What was it like for you growing up with textured hair?
Growing up in Jamaica as a little girl I thought my hair made me stand out from the rest. I got a lot of attention because of my hair. Everyone nicknamed me Goldie, Goldilocks or Reds because of my skin tone. Jamaicans all have a nickname. My hair was a golden brown because of the sun but I was born with a blonde tone to my hair. When I arrived in the U.K. age 8 I never thought anything about my hair other than it took my mum ages to do. At age 10, mum decided to relax my hair because she thought it would be easier for me to handle. I remained with relaxed hair until 2018.
What made you decide to embrace your naturally curly hair?
I had long thick relaxed hair so it wasn’t about me not liking my hair. At first, the choice to return to my natural hair was mainly because I was tired of relaxers and how it made my scalp feel. After returning from Jamaica at the end of 2017 I had twists in my hair and I just felt really connected being back home. I started feeling like I needed to embrace who I was. I didn’t know what my hair natural would look like, of course, I remember my hair being really thick, crying when mum did it on the weekends and her telling me to ‘fix mi head’ as the parting was never straight. Going natural would be on my terms and I can’t get angry at myself surely was my thoughts. I decided to research my options on how to go natural without cutting my hair.
What has been the most empowering moment of your natural hair journey so far?
I had two empowering moments in my journey. The first empowering moment was when I made the decision to transition to natural hair. At first, I wish I never made that decision and felt like I should have big chopped because I didn’t have a good time figuring out the two textures. Transitioning taught me to be gentle and to be patient when doing my hair as it was brittle with two different distinctive textures. My second empowering moment was letting going of the relaxed ends I only transitioned for 11 months but I felt I was getting frustrated I straightened my hair numerous times with direct heat and I felt I couldn’t really embrace my new texture as it was a fight to make it look good. When I big chopped, I felt free for the first time in decades like this is naturally me.
How do you protect your curls at night?
At night I sleep on a satin pillowcase and with my bonnet on. Having my hair covered at night wasn’t my norm when I had relaxed hair so it took some getting used to and even now and especially in the summer months I have slept without a bonnet and without the satin pillowcase. I know my hair and know what it can handle and though I am natural I don’t want my hair to be a consuming factor of my life.
Who is your curl crush?
I have many curl crushes with various texture types. This is because at the start of my journey I really didn’t know what my curls will look like and what textures I would have. My hair resembles various textures as different parts of my head had various curl pattern but ultimately it looks like 4a curl type. My curl crushes are @napturals85. She taught me the importance of good products and DIY. My first curl crush had to be myself (@naturally_charlette) because especially at the start you have to champion yourself. When you can’t really see your curl type it’s so short I had to be confident in myself first before embracing others. I think everyone should be their own curl crush accepting yourself fully starts with self-love!
What's your curly girl essential you can't live without?
Everything I use on my wash day is my essential because it’s what’s made my wash day easiest and as I don’t manipulate my hair between one wash day and the next my hair has to come out perfect every wash day. It starts with the perfect detangling took which for me is the perfect wide-tooth comb. The one I have is perfect. It’s like a silicone one I got on amazon. My mum brought me and my sisters this comb and we all fought on wash days on who could use it and we couldn’t detangle without it. Something about how this comb is made it doesn’t melt against heat if you every blow-dry your hair.
What is your current hair regimen? Any favorite products you’d like to share?
My current regimen is I wash my hair weekly. I mainly use the Shea Moisture line to wash my hair. Everything from them works, but I love them because it was the most affordable good brand product I tried and my hair loved. The entire Manuka honey and Marula oil range is amazing and the deep conditioner is a staple! I also like the Jamaican and black castor oil shampoo from them and will mix and match. I also love their high porosity deep conditioner! I currently condition with DevaCurl decadence conditioner the slip is amazing I don’t know what I’m going to do when I run out as my sister brought it over from her trip to the states. Styling I always use Camille Rose Naturals! The products are a good price and work every time. Wash and go I use the moisture milk and the curl maker. I always apply the growth serum to my roots! Everything they make is amazing!
What has been the most challenging moment of your natural hair journey so far?
The most challenging part of my journey was the transitioning phase. For anyone doing that method just accept you will look a bit crazy. I had my hair in a bun the whole time and I styled when wet to make it easier. Every time I needed to wash my hair it was torture. Then "the real short afro" was another challenging moment. Never has there been a time that I had short hair and here I was with a short curly afro that I couldn’t pin back. It looked dry, my curls were matted down every morning and I didn’t know how to revive my curls. I didn’t know what to do and it showed. My mum said to me “I like your hair better relaxed”. Someone at work asked if I’m wearing a wig, another guy said “nice hat” and laughed in my face because it was dry and stiff and admittedly unkept. But I learned to just figure it out.
Are there any techniques or methods that have made a huge impact on your hair health?
I think good products are key to impact your heart health. Like I said Camille Rose Naturals, Shea Moisture, DevaCurl are amazing. Other amazing brands are Mielle Organics. Their Rosemary line is my holy grail. The Growth Serum drops are a miracle in a bottle. The rosemary deep conditioner is a staple so much so I literally use it on my hair as a treat as I don’t want to run out too quickly.
I also have enjoyed using co-wash to refresh my hair if I don’t want to do a full wash day. Nothing beats the DevaCurl No-Poo and the As I Am Cowash. my hair likes the growth luxe range. I don’t manipulate my hair between wash days. I tend to do a wash and go, puffs, buns or mini twists. The least amount of manipulation hairstyles and also some of those are protective to your hair ends which is the most fragile part of your hair.
What's your advice to women who are still struggling with loving their natural texture?
Why does our hair hold so much value in how we feel about ourselves? I have looked like someone dragged me through the bushes and I still smile and think I’m so happy because it’s me. I’m not altering me to please others. I remember when I was going natural I thought "ok I’m resigning to the fact I’m going to be alone." I honestly thought I will be single until I figured my hair out. Yet I was still single and having fun with my relaxed hair and actually I was confident thinking I had my picking of guys and you know I thought that was because I had “good hair”. Shamefully and honestly some part of me got a boost from people assuming I was mixed. Like being mistaken as mixed made me desirable yet it’s my blackness and every feature I got from my ancestors that made me beautiful. That includes my thick hair. Look in the mirror and love yourself!