breaking off from the 2 textures (but mainly because I wasn’t moisturizing my hair properly) so the only choice I felt I had was to cut my hair down to about an inch. I religiously slapped grease on my strands and before I knew it my hair was growing like weeds. In 3 years I had about 18 inches. I wore my hair in braid outs and simple low buns. Without realizing it I was protecting my hair and ends with low stress hair styles. I know this was the key to my healthy hair growth.
I started to color my hair and experienced some breakage in the crown and towards the back. Not because of the color but due to a fashion shoot, the hair stylist had no idea how to work with my hair type and was forcefully pulling on the ends of my colored hair for more length. I experienced breakage the very next day in the area he was pulling at (I have to note that I was using color about every 4 months for 2 years without any problems. But colored treated strands can make hair more susceptible to dryness and the fact that they had alcohol based hair products on set, I was doomed). So I stopped coloring my hair so the back and crown could recuperate.
Through the suggestion of an associate I tried a kiddie relaxer because she said my hair was “too thick and you couldn’t see my scalp” Needless to say ladies I tried the relaxer and my hair might be thick but the strands are superfine and not only did I wash the kiddie relaxer down the drain but most of my hair as well. So after the fiasco which caused a long hysterical 911 call to my twin sister, who came right over and assisted with my instant big chop to about 1 inch in length.
Before the creamy crack my hair in total was about 14 inches. After my bc I transitioned with weaves, twists (low maintenance, styles) and plenty of oils and water. As my hair gained length I begin to detangle it with plenty of patience like it was fine silk. My hair grew back full force and 4 years later here I am. I now have worked so hard to get my hair to this point, nothing could make me go back to the relaxer. I love my hair and that took some physical and mental work, time and experience but I had a good foundation and it started with my mama. She was so gentle with our hair and we enjoyed the process so much my twin and I use to fight who would get their hair done first.
How would you describe your hair?
C: Well I am a proud kinky 4b/4c natural and my hair just celebrated her birthday! She is 4 years old and 3 months since her big chop. My hair is about 21 inches long. The porosity level of my hair is normal especially since I do not use chemicals, color or heat. My hair is extremely dense and my strands are superfine, which leads to easy tangling. My hair is very healthy for the most part but I still experience some split ends here and there. I have not used heat for a year and 3 months.
In what ways (if any) has going natural affected you?
C: The best way to describe it is a bit like falling in love. You don’t know when it will hit you or who it will be but when it does you know. In between my chemical stages when I saw the new growth I absolutely loved my texture but didn’t know how to work with it. When I did my big chop. 4 years ago there was a certain pride I felt when I rocked my natural hair. A feeling of confidence and inner peace. To put it bluntly I knew without a doubt this was 100% for me.
What is your regimen?
C: I have been doing my current regimen for 4 years now. I wash my hair with conditioner (no shampoo) in 8 loosely braided sections (my strands are too fine to wash without the braids) every month. I know some ladies are saying “ONCE A MONTH?!” but I am a minimalist when it comes to products. This works for my length, plus I wear updo styles 100% of the time. I also let my hair AIR dry in the braids but before I wash I detangle (a proper detangle is a great weapon for “War of the Hair”).
I detangle once a week with a mixture of coconut, jojoba, rosemary and castor oil which definitely aids in a smoother detangling session along with the use of some major “fine silk like PATIENCE”. Another weapon of war for me is the fingers (which doesn’t sound quite right now as I say it) but finger detangling is a necessity for my hair, it just ain’t happening without some finger action first.
As for my day to day hairstyles, I usually where my hair in about 140 (yes 140, lol) LOOSE twists which gives me easy access and protection to altering my hairstyles without the stress of having my hair loose. For the past 4 years I have been wearing protective styles basically non-stop. I love an afro as much as anyone and at one point in my hair journey this was my staple but it didn’t work for “me” and living in NY, especially with the wind and brick cold weather my hair suffered with dryness and split ends. Also for my hair type the afro just wasn’t low maintenance as my hair grew longer and I had to keep manipulating it due to an active lifestyle.
