Introduce yourself . . .
I’m a married wife and mother of two sons and now I have two granddaughters. I was inclined to go natural after having a reaction to a prescription medication that caused about 40% of my hair to fall out after going to the salon to have a relaxer put in my hair.
Are you relaxed, natural, texturized or texlaxed?
I wear my hair natural and occasionally with color after wearing my hair relaxed since age 14. From age 7 until 14 my hair was straightened with a hot comb.
What’s your story, how did you get to where you are?
My earliest memory of my hair was that it was very thick and kept braided because that was easy. Somewhere around the age of 7, my hair was straightened with a hot comb, and my ears had Vaseline put on them because they were constantly being burned.
Between ages 9 and 12, my hair was in its natural state except for occasional straightening for special occasions. I lived in several foster homes since birth, yet even after meeting my birth parents, the hair confusion continued.
By 14, I had a full-blown permanent relaxer which turned into a curl at age 17. At 19, I was back to relaxing my hair until age 23. I had a car accident that happened in 1990, so while I was in the hospital recuperating, my hair was in its natural state. Miraculously, I found someone who was willing to braid my hair from my hospital bed, and I wore braids, on and off, for the next two years.
Living on my own with a disability trying to figure out my hair situation was always challenging; getting into the salon chair at the beauty shops or leaning back over the sink or sideways is usually uncomfortable. I went through a plethora of hair stylists trying everything from weaves to goddess braids to tree braiding. These styles were very time consuming and costly, so I went back to braids because at least, then, I could find someone who could come to my home.
Finally, I felt my hair was a good length, and I found a stylist who was very good at relaxing my hair in 1998; her salon was wheelchair accessible, and I didn’t have to get out of my wheelchair to wash my hair or go under the hair dryer*; I was in heaven.
Then, the inevitable happened. I was on medication for adult acne, and low and behold, one of the un-mentioned side effects was hair loss. I went for a relaxer touch up of my new hair growth and half way through my stylist exclaimed, “Your scalp is turning purple!!” I gasped, because I had no idea what was going on. By the time the session was over, I was leaving the salon with a scarf on my head, and 40% of my hair was in the garbage.
Needless to say, I cried all the way home and when I came through the door my husband hugged me and showed me several brand new scarves that he had purchased for me. Apparently, my stylist called him to let him know what had happened. I am so grateful for his support because he clipped the rest of the damaged hair off and I wore a tiny afro in 2004 until it grew out. People were not very welcoming of my short hair, so I left them alone and made new friends with other women who were going natural
I wore scarves and big earrings a lot until I was used to the short hair. As it grew longer I used Bronner Brothers’ hair care products on my twists. Wanting to stay natural but have the straight look, I had my hair flat-ironed; however, I noticed the heat was still causing breakage around my edges, so I quit using any heat-related tools and moved into dreadlocks.
The Jamaican Mango gel and beeswax worked really well in terms of moisture on my locs, although most times I co-washed with Garnier Fructis’ conditioner. When the dreadlocks grew past my shoulder blades, they were so heavy that my neck began to hurt all the time, so I chopped them off in the summer of 2009 and started over wearing a tiny afro again.
Today, I wear either my own hair braided – without hair added to it, two-strand twists, or a large afro. I now use Shea Moisture* shampoo and conditioner, Curl Enhancing Smoothie, Macadamia Healing Oil treatment plus occasionally apple cider vinegar* or liquid black soap when I have product buildup.
Hopefully, your story or your journey will not be as harrowing as mine has been, and you will have a better love affair with your hair. Peace and blessings to all.
What is your typical weekly regimen?
Due to the fact that I have a spinal cord injury that effects my arms as well as my legs someone has to assist me in my bi-weekly wash routine. She first de-tangles and then co-washes, and afterwards my hair is either braided or put in two-strand twists sometimes complimented with Bantu knots.
Are you happy with your progress so far?
So far I am very happy with the progress that my hair has made since my second big chop in 2009 when I switched from wearing locks to just my natural hair.
What’s your signature style?
My signature style is just a side part with my hair out in a nice rounded afro with side bangs, which is easiest for the men in my life to assist me in doing. Occasionally there will be a ponytail or an up-sweep if my family is in the mood or when I’m tired of wearing it in the same style over and over.
How do you ensure that your ends are protected from the elements and your hands?
During the night time I wear a silk scarf* around my hair and also sleep on a silk/satin pillow case with another scarf on top of that. My assistant usually applies castor oil* or coconut oil* to my ends to keep them moisturized as well as my scalp, however due to my disability I usually don’t touch my hair with my hands very much other than to move the fly away hair from my face or mouth.
Do you have a goal length or are you more concerned about the health of your hair?
Once upon a time I was very concerned with the goal of having long hair, but since my hair has achieved shoulder length it has become so time consuming for someone to assist me that I tend to focus more on it being healthy than it being long and do my best to have my ends clipped as often as possible.
Is there anything that you hair hates?
Oh yes, my hair does not fare well with the kinky curly products* and I spent a fortune on purchasing these products before I realized I was not having any success with them whatsoever, between the residue and the caked white flaky look that their product produces in my hair.
Do you have any favorite hair products?
My favorite hair products are the Shea-Coconut-Hibiscus moisture line that I purchase from Walgreens which is made by a woman in Africa started in 1925 and still run today by her family members.
Where can we find you online?