Natural Spotlight: Gillian

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Meet one of my nearest and dearest friends, Gillian. She shares her natural hair journey from loose hair to Sisterlocs and everything in between.

1. Introduce yourself to us (are you: loc'd, newly natural, natural-n-pressed, etc.)
I've been wearing my natural hair for over 10 years. I transitioned for about 6 months during my freshman year of college and then did the big chop. I let my hair grow out and wore my loose natural hair until I started Sisterlocs 4 years ago.

2. You have sister locs. What are sister locs and why did you decide to loc your hair?
Sisterlocs are a form of microlocs. The method is similar to crocheting which allows a tighter loc.  I've always admired women with locs. They always look so regal but in an effortless way. I knew I'd loc eventually. I remember when I first learned about Sisterlocs. They sounded  too good to be true! I was skeptical until I saw someone with them in person at a natural hair show. I was sold but it still took me a few years to finally take the plunge.

My reservations were that the startup costs, both time and financial were high, and that I’d have to rely on someone else to do my hair. But the pros definitely outweighed the perceived cons for me.  

Sisterlocs were right for me because they are smaller-sized locs. Since my hair is very thin, having smaller locs allows me to create more volume. I also love how versatile they are. There's almost no hairstyle that I can't do with them. I also chose Sisterlocs because I like being able to wash my hair whenever I want. I loved that I was able to wash my hair immediately after having my locs installed and was able to take twice-a-week swimming lessons while my hair was locing without worrying about my hair unraveling in between retightenings. And finally, I chose Sisterlocs because I really don't have to do anything to maintain them in between retightenings. I have friends who locked their hair using other techniques such as palm rolling and they have to do their hair every time they wash their hair. I’m lazy when it comes to my hair and I don’t want to HAVE to do my hair.

3. Being that you are of Jamaican heritage, did your culture play a large part in your decision to go natural?
There’s a misconception that Jamaicans are more embracing of natural hair and that couldn’t be further from the truth. I probably got the most opposition from my family and close family friends. They thought I was trying to be a rebel. After I did the big chop, I remember one family friend stating “next thing you know, you’re going to get a tattoo, a boyfriend with a bike, and get pregnant”… Ummm. Okay. (Scratches head). Over time my family came to love my hair. They were initially resistant to me locing my hair because of the association to Rastafarianism, but they were eventually on board with it. In fact, my mom was the one who encouraged me to loc my hair. And now, I am happy to say that many of my other naysayers are natural as well. Booyah!!

4. I remember when we met YEARS ago, you were rocking a big loose afro puff that I still envy to this day. What was your hair regimen at that time?
I’ve always been pretty lazy when it comes to hair and don't like spending a lot of time on it. I was the Queen of the twistout. My once a week routine was easy: wash and condition hair, finger comb while conditioner in hair, moisturize ends with olive oil, towel dry, twist with Jamaican Mango Lime Loc and Twist Gel, let set overnight, and release the twists in the morning. To maintain it during the week, I’d put it in a ponytail and retwist any sections that got frizzy.

5. How have people reacted to the changes you've made to your hair over the years?
With the exception of the initial shock when I first went natural, I've gotten nothing but positive responses. People are curious, inspired, or just appreciate seeing a natural black woman.

6. Caring for loc'd hair, particularly sister locs requires a certain delicate touch. What is your current hair regimen?
I wish I could say I had a certain touch when it comes to caring for my locs, but I don't really. I wash my hair at least once a week. If it’s really out outside or I'm super active, I’ll wash 2-3 times a week. After washing, ill towel dry with a superabsorbent towel and massage my scalp and the ends of my hair with oil.

I like a curly or crinkly look, so I’ll a wet set using pipe cleaners or rods, or a braid out. I prefer to let my hair dry overnight, but since my hair has gotten longer it takes longer to dry. I’ll sometimes go under  a hooded dryer to speed up the drying process. 

I also invested in a Caruso steam roller set, which is a quickset rollerset using steam. They worked beautifully and would create a curl in 30 minutes that would last me for a few days. Unfortunately, the system isn't curling so well for me now that my hair has gotten longer, so I’m looking for an alternative way to achieve a quick curl. These things come in handy when you have an impromptu date or an invitation for dinner at the White House. (What? Can't a girl dream?)

I am proud to say that I am a recovering product junkie. I like using natural products with ingredients that I am familiar with. The products I use are:
Shampoo: diluted Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap (I also use this as a body wash)
Oils: jojoba oil for scalp and coconut oil for hair (I also use coconut oil as an all-over body moisturizer) l
Moisturizer:  a spritz I made with aloe vera gel, distilled water, and olive oil
I buy all of my natural hair ingredients from which sells herbal supplemental, natural foods, and natural health and beauty products. If you buy anything, you can use my referral code KOP962 for $5 of your first purchase (and I get credits toward a future purchase).

7. Natural hair has come quite a trend and women are being criticized for it. What advice do you have for women who are considering going natural but fear the negative feedback?
My advice? Do you, boo. As long as YOU feel beautiful, that's what matters. Get tips from  real people from blogs (like naturalandfab) and YouTube. Experiment until you find something that makes you feel gorgeous and that works with your lifestyle and budget.

8. The internet is full of natural hair resources. Which sites are your favorite to review?
The Lockedhairblog exchange is a compilation of blogs with people with Sisterlocs and microlocs.
On YouTube, I like The Bronzed Goddess and Chescaleigh. I also like Salkis, who has Sisterlocs. She doesn't have too many videos, but I learned how to curl my Sisterlocs using permrods from her. 

9. Is there a blog or website we can follow you at?
Not yet, but I am contemplating starting a blog that showcases my recipes: cooking, hair, health, and body. I’ll keep you posted.