*Prepared for BGLH by Meosha Tall of 1MeNaturally
P: Hey ya’ll, I’m Portia! I was born in California, but I was raised in New Jersey by the shore! I enjoy going to church, art, thrifting, museums, and reading. I also love makeup, fashion, and anything that sparkles. I’m obsessed with rhinestones and sequins. I also have a B.A in Journalism and an M.A in Public Relations. I love to write and one day, I’ll publish a novel. I’m currently working in Social Services, but makeup and styling make my heart smile. I’m God fearing, a wife, and I’m always learning.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
P: After 7 years of getting relaxers, I was tired of burning and irritating my scalp. I would literally have scabs and sores on my scalp after a fresh relaxer and I just knew that it wasn’t something that I’d want to go through for the rest of my life. Sure, I had hair. But would I still have hair in 20 years was what I was worried about. I was clearly having some kind of reaction to the chemicals and for me to keep putting my scalp and hair through that abuse would be insane. Not to mention, I’d probably be losing my hair by the time I turned 40.
When and how did you transition into natural hair?
P: I decided to go natural after my senior year of high school. I didn’t transition very long. I just grew out my relaxed roots for about 3 months and then I cut my hair off. I didn’t really know much about natural hair so I only had one transitional style, a bun. I never had short hair in my life and I didn’t really care what it looked like. I was just tired of my scalp being abused. I had enough.
In what ways (if any) has going natural affected you?
P: Once I let my hair grow out of my scalp the way God intended it to grow, I felt liberated and free. I didn’t have to worry about getting my hair wet in the rain or worry about when I had to get a touch up. I felt like I was ME for the first time in my life. I didn’t blend in with the rest of the world anymore and I liked it. I liked knowing that I could be Portia.
Because I was able to step out of the box with my hair, I was able to step out of the box with other things as well. I began to wear the clothes that I WANTED TO WEAR and participate in activities that I had always been interested in. I even chose a major in college that I felt comfortable with. I didn’t go for a major that made the “big bucks”. I chose my career path based on what I knew would make ME happy until retirement. I also chose my graduate program based on who I was as a person and what I could see myself doing. I became an individual and people noticed. My mother certainly noticed. The first thing she said when she saw my short natural hair was “You’re out of control!” lol. Growing up, I was the kind of person that asked for permission to do everything and if my mother said “no”, then I would accept it. Doing the big chop was the first time I did something on my own and without anyone’s opinion or permission. It took my mother a while to get used to it, but she’s well over it now. She’s even gone natural herself!
How would you describe your hair?
P: I have thick hair, but it’s not that difficult to manage. I can comb through it with my wide tooth comb quite easily when it’s wet. My curl pattern is very tight in the back and sort of wavy and kinky in the front. I didn’t realize you could have two or three totally different textures on one head. I’m not really sure what “type” of hair I have because I can’t really get too deep into that. All hair textures are beautiful in my opinion anyway. My hair is also very cotton like and fluffy when dry. It’s very soft and it isn’t heavy at all. It grows out, not down. I will never have hair that flops down on my shoulders when in its natural state. It just gets taller and wider :-) It usually does its own thing. No twist out, puff, or roller set is ever the same. Sometimes my hair can look super huge and sometimes it can look not so huge. Sometimes it is super curly and sometimes it looks like a giant cotton ball. I enjoy its versatility. It all depends on the day and the weather. I let my hair dictate to me how it’s going to behave. I’ve stopped trying to get it to do what I want it to do :-)
What is your regimen?
P: I wash my hair once or twice a week (depending on how my scalp is acting). Because shampoo is drying on my hair, I only use shampoo twice a month and when I do, I like to use VO5 Clarifying shampoo. It’s cheap, but for some reason my hair really likes VO5. I also like to co-wash my hair with their conditioner. Sometimes I switch up the shampoo and conditioner and use Creme of Nature. I deep condition my hair once every two weeks. My hair needs a very thick and heavy conditioner, so I always use Queen Helene’s Cholesterol conditioner. My hair can be fragile, so this conditioner helps to strengthen it. Because I have dry hair, I like to use Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) mixed with a bit of tea tree oil as a hot oil treatment once every two weeks. I have seborrheic dermatitis so I can’t use oils on my scalp. Because I can rinse the hot oil out, my scalp isn’t irritated, but my hair is not dry (that tip was for anyone who may have the same issue).
I like to wear twist outs the most because it’s easy and functional. I’m not a wash and go girl because my hair retains water and can take as long as two days to dry completely. I just don’t like walking around with a wet head all day. I use Organic Root Stimulator’s Olive Oil Smooth & Hold Pudding and raw Shea Butter on my twist outs. When I want to be fancy, I use Kinky Curly Custard. I sit under the dryer to dry my twists.
How do you retain length and moisture in your hair?
P: I actually don’t worry about the length of my hair too much. I figure, if I’m taking care of my hair the way I’m supposed to and nurturing it, then my hair is bound to retain length. However, I do have some things that I do so that I don’t rip out my strands. I never brush or comb my hair dry (unless it’s blow dried and I’m styling it). I always make sure my hair is coated with Shea Butter for moisture. I never use small combs, only wide tooth combs. I always make sure I use a heat protector if I blow dry my hair. I always sleep with a satin scarf, bonnet, or pillow case. This keeps my hair from snagging and becoming dry and brittle. I also like to let my hair free and not use headbands or wear my hair up in a puff for too long. If I do, my edges get weak and I literally feel stands of hair snapping in two. I also like to get my ends trimmed once a year. Some may feel that’s not enough, but it is for me.
What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learned from?
P: I used to compare my hair to other naturals, but then I realized that all natural hair is not created equal. What works for one natural haired lady, may not work for the next. I just had to shut out everyone else’s opinion and focus on my hair and how it responded to products. Once I listened, it started to morph into something beautiful.
What’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
P: One of my favorite things to do for my hair is to give it a break. Yes, it’s great that I have natural hair that can be care free, but even natural hair needs a break. Sometimes during the year I will get a protective style (example: kinky twists, Senegalese twists) so that my hair can have a break from manipulation. My hair responds well to this and it thanks me by growing an inch or two while I have in my twists. I recently started testing the waters with sew-in weaves (full head), so that will probably be my next protective style.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
P: Actually yes! I’ve just been given the push to start a blog (huneybflyy.com). It’s in its beginning stages, but there, you will be able to get tips on styling natural hair, makeup, and fashion for the every day woman. You can also find me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/#!/HuneyBFlyy and on Instagram @huneybflyy.
Anything else you want to add?
P: I just want to tell all of the African American women (who aren’t natural) reading my interview to stop worrying so much about going natural. It is JUST hair and I promise you that it will be beautiful and grow if you take care of it. Kinky, curly, and wavy is exactly the way God wants our hair to grow. If He didn’t, He would have made it straight.