Hi Natalie, when did you decide to ‘go natural’ and how was that process for you?
I went natural in October of 2009. I had been relaxing my hair since I was 8 years old. When I went natural, it wasn’t even a transition – I knew my new curly hair would require different products than the products I used on my relaxed hair. Plus, managing two types of textures is time consuming and reallybad for both types of hair and I knew that when going into it. So, when I went natural, I shaved my head and started over. It was so short, I couldn’t even grab it with my fingers!
The process was exhilarating and freeing at first, plus since my head was shaved, there was nothing for me to do but just wait for it to be long enough to style it. So I had a lot of fun with a shaved head. When it grew a few more inches though, that’s when the misery set in. Despite all the Youtube video’s I’d seen of natural hair-care how-tos and popular natural products to use, I was a mess and no matter how I wore my hair, I HATED it. That’s when reality set in and made me remember why I had gone natural in the first place: I wanted to rid myself of the unhealthy beauty ideals I had lived with all my life and I just wanted to be happy with me. I wanted to look in the mirror and see myself, my hair – not someone else or someone I was trying to look like because I thought I wasn’t good enough. I knew that was going to be hard to re-train my perception of myself and of beauty in general. And I was right – it was very hard. The stage lasted for a year or so and then I started rocking it. Once I owned my hair, it was like I finally owned who I was and from that point on, I rocked it out.
What would you say your go-to hairstyle is?
Wash n Go. That is my only style. Even on my wedding day!
…And Your favourite products?
My favorite product is Kenra Shine Serum Waitless Polish. It turns my curls into mirror-like shine! That’s all.
I use vinegar as a shampoo. For conditioner, I rotate back and forth between Dove and Redken Soft Hair for conditioner.
Now that the “natural hair revolution” is in full swing, companies are capitalizing on it hard core and coming out with all these curl-sensation products. The curly-hair product industry is still so new and most of the stuff out there are gimmicks! Sorry to say but they are. Curly hair comes in tons of textures and shapes but at the end of the day, hair is just a science and really only needs a few ingredients to keep it healthy and clean. So all I need is vinegar and very simple conditioner.
You’ve previously had your hair coloured too, what made you go back to black?
I loved having it sandy blond and brown! It brought more dimension to my curls since my hair was so black. You could really see all my curls! Unfortunately, the curlier one’s hair is the drier and harder it is to manage. Put bleach on african american hair and the curls will begin to disintegrate. The hair literally falls apart. It’s definitely possible to have great looking blond, kinky hair but the maintenance is grueling! You must constantly do hair masks with protein and hydration, you can’t ever go to bed without a silk bonnet and you can’t ever brush it, finger combing only. And wash n gos are a no no because water aint so great for bleached hair. Twist outs and other pampering styles only!
I couldn’t deal with the maintenance of bleached hair – I don’t like to do my hair at all anyway. So I dyed it back to black, thinking that would help. It didn’t and my hair got even more damaged! LOL! So I cut off all the color and started over with super short hair again.
One piece of advice you would give someone thinking of going natural?
It all depends on why you’re going natural. If it’s to stop being dependent on chemicals than have fun, get to know your natural hair and don’t take it too seriously. At the end of the day, it’s just hair. You can always relax it, weave it, or cut it again Regardless of the reason, I think a big tip would be PATIENCE. Patience with yourself and your expectations. Forget about expectations. Have nothing but love and curiosity for your natural hair and try not to make it be anything more than what it is.
How would you describe your personal style?
Yikes! I don’t know. My friends tell me I’m definitely a chameleon. I wear anything and everything and make it mine. I tend to agree.
Where do you draw style inspiration from?
Hands down, I draw inspiration from Solange Knowles, Ashley Olsen and Karla’s Closet. I’m obsessed with all three and no one does it better than those girls. For eye candy, I frequently visit Jak&Jil and Vogue.com
Would you say your style has changed since you’ve been natural?
I thought it would have to since I’d always wore my hair stick straight with blunt bangs. But it didn’t have to change. It inevitably did change though as soon as I became comfortable with my natural hair. As soon as that happened, I stopped being afraid and self conscious about everything else about me. So my style became more bold and unique and unapologetic.
Name 3 of your favourite purchases
Hmmm, The Tiny Closet is about only owning items you absolutely love so everything is my favorite! I would say my go-tos right now is my oversize sweater from Lane Bryant, my denim from Zara and my cage ring from H&M.
I love your blog especially because of some of your thrift finds. Do you have any ‘need-to-know’ tips when it comes to thrifting?
When thrifting, give yourself time! I always make myself open for 2 hours. Wear something simple so that you can slip on sweaters, jackets and anything loose easily without taking a trip to the changing room. Remember, everything has potential. Never view anything at face value. I wear skirts as dresses, sweaters backward, shirts as coats, etc. Also, if you sew. You can alter anything – no matter how hideous it looks like on the hanger. Lastly, don’t go in with a plan. Surprises are the best thing about thrifting. Those diamonds in the rough are what I live for!