A Hair Story: Yolanda Gibbs @curlyandlovely

I am honored to feature Ms. Yolanda Gibbs on this week's "A Hair Story". 
She was so kind to let me interview her on her lovely Hair Journey.
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If you'll like to ask her a question about her journeyFeel free to reach her through her blog. Better yet! Follow her on Twitter @curlyandlovely
Natural Expression: How long have you been natural?
Yolanda: For me this question is as complicated as telling people where I am from (I’m an ex military brat). My 1st BC was in '06. I relaxed my hair again 1 year later in '07. Then had a "moment" in '08 where I couldn’t take one more minute of relaxed hair grabbed a pair of scissors and cut it all off. So total 2.5 yrs. Yet I only recently (November '10) just started to learn how to truly take care of my hair in its natural state.

Natural Expression: What made you decide to go natural? Why?
Yolanda: My hair decided for me lol. My 1st BC was forced. My hair was so damaged from chemicals and heat styling that the hair stylist refused to do anything else to it but cut it off. Because it was "forced" on me and I wasn’t really ready for the journey I rejected it and didn't embrace it. I wore braids till my hair grew back out and a year later straightened again. My hair was not happy with me. It never fully straightened, became very thin and again would fall out in clumps. So I made the decision, begrudgingly, that I wouldn’t use anymore chemicals.

Natural Expression: How did you go natural? BC...Transitioned...Locs
Yolanda: The 1st time was a surprise BC with the stylist promising that it was just hair and it would grow back as his assistant held my hand , while I held back sobs and tears as my chin length bob fell to the floor in clumps. The 2nd time was a 1 year transition. I was in a moment of thinking "I can’t keep torturing myself with chemical burns!" Side note: My hair never grew below my chin when it was chemically treated. It grown below my chin now that I’ve been focused on healthy hair since this past November.

Natural Expression: What is your hair type?
Yolanda: Ummmm the healthy type=). Honestly, I’m not sure. *runs to a mirror* Hmmmm, according to the book Thank God I’m Natural I’m probably a 4A. Shame on me for not already knowing lol *shrugs*

Natural Expression: What are your thoughts about natural hair?
Yolanda: It takes a great deal of patience and courage to embark on this journey and I applaud anyone with the heart and desire to do so. I love the versatility of natural hair; no two heads of hair are exactly the same. It is a beautiful
sight to see so many women embracing who they are but what is even more heart warming is seeing a whole generation of little girls being raised to embrace their hair and to love them just the way they are. I cannot wait to instill the same in my daughters one day.

Natural Expression: Did going natural change you in any way?
Yolanda: ABSOLUTELY! It broke me down and built be right back up. It was definitely a humbling experience but I learned (and still am learning) a lot of great things about myself and my hair. When I begin to educate myself on how to care for my hair I realized that taking care of my hair didn’t mean anything if I didn’t take care of ME 1st. Healthy me=healthy hair. So I joined in on a H2O challenge where I began drinking at least 64oz's of water a day, I completely changed my dietary habits and I begin working out 5-6 days a week. I started leaving work on time, instead of always staying late, so that I would have time to work out, take care of my hair, eat properly, and get enough sleep. Embarking on this natural journey transformed into a healthier and happier me journey.

Natural Expression: What would you tell someone who is considering natural hair? And why they should?
Yolanda: Patience is key...this is not a race, so it will take some time to adjust and re-learn your hair. Ask plenty of questions but do your own research as well. Just because something works for someone else's hair doesn't mean that it will work for yours so don't get discouraged. Going natural is definitely the healthy way to go. Doesn't involve hazardous (and/or painful) chemicals and it will surely open up your eyes to other aspects of health in your life.

Natural Expression: What products are you currently using?
Yolanda: Right now I use Herbal Essence Hello Hydration Conditioner. I make my leave-in condition, deep conditioner, styling lotion, Shea butter mix, and moisturizer. It’s fun playing in the kitchen! The oils that I use the most are avocado oil, and coconut oil.

Natural Expression: What are your hair regimen now and your favorite hair style?
Yolanda: I co-wash twice a week on Wednesday and Saturday. Wednesday is just a midweek co-wash and moisturizing treatment. Saturday is "natural hair spa day" with hot oil treatment, co-wash, deep conditioning, and moisturizing treatment. My favorite style right now is a two strand twisted tiara across the front of my head. I wear the rest of it in 2 strand twists pinned up for a few days then take them down and wear them in a twist out with the tiara left twisted and pinned down.

Natural Expression: What are some of the challenges you've had with your natural hair?
Yolanda: Have you ever regretted going natural? The biggest challenge that I had was embracing the journey to begin with. I didn’t have the support system that I have now and had to completely re-learn how to take care of my hair. I never regretted going natural because I really didn't have any other choice but to be natural but there were definitely some frustrating times where I just wanted to take some clippers and just shave my head because that seemed easier at the time. The only real regret that I have is not embracing it sooner and doing the necessary research to learn how to care for my hair. It would've saved a lot of tears and stress.

Natural Expression: What have you learned about your hair? What mistakes have you made?
Yolanda: I have learned that my hair and I have very similar personalities. We are both stubborn and head strong. We are both particular about certain details and if I don’t like something I quick to let it be known...so it’s no surprise that my hair has no problem instantly letting me know that it doesn't like something. I've learned how to compromise. There are many days where I plan to do one thing with my hair and my hair makes an executive decision to do something else and I just have to go with it. I don't get upset anymore if something doesn't go as planned; I just roll with it and act like that’s what I meant to do!

Natural Expression: Where can you be found? 
Yolanda: You can find me at The curlyandlovely BlogSpot (Click Here) & on Twitter @curlyandlovely

Natural Expression: If you would like to add anything, feel free! After all, it is your hair. 
Yolanda: Yes. I want you to know that how very grateful I am to be featured on Natural Expression. Feels good to be answering questions instead of just asking them!

I want to Thank Ms. Yolanda (@curlyandlovely) my new Natural friend for letting me tell her lovely hair journey. Her story shows that some go back from being Natural, but guess what, you'll realize what's better when you make that choice. Congrats to her for coming back, and now knowing that her curls are more healthier than anything else. Much love to you girl!
-Shren, Natural Expression


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