J: Hello! My name is Joy and I live in Jamaica.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
J: I have been natural for 3 years and almost six months. I decided to grow my relaxer out because I got tired of having to struggle with trying to keep my hair looking healthy. I coped with split ends by getting a haircut every 6 months or so. I would just have my stylist cut off as much of my frayed ends as possible. Things really started to go downhill after I got permanent color and highlights in 2005. It was evident with the dryness and the breakage that my hair needed a break, but every three months I would religiously go into the salon with almost two inches of gorgeous, springy, healthy new growth and get that relaxer. My last relaxer however was in early 2009 and by March of that same year I was ready to take the plunge. I cut my hair myself, right down to about half an inch and got it braided the next day. The braids only lasted me two months and my TWA made its glorious debut shortly after. I’ve never looked back since!
How would you describe your texture?
J: My texture (from what I’ve read) seems to predominantly be 4a with a little bit of 3c in the back and on the sides. My strands are very fine but densely packed so I have a LOT of hair. My hair is prone to frizz and my strands tend to curl up into themselves which makes knots and shrinkage commonplace, so detangling for me can be a challenge.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
J: My styling regimen is ever evolving. As a new natural I would shampoo every seven days or so, but that was when I had shorter hair. Now that my hair has grown out my detangling sessions can be brutal, so I now only wash when my scalp starts to itch! Yes. Please don’t judge me. Lol. I wear protective styles quite often, something I started doing even before I knew what protective styling was. This past month I wore box plaits for about three weeks during which I made sure to moisturize with water, add my leave-in conditioner, and seal with an oil every three days or so. My staple products include Kinky Curly Knot Today Leave-In Conditioner, Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap, Tresemme Naturals Conditioner and Low Sulphate Shampoo, extra virgin olive oil, extra virgin coconut oil, castor oil, shea butter (I particularly love and use the Hair Butter by Kumea’s Hair Perspective).
What does wash day look like for you?
J: Wow! Wash day. So I start off by detangling with water and coconut oil and put my hair in giant twists. I drench my hair with more coconut oil and leave it on (covering with a plastic cap) overnight as a pre shampoo treatment. The following day I wash (leaving giant twists in) using Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap or watered down shampoo (Tresemme Naturals Low Sulphate Shampoo) or Elucence Moisture Benefits Shampoo, which is currently my favorite. I condition with any conditioner on hand, which is most often Tresemme Naturals Conditioner. I then do my deep conditioning (for me this is a staple part of my regimen). I alternate between Giovanni’s Nutrafix Hair Reconstructor and Curl Junkie’s Curl Rehab for a good balance of protein and moisture. Castor oil or EVOO mixed in with conditioner is another favorite for deep conditioning. I follow up with my leave-in conditioner, Kinky Curly Knot Today, seal with shea butter and an oil, and style for the next couple of weeks.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
J: For those days when styling has to be quick, I’ll do some kind of roll and tuck style, especially for work. For more laid back and casual occasions my go to style is an afro (of course!). What’s quicker than shaking out the fro? Most often I already have my hair in twists, so I just do a quick cute updo or just wear them as they are.
How do you combat shrinkage?
J: Ha! I don’t try to combat shrinkage. I’d drive myself crazy. I’ve found lately though that keeping my hair stretched helps with detangling, so I’ll stretch my hair (by bunning at night) for that purpose only. For certain styles, like loose two strand twists or plaits, I’ll use a little heat, but for the most part I’m ok with shrinkage.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
J: As I mentioned earlier my hair SHRINKS, shrinks to about half its length and that means knots, knots and more knots. I try to be extra patient with my hair, (that means saying lots of ‘woosahs’ during my detangling sessions), but I’ve found that detangling with coconut oil and water before shampooing makes a huge difference and cuts down on how long the detangling process takes.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
J: Detangling before shampooing and… did I mention detangling before shampooing? Listen, I can’t tell you how much my life has changed after figuring out shampoo mats my hair. If I have knots before I wash you can bet those knots are going to be more stubborn after shampooing. Even with tons of conditioner on my hair it still takes me hours to detangle, so I make it a point to attack those knots BEFORE I apply shampoo. Also, applying a leave-in conditioner and sealing in moisture makes my hair feel divine!
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
J: Two don’ts for me are excessive heat and manipulating my hair while it is dry. I’ve found that my ends get really rough and brittle whenever I use heat, so I try to use as little as possible. With my fine strands and tight curls, manipulating my hair bone dry is a definite no-no. When styling/combing my loose hair I always have my spray bottle with water at hand.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
J: No I don’t have a blog. There are already tons of natural hair blogs that cover almost everything I would possibly want to share, but I am on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/joywillie where I’ve posted photos of my hair journey.