Q: Hey Kellee, I wanted to interview you because you have been a consistent transitioner, and your hair is beautifully colored and curly. Please tell me, how long have you been natural now?
Kellee: I’ve been natural for so long I can’t even remember. If I had to give an approximate time I would say over 15 years. I use to weave my hair and had my natural hair underneath. At the time I didn’t know I was doing what some would consider a “protective style”. I haven’t worn a weave for almost 4 years now.
Q: So what made you decide to go natural, meaning, free of relaxers, perms, etc?
Kellee: I don’t remember making a concrete decision to “go natural”. Since I always had a weave in my hair it did not make sense to do the extra step of putting a perm in my hair for me to just cover it up with the weave. As time went by and I began to wear weaves less and less I began to focus on my hair and began to pay attention to the texture and quality of my hair. I realized that as a result of the perming, processing, straightening, hot combing, blow drying, etc. I was damaging my hair.
Q: What was your initial transitioning decision, to chop or not to chop? Or growing out your hair while trimming away chemically-treated hair?
K: As I stated above I didn’t make a concrete decision to go natural. I just thought it was a waste of time to perm my hair when I was going to cover it up with a weave.
Q: Have you been ridiculed or criticized for doing so?
K: I don’t know. I would say I’ve been ridiculed or criticized. People have asked me why I chose to go natural and even go “blondish” with a tone of disapproval but I simply respond, “Because I wanted to!!!”
Q: What methods or hair regimen you employ to maintain healthy transitioning?
K: I co-wash regularly. Some people say that it doesn’t matter if you shampoo regularly however I have found that doesn’t work well with my hair. Shampooing regularly makes my hair extremely dry and dull. I normally use shampoo or a cleansing conditioner at least once a month to assist with getting rid of any excess product build up. There are times I may shampoo more often but I have learned my hair to know when it is needed. I also co-wash once a month or every other month with a protein conditioner.
· I try to always use a leave in conditioner.
· I try to use some sort of oil (almond, coconut, Jamaican black castor oil, etc.).
Q: Do you know what type of hair texture you have? For example, 2b/2c (wavy curly/wavy whirly), 3a/3b/3c (curly twirly/curly spirally/curly kinky) or 4a/4b/4c (kinure y coily/kinky crimpy/kinky ziggly).
K: I’m not sure what hair texture type I have. I’m not really convinced that we can all be lumped into one of 6 hair categories. I have various textures/curl patterns throughout my head.
Q: What particular products do you use? Why?
K: So many products that I love and use, too many to name. Some of my current staple products are:
· As I Am – I love the curl pattern I get when I use the smoothing gel. Keeps my hair feeling soft and full and provides minimal shrinkage. The conditioner assists in restoring my hair and making it soft.
· Bel Nuvo, Oiyn Handmade, Coconut Oil, & Alikay Naturals – Love the way these products make my hair smell, look and feel. (I do not necessarily use these products together). I use Oiyn Handmade products daily.
· Natural Girls Rock Jamaican Black Castor Oil (this one doesn’t have a strong odor like some of the other ones.) and the Almond Oil and Eco Styler Gel (the green one) - I actually use all those products together. I mix all of the above in a container and use as one product. My curl pattern is FaBuLOUS and the shine that the combination of these products provides is AMAZING.
· Aubrey Organics GPB Conditioner – Strengthens my hair and restores softness after feeling extremely dry and brittle.
· Kinky Curly Curling Custard – I love the curl pattern this product provides. I do not necessarily use the above product together (unless stated). However they are all currently in rotation.
Q: Which style lasts the longest for your type of hair?
K: I’ve learned to maintain most styles with my hair. How long it last depends on the product that I use.
Q: What has/is most challenging during your transitioning experience?
K: I really didn’t have any real challenges since my “transition” was done under a weave.
Q: What natural hair styles do you like best?
K: Some of the natural styles that I like I have not figured out how to do on me and make it look good so I am still working on it. I realize that just like with any hairstyle, not everything fits everyone. My favorite for myself is simply a wash and go, with a slight bit of diffusing).
Q: Do you follow or visit any natural hair care sites, blogs, Vlogs or books? And have you received any transitioning advice from a hair care professional?
K: When I decided I really wanted to learn how to care for my hair I did do all of the above. It was through talking to others, following people on social media, etc I was able to learn more about proper hair care. Let me just say I didn’t believe everything I heard and read. If I came across something that I thought would pertain to me I would do additional research to make sure it was indeed true.
Q: Finally, what advice would you give others who are contemplating becoming natural or just started their going natural journey?
K: If I could give advice to others who are contemplating becoming natural it would be the following:
1. Ask yourself why am I doing this? If you have decided to go natural because it seems like the “in thing to do” I would encourage you NOT to do it. People think going natural is less work. I’m here to tell you it’s NOT! Learning your hair and what works and what doesn’t is a process. If this is not something you are not doing for the right reasons you will have a difficult time investing in the process and believe me transitioning and even learning to care for your natural hair is a process.
2. No one’s hair is like yours. We are all individually and uniquely made. Since this is true no two people have the same hair. What works in someone’s hair whose texture is similar to yours may not necessarily work in yours. Someone else’s curl pattern will not be your curl pattern. I don’t get into that 4C 4A, etc., hair because even with that no two 4C’s are the same.
3. BE PATIENT. Your hair in its natural state needs to be cared for. It is going to take time for you to figure out what products work and don’t work. Pay attention to labels by looking at the ingredients. This will help you learn what ingredients work for you. This will take some time but once you begin to learn what products, combination of products and ingredients work for you will begin to enjoy your hair even more.
4. EMBRACE and ACCEPT. As the India Irie song says, “I am not my hair”. Your hair does not DEFINE who you are but it is a great way for you to express yourself. Embrace and be ready to accept your hair, its texture, its curl pattern (whether it’s tight or loose). This is the hair that you have been blessed with. Appreciate it. By doing so you will realize it won’t matter what anyone says to you as you go through your process. As long as you LOVE IT, that’s all that matters.
5. HAVE FUN and ENJOY. Even though some consider being natural as one of the latest trends, it is still a trend that is still criticized by some. It is a bold move to do something that may bring you ridicule. If you choose to do it, ENJOY IT!!! Have fun with it. Try different styles and even color if you wish to be so bold.