*Prepared for BGLH by Meosha Tall of 1MeNaturally
D: My name is Donna. I live in Chicago, but I was born in Detroit and I grew up in the suburbs. I graduated from the University of Michigan in 2009 and I am a current graduate student at Columbia College Chicago pursuing a Masters in Arts, Entertainment and Media Management. My focus is visual arts and entrepreneurship and I started a photography business, DONEDO Art and Photography, in 2010.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
D: I’m adopted so I grew up in a multiracial (black and white) family. When I was in elementary I was the only black girl in my entire school with the only other black kids being my younger brothers. I used to rock braids & beads but I remember begging my mom to let me wear my hair “down” like all the other girls. My mom finally gave in and let me get a perm in 3rd grade. I remember how excited I was to have long hair down my back, but by 4th grade it had all broken off and I had to cut my hair down to a few inches. Ever since then it has been a constant struggle to retain a healthy length while the chemicals were destroying my hair. Before I moved to Chicago for grad school in fall 2010 I had been contemplating going natural for a while. I knew that my hair would be healthier, thicker and more versatile, and I had a lot of friends who were already natural. Also, watching many natural hairstyle tutorials on YouTube influenced me.
When and how did you transition into natural hair?
D: After coming to Chicago I was stretching my perms for 2 months or longer because I didn’t know any quality hair stylists in Chicago. January 2011 was my last perm. In the beginning I was mostly wearing my own hair straight with weaves or bantu knot-outs in the spring and summer and a weave in the fall. January 2012 I decided to start trying different styles that accentuated my natural texture. These styles have consisted of twist outs, flat twist outs, curler sets, and protective updos.
In what ways (if any) has going natural affected you?
D: I get a lot more stares and looks when I wear different styles, but it has mostly been positive. I get a lot more compliments on my hair and style when I wear my hair natural than when I straighten it. I can however do without people thinking it’s okay to just touch my hair without asking, and people trying to check and see if it’s all mine.
How would you describe your hair?
D: I guess my hair is a 4b texture. It is very thick, but soft when moisturized.
What is your regimen?
D: I try and wash my hair once a week and style it as needed. I use either Carol’s Daughter shampoos and conditioners, KeraCare Humecto Conditioner and I recently started trying out Miss Jessie’s Detangling Shampoo (that works incredibly well) and their deep conditioners. I use Shea Butter or Giovanni as a leave-in conditioner and Mizani oils and Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding for styling.
How do you retain length and moisture in your hair?
D: I retain length by being gentle with my hair especially when detangling the two different textures and trimming off the relaxed and damaged ends. I moisturize my hair with leave-in conditioners, oils, and deep conditioners. I also try to drink a lot of water.
What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learned from?
D: The biggest mistake I’ve made with my hair is doing too much with it. I’ve had braids, twists, weaves, highlights, weaves the day after I have had a perm, perms right after I took down my weave, and they all have damaged my hair when not done correctly or not taken down with the right care. One huge mistake I’ve made after taking down my hair from a weave was not detangling my hair before washing. This resulted in a tangled, matted, mess where I spent at least 8 hours trying to detangle my hair until I finally went to a salon and they had to cut 4 or 5 inches off because of breakage.
What’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
D: As far as doing a long transition, I think weaves have really helped protect my new growth. Conditioning and deep conditioning does wonders for my hair, keeping it soft and manageable.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
D: www.theDONEDO.com and Instagram: donedo