The way we wear our hair isn’t just about self-expression. Our kinky hairdos and our coily locks are beautiful and unique, but it’s never just about you as an individual. How we style our hair goes way beyond that. It’s almost as if we’re representing the entire race. African-American hair is woven into a traumatic history of cultural discrimination, political turmoil, and fighting for basic human rights.
African-American hair bonds and unites us as a people. However, the scars of having been ignored, shunned, and frowned upon still exist. Managing African hair takes time, patience, and dedication. Whether you have natural, relaxed, or a protective style like braids, you are undoubtedly going to spend hours doing your hair. Yet, I feel that is the main reason our hair is beautiful and unique. We can create any and transform our hair into many different styles.
Our hair connects us. It’s the internet that brings sisters together. Now we can freely discuss and exchange ideas about how to take care of our complex hair, something we haven’t had since before slavery. Yes, we always had casual conversations with friends and strangers alike, but You Tube and blogs made our connections stronger and more frequent.
- Patrina, Natural hair blogger and consultant
Patrina, where are you from originally?
I’m from Battle Creek, Michigan
What was your hair like as a kid? How did you wear it and what was your care ritual like?
As a child I always had a perm; my first perm was at 5 years old. I remember hating the process of my Mom perming my hair because it used to always burn. My hair care ritual consisted of a wash and condition and the use of hair grease called Blue Magic.
What beliefs/wisdom around hair were passed to you from your family?
Since I only knew straight hair I thought that was normal, and beautiful.
What were your feelings about your hair?
I only knew my hair straight so I felt my hair looked better straightened. Everyone I grew up with had permed hair.
At what point did you decide to go natural?
I decided to natural in my last year of graduate school. I was searching for hairstyles on You tube and came across Dominique Banks page AKA: Longhairdon’tcare2011 and was floored by her long hair. Up until that point I had never seen a Black woman with long hair that was real. I was captivated and binged watch natural hair videos of women who had long hair.
Did you experience any negativity when you decided to go natural? I did from family members. Did anyone try to talk you out of it?
I didn’t tell anyone about my decision I just did it.
How did it feel for you to take that leap?
When I took the leap it felt really great but, I must say I still permed my edges for a while. Once I went all in and stopped using the creamy crack reality set in and I panicked. When I look back at my hair diary I laugh but at the time the pain of dealing with two different hair textures and my natural curl pattern was difficult.
What was the process like? Did you go really short and then grow out, or?????
I was very afraid to do the big chop so I just grew my hair out and cut off the permed ends little by little. Once my hair got to the level of armpit length I cut off the remaining permed ends.
Any unexpected challenges/ victories along the way?
The biggest unexpected challenge was how long my wash day routine lasts. When I would perm my hair I was done from beginning to end in 30 minutes. I would say a victory along the way is the feeling you get when you find a product or an entire line that works with your hair and makes your hair feel like butter and retain moisture feels like you won the lottery; the hair lottery.
What would you tell someone who is considering going natural?
When you go natural you will need to re learn what your hair likes and dislikes. This goes for products, tension on the hair, and styles. You will need to be patience as you re learn how to care for your new texture. Learn as much as you possibly can from others who have long natural hair (if that is your goal).
How do you feel now, with your hair long and natural?
I feel great; now that I’ve taken the time to learn about my hair and which products work well and help my hair to thrive. However, I do receive the occasional question of: “where did you get that hair piece from”, or when my hair is straight: “Which company did you buy your hair from”.
What is your care ritual like now?
I wash my hair every week. I deep condition under a hooded dryer with my essential oils and a moisture rich deep conditioner, followed by a sulfate free shampoo, light protein treatment, and I detangle my hair with conditioner under running water in the shower. Then I use the LOC method and depending on my hair style I will add a curling custard to set my hair.
What is your go-to product/tool/trick that you use most often in your hair care? My go to product for
deep conditioning is Shea Moisture superfruit complex hair masque 10 in 1. This product melts my tangles away. This is a product that I stock up on every time it’s on sale.
If your hair had a spirit animal, what would it be and why.
My spirit animal would be the humming bird, I like to enjoy my hair and have fun with it. I feel it’s just hair and you don’t have to be so serious or boring with it. It’s ok to switch up your look and put on wigs, color your hair, and play with different hairstyles and textures. Once you have the basic foundation down on how to care for your hair; you will be able to test out more styles and know how to keep your hair safe and protected.
Patrina is the founder of Naturalhairqueen.net; a blog to educate and inspire women with natural hair. Patrina just celebrated her 10-year natural hair anniversary, and achieved her goal of waist length hair. With the knowledge she has learned over the years she is dedicated to share her knowledge, and experience to educate women who wish to have moisturized, healthy natural long hair.