Hola! My name is Charnele Ashlee but please call me Char. I am first generation Jamaican from Brooklyn, NY. This past January marked 3 years natural (Mama I made it YAY!) Ok Im back so, after high school I went through a five-year short hair phase and decided to do some modeling for hair. It shocked me how easily I was placed for jobs because I never thought of myself as a “model”. I started working only for my stylist who I knew was a professional and wouldn’t damage my hair regardless of the length.
After a few magazines I was getting calls to work in New York where I really got used to the “special treatment,” and let my hair be done by over six different stylists. Biggest mistake of my life! After a hair show in 2010 I went to my regular stylist to get my hair done for a wedding I had to attend.
While her assistant was washing my hair she suddenly stopped, got my stylists attention, and showed her how much of my hair was falling out into her hands. I had to tell them that the stylist from a show I did permed and colored my hair at the same time. My stylist concluded that the procedure could be done, despite popular belief, but the technique and volume was done incorrectly. In order to even all my hair out had to cut it all off. If I wasn’t already used to having short hair I would have left the salon that day crying, but I loved it!
I had no intention on wearing my hair natural even though the craze had started and a few friends started transitioning. The only thing I knew was I was tired of constantly having to perm my hair and hated how bad it looked after I worked out. I ran into a friend from high school who was a barber and viola I had a caesar like one of the guys.
How would you describe your hair?
Demi [my fro] is most certainly a character! There is a variety of thick, coarse, kinky, curly, and wavy curls. The curly section of my head would be the very front going towards my ears. The middle of my head is the thickest and most coarse, but the back is looser and wavy. I never knew my head could hold so many different types of textures until I went natural. According to charts and descriptions I’ve read I’m “4b/ 4c”, but to me I’m just natural.
What do you love most about your hair?
I love how versatile my hair is! It amazes me every time people ask me how I come up with all different types of styles, because they can do the same things I do. My hair length has never been an issue when it comes to attempting different hairstyles, whatever I haven’t grown yet I can always buy. My hair truly has a mind of its own; I just keep it healthy and wear it!
What has been the most memorable part of your journey? Has it been easy or difficult or both?!
The most memorable part would be when I did my first twist out. Literally starting this journey with nothing and then being able to achieve a twist out was big! It has been an easy journey because I learned early on that I’m fearfully and wonderfully made, no mistakes made on my body or the tight curl of my afro, and who is supposed to love me and be associated with me will be.
There is no way to change other’s opinions or their mind set, but I can adjust mine to know who I am and whose I am. I do not compare myself to anyone because we are all unique.
What are some of your favorite hairstyles?
I love extensions!! Weave, box braids, cornrows, Senegalese twists, Yarn Locs. You name it I like it! There are a few out there I have yet to try, but my current style (yarn locs) are my favorite. Since it is the most natural of styles, I get asked a lot how long I’ve been growing my locs, or how did I do this or that style. It’s definitely going to be a repeat, 10 hour installation process and all!
What have your experiences been as a ‘natural?’ Any memorable reactions from family or others?
Some people like it, some don’t, some compliment it, and some ask when it will be straightened or cut off into a Caesar again. I laugh when people tell me how they like my hair to be, because at the end of the day they have no say so.
As a natural your hair never turns out the same way twice, even if you use the same products and styling method. Natural hair has a mind of its own! My favorite reaction from others is “I would go natural, but I can’t do my hair every night”. My instant thought is “but you’re ok with spending x amount of money and half your day in a salon bi-weekly.”
What is your hair regimen (including fav products)?
For wash day I finger detangle my hair with extra virgin coconut oil from Trader Joe’s in 4 – 6 sections prior to cleansing my scalp with Carol’s Daughter Tui Moisturizing Shampoo. Depending on my hair needs I condition with either Trader Joe’s Nourish Spa Conditioner or Carol’s Daughter Monoi Conditioner.
For my deep condition, I tend to stick with Sof’ n Free Milk Protein & Olive Oil Deep Conditioning Treatment or Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque. I like to mix either olive, coconut, or grapeseed oil, a drop or two of peppermint essential oil, and honey to my DC, especially during these harsh winter months. With my deep condition I use a plastic head cap under my heated cap for about 20 – 40 min. After I wash out my DC I like to pat dry my hair with a white cotton t-shirt to avoid any unnecessary snagging.
As for my leave in conditioner, I like to use Cantu Shea Butter Leave In Conditioning Repair Cream or Carol’s Daughter Tui Leave In Conditioner. My staple oil as of now is Grapeseed because it is light on my scalp and ends, but gets the job done in terms of moisture. For my twist/ braid/ flat twist out’s I like to use Monet’s Moisture Mix, Cantu Shea Butter Coconut Curling Cream, or Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie.
What are some of your favorite natural hair websites, YouTuber’s, or blogs?
Curly Nikki helped me along the way when I first cut my hair and it was beginning to grow. Now that I know my texture I relate more to women who have a similar head of hair as mine. There is Karen of Karen’s Body Beautiful, Alicia James of EasyNaturalHair.com, Tanya J-B of ClothesConscience, and Laila best known as Neffy Fro Fro on YouTube.
Anything you want the readers to know? Inspirational words?
“If you live off a man’s compliments you will die from his criticism” – Cornelius Lindsey. Do not base your self-worth off of what others say you are, because in the same breath that they say something positive they can tear you down with a negative. You have to know and accept that nothing about the way you were uniquely, creatively, and lovingly formed in your mother’s womb was a mistake. You are fearfully and wonderfully made inside and out. Where can people find you for more information? Blog: My Sister’s Closet Twitter: @Char_Of_Msc Instagram: Char_Of_Msc