Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Alesha's Journey to Big and Beautiful Natural Hair

NCJ: Hello Alesha and thank you so much for agreeing to share your Hair Journey with us! So, Tell me a little about yourself.

Alesha: My name is Alesha Sullivan. I live in Nashville, TN and work as a quality assurance software test lead. I am 25 years old. I love to sing, dance, read, and do hair! I graduated from the University of Tennessee with a BS in Economics and then went on to receive my MS in Economics at the University of North Carolina.

 NCJ: Beauty, Brains, and Big Hair…what a combination! Tell me about your hair before going natural. How did you feel when you first relaxed your hair?

Alesha: My hair before going natural was always long. My mother took great care of my hair and she only relaxed my hair at the age of 10 because she was diagnosed with cancer and grew too ill to take care of it in its natural state. My hair was long and healthy, but after my mother passed, my hair slowly started to break off. I finally decided that I really needed to start taking care of my hair again when I was around 21. I was shoulder length at the time, the shortest my hair had ever been. Once I began taking good care of my hair, I grew it from shoulder length to middle back length with no problem. The main thing that frustrated me about relaxed hair was the lack of versatility in styling. I loved curly hair and bone straight natural was boring.

NCJ: When and why did you decide to go natural?

Alesha: I decided to go natural March 2011. I felt that I had mastered my hair in its relaxed state. I knew how to grow and maintain my hair at a whim, and I knew that I wanted to try to do the same thing to my hair in its natural, unaltered state. It was time for a change so I stopped relaxing my hair.

NCJ: Did you slowly transition or did you do a Big Chop, please share your experience.

Alesha: I slowly transitioned from relaxed to natural. I transitioned for a little over 2 years before I decided to cut the relaxed ends. My hair was middle back length when I started my transition and I just couldn’t do a big chop.

NCJ: What was the most challenging part about returning to your natural hair texture.

Alesha: The most challenging part was finding styles to wear during my transition. I relied heavily (and gratefully) on wigs during my transition. I wore wigs that looked like natural hair so that I could get used to how I would look with natural hair. I also loved wearing a faux puff during my transition. So a lot of people didn't know that I wasn't natural and didn't realize when I had “big chopped”. So my transition was pretty seamless.

NCJ: How long have you been fully natural?

Alesha: I have been natural for 6 months now.

NCJ: What was your biggest fear about going natural? How did you overcome it?

Alesha: I actually didn't have any fears about being natural. I am very hair savvy and I had worn my hair in natural looking styles for all of my transition, so that prepared me for it. I was a little apprehensive about styling my hair, but I quickly got over that thanks to some practice and YouTube university.

NCJ: What are your favorite styles, favorite hair products and a couple of pictures of your best hair days. 

Alesha: My favorite hair styles are puffs, braid outs, twist outs, and up-dos on old twist outs. My favorite hair products are really just water, ecostyler (the clear one), bentonite clay, and a Shea butter mixture that I make. I've found that less is more when it comes to my hair, and I see the most breakage when I’m trying to do too many different things to it. So I try to let it do its thing most of the time. I will attach some of my best hair days to this email.

NCJ: Tell us about your Hair Care Regimen.

Alesha: I wash my hair about once every 1 ½ to 2 weeks. I have recently added bentonite clay as a wash product and I am loving it. So I wash with a bentonite clay mask. Afterward, I usually just apply a leave in (shea moisture hair milk) followed by my Shea butter mix, then twist it up, let it dry for a day or two, then take down for a twist out. I usually wear my twist outs for 2 -3 days before putting in a puff, or re-twisting for another twist out. During the week, I spritz with water and follow that with applying my Shea butter mix. This continues until it’s time for the next wash day. Very simple.

NCJ: Do you have any advice you would like to give to other new naturals or those thinking of going natural.
Alesha: Don’t go natural because everyone else is doing it. It isn't always easy. And your hair probably isn't going to look like XYZ’s hair. So you have to make the decision to go natural for you alone. Once you decide to go natural, treat your hair as if you were already natural. As your new growth comes in, it will be harder to manage, and you basically have two different textures in your head, so you need to treat your hair like you would as a natural. Ex. Light manipulation, detangle while in the shower under running water, air drying, little to no manipulation while dry, etc. It will be much easier for you to transition if you transition your mind before the hair even starts to grow.
NCJ: What was the Biggest lesson you have learned about yourself and your hair through your journey. 

Alesha: I’ve learned that hair really is a passion of mine. I’ve also learned that hair grows back. Life is short. Have fun with your hair. If you want to shave it off, do that. Want to color it blue? Do that too. It’s your hair. Don’t let other people’s opinions stop you from experimenting and having fun with it.

NCJ: Do you have any social forums that will allow other naturals to keep up with all of your fabulous-ness? 

Alesha: Yes! I am very active on Instagram. My Instagram name is aleshanokeys

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