*Prepared for BGLH by Meosha Tall of 1MeNaturally
J: My name is Jennifer and I’m from London/Essex, UK. You can call me Jenny/Jen if you like :) People may also know me as ‘Bootyfurl’ (fashion and hair blogger). I describe Bootyfurl as: “How people from London and Essex say Beautiful. More so Essex, and I promise I’m not gassing you. Don’t believe me? Try it out now. Trust me you’ll find that ‘R’ somehow! :)
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
J: My hair used to be relaxed (damaged, thin and had EL/NL hair) yet I’ve always been (and still am) tender headed. Almost every hairstyle left my scalp in agony. Lord knows why I worsened this with chemicals. I guess I wasn’t relaxed by “choice” as my mother took care of my hair when I was younger. Since I can remember I’ve had problems with the balding of my temples (something that can be attributed to chemicals/over processing). A few years ago, it got so bad that I began covering it with a cut-out piece of stockings/tights every single day (hairstyle: ponytail and nylon headband). My parents always asked why I “had tights on my hair” so one day I picked up the courage to go into school without the “tights” headband. They assured me that my hair was “okay” – bless them, they wouldn’t have known. So I went in and in front of lots of people a girl asked “did you shave your hair?” BY THE WAY, please bear in mind that I was about 14/15 and I think this was pre-Rihanna’s “shaved side” hairstyle.
Later on another girl (with relaxed hair) suggested that I “stop relaxing my hair” once again in front of people. To be honest, whether her intentions were malicious or not the comment somewhat changed my life. July 2008 was my last relaxer. I actually started a “healthy hair journey” with no preference, but when I saw how beautiful natural hair is, I decided not to relax my hair anymore! I didn’t have a big chop (I wish I did, it seems liberating!) but I literally always had braids so I guess I “transitioned” but I remember January 2009, going to the hairdresser for the first time after the start of my “healthy hair journey” and asking her to cut all the relaxed/straight bits off. Since I went natural, I have never been happier.
How would you describe your texture?
J: Good question! Hmm since being natural I’ve always absolutely loved the fact that my hair was curly/coily/kinky regardless of the type. My hair has a mixture of types but I love the fact that it does :) If I had to choose I’d say 4A with 3C :) Density? I have A LOT of hair! A day doesn’t go by that I wonder where it all came from! As for my strands, each individual one feels quite strong and I have crazy amounts of elasticity (as you can see from the pics!) – if there was an award for shrinkage…LOL.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
J: This is definitely my most frequently asked question and I wish I could say EXACTLY what I do but It’s crazy because even after three years, I am still experimenting! I love doing research and reading about the science of hair in general (not the book!) – I love reading Google Scholar for research, blogs and watching YouTube videos, but I refuse to allow myself to become a product junkie. In fact, I am an advocate that you’re better off keeping things very simple because when you do so much, how will you know what is actually working and what isn’t?
One thing I’m proud to say however is that throughout my whole journey two things that have stayed consistent are coconut oil and castor oil. I found myself always re-purchasing these two products regardless. No matter what product I try, coconut oil and castor oil are absolute STAPLES! I use a bit of glycerin here and there that’s also great. I love the short coily look and it’s amazing to know that anytime I want to achieve that, I just need some water and glycerin. As I noticed that whenever I have glycerin in my hair (I’m normally generous with the glycerin!) that it shrinks to its optimal. That’s a good fact to know because it proves the moisturising properties of glycerin. I’ve also had amazing experiences with bentonite clay as a cleanser. Oh and I love aloe vera!
After the worst experience with weave, I looked into lace frontals (glueless and without clips) as a protective style as I’d use it as an intensive moisturising treatment by baggying underneath (and it works!) but now I have my real hair out. I love twist outs but recently I have been trying to create my go-to classy “up-do” and I think I found one! I call it my Statue of Liberty hair even though it looks nothing like the Statue of Liberty! It involves two massive jumbo flat twists (or a few jumbo two strand twists) which are pinned down at the back. It looks so classy and it’s right on trend! I was recently invited to London Fashion Week (September 2012) and was surprised to see the exact style featured at many shows, so if anyone is looking for a protective style I would recommend it!
What does wash day look like for you?
