*Prepared for BGLH by Meosha Tall of 1MeNaturally
T: I’m Tessa from Bedstuy, BK.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
T: I missed my curls!!! :-D When I was younger I always wanted my hair to look like my mom’s, perfectly straight. I begged for a perm…that was my biggest mistake. I became addicted to the creamy crack for years. As I got older I slowly began to realize that I couldn’t stand the pressure of maintaining my straight hair. Being told that a colored woman has to always have their hair relaxed in order to be considered beautiful, and that curls were nappy and ugly.
I began to uncover that thought was an idea that has been passed down from generation to generation and I needed to stand up for the dignity of my life and my curls. That fundamental darkness became my motivation. I was also told that I would never be able to have my curls again unless I shaved my head. I never did a big chop. I just let it grow out, and bit by bit cut the ends. I broke down once during the ugly stage and combed a kiddie perm through my hair. I cried like a baby afterwards because I succumbed to my own mental pressure. I started to transition 12 years ago, but I have been fully perm free for 11 years. I’m so happy to see that there is more support for women who want to liberate themselves from chemically processing their hair.
How would you describe your texture?
T: Wow, this is the first time I have put a label on my texture. It’s very dense and very curly. I believe that as my hair continues to grow it behaves differently. Some styles are easier to create, and some I don’t do because my hair is too long. I don’t really care for the whole hair chart label because when I look at one single curl it resembles the 1c, but because my hair is so dense it’s placed in the 4 range. So it is hard for me to be specific as to which category my mane is in.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
T: I try to keep my hair styling very basic, and I am in the midst of learning more protective styles. I usually either do double strand twists or semi-micro braids. I enjoy those two styles so that I can create a multitude of buns, twists and updos.
I live by my shea butter and coconut oil. I have recently started to use Sweet Ambrosia from Karen’s Body Beautiful. I loooooove her line; very natural and organic and my hair is responding well to her ingredients. I keep in braids and twists for two to three weeks (depending on the season) then I’ll take them out and rock a twist out for another week. I sometimes can push it for two weeks, but by that time my afro is in full glory. I try to do styles that don’t require me washing and restyling once a week. I can honestly say during the summer I have only done one wash and go. It’s just too much work lol!
What does wash day look like for you?
T: A typical wash day is seriously almost a day long! I usually do my hair at night, but I am trying to start the process during the day so that I am not up until the wee hours of the night/am. I typically just rinse my hair with hot water until it is complementary saturated with water. During this time I usually scratch my scalp with my nails. If I feel like my hair needs more cleansing, I create a hair tonic using two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a bottle of water. Sometimes I even use Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap (peppermint and/or tea tree oil).
Once my hair is cleansed I lather on the conditioner. I usually go through the whole bottle in one go. For years I have been on the quest to find the right conditioner for my hair, and as my hair follicle changes so does the conditioner I use. At the current moment I am using VO5. From what I heard it is the lesser of all evils. And you can’t beat $1.50 for a bottle!!! Once my hair is sopping wet with conditioner, I section it off based on where my “locks” are. I twist them and begin to comb through section by section. After my arm workout, I rinse my hair in cold water as a way to seal in the conditioner. I then proceed to part my hair for my upcoming style, and put some moisturizer in. I sometimes make some with shea butter and oils. Most recently I have been using Sweet Ambrosia by Karen’s Body Beautiful. Then the magic of styling begins!
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
T: I have loyally been rocking double strand twists. Sometimes I rock them really chunky or really small. Since it’s such a process to wash my hair, comb it, moisturize, takes a few hours, etc., I need a style that is durable and can be multiplied as the weeks progress. If I’m really really pressed for time I plait my hair into two french braids and maintain it for a week until I am ready to style it.
How do you combat shrinkage?
T: I’ve come to a point where I enjoy my shrinkage, so I really don’t combat it. It tickles me pink when I pull at my hair and see how long it truly is. It’s almost a running joke with my friends, “Go on, show them how long your hair is!” When the weather gets cooler, I am looking forward to blowing it out. I haven’t in almost two years.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
T: My ends. Certain styles dry them making my curls look sad. I have to make sure I condition them daily before I go to bed. Also I make sure that I stay hydrated and maintain a healthy eating lifestyle.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
T: Gee I have so many do’s! Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize and ALWAYS sleep with a satin/silk scarf. I also do treatments every few months, and/or with the change of the season. Seek out and learn about your curls and don’t be afraid to learn from trial and error!
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
T: I hardly shampoo. After years of shampooing I can see the damage it does to my hair, stripping away its natural oils. My hair LOVES being dirty. As I weaned myself off of shampoo and became more conscious of what products I was putting on my mane, my curls began to evolve. I also don’t like cutting my hair too much. Just once in a blue moon.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
T: My website is still under construction, but you can follow we on Instagram @_afronista. Thank you for reading my experience!!!!