Natural Spotlight: Gillian

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It's been two years since we last checked in with my friend, Gillian. She has since moved to another state and removed 400+ Sisterlocks! Here's her story....

1. It's been a year since we last interviewed you, how's your hair?
It’s actually been nearly 2 years since the interview. Since then, I moved to South Florida and undid my Sisterlocks. I’ve been a loose-haired natural for just over a year now. I also got some bold highlights a few weeks ago.

2. Some may call cutting your hair drastic, what was your motivation for the change?
When I moved back to South Florida, I was very frustrated trying to find a Sisterlocks consultant. I went through three different consultants and was not satisfied with any of them. I had already been contemplating cutting off my locks but wasn't planning to do it for a couple years. However, with the frustration I experienced, I felt like the decision had been made for me to move on to the next phase in my hair journey.

But Mo, you know that I am not a sane woman. I did not want to cut my hair and start from scratch. Thanks to YouTube, I had the insane bright idea of undoing 400+ micro-sized locks.

With a lot of patience, the assistance of family and friends, and an hour here and two hours there, I undid my locks over the course of two and a half months. My only tools were a spray bottle of water, castor oil, and a crochet needle. I got super anxious towards the end and when I decided I was ready to be DONE, I cut the back of my hair in half and finished up in a marathon weekend.

During this time I obsessively watched natural hair videos on YouTube which kept me motivated. I even found my current hair stylist, Rhonda, on YouTube ( I made an appointment with her the day after I undid my last lock. She gave me an awesome haircut (the front is longer than the back) and has been instrumental in helping me to maintain healthy hair.

3.  How did everyone react to your new look?
Most people loved it. Of course, there will always be a few naysayers. Some people are so used to seeing you one way that it takes them a while to accept your new look.

4.  Now that you're back in Florida, the weather is definitely different from that of Atlanta, how are you managing/maintaining your hair?
I can’t really compare how the weather has affected my hair because my regimen is totally different. In Atlanta I was a twist out girl. Now, I am 100% wash and go. Looking back to my pre-Sisterlocks twist out days, my hair was dry and unhealthy and I experienced major breakage. My hair never grew past my shoulders.

When I decided to undo my Sisterlocks, I vowed that I would continue to have a simple, healthy regimen. For me, simple hair means a wash and go routine. My hair is really thriving. This is the longest and healthiest my loose hair has ever been in my entire life.

I wash my hair with a sulfate free shampoo once a week and co wash at least 2 other days during the week. I finger detangle with lots of conditioner in my hair. If my hair is extra tangled, I use a wide tooth comb. After detangling, I rinse out all the conditioner.

Outside of the shower, I apply my leave-in conditioner and then rake styling product through sections of hair. The entire process, from shampooing/conditioner washing to product application takes no more than 20-30 minutes.
I usually let my hair air dry, but sometimes I’ll speed it up by using a diffuser for 5 minutes or sitting under a hair dryer and allowing it to completely dry. At night, I pull it into a low ponytail and tie my hair down with a satin scarf. In the morning I fluff it out.

To stretch my hair, I blow it at the root using a blow dryer with a nozzle attachment, but given that I live in a humid climate, my hair often shrinks right back up.

5. As always, good products are just as important as styling, what are your go-to products?
When it comes to styling, I’ve actually found that technique is more important than the products I use. I get pretty consistent results no matter what styling products I use. With that said, using natural, artificial fragrance-free products is still very important to me. Since I’m strictly wash and go, I look for products to define my curls with a soft hold.

I use shampoo made by SheaMoisture. My favorite conditioner for detangling is Giovanni Deeper Moisture, but I’m always trying new conditioners. I also love Kinky Curly products. I use Knot Today as a leave-in conditioner and the Curling Custard for curl definition. It makes my hair soft and juicy. It also smells delicious. I’ve even had strangers sniff my hair.

In extra humid weather I’ve learned that I need to adjust my styling product. The Curling Custard leaves my hair damp, limp, and frizzy in super humid weather. My hair responded well to Kiss My My Face Upper Management gel and Lily of the Desert Aloe Gel in the summer.

6. What is the natural hair scene like in South Florida?
I’m noticing that more people are embracing natural hair in South Florida, but it’s nowhere near like it is in Atlanta. I think there are more naturals than there appear to be because many people wear weaves and wigs exclusively. I only know this because people often approach me about my hair and say something along the lines of “I’m natural under this, but I don’t know what to do with my hair.”

 7. Any advice for newly naturals or naturals wanting a change?
For the newly naturals I’d say that social media is great for tips and inspiration, but nothing beats the experience of a licensed professional. They can assess YOUR hair and can really help you to maintain healthy hair. I don’t think my hair would be doing as well without the guidance and care from Rhonda.

 8. How can we continue to keep up with you and your hair?
I’m actually in the process of setting up my own hair website: I love sharing my hair regimen but my family and friends are getting tired of my impromptu hair tutorials so I’ve decided to document my regimen and promote the simplicity of wash and go hair.