This week we are featuring Shirley. She wanted to share her natural hair journey with us. Enjoy!

When did you go natural?

Approximately February 2010.

What prompted you to go natural?

My hair was straight for about 20 years, and then I started texturizing. I never really wanted to go natural; was somewhat happy with texturizer treatments. I say “somewhat” because I wanted curly hair, just more manageable but eventually my hair always got too straight. I have several hair textures on my head and it’s very thick, but mostly fine texturized so goes straight easily. I hated my hair straight, it had no body and had to be styled to achieve body. But I had great length; at one point it was lower back length. I have always been a “tender-head’, even when my hair was straightened and then texturized. I remembered quite clearly the awful detangling sessions as a child. So texturizing was my solution. But approximately two years ago I had my hair dyed red – that was the catalyst for change, my hair was breaking off. Fortunately, I’d stopped having the front of my hair texturized several months before; my hairstylist suggested stopping the texturizer for that region because it has a looser curl. So it was towards the back of my head where I was loosing hair.

Did you big chop? Why or why not?

No, I’ve always had a lot of hair so that would have been too traumatic for me. I transitioned for a few months and then cut off the remainder of the damaged hair.

What is your regimen?

I co-wash my hair about 2-3 times per week as necessary, and no-poo about once a month. I follow the Curly Method, so a lot of research on product ingredients. This is essential because I’m not using harsh detergents (sulfates) to wash my hair, so I don’t want non-water soluble silicones, etc in the ingredients. I also have allergies and asthma, so other chemicals and fragrances are an issue. I deep condition once a week in spring/summer/fall, and twice a week in winter. Once a month I may use a protein deep conditioner, but my hair doesn’t like too much protein and usually gets enough from other products. Since my hair isn’t damaged, and I don’t use heat there really isn’t much need for protein treatments.

My hair has a lot of curls/waves so just leave-in conditioner, moisturizer then oil to seal are usually fine. I prefer having “big hair” – those products give a little weight to control frizz but allow my hair to “blossom”. When I want more defined curls for 2-3 days I use a styler. I prefer cream based stylers over gels because they are more moisturizing, I don’t like hard or stiff hair. So the styler is added after conditioner, leave-in and oil. I use a satin pillow, and cover my hair with a sock-like hood for sleeping – in the morning just shake hair out with some water or moisturizer.

It will soon be winter; there has been a lot of talk about protective styles. I’ve never done that for winter, satin/silk scarves and lined hats are good enough protection for me. I’m a “wash n go” person; I don’t do twist-outs, bantu-outs or braid-outs to get a different definition. But I may reconsider those styles in the future. My goal is shoulder length hair.

What is your favorite thing about being natural?

I feel more like an individual; my overall sense of style has changed since I left straight hair behind 10 years ago. I also hate going to salons, so being natural is *freedom*! I love having healthy hair.

Who is your celebrity hair crush? Why?

Esperanza Spalding. She’s just doesn’t care about how people perceive her, wears her hair anyway she wants to.

Who is your regular hair crush?

YouTube vloggers – Elle (Denimpixie, Quest for the Perfect Curl), Melshary (Naturally Melshary, Melshary A), and CurlyKimmyStar. They are on YouTube, but I don’t consider them to be celebrities. They are my “hair crushes” because I believe we share similar textures, and their advice has not steered me wrong. And I really appreciate their enthusiasm and sense of humor – it’s like watching a television program

Thanks so much Shirley. I Love your hair.

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