A: My name is Andrea Denise Alexander and I am from the GREATEST city in the world! If you answered that with anything other than Houston, Texas, then there is a chance your Geography teacher was not well versed in his/her craft! ;)
Did you transition or big chop? Share your natural hair journey with us!
A: So it all started when I was a young tike at the age of 12, you know, that age when you begin to THINK you’re grown and know what you’re doing! Now I was a HUGE fan of Sister, Sister, and well, being JUST like Tia and Tamera. This was when they began to press/relax their hair (sorry I’m not sure which). I was so intrigued with straight hair that I HAD to have it! And after annoying the hairs off of my mother’s head and turning her crooked smile into one of indifference, your girl got her first perm! Diana (my natural hair) became….well, Jane (yep, just as plane as ever). I thought I was THAT THING, because swinging my waist length hair and standing in front of fans in my spare time became nothing short of a habit. This “hobby” of mine became less and less intriguing, as the hair got shorter, and the locks got thinner. When I entered medical school, I had neither the patience for my thinning tresses, nor the time, or money to sit at a salon and pretend to be fabulous for 6 hours like before. Also, the city of DC had SO many heads of beautiful and healthy curls, coils, kinks that I was sold!
Now I’m not going to lie, I was a little vain and wanted to keep the length that I had, (and trust me, it was only a little); so, I transitioned! From November 2011 to February 1, 2014, I worked those flexi rod sets and high buns until my hair began to look at me sideways and say, “Ok, enough is enough!” With that said, what better way to kick off Black History Month than sport a new fro! I sported, I shook, and I KNOW I will NEVER let Jane back onto my throne! Diana was back and that was that!
So, now I have been growing my hair for 2 years and 10 months, and have been natural for a little over 7 months.
How would you describe your texture?
A: So I guess my genes were really indecisive when molding my mane because when I say I’m multi-textured, that might be an understatement. I have 3b and 3c curls in the front of my head, and 4a and 4b curls in the back of my head. The curls are in S and O patterns. The strands are thick/coarse and low porosity!
Please bear in mind that I had NO IDEA what my curl pattern was going to look like until I took those scissors to my tresses and did my big chop! In fact, I was also positive that my hair was of the 4c texture in all areas of my scalp while I was transitioning.
Now as far as how Diana behaves, well she simply does what she wants, and I respect that! I used to try and control her with “wonder gels” and “miracle puddings,” but, but ultimately, when it’s time to step out on day 2 or day 3, she goes for whatever makes her hairy heart content.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
A: I’m the kind of girl that usually just rocks with her natural mane, and rolls with whatever punches come her way. I rock wash and go’s and braid-outs 90% of the time, and the other 10% of the time, I run to low and high buns alike for a protective style.
What does wash day look like for you?
A: Wash day is nothing less than a war against time; it’s an all-day event, to say the least. Over any given month, my regimen pretty much remains constant. I stick to my schedule and rarely deviate from course.
I start off with a hot oil treatment (yes, I do this EVERY WEEK, and yes, I realize that may be excessive for some) because I have had a HUGE reduction in the single stranded knots and split ends. I then follow with either cleansing if it is the first week of the month, or with co-washing for the second, third, and fourth week. I clarify with Shea Moisture’s Coconut and Hibiscus Curl and Shine Shampoo with Silk Protein and Neem Oil (I dilute the shampoo with water; two ounces of shampoo, 8 ounces of water) and I co-wash with As I Am’s Coconut Co-Wash.
I then follow my cleansing with the only segment of my regimen that changes from week to week: a special/strengthening treatment. I usually skip this step the first week. The second week, I perform a protein treatment with either eggs/mayonnaise/Greek yogurt with honey and olive oil, or Aphogee’s 2-Step Protein Treatment (although I only use step 1 and rarely use this product because I do not perform damaging practices on my hair). The third week, I have begun performing a black tea rinse with Tazo Tea to decrease shedding secondary to the stressful life that I live. On the fourth week, I generally will skip the treatment or, if my hair is in need of moisture, then I will use a homemade conditioning treatment with avocado, banana, honey, and a conglomerate of oils.
