TWA Hair Diary: Lauren Ashley

12:10 PM

I'm originally from D.C, but have recently relocated to Thailand for the time being (which is what finally convinced me that I needed to make my big chop!).  It can get lonely out here without a support network when the days get rough and the curls get frazzled, but sites like yours keep me going and fresh with ideas that make my friends and co-workers over here coo.  I can't wait to try out some of the styles. -Lauren

When and why did you decide to go natural?
Like most reborn au-naturales, I had toyed around with the idea of going natural for a looooong time before I finally took the plunge and went for my big chop. After watching two of my best friends return to the wave in college, I finally realized that my hair was a hot mess, for real, for real.  I had spent months and months trying everything I could to re-strengthen, re-vitalize, and re-grow the pile on my head to little luck.  What finally pushed me over the edge was my post-graduation plans to teach in Thailand-- a mix of no salons for these kinda kinks and the constant sweating in the Thai heat meant bye bye to my relaxer days.  So, two days after I received my diploma, I packed my bags, scrapped the doo, and made my way, TWA and all, halfway around the world!

Were your friends and family supportive of your decision?  If not, how were you able to move forward?

Some of my friends had already gone the route.  Those who didn't respected my decision, albeit with a wary eye.  My family was a different matter.  My mother had chopped her hair off in college so she was all for it.  My father was appalled.  My great aunt smacked me upside the head.  I thought my Jewish boyfriend, who sports his own curly 'fro, would want to snatch the scissors from my hand, but when I surprise called him from the salon chair, he said: "You spend more time trying to fix that stuff than you do with me, so if it'll make it better-- do it."  I never looked back.

What is your current hair routine?

My routine shifts and changes all the time, but I try to match ingredients/product lines where I can.  It's hard since Sally's definitely don't exist here and when I walk into a salon, people look terrified.  At any rate, living in a tropical zone does have its benefits like cheap fresh products and great oils-- tons of avocado, coconut oil, coconut milk, ylang ylang, etc.  Right now, I'm hooked on avocados.  I wash with an avocado shampoo once a week (sometimes I mix in a little Organic Root Stimulator conditioner), deep condition 2x a week with an avocado DC, apply shea butter moisturizer every other day, light refresher spray every day, and oil my ends with coconut oil/olive oil mix at night.  I also always do an oil treatment the night before I DC.

What are your hair goals? What steps are you taking to achieve them?

I love my 'fro.  I really do.  And I can't wait to see the potential it has as it grows bigger and curlier every day.  I still get excited to stick my head under water and rub some DC in!  I hope that by Christmas, I'll have the curls under better control for more definition and shape and that I'll be able to straighten it into a bob for New Year's just to see how it looks.  I hope that DCing twice a week will finally conquer my chronic lack of moisture.

How has your perception of beauty changed since going natural?

The more of my friends I keep prying away from the texturizers and relaxer kits, the more validated I feel in my decision to go chemical free.  After seeing me be so much happier and stress-free with my hair, it's rewarding to watch friends rethink the need to chemically beat their natural tresses into submission.  Even though sometimes I feel limited or like I don't have enough styling options because it's not "long enough" yet, I truly feel more me and more beautiful, not to mention more sophisticated with a shorter doo.  There's something that's too hot to trot about a woman with a head of wild curls-- big fro-tastic or cute and coiffed. And I like being that woman.

What advice would you give to a new natural?

If it hasn't been said enough already, moisture is really the key.  Especially for natural hair that's trying to grow out of the aftermath of a relaxer like mine was.  Deserts sprout cacti, not beautiful flowers.  And don't be afraid to accessorize!  I crave variety and all sorts of clips and headbands and bra strap bands and flowers keep me from ever feeling bored.  Love your hair, because after all, your hair is an extension of you.

What a great message sis!  Keep doing your thing over in Thailand and send an update if you do or don't meet your Christmas goals.  Kharb Koon (thank you) -KKQ

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