Describe your hair for us.
Hmm, that’s difficult lol…I would say that I have deep brown, thick textured, tightly coiled hair.
How long have you been natural?
I big chopped May of 2011. So it’s been almost 3.5 years since I have returned natural.
When did you start your hair journey? What inspired you?
I actually started my hair journey years before I even thought about returning my hair to its natural state. In 2008 I stopped going to hair salons because of my frustration with “trims” turning into haircuts. I had had enough with putting my hair solely into the care beauticians and constantly leaving the beauty shop disappointed.
Then is when I decided to educate myself and take my hair care into my own hands. I stopped going to beauty salons and started doing my hair myself. I created a fotki (how many of you remember that site? lol) and tracked the health of my hair and the length through pictures. I had successfully grown my hair from neck length to bra-strap length by taking care of my hair myself. Two years later (2010) is when I decided that I wanted to grow out my natural hair and stop using relaxer. I’ve never looked back since.
Did you transition long term or short term? What did you struggle with the most during your transition?
I think my transition was rather short. I applied my last relaxer September 2010 and cut off my relaxed hair May 2011. So my transition was only 9 months. During my transition, the tough part for me was washing my hair and the tangling that took place with trying to manage the two textures. I eventually learned how to blend the two textures by transitional styling – bantu-knot outs and braid-outs.
What is your current regimen?
I’m ashamed to say that I don’t really have a consistent regimen! I try to cleanse and deep condition my hair once every 2-3 weeks. But really right now, whenever I can get to it. Protective styling has become my best friend! I love easy maintenance when it comes to my hair especially because my texture requires a lot of maintenance and care. Protective styling allows my hair to rest and keeps breakage at bay.
What has helped your hair flourish the most?
Honestly, I would have to say paying close attention to how my hair responds to different products, temperatures, and high and low maintenance has really helped me take care of my hair to the best of my ability. I truly believe that if we learn our own hair and what works for us, we would all have strong and healthy hair no matter the length or texture.
Have you had any setbacks? How did you bounce back?
Yes! For the first few months on my natural hair journey, I was detangling my hair all wrong and suffered severe breakage at the crown of my head. I had no idea I had a more delicate section of my hair that was sensitive to heavy maintenance and manipulation. Once I learned that, I became EXTRA careful with that section of my hair.
How has your hair journey impacted other parts of your life?
Absolutely! Returning natural has honestly been one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I have evolved so much as a person partly because of this decision. Many think that making a decision like this is easy, but really it can be quite tough. Returning natural for me had a lot to do with identity, learning who I was and standing against the odds of what people expected me to look like and being secure in how God created me. I’ve also noticed how this natural hair epidemic is becoming a culture. It is uniting African American women of all ages. It’s one less thing that divides women of color. The commonality we share unites us and I am proud to be part of that.
What are your favorite styles?
Twist-outs and mini twists are my favorites. My favorite go-to protective style is Marley twists.
What are some of your favorite products? How do you choose products?
I tend to stick with what my hair likes, so I don’t try new products often. But it definitely took me a while to figure out my staple products. Currently my favorite products are:
- Shea Moisture Curl & Style Milk
- Shea moisture Raw Shea Butter moisture retention shampoo
- Vo5 Moisture Milks moisturizing conditioner
I moisturize and twist with my own Shea Butter mix that I create which includes – Raw Shea Butter and oils.
How did family and friends reaction to your decision to go natural?
They actually embraced it! I was surprised! I cut all of my relaxer off on impulse one late night and was so afraid of how my parents and family would react. Especially my Mom lol! She didn’t flip out like I thought she would but was very supportive of my decision and has since cut out her relaxer and is wearing her hair in its natural state as well.
How did you deal with people who doubted you? What motivated you to keep going?
Honestly, I try not to pay any attention to it. I have learned and am still learning not to base how I feel about myself on what others think. I trusted my decision and I was passionate about the reasoning’s behind it. That alone was enough to keep me going.
What advice would you give someone just starting out on their journey?
Try to enjoy each stage. I know sometimes it gets frustrating to have to wait in between stages for hair growth, but embrace it! The beginning stages are where you learn the most about your hair. It’s a journey, embrace each stage.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 5 things (e.g. conditioner, bobby pins) would you wish you had?
- My satin hair scarf. Have to keep my edges laid!
- Bobby Pins – almost any hairstyle is achievable with bobby pins. A MUST have!
- Knee high – My all-time favorite hair accessory that gives me the most amazing puffs
- V05 Moisture Milks Conditioner – My absolute favorite for quick conditioning or co-wash
- My Shea Butter Mix
What do you love most about your hair?
I love that it is so versatile. We as African American women can shape and mold our hair into almost any style imaginable. It never gets boring.
Where can we find you on the web?
Instagram & Twitter: @Saunyaaa
Thank you for sharing your story Saunya! Beautiful smile and gorgeous hair!!