Natural Spotlight: Rachel

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Meet Rachel, a natural who has loc'd her hair for the second-time-around. She shares her story with us and reminds us to K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Sistah)!

1. Introduce yourself to us (are you: loc'ed, newly natural, natural-n-pressed, etc.)
My name is Soultry, b.k.a. Rachel, a second-go-round loc baby. My locs are only about 9-months old. Around two years ago I had locs for a year, but took them out about for random reasons around my birthday. It was 11 days of me, Cosby reruns, a thumbtack, and achy fingers. 

2.How long have you been natural and why did you decide to embark on this journey?
I've actually been natural twice. Yes, natural twice and loc'd twice. My first transition was in '02, and my second one was in '04. Guess that means I've been natural for six! I always had lots of thick hair, but it seemed that my hair never retained its length. After talking with my mom, who is natural, she suggested I should give my hair a break from the perm to let it get stronger. This break turned into me actually deciding to give up the perm altogether.

3. How did people react to the changes you made to your hair? Were they supportive or against it?
I was in college when I initially began transitioning. The first time I was pretty much doing it on my own and the only support system I really had was my mother. I was unaware of any resources - human or internet - that would help me learn how to take care of my hair. I loved my hair, but became frustrated with trying to work against my hair instead of working with it. People didn't understand why I wouldn't just perm my hair instead of spending so much time washing it, combing it, and styling it. The frustration and pressure to go back to the perm eventually led me back there. But, after a bit more maturity and intestinal fortitude, I transitioned again with much more wisdom and courage than I had before.

I didn't want to do the big chop early, so I waited 14 months before chopping it off. It was work for sure, but for me it was totally worth it. A few people did not understand my journey to nappyness, but for every person that had a negative comment, I had at least two that supported me or gave me compliments on my hair. By this point, I really didn't care what others had to say about my hair anyway. I loved it, and that was all that mattered!

4. What's the one thing you've noticed about yourself since going natural?
Since I've been natural, I feel more comfortable with myself as a person. It's almost as if I've gained more confidence in my womanness, my femininity, and just overall queen-dom. Although natural hair is more prevalent these days, it takes a lot to reach inside of yourself and decide to embark upon that journey. At least it did for me. The process of going natural really gave me the opportunity to learn more about myself, my inner strength, my beauty, and just few of the things that make me great. It forced me to be patient and learn to take life one day at a time.

5. What's your hair regimen?

I started my locs myself from two-strands, but I've mostly been going to a loctitian to get them interlocked every 4-6 weeks. Since my hair texture is a little looser, interlocking gives me the freedom to wet my hair up as much as I like without worrying about it unraveling at the roots. I usually wash my hair once a week, and rinse it every two or three days since I work out. I wash with Nature's Gate Organics line which doesn't contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), and I condition with Herbal Essence's Hydralicious. Using less products works best on my hair, so usually a good condition will keep it soft for several days. If I need a moisture boost, I spritz it with water, or a local natural hair salon makes a leave-in conditioner that I LOVE and it smells amazing! Other than that, I'm pretty low-key with my locs. I don't really worry about it budding, frizzing, a super neat hairline, etc. I just let it do what it do.

6.Do you have any hair goals?
 I want my locs to get long enough to pull back into a good ponytail without any help from bobby pins. Right now, they brush my shoulders in the back and I can fake a ponytail, but I want more length! :-D

7. What's one piece of advice you want to leave readers with?
Don't get too caught up in comparing your hair to everyone else's. Just because XYZ people love this product, your hair might not like it. Your hair will tell you every time what it loves and hates if you just be patient and listen to it. Sometimes, less is more, and you don't need to glop a bazillion products on to have it look and feel great. Just like all great things life and fashion, sometimes it's best to just K.I.S.S. - Keep It Simple Sistah! 

8. Is there a blog or website we can follow you at?
You know, I had a fotki I updated quite often during my second transition and my second set of locs. If anyone would like to see, I think it's valuable for anyone that's transitioning or thinking about it. You can find it at Soultry's Fotki and the PW is afrika