*Prepared for BGLH by Meosha Tall of 1MeNaturally
B: My name is Bilen. I’m originally from Ethiopia, but have been in the U.S. since I was 11 years old. I’ve lived all around the Midwest as well as New Orleans. I currently reside in Brooklyn, NY. I work as a freelance wardrobe stylist.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
B: My hair has always been natural. When I was little and living in Ethiopia, my mom braided my hair on a bi-weekly basis, so I grew up with that. Once we moved to the U.S., braiding was still the main way my hair was styled. As I transitioned into college life, I started heat straightening my hair on a regular basis. The hot comb was my tool of choice! I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to the hair salon in my entire life. The braiding as well as the heat straightening all took place at home.
When and how did you transition into natural hair?
B: Once I moved to New Orleans, a lot of my friends who worked in the hair industry convinced me to stop heat straightening my hair and to just let it be in its natural, curly state. Before this time, I had never considered my hair to be curly. I just saw it as more frizzy, so it had never occurred to me to just let it be. That was 8 years ago and I’ve just let it be since then.
In what ways (if any) has going natural affected you?
B: Since my hair has always been natural, there hasn’t been much of a transition or significant effect for me. I certainly pay more attention to the overall health and condition of my hair because it has a tendency to dry out faster compared to when it used to be braided or even heat straightened. A lot of random people approach me to ask me about my hair or comment on it than before, but that’s pretty much it :)
How would you describe your hair?
B: I would describe my hair as relatively soft, curly and not as thick as it may look in pictures. I just have a lot of it :) My hair behaves pretty consistently from week to week. I wash it about once a week or sometimes go as long as bi-weekly, so it’ll get more volume each day that goes by.
What is your regimen?
B: My hair regimen would best be described as minimalist. I usually wash it once a week or sometimes once every two weeks. I wet detangle using a combination of my fingers and a detangler comb. Once my hair has been fully detangled, I use DevaCurl No-Poo Shampoo and run a wide-toothed comb through my hair while the shampoo is still in my hair. I condition using DevaCurl One Condition and leave it on for about 30 minutes. I wash it out, apply a generous amount of Carol’s Daughter Tui Moisturizing Hair Oil while my hair is still wet, wrap a warm towel around my head and leave it like that for a minimum of an hour. Remove towel and that’s it…
How do you retain length and moisture in your hair?
B: I used to not put oil in my hair and it dried out very quickly. That’s definitely a mistake I’ve learned from. My sister actually asked me about it in passing when she saw how dry and brittle my hair looked and was shocked when I told her that I do not put oil in my hair. After that reaction, I decided to try it out and it has definitely been to the great benefit of the health of my hair.
What’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
B: The best thing I do for my hair is to not touch it. Having my hair braided as a young girl definitely taught me not to touch my hair because that meant messing up the braids. I’ve continued that trend as much as possible. I just don’t need to add any dirt or tangle up my hair any more than it already does by itself.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
B: I don’t have a blog, but you can keep up with me on 16stonevintage.com.
Anything else you want to add?
B: Nothing too great to add, but I think it’s beautiful that so many women are embarking upon their own natural hair journey. I’ve always been natural and luckily enough for me, I had the support of my family to NOT get my hair permed even when I was begging for it. I clearly remember an emphatic, “NO” coming from my mother when I asked her about getting my hair relaxed when I was in high school. Boy, am I glad for that now! There is so much diversity in our hair and it’s great that even if you don’t get the support you need among your family, you have blogs like BGLH to help you out. I know it’s been a great source of information for me :)