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Kristal aka BEadifullYOUniq

How long have you been natural? And if you haven’t been natural your whole life, what prompted you to make the change?

I have been natural since February 13, 2004 after being relaxed since I was 8 years old.  When I decided to go natural, none of my friends in my circle were natural at the time so I did not get any external influences when I made my decision to transition back to my natural hair texture. Back then, it was a routine for me to refrain from any relaxers over the summer periods to allow my hair a "break" from any chemical processing. So after my last relaxer back in March 2003, I had already planned to start my hair break until the end of summer right before I started my junior year in undergrad. However, that June I stumbled across Nappturality.com and a few days of reading through articles, lurking around the forums, and stalking fotki albums of natural women, I decided then that I would start the transitioning process. Plus at the time, I had cut my hair to the shortest it has ever been...chin length...so the decision to go natural was not as difficult as it could have been. Did you have any stereotypes about natural hair or those with natural hair beforehand? If so, what were some of them and has your viewpoint changed?I have never recalled having any stereotypes about those with natural hair. I just knew that each person's natural hair journey effected him/her in a different way significant to that individual. But I have been stereotyped many times by others who said I have those "good hair genes" because my hair seemingly grew fast, is looser in the front, my texture is soft, and that I am light skinned. In response, I simply tell them that any hair that grows from the scalp is good hair because it is considered a crown of glory.It is funny because my hair grows at the average rate of 0.5 inches a month, my looser texture in the front makes it harder to hold twists (my favorite style), my texture can feel rough when my hair is not properly moisturized, and even being light skinned, I have very tight curls in the back of my head, which I ABSOLUTELY love! I guess these people catch me on my "good" hair days and ignore the really rough days.Do you feel that anything changed in your life when you became all natural?I think the biggest aspect of my life that has changed when I became natural was realizing the fact that I did not know or handle my natural hair texture until I was 20 years old. When I did my big chop myself after 11 months of transitioning, I had a plethora of feelings rush inside of me. My hair was SO thick and beautiful, but I had no idea where to even begin with it. Literally, I was so shocked that I wore microbraids, kinky twists, and wigs for awhile until the shock passed, and I was really ready to embrace all this hair. Now, I can say my confidence has definitely boosted because I am no longer self-conscious about my new growth and having to put a relaxer in my hair to maintain my beauty. Of course, I have my flaws and my bad days, but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.Being natural has also gave me a sense of empowerment to help others embrace their natural hair texture and know they can be beautiful without chemically altering their tresses. It amazes me how many sisters in my Church congregation who have gone natural over the past 5 years simply because they were encouraged and knew they had the support to embark on their natural hair journeys. Some people can take the plunge on their own, but a simple 'You can do this! I am here for you' can mean the world to someone who struggling with the decision to go natural or stay natural for that matter. What are some of your favorite products to use in caring for your natural hair?Before March 2010, I NEVER had this thing called STAPLE products. I used pretty much whatever smelled good and was cheap despite the fact that a lot of ingredients in some of the products I applied to my hair were causing some adverse effects such as dryness and brittleness. January 2010, I decided I wanted waist length hair and knew that I had to develop a hair regimen and find some staple products to help me reach my goal.  I stumbled across Kinky Curly and Curls products while researching on hair forums and YT for different product reviews.  I have heard lots of positives about these two organic product lines and after careful consideration, I decided to invest in the two lines and have been since March 2010.For my shampoo, I alternate between Curlicious Curls Cleansing Cream (Moisturizing Shampoo), Kinky Curly Come Clean Shampoo, and Pure Curls Clarifying Shampoo (once every 6 weeks). For my conditioner, I use Giovanni Smooth As Silk Deep Moisture Conditioner and Curl Ecstasy Hair Tea Organic Conditioner (deep conditioner). As far as my moisturizing leave-in, I am using a modified version of YouTuber Kimmaytube's recipe:2 tablespoons Kinky Curly Knot Today, 2 tablespoons Aloe Vera Juice, 2 teaspoons Jojoba Oil, 2 teaspoons Coconut Oil, 1 teaspoon Castor OilI have been using the same 6 products on my hair since last year and I have been getting great and CONSISTENT results every time. 🙂What do you love most about being natural?Having the opportunity to show my daughter that her natural hair is beautiful! I have learned a multitude on how to handle and take care of my natural hair (through lots of research and trial and error) where I am confident to instill the same information and techniques in my daughter over time.  I was never taught how to embrace my hair and treat it with tender love and care as I was growing up because I was told it would be easier to manage relaxed hair over my natural texture. Now, I am not knocking anyone who gets a relaxer or chemical process in his/her hair because there are plenty of long chemically treated heads of hair out there, but I can ensure you it takes just as much work to maintain a great level of health and hair retention in relaxed hair as in natural hair. Just different techniques about doing so.Besides that, I love the versatility that comes with having natural hair, of course! I mean what can you NOT do with natural hair?

Anything else you'd like to share with our readers?

People use the phrase "It is JUST hair" and I do believe it to an extent. I have had many females come up to me after one of my many scissor happy sessions and ask me why did I cut my hair and that it was SO long. And I would just tell them that it is just hair. It will grow right back. But for many women, it becomes more than just hair when they have the desire to go natural and when they do, they struggle day to day to manage it because they were never taught the right way to care for their hair growing up (before the relaxer). Then these women get frustrated with their hair, some grow a resentment toward their natural hair, and go back to relaxing it. This is when it goes deeper than "it" just being hair.My main advice for those contemplating natural is to do your research. Ask yourself questions. Why are you making this decision? What are you trying to achieve by going natural? How will this impact your daily life?  Ask other natural women questions. I get excited when someone comes up to me and express their curiosity to go natural. I immediately give them resources they can go to online to research more information. When I started this journey, there were not a lot of resources out there to provide the answers to the many questions I had. These days, there are so many books, online hair forums, and blogs you can go to to find a wealth of information about all aspects of natural hair care.  You can even watch women do their natural hair on YouTube! Natural hair is so on the rise. I love it! Any sites where we can keep up with your journey: YouTube, fotki album, any other picture sharing site…etc. I have a YouTube channel under the username "BEadifully YOUnique" (http://www.youtube.com/user/BEadifullyYOUnique), which I opened December 2010. I have already posted my natural hair care regimen and staple hair products and plan to post hair tutorials on how to style mid back to waist length hair as the year progresses.My fotki albums are under the usernames "Naturallybeautiful" (http://public.fotki.com/naturallybeautiful) and "Naturallybeautiful2" (http://public.fotki.com/naturallybeautiful2). The first account contains albums from my transitioning phase and first year of being natural. The second account is from 2006 until now, which I am updating on a monthly basis.You can also find me on twitter under "beadifullyouniq" (http://twitter.com/BEadifullYOUniq) where I tweet with women about natural hair and tweet pictures of my hair along with my daughter's natural hair. I would like to thank Mae for giving me this wonderful opportunity to share my story with you! 🙂

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