Which Caribbean island are you from?
– St. Kitts.
How long have you been natural?
– Five months
Why did you decide to go natural?
– My relaxed hair became very expensive to maintain, hairdresser visits and products were squeezing my budget- I wanted out! The thought came to go back natural but I was too scared to make such a dramatic change in my life, after all Ive been ‘relaxed or pressed’ for all the time I can remember.
After braiding my hair with extensions one time though, my relaxed hair broke and became very thin and damaged. I cut off the damaged ends but as my hair began to grow, they became thinner and thinner. I then decided to go natural. I intended to transition, after two months of transitioning but I felt very pressured to relax my hair, I gave into the pressure and I relaxed my hair again. My hair growth was very slow so I weaved my hair and when I removed the weave after two months, my hair at the back was completely gone! I then decided to do the Big Chop and so I a second time natural head.
Do you find it difficult to acquire products your hair likes where you live?
It is definitely difficult to acquire products where I live. The products for natural hair are very limited and the market caters to relaxed hair-types. I usually order my products.
What are some of the products your hair likes?
-Kinky Curly Curling Custard
-Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus curl enhancing smoothie
-Shea Butter products
Do you find your natural hair more difficult to take care of than your relaxed hair?
– In the beginning, no. My routine was very basic – wash, moisturize and go. Now that I have some growth, I have to style my hair a night before or week before depends on the style. With my relaxed hair I simply wrapped it and let it fall in the morning, pretty simple. The style preparation is something new. I also now have to look at tutorials to try new hairstyles, read reviews and blogs to gain new ideas and inspiration– that in itself is a new challenge, a new experience, one I have to get used too, even at 5 months! Caring for my hair has a new meaning now – I make efforts to know what I am feeding my hair and I am more observant to what she responds too.
Is taking care of your natural hair expensive?
-Absolutely not. It’s very inexpensive for me. I order my products and they last for 3 months the max and I use them daily. I style my own hair so that has cut the cost associated with hairdresser visits. There are moments when I want a style done but I am unable to do it myself so I’d go to a friend to ‘get the look’ and even that is inexpensive. Very economical!
What’s the best/worst thing about your hair?
-My hair is thick yet she is very soft and manageable – that’s the best thing about her. My worst thing is that she has the tendency to become dry quickly, she needs constant moister.
Did your lifestyle change once you decided to go natural?
-This is a loaded question because my lifestyle has changed dramatically ever since I decided to become natural. I grew up with my mom constantly pressing and ironing my hair— she stressed the beauty of long straight hair and I internalized that as a child. I hated short hair, hated natural hair. It became so bad that I would silently look down on girls who were natural and consider them as ‘conservative Christians/women’, ‘very primitive’ …I even recall myself saying, “I WILL NEVER GO NATURAL”. I associated beauty with bone straight hair and thought everything else was not beautiful if it were different.
My perception of beauty has changed, my perception of myself has changed and Im grateful for that. The change was slow but it was constant – I remember crying so much after the first week of doing the big chop because I felt unpretty. Its easy to become discouraged when everything around you points to a relaxer but encouragement from my boyfriend and my fellow naturalists really helped. I’ve also connected with my inner confidence since going natural. Being natural has forced me to look at myself not my hair or clothes but me as a woman and as a child of God. In the beginning I was forced to confront a lot of messages I internalized as a young girl and slowly replace them with healthier, more God approved messages. Who would have thought that all these years, my hair and clothes and physical appearance defined who I was and not God? Hmm. I am in love with myself in a new way now and that is very healthy. I’ve shifted the focus from my outward appearance and really have made strides to become a better woman, worker, Christian, girlfriend, child, sister, friend…person. Everyday is a new lesson, a new experience, a new blessing. When I look at who I am right now and I see how humble and more fun loving and approachable and strong I’ve become ever since going natural, I am without regrets.
Being natural has changed the way I think about my health. I now read and research what I am putting in my hair and that intensified care has triggered to my physical health — I’ve changed the way I eat, sleep and I’ve began to exercise regularly. I became more aware of my overall health and the results have been amazing.
I’ve also been encouraged by my own patience with my hair growth, I never thought I would have been natural for this long but my tenacity has certainly reminded me that I can achieve anything I want to if I only be patient and consistent. This patience has sifted to my relationships, work projects, and spiritual life.
Any tips/words of encouragement for other Caribbean naturals?
-Being natural is a beautiful transforming journey that every woman should take – even if its just for a year. It takes courage (courage to see yourself and the world in a different way, courage to not listen to the negative comments and messages you will receive, courage to forge ahead and stick with it because it is something that you want, something that is healthy.) It takes research (you can’t naively enter or you’ll quickly revert to your relaxed hair lifestyle when it becomes difficult to care and style your hair or when your beauty is questioned). It takes a good network of natural sisters to keep encouraging you. Encouragement is good! It takes patience (our hair types are very different and how they grow is different as well, its easy to have hair envy and wish you had as much curls or length as the other person, but your journey is your own and patience is a must for your journey, own your journey!)
Show Dentrecia some love. I rather enjoyed her curl confessions. Be motivated and have a wonderful day!