Spotlight time! Amber is a soror and very good friend of mine. As you can see, her hair is gorgeous and she wears it well! If you are interested in being "spotlighted", send me an email!
1. How long have you been natural? 7 years. My last relaxer was in October 2001.
2. Why did you decide to go natural? I was going to study abroad in Italy for a semester my junior year in college, and I knew that no one would be able to manage my relaxer for those 5 months. I tested individual braids out the fall semester of my junior year (2001) because I never had extensions before, and I needed to know how to care for them. I then got individual braids again when I left for Italy in the spring. Upon returning to the States in May of 2002 I took out the braids and saw the tremendous amount of growth that occurred since my last relaxer 7 months prior. I did not feel that I could relax my gorgeous, thick, jet black new growth, and the difference in thickness and healthiness between the relaxed hair and the natural hair was overwhelming- I could see through the fried and died part of the hair, but not the new growth. I decided to keep the new growth and do away with what, up until that point, I thought was “healthy” and “vibrant” relaxed hair.
3. Were your friends and family supportive of your decision to go natural? I didn’t tell them! Shhhh! Some secrets are better left untold until the truth comes out. I didn’t want any negativity headed my way with that decision, and being from the South I had a strong suspicion no one would support me. I just cut off all the relaxer one day, and then got kinky twists the next day.
4. Do you think society’s perception of you has changed now that you are natural? Absolutely. I am still very much a down south country girl and I think some people miss that part of me upon first glance. I hear the “you seem so neo-soul” stuff all the time, and I suppose I fit that category to a certain extent, but I came up on perms, cornbread, and DJ Screw. On the other hand, I do think my hair reflects more correctly my artistic side, and that my hair is an extension of my artistic self. There is also a perception that I am, or need to be, more politically outspoken because people assume that my natural hair means I am more “politically conscious” than other people.
5. Do you have any tips for those transitioning? Do not give up, do not be discouraged. This is a self-discovery journey. You do not know what your hair is REALLY like, what it wants or needs to be happy, how it likes to grow, act, etc., until you let it be itself. And there will be many a messy day when you may feel “unpretty” because your hair has a mind of its own, and you can’t control it. Those days will come and they will go. But it is worth it to go through the journey. Practical tips- the earlier you cut the relaxer out, the HAPPIER you will be. Yes. Let it go! Trying to keep a straight look while transitioning seems like such a pain. If you don’t feel you are ready for a short look, cut the relaxer and do what I did- cornrows, twisties, etc. The feeling of having hair past my ears and on my neck was comforting since I wore my hair to my shoulders for such a long time while it was relaxed. It took me a while to embrace my afro for what it was, without my kinky twists or braids, but once I did, I never looked back.
6. How would you describe your hair vibe? Funky. Fresh. How cliché` yet true.
7. Which 3 hair products could you not live without? KeraCare Hydrating Detangling Shampoo, Trader Joe’s Nourish Conditioner (real talk, it reinvigorates the curls and keeps the hair soft), and KeraCare Styling Gel.
8. What is your favorite hair style? Do I really have to answer this question? It changes with the season/my mood, but I suppose a combo of two strand flat and individual twists.
9. Are you completely satisfied with the state of your natural hair? If not, when will you be completely satisfied? I’m never satisfied with my hair. If I feel the texture is right, then I need to do something else like cut it or color it. If the color is right then I need to find a new style that accentuates the color. Like I said before, I feel my hair is an extension of my artistic side.
10. Do you ever think you will go back to relaxers or texturizers? Highly doubtful. I had the type of hair that did not like to “cooperate” with my relaxer- so much so that I got a relaxer every 5 weeks to keep my hair “acting right.” And I burned every time. I don’t think my scalp could take all that again.
11. Last but not least, describe your daily routine and your wash routine? Depending on my hair style, I wash my hair at least one to three times a week. This is because of a chronic dry scalp/dandruff issue. If I have twists, I wash once a week and re-style the next. If I am wearing an afro or hair pulled back in a puff, I wash it more frequently. My wash includes one round with Neutrogena T/Gel Stubborn Itch Control Shampoo, one round with KeraCare Hydrating Detangling Shampoo, and 5-30 minutes (depending on time allowance) of Trader Joe’s Nourish Shampoo. I moisturize with KeraCare’s Essential Oils, and I also use hot oil treatments every 2-3 months.