Valerie decided to stop relaxing for a good and simple reason: She didn’t like the way her chemically processed hair looked. Less than a year later she was relaxer-free and on her way to fabulous natural hair. Once concerned about workplace perceptions of her new look, the Caribbean beauty now advocates for natural hair in the workplace. Her interview sheds light on how she grew to appreciate her hair and how she keeps her big, gorgeous mane healthy.
How long have you been natural?
I’ve been a natural four years and nine months.
Did you transition? And if so, how?
Yes. I transitioned for nine months. My last relaxer was July 13, 2016, and my big chop was May 2017. During that phase I had my hair mostly in two cornrows or twists.
Why did you decide to stop relaxing?
I didn’t like how my relaxed hair was looking. I knew if I grew it out my natural hair it would look better.
Did you have trouble adjusting to your big chop or was it a welcome change?
It was a mixture of having trouble adjusting to my big chop and a welcoming change. I love my hair and was excited about the change and the journey. My major problem was finding a product that properly moisturized my hair.
What were your thoughts on natural hair before you became a natural, and have they changed?
Before I became natural my thoughts on natural hair centered on how I would be perceived in the workplace. I was already employed and I was concerned about my natural hair not being viewed as professional.
Now that I’m natural and understand what it means I wear my hair with pride. Also, wearing my hair natural helped me fully accept myself.
Describe your hair.
My hair is curly, black, low porosity, and medium length.
What’s the natural hair scene like in your city?
In Trinidad, around the time I transitioned, I didn’t see many women wearing their natural hair, especially in the professional setting. However, I would say there’s currently an increase in women wearing their natural hair at work despite some companies being called out for the way they discriminate against natural hair.
Do you ever have times when you struggle with your natural hair? How do you deal with those days?
There are days my hair just doesn’t behave, and it’s frustrating. On those days I just want to cut my hair off but I end up putting it in a bun.
Name one thing you’ve learned about your hair since being natural.
I’ve learned that my hair is strong and versatile. I can create any look I want with my natural hair.
What’s your current hair routine? What products do you use to maintain your crown?
I have a simple routine. I wash my hair every two weeks. I style my hair in twists and I’ll wear my hair in twists for for week and twist-out the following week.
- Shampoo: Aussie Miracle Moist
- Deep Conditioner: Camille Rose Naturals Algae Renew Deep Conditioner or TGIN Honey Miracle Deep Conditioner
- Leave-in conditioner: The Mixtress J Costmetics Irish Moss Leave-in Conditioner
- Butter: The Mixtress J Costmetics Honey Shea Twist & Seal Butter or Camille Rose Naturals Curlaide Moisture Butter
How do you preserve your natural hair overnight?
I always tie my hair with a satin scarf at night.
You have to wear one style for the rest of your life. Which do you choose and why?
Twist-out! I get the opportunity to rock two styles: my hair in the twists and then the twist-outs. I feel my best when my hair is out and a twist-out works better for me than a wash-and-go.
What’s the best part of being natural?
I feel free whenever I wear my natural hair out #bighairdontcare
Where can we find you online?
My Instagram page is @vd_valerie_d. Normalizing natural hair in professional settings is my goal.
Any advice or words of encouragement for other naturals?
Wear your hair how you want. Don’t be tied to ‘natural hair rules.’
All photos courtesy @mcglaneyphotography.