How long have you been natural?
I’ve been natural (as in sporting my natural hair) for 18 months. To be honest, it’s a tricky question as I’ve technically been natural for much longer than that, but my kinks and coils had been hidden under a mountain of weave and extensions for years. Also I still have about 2” of relaxer left on a small section of hair in the front that used to be my ‘leave out’ (I’m waiting for that section to grow a little longer before I cut it off). Does that make me 98% natural?
What made you decide to go natural?
I had the most horrific experience… My last weave was about 19 months ago. It looked pretty. I had it for a couple of days before I started to notice the itching. Itching so incessant it was driving me crazy. As I’d only recently installed the weave, I decided it was nothing and tried to ignore it as best as I could. BIG MISTAKE. It got so bad that I had to take it out a week later after I noticed a severe rash on the back of my neck and the sides of my face. What I found when I took out the weave was nothing short of disgusting: a flaky scalp and an angry, swollen neck. In short, a violent allergic reaction. After that, I vowed “NEVER AGAIN will the hair of another person touch my scalp” and it never has!
While natural, what is the one biggest regret /mistake you made?
I regret not being gentle with my hair when I first decided to go natural. Having limited knowledge and experience of how to handle natural hair led me to believe that the only way to “tame” it and “look good” was frequent blowdrying and the use of heavy, oil laden products. My hair was constantly dry and the ends of my hair were taking a real battering. I then moved on to wash and go’s, the single strand knots soon put an end to that hair style too!
What is the craziest hairstyle or treatment you have done to your hair?
Can I give two?
As a weave-a-holic, I would change my hairstyle quite frequently, and sometimes the colour. The biggest mistake was when I followed the voices in my head that were trying to convince me that I would look good with honey blonde hair (think colour 27 mixed with 30). Of course, in order to achieve this look, I had to bleach some of my own hair too. The ‘leave out’ bit of the weave was already relaxed, this plus peroxide equalled massively damaged hair… but I thought I looked cute so I didn’t care! Ah, the power of hindsight…
Also, I once tried out a natural yogurt, honey and coconut deep conditioner. Problem is, I didn’t have any coconut oil at the time, so I just melted down some coconut cream (you know, the ones that come in blocks which you use for cooking). Result? Soft hair that smelt so beautiful I could have ate it, and millions of bits of desiccated coconut in my hair that took multiple washes to remove. I even had to go outside and shake my head like a dog to get bits out *shakes head*
What is your current relationship with your hair?
I love, love, LOVE my hair. I wouldn’t go back to weaves if somebody paid me to. I love the versatility, the volume and the fact that becoming natural has enabled me to move one step further towards solidifying my identify – finding the real “me”.
What is the trick or technique are you most thankful for finding out about?
That water is my friend. A simple epiphany, but a vital one. It took me a while to understand this though. Water would rarely touch my head when I was weaved-up and I firmly bought in to the black myth that black people do not need to wash their hair often. My mother used to shovel on the grease as I was growing up, and it took me a while to get out of that habit, now I haven’t greased my scalp in about a year. I just don’t think it’s necessary, for me. Now water and I are BFFs.
What specific products can you not live without?
I make my own leave-in and I tend to use oils which can be bought in any food aisle so in terms of manufactured products, I don’t use many. The only product I couldn’t live without is LeKairs Cholesterol, I use this for deep conditioning and it leaves my hair like cloud 9 every time. The ingredients I couldn’t live without are Vegetable glycerin and EVOO.
What advice would you give to someone considering going natural?
Take the time to really assess why it is that you are making the decision to go natural. Is it because of an affliction (like me), because you seek liberation or because of plethora of other reasons? I say this because those who do not have a clear understanding of why may be the first to cave in to the omnipresent peer pressure and regret their decision… but it’s too late once you’ve cut off inches of your hair!
Where can we find out more info about you and your hair?
I don’t have a blog or a youtube channel, but I do have a fotki (http://public.fotki.com/Tash85/) and I’m usually lurking around LHCF!