I then follow with either my protein treatment or black tea rinse, and then deep condition with three products (Deva Curl’s Heaven in Hair, Avalon Organic’s Biotin Conditioner, and Camille Rose’s Algae Renew Deep Conditioner). I finger detangle or use my modified Denman brush after my hair has sat with the deep conditioner in. Now, for those with wrinkled eyebrows and the thoughts that this routine is cumbersome, I am right there wrinkling and second-guessing. However, as stated before, I have so many textures and my hair so poorly porous that I would rather continue this regimen than try to remove one of these components (which I have tried to, and my feelings were quickly hurt).
I then style with usually a wash and go or a braid out with Jane Carter’s Revitalizing Leave-In Conditioner Spray, either Argan Oil or my oil mixture as a sealant, followed by Camille Rose Natural’s Fresh Curls Revitalizing Hair Smoother, then their Marshmallow and Agave Leaf Extract Curl Maker.
I pineapple at night (although mine more so resembles a turnip) and I re-moisturize every morning and night. As far as moisturizers, I use one of the following: A mixture of water, glycerin, aloe vera, and peppermint oil if my scalp is itching from a hard week’s workout, Deva Curl’s Set it Free Spray, or Shea Moisture’s Coconut and Hibiscus Hold and Shine Moisture Mist with Silk Protein and Neem Oil. I always seal afterwards with either my oil mixture, argan oil, or shea butter.
I also trim my ends every 2-3 months. This is NOT because my ends are damaged, but simply to ensure that my strands are the same thickness at the root as it is at the ends. I also strive to maintain the shape of my hair that I cut it into/
With this regimen, I have NO breakage; as for the shedding from stress, eh, I’m working on it.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
A: Usually if I don’t have time for a style, I just wear my hair out and let it do its thing! I realize it looks nothing less of a mess in person, but honestly, how can I communicate that truly un-manipulated and untamed natural hair is beautiful if I am always slicking back my edges and throwing it into a bun? Besides, I wore a bun EVERY DAY while I was transitioning; I’m done with those puppies for a while.
How do you combat shrinkage?
A: Shrinkage is actually my hair’s favorite pastime, especially that in the back of my head. On wash day, once my hair has dried completely, I will section my hair and blow dry the roots in the back sections only. I also only use a cool heat setting, a concentrator nozzle, and the tension method. This keeps me from resembling Selma Bouvier from The Simpsons (accurate description, I kid you not).
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require extra care and attention?
A: I don’t think I have “problem areas” per se, but rather just my hair is a different texture than it used to be and what the world is used to dealing with, so I have to care for it in a different way. I encourage all you beauties to try and view your manes with the same perspective! It helps me to stay positive and not find fault with how I was naturally made.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
A: Properly moisturize!!! That includes deep conditioning and daily re-moisturizing and sealing! I cannot tell you how many fairy knots and split ends I have dodged with this mantra!
Also, detangling, detangling, DETANGLING….all the way to the root of the situation….THE ROOTS! I have high density hair, so I naturally do shed more than others. So with that said, the shed hair always tangles around my strands. Because I shed a lot, I also spout new strands, so my roots become tangled very easily! And detangling all the way to the roots ensures that there aren’t any shed pieces wrapping around and placing stress on the ones that are still in my scalp.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
A: You know that guy in high school/college that is always going around stealing the joy from females’ hearts in order to power his inner machine of womanizing schemes? Well, in the realm of natural hair, he is what is known as, the flat iron. I had to break up with the deceitful son of a gun immediately! I also think it’s important to know that I had to trim an extra 1-1½ inches off of my hair after I big chopped because I had loosely curled ends. This was because in the beginning of my transition (for the first 6 months or so), I was flat ironing my hair every 4-5 weeks.
Another don’t, although I am quite guilty of it, is messing with it! I know, I know, why were we gifted with amazing hair if we can’t play in it! Unfortunately, I don’t have all the answers, but what I do know is that those little fairies who curse your ends with fairy knots will slowly but surely creep their way back into your life if you keep your hands close to the fro. I admit, I still find myself messing in the back of my head all the time, but, hot oil treatments and daily re-moisturizing and sealing put up a good opponent to those blasted fairies!
Is there a blog/webpage or social media account where we can find you?
A: I’m on Instagram and Twitter as @Andys_Vanity. As far as anything else, stay tuned!