I moisturize regularly with a mixture of coconut, jojoba, rosemary and castor oil but learning how much product to put in my hair has been a learning process. Back in the day I definitely had the Coming to America “Soul Glo” (all upholstered furniture beware!) but I can now say since I am becoming very familiar with my hair I am now 4 years “Soul Glo” free! In the past when my hair was dry I would just coat it with grease instead of water and natural oils (though I’m not knockin the grease, I have used Blue Magic, Softee coconut and Johnson and Johnson UltraSheen for years). The grease would rectify my hair for the day but wouldn’t really solve the underlining issue……dryness. I also place a little more oil on the ends with water once a week since they are my elders I have to show them a little more respect which means extra TLC.
As for my nightly routine……Silk scarf, silk scarf and oh yeah a silk scarf.
What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learned from?
C: Really? I’m not sure if there is enough room for me to list everything, lol. I think I have experienced every spectrum of hair drama possibly imagined such as traction alopecia from weaves, burning (and by burning ya’ll I don’t mean my ends simply dipped in a candle and a little bit was singed off, I mean my hair caught on fire as in actual flames shooting from my head and people coming over to throw water at me! May the great MJ rest in internal peace but it was something like that. Not half as bad but very similar! Sigh but this is a story for another time), singeing from curling irons, breakage from dryness, unintentional dreading, accidental haircuts and on and off chemical warfare. I think the most important lesson I learned from all these mistakes was instilled within me through my youth. My parents always taught me if something goes wrong or if I don’t understand, never be afraid to ask why? Why did my hair catch on fire (because I was using flammable products) or why is my hair disintegrating in my hands as if it were a vampire exposed to light (Because for weeks I was neglecting in moisturizing my hair when I wore weaves). After all my mishaps I did the research to prevent it from happening again. After all “the act of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results” and man believe me when I say I have been insane!
What’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
C: Well the first of my 5 step program that I can’t live without for my hair are protective updo styles. The reason why I say protective updos is because any style you see in the pictures featured here are always about 150 loose twists. You can have a protective style but wear it down as well. I definitely see a difference in moisture and overall health of my hair at the end of the week due to protective updo styles.
The second would be MOISTURE and when it comes to my texture more moisture is better. I began the use of all natural oils about 4 months ago and must say I did notice less shedding, and itching of the scalp has become almost non-existent.
The third step would be washing my hair in loose twist or 8-10 loose braids. My superfine hair can’t survive a washing without some type of style protection. So a wash and go for me is unthinkable for my hair type. With my hair texture and length I could wash but my hair ain’t going nowhere!
The fourth step would be wearing a silk scarf at night. My man said it was something he had to get use to but never saw it as a big deal (but to be honest he really didn’t have a choice, lol).
The fifth and real essential step is PATIENCE especially when detangling (as my hair has grown longer detangling on dry hair works best for me). Try not to detangle your hair when you are extremely stressed, tired or hungry because unconsciously you can take it out on your hair.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
C: One of my best friend’s Nikisha and I have just started a hair and fashion website called Urban Bush Babes where I go more in depth about my experience as a model with natural hair in the fashion world. We have also started a Youtube channel and a Facebook page as well under the same name UrbanBushBabes.
Anything else you want to add?
C: I know as a black woman with type 4b-c hair that this hair type has been stereotypically deemed the least attractive of all the hair types (good versus bad hair syndrome) due to the lack of curl pattern. Therefore some women do not want to claim it or they feel ashamed of the true natural state of their hair. These women should not be scolded but educated, because their mindset is a result of years of bombardment of certain types of images through social media of what stereotypical “beauty” is in this country. Change is beginning to happen with outlets such as this but you can’t expect a change overnight. I feel fortunate to have been instilled since a young age through a very militant, political father and beautiful loving mother that beauty comes in all sizes, shapes, colors and hair textures. I fear if I did not have that education my mindset would not be where it is today.
People will always have something to say whether it be positive or negative. Remember people make fun of things they fear and do not understand. Not to say you can’t dislike something but it should never be done in a tone to bring someone down. I was coming home from a long day of work, I was tired and hungry (a deadly combination) when I saw a group of teenagers (2 young women and 3 young men) pass by. The two young women started laughing and shouting to the young men, ‘Is that all her hair? What is that?! It looks like a hat!’ Well truth be told on this day my updo did resemble a hat. So I simply said “You know you’re right. I can see how it does resemble a hat, and yes it is all mine.” Their expression was priceless and they really didn’t know how to respond so they didn’t say anything. I killed them with a stern kindness. So the next time you hear a negative remark regarding your hair as the beautiful person you are never fall to their level. I think Martin Luther King said it best “Let no man pull you low enough to hate him”.