My name is Gabriella, I decided to go natural during my senior year of college (May 2014) at the time it wasn’t a 100% conscious decision. When I was in high school, I would texturize my hair every 6 months. Later on, I learned about the damaged these chemical processes were doing to my hair. So one day, I decided to stop texturizing my hair—which led to my transition phase. I still didn’t know as much as I do now about going natural. But I knew I needed to give my hair a break from all of the chemicals I was putting in it.
I was still straightening my hair all the time, at least once a week so I was still inflicting all kinds of damage on my hair. It wasn’t until March 2018 that I decided to cut my hair and REALLY start my journey to go natural. I started watching YouTube videos and saw how many gorgeous naturals were already on this journey and how AMAZING their hair was looking! Transformation photos are what convinced me. I asked myself, “Is this what my hair can really look like?” I honestly had no clue what my hair was truly capable of so I stopped putting heat on my hair and truly embraced my journey to go natural.
A little about my hair
My hair type is what I would consider a mixture of 3c and 4a. I have very fine, tightly-wound curls that have definite shape to them (S and somewhat Z patterned curls) and a decent amount of wiry, frizz that gives my hair volume while still being very defined and curly. My hair is considered low-porosity. It is very water-resistant and needs LOTS of water and moisture regularly.
What was your biggest struggle when you first started?
My biggest struggle was adjusting to not having long-swinging hair down my back. Not being able to run my hands through my hair all the time like I would when it was straight 24/7. I love straightening my hair and still do as a natural. But I understand my hair better now, and what is required to keep my hair healthy. I value health over anything now. I also had a hard time feeling like I didn’t have much hair on my head due to the extreme shrinkage that I have with my hair now. I knew somewhat that my curls shrunk (and for a while, I hated my natural hair because of that reason) but I later learned that shrinkage means health!!! And just because your hair shrinks a ton doesn’t mean it’s not long! Shrinkage is a tricky little thang.
Did you transition or big chop immediately?
I guess I did a little bit of both! I transitioned for most of my journey to go natural…about 3 years actually. Then I had some fun coloring my hair for about a year and then sort of big-chopped and cut it into a short little bob before TRULY going natural. I was not comfortable with cutting all of my hair off, and that’s ok! I have mad respect for women who literally start from scratch and cut all of their hair off. That takes confidence and dedication. But for me, that wasn’t something I was willing to do so I decided to take my time and let my hair grow and cut the damage off along the way.
For those that are planning to transition or may already be transitioning here are a few things that I would recommend you do:
1. DEEP CONDITION. More than you already do. I would suggest at least 2 times a week. Your hair may be growing at the roots but there is a line between the natural texture and processed texture that is actually very weak and prone to breakage. This means your hair needs EXTRA tender loving care. 2.
2. BE PATIENT. Transitioning is a process in itself. You have to recognize that it is going to take more time for your hair to get to where you want it to be unless you, quite frankly, cut it all off. If you’re not willing to do that, just trust that your hair will be where you want it to be one day as long as you continue to care for it well. 3.
3. REDUCE HEAT. Your hair is already prone to damage and adding heat will inflict further damage and continue to kill the strands of hair that are already dead due to chemical processing. Try protective styling instead! Perm-rod sets, twists, and braid-outs are amazing for transitioning hair.
What are your go-to products right now and why do you use them?
Right now, since it’s summer I am mostly doing wash and go’s so I really only use a couple of products in my hair to keep things light and fresh.
My go-to products are:
Shea Moisture Baobab & Tea-tree oils Low Porosity Protein-Free Leave-in detangler. I use this because my hair is low porosity and it is protein-free. Low porosity hair is water-resistant due to the fact that the cuticle layer is tightly-bound and overlapped so it makes it hard for water and other nutrients to enter the hair cuticle. Low porosity hair does not receive proteins well either because protein molecules are too large to pass through the cuticle layer so they just sit on the hair causing build-up and preventing moisture from getting into the hair. This product is SO moisturizing, my hair LOVES it no joke.
Eco Styler Argan Oil gel. This is my GO-TO. I use it for every single style. My wash and go’s, my sleek buns, my laid edges, I use it for EVERYTHING. I swear by this gel it makes my hair so shiny and it doesn’t flake or weigh my hair down. It keeps my hair light and defined but still allows movement.
What have you learned about your hair thus far?
I have learned that my hair has epic shrinkage when it’s really healthy and happy. I have also learned that my hair is prone to breakage because it’s naturally dry. I have to take extra care of it when I sleep at night and also maintain lots of moisture in my hair to keep it from drying out. I have also learned that when I don’t apply heat to my hair for months at a time my hair GROWS. It grows like crazy. My hair also does not need a lot of product. I learned recently that less is better for my hair and that I need to focus more on water-based products as opposed to cream-based products.
What advice would you give to someone with the same hair type or porosity?
My advice to those who have the same hair type and porosity would be to not be afraid of water. I know most naturals say too much water dries your hair out…. but for us, that is not the case. We NEED more water as our hair is water-resistant and naturally dry. Use heat when deep conditioning, I have a hooded dryer at home that I use when I Deep Condition. I sit under it for at least 30 min and will sometimes leave it in and sleep with the conditioner in my hair overnight. Pay attention to the products you are putting in your hair. Check to make sure it’s not overloaded with proteins. Also, be wary of heavy, cream-based products that could cause product build-up.
My weekly hair regimen:
I wash my hair once a week, my hair tends to have product build-up so I definitely shampoo my hair at least once a week. Any other day that I wet my hair in the shower I usually co-wash with conditioner. I never pre-poo that’s not something I’ve ever tried but I am willing to test it out to see how it works for my hair! I also deep condition typically once a week. I also tend to switch products up but these are my ALL TIME favs and go-to products.
WASH DAY PRODUCTS — USED:
*Shampoo/Conditioner- Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Shampoo/Conditioner
*Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Treatment Masque (for deep conditioning—I always deep condition on wash days)
For styling, I tend to use the LCO method because oil adds a thick protective layer to the hair and since my hair is low porosity I want to lock as much moisture in as possible. Adding oil at the end allows me to layer products without it becoming too weighed down and greasy. I also use lighter-weight oils instead of heavier oils to seal my hair!
I go back and forth between Kinky Curly Leave-in conditioner/detangler & Shea Moisture Baobab & Tea tree oils protein-free leave-in detangler.
I love the Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Conditioning Styling foam (this gives my hair flexible hold and moisturizing oils that usually last through 5 days of a wash and go style).
Eco Styler Argan Oil gel for all styling purposes.
I use an oil blend that I use very sparingly: Argan oil, Coconut oil, Olive oil, Jojoba oil, Grapeseed oil, Alma oil, Pomegranate seed oil, Sunflower seed oil and Peppermint Oil all in one bottle!
Check out Gabriella on Instagram @Gabsgoesnatural and Youtube. If you don’t know what your hair texture is. I recommend taking the texture quiz over at NaturallyCurly.com. If you don’t know what your hair porosity is I recommend taking the test as well. You can do it with a glass of water at home. You can find more details about the test in my hair regimen for high porosity hair.
Be sure to tune in Wednesday and Friday for the continuation of this series.
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I’m Gabriella! I’m 26 years old and I currently live in a small town called Winchester in VA. I am a graduate of VCU with a B.S. in Psychology and I am currently working on getting into grad school in hopes of becoming a physician assistant. I am a natural hair enthusiast and I’ve been on my own personal hair journey for 6 months. My purpose of joining Kinky Hair Rocks is to be a source of information and motivation to others that are going natural!