J: My official wash day ‘write-up’ is pending, it will come one day I promise! I’m still experimenting, but I can say that I love bentonite clay. However, I have been testing a brand new natural technique that I haven’t seen use anywhere else and I believe it stimulates hair growth too! I’m going to do a few more rounds of testing and then I’ll share it with the world! Look out for it. I want to help everyone :)
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
J: For my “night time regimen” I always end up doing an updo, which by the morning I’m like “whoa this looks kinda classy!” It’s done by pinning down jumbo two strand twists. Other days I’ll just low bun. As long as I combine these styles and red lipstick, I’m good to go!
How do you combat shrinkage?
J: I LOVE how our hair shrinks. How fascinating it is that one second my hair can be at my neck then the next second near my hip!? That’s amazing. I say embrace, embrace, embrace! Have some styles for when your hair is at the most shrunken stage and LOVE IT, ROCK IT! We all know living in England that one second the sun comes out to smile and then the next the clouds are crying, so be prepared. Don’t end up hating your hair just because it shrinks up. Be grateful that you have such elasticity because if you were ever to get heat damage, shrinkage will be the first thing you miss!
I wouldn’t say shrinkage was a problem, but a few months ago it was raining loads in England and I was just rocking twist outs even in the rain. One time my hair shrank SO much more than the “sunflower” picture, literally you would have thought I was less than a year natural. I was like “whoa, but wow” at the same time. Like that’s cool. I can go from Black Annie to Diana Ross back to Black Annie again! That day encouraged me to have hairstyles for when it does rain and to be prepared. I love the short coily look, and it’s amazing to know that anytime I want to achieve that, I just need some water and glycerin. As I noticed that whenever I have glycerin in my hair (I’m normally generous with the glycerin!) that it shrinks to its optimal. That’s a good fact to know because it proves the moisturising properties of glycerin.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
J: My temples. Up until the point when I went natural my temples always seem to end up balding, but Castor Oil has been my best friend. Plus, no more harsh chemicals I think has attributed to the care and growth so now it’s fine! Hopefully with TLC, it stays like that :)
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
J: ACCEPT YOUR HAIR, ACCEPT YOURSELF. LOVE YOUR HAIR. LOVE WHO YOU ARE.
If you’re worried that people you know like your friends may judge you then they’re not your true friends. If you’re worried that your family won’t “accept” you then show them how fierce natural hair is! Prove the “haters” wrong :) I’ve had so many people say to me that me being natural has inspired them. So many are transitioning now. I remember rocking a mini fro to school every single day for a while and I created a slight u turn. Suddenly I had girls (I went to an all girls school) thanking me for showing that natural hair is beautiful and loadsss more girls rocking their fros to school too! I love how with my natural hair I’m 100% me. Nothing to hide. I don’t wear make up, only occasionally and I love having a “take me or leave me” attitude like love me naturally or don’t love me at all. THIS IS ME. I know, I know, so cheesy but what can I say? A little bit of cheddar every now and again doesn’t hurt.
1. Protect at night.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
J: DO NOT LET HAIRDRESSERS RUIN YOUR HAIR.
I have memories of all my hairdresser visits where they just did not care for my hair. One in particular around two years ago left me with a bleeding scalp. I can only wonder how these hairdressers see a young vulnerable girl crying in agony but do nothing about it. You see the thing that hurts me most is that I put my ultimate trust in these people. Before they start I beg them not to do it tight. I beg them not to hurt me. I’d much rather have a loosely sewn weave than sleepless nights and migraines for a month. Since I was younger, I have always had a tender scalp and rather than these hairdressers acknowledging that, they treat me as if I’m exaggerating and literally laugh. Worst thing is that it’s not just one bad bunch, I tried SO many hairdressers all over the place. It has come to the extent that the smell of weave and walking past these hairdressers makes me anxious. I have always experienced balding as a result of traction/tension alopecia I believe it’s called, but I try to stay strong and see what I can do about it. The hair grows back and then I go for a protective style (weave at the hairdresser) and I lose it all again. It’s a cycle that I’m starting to break. My experiences with hairdressers always seem to be bad. My parents are Nigerian, born and raised so I was taught to respect my elders! I guess the hairdressers took advantage of my respect. My advice is know your worth, don’t let anyone treat you bad in any situation.
1. Do not use excessive amounts of heat.
2. Do not apply excessive amounts of pressure, be gentle!
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
J: If you have any questions or want to know more, feel free to tweet me @bootyfurl (http://www.twitter.com/bootyfurl). Also check out my blog http://www.bootyfurl.co.uk with lots more tips and info! :) I hope my story can be an inspirational to you all. Whether you’re natural, texturised or relaxed. Do your thing! Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do, show them what you CAN do. Now go forth and love your hair because it’s well and truly bootyfurl.