1. How long have you been Natural?
I have been natural for 8 1/2 years after getting relaxers for 10 or 12 years.
2. Why did you become Natural?
When I was relaxed I had bra strap length hair. I had always wanted armpit length naturally curly. I knew nothing about taking care of my 3b/3c hair. I didn't have the knowledge of the proper products to use and the natural hair community support we have now. My answer to maintaining it in its natural state was to keep it cut because the longer it got the more I was plagued by dry, frizzy hair. I liked it short and wore it well, but I wanted length and curls. As far as I was concerned a relaxer was the only way I was gonna get length and curly just wasn't gonna happen for me. I wanted both and didn't know how to do it. I was getting tired of the rising cost, long waits at the salon, and the damage relaxers were doing to my hair.
About 8 1/2 years ago inspiration to go natural came by way of a friend who I thought was relaxed because her hair was straight most of the time. She wore a shoulder length wash and go one day and it looked amazing! I asked her how she got it to look so naturally curly. It was full, healthy and just plain gorgeous! That's when she let me know she was natural and just did blow outs and flat irons for straight styles. She had bra strap length hair when straight. I was just amazed at how lengthy it was without the aid of a relaxer. She also had the versatility of curly and straight styles. I was sold! I felt like if she could pull it off, than I'd at least give it a try.
3. Was it a hard transition? How did you transition?
It wasn't hard to transition because I was ready to start my new journey. Roller sets and scarves got me through. My friend let me see length could happen in my natural state, so I was ready to give it a go. My plan was to let it grow out and just get it cut little by little until I had a few inches to play with, then I'd big chop.
The event that lead to a major cut of my relaxed hair was a bad experience with highlights from a stylist that didn't know what she was doing. I had a huge "stripe" that went down the back of my head because she measured a section too big, but continued to highlight it anyways. I had to get my whole head colored as close to my natural color to hide the jacked-up highlights in my armpit length hair. What really added insult to injury was that this was the first color experience I had ever had. I was heated! I was like, "I ain't got time for this!" I needed to get the relaxer and the color out as quickly as possible. I got a drastic asymmetrical bob to help speed up the process, going from armpit length to neck length. I transitioned for a about nine months, getting a major cut every 5 weeks. I basically maintained the bob until everything grew out. I big chopped and haven't looked back to color or creamy crack since!
4. Did your age aid in your decision to go Natural?
Age was not an issue for me at all.
5. Does your age make it easier or harder to be Natural?
Age hasn't factored into my natural journey.
6. Do you see many Older Naturals in your area? If so, what styles are they sporting?
Naturals my age, 46 in November, that are in my area tend to rock fades and twa's.
7. How do you primarily wear your Natural hair?I put myself on a protective style regimen until June. I am at armpit length stretched, the most natural hair I have ever had on my head! My goal is mid-back stretched, armpit curly. I am a month into wearing coils that I keep pinned up. I take down and do my wash routine weekly and put the coils back in. This is the first time I've gone the protective style route and I am liking the results. It helps to keep my hair moisturized and my hands out of it. Coils out are my go to style if not for the protective style challenge.
8. Favorite products and/or product line?
Curl Junkie is hands down the best I've ever used!
9. Any words of wisdom or encouragement for other Older Naturals already Natural or thinking about it?
If your gut is leading you towards the natural path, you follow. There is a huge natural hair community out here to help guide you so have no fear. Don't worry about the naysayers cause they'll always be out there. We are too old to be dealing with them anyways, so say "whatever chile" to them and keep it moving.
Don't let anyone tell you that you shouldn't or that's not what you're "supposed to be doing" at your age. You are supposed to do what you feel like and what you want to with your hair. You wanna grow your relaxer out, then grow it out. You wanna rock your natural as a twa, rock it. You want locs, loc it up. You want kinky twists, do you! Hold your head high like the goddess you are and WERK it Curlfriend!
I want to thank Shawnette for sharing and for giving such powerful words of encouragement! Yes, there are some who feel as we grow older we become limited in what we can do with our hair, fashion and lives and I'm with her....mind yours and I'll mind mine! DO YOU!! It gets no plainer than that. Her journey and her beautiful hair is proof that this is an attainable goal so if you are on the fence about taking the Natural hair plunge take her words to heart. What a great feature.
Now, I'm ALWAYS looking for more features so please step up to the plate and share. You can email me your story to: firstname.lastname@example.org or even contact me on my Facebook page. I'm ready to share your journey.
Take care Naturals,