Featured Reader - LaRisha!

Q: What is your hair story?  What kind of hair styles have you rocked, before embracing your natural hair?  

A: Throughout the mid-80s to late-90s, my hair was chemically tainted from perms, s-curls, leisure curls, and relaxers. In 1998, after my first big trim, I tried to grow it out and wear my hair natural, but being afraid of “the big chop”, half my head was curly and half was chemically straight and limp. Ewwwwwwwww.

In 1999, I got inner-locs twice. First time, I took them out, my hair pressed out beautifully and it was long. Second time, I left them in too long, and I broke off a lot of my hair. Still afraid of a big chop, in 2000, I started getting it relaxed again, got trims and started wearing it in cute roller sets (think Whitney in the 90’s). Relaxers finally ruined my scalp completely, so I started transitioning again by using this mixture – LIV leave-in crème, ProStyle Gel, and water and scrunching my hair into these pretty cool waves and curls. As the transition progressed, I started getting creative with the curly/wavy styles. I started putting my hair in medium braids at night, and I would use jeri curl rods to curl the braids tightly. When I take the braids and curls out, it would make the cutest style (think 1930s).

One day, after getting my hair pressed, I saw how badly uneven and broken my ends were, it was horrible. So finally, I did THE BIG CHOP! And, boy it was liberating. I was chemical-free!!! I wore it in a bob cut. It was so cute when pressed, but it felt so good to wash it and wear it wavy/curly knowing that this was ALL MY NATURAL hair!  I’ve been wearing it natural ever since.

Q: When and why did you decide to start wearing your hair naturally?
A:  I’ve been wearing my hair naturally on and off, but went permanently natural in the early 2000s. Chemicals were killing my scalp and ruining my hair. I always loved the look of curly hair on black women (i.e. Lark Voorhies from Saved by the Bell was my inspiration), I desired to rock that look one day.  I didn’t know my hair could really do it.

Q: Did you have any big fears about going back to your natural texture?
A: Not really. I didn’t know my hair was naturally curly and wavy, so I embraced it.  Only thing I feared was losing a lot my hair from the breakage after washing it. When my hair finally got to its total natural state, my curls got real coily and tight, and they would get tangled a lot. I had to learn to be real careful when I comb my hair out.

Q: What are three products you can't live without for nurturing/styling your hair?
A:  Essential oils (Castor at the moment), Aloe Vera Gel, A good deep conditioner (using Aubrey’s at the moment)

Q: What would you say to someone who's thinking about embracing their natural hair, but scared about being rejected in various parts of their lives?
A: Look at the millions of beautiful and prominent women who are embracing their natural hair, and say to yourself “hey, this is me – take it or leave it. I’m awesome, confident, and this is part of my heritage”. There are so many ways to wear your hair as a natural woman. You can be wild and free, or neat and chic, so don’t be afraid, there is a personal style for every natural woman. If one regimen doesn’t work, try the next.  Don’t give up. You just have to be willing to accept that being natural is a trial and error process. Not all regimens work the same, but it’s worth it when you find the right one or few.

Q: How can we keep up with you and your journey i.e. blog, twitter, facebook, fotki, tumblr, personal or professional website? (Optional)
A: www.rishabelle-summersoul.blogspot.com