J: Hey! My name is Janelle and I was born and raised in Inglewood, CA. I am currently living in New Hampshire completing my senior year of school at Dartmouth College.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
J: I’ve actually been natural my entire life. I’ve never had a perm. Although, when I was younger, I did use blow-dryers every time I washed my hair. I flat ironed my hair on special occasions (picture day, birthdays, Christmas, graduations, etc.) I decided to learn to take care of my natural hair for a number of reasons. I wanted to challenge myself. I wanted a goal to work towards outward of academia, so I chose my hair. I’ve always wanted long healthy hair, so one day I started googling and came across Kimmay on YouTube. I made a pact with my friend that we’d follow her tips for a year. Absolutely no heat, organic products only, deep conditioning weekly, and protective styles 90% of the time. After the first year, I couldn’t break the routine, so it’s pretty much been a lifestyle change. I’m currently 2.5 years into my hair journey and I hope to reach belly button length by the three year mark (May 2014).
How would you describe your texture?
J: My hair is predominantly 3c and 4a. I have very tiny spirals when my hair begins to air dry. My strands are pretty thick and can become coarse if they do not receive enough moisture. I love my hair because it is so versatile. I can wear sleek hairstyles; I can wear big, voluminous styles. It really just depends on the look I’m aiming for. When I initially started my hair journey, the hairs on my head were between 12 and 14 inches long. Presently, the shortest strands on my head are about 20 inches and the longest are about 23 inches.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
J: My hair styling is pretty cyclical. Every week I pretty much do the same thing. I do my wash routine on Sundays. Monday is usually very busy, so I wear my hair in a bun or twists keep my hair stretched. If I end up wearing a twist out, I re-twist my hair at night (about 10 twists) using Shea Moisture Curl and Style Milk, water, and coconut oil. I’m very active so I keep my hair up in a bun or twists throughout the week. On the weekends I like to wear my hair out. I love my weekend hair because it’s big and long from being stretched all week.
What does wash day look like for you?
J: Wash day is bitter sweet. It takes me anywhere from 1-3 hours to do my hair. I start with finger detangling and separating my hair in 4-5 sections. In the shower, I shampoo one section at a time, rinse, and apply Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner. I detangle and twist the section to prevent it from getting tangled with other sections of my hair. I repeat this on each section, leaving in the conditioner until I have detangled and twisted each segmented area. At the end, I rinse out all of the Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner at the same time. Next, I thoroughly apply Camille Rose Naturals Algae Renew Deep Conditioner to each section of hair and pin each twist to my scalp. I put on a plastic shower cap and let the deep conditioner set anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight. After I finally rinse the deep conditioner out, I moisturize each section with Shea Moisture Curl and Style Milk and seal the ends with a little bit of coconut oil. At this point I’m ready to style. Most of the time, I just put my hair into twists or a single braid so that it will dry in a stretched state.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
J: TWIST OUT! I make it a point to go to bed with my hair twisted every night. In the morning I either wear my hair twisted or if I’m feeling debonair, I’ll wear a twist out. It’s quick because I prepped the night before. If somehow I failed to twist my hair, I’ll wear a big high bun. It takes about 5 minutes.
How do you combat shrinkage?
J: I personally dislike shrinkage, so my hair is always stretched. I’ve probably worn a wash and go twice in the past 2 years. The styles I use to combat shrinkage are twists, twist outs, bantu knot outs, flexi rods, and Curlformers. These styles allow you to manipulate your natural curl pattern without applying heat. Plus, you get to wear so many different looks.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
J: The hair on the nape of my head is a bit kinkier than the rest. It tangles a lot in these areas and I have a TON of single strand knots because of it. 🙁 To combat this, I try to keep my hair stretched or in a protective style (twists, bun, ponytail). I haven’t figured out how to prevent single strand knots, so I’ve learned to just accept them. On occasion, I grab some scissors and go on a search and destroy mission.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
J: Do wet and moisturize my hair at least 4 times a week. Every other day, I mist my hair with a spray bottle and redo my twists. Make sure you seal the ends with coconut oil and/or a moisturizer. Do sleep with a satin pillowcase or satin headscarf. It keeps my hair moisturized and protected from abrasive materials.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
J: Do not use a hard bristle brush. It can be tempting, but it rips the hair out from the root. I would suggest using your hands or a soft bristle brush for smooth looks. Limit or never apply direct heat. Deep conditioning under a hooded dryer is pretty safe. I would recommend avoiding blow-dryers, flat irons, curling rods, etc. I understand occasional use (occasional being once a year, twice at most) but be sure to use a heat protector (I use Desert Essence: Coconut Hair Defrizzer and Heat Protector) and low heat settings. It only takes one time to ruin years of effort.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
J: I have an Instagram: @jay_dreams.