She’s a third year studio art major at Georgia State University. She was born in Germany, spent a couple years in Turkey, and then finally moved to Georgia. Her mom was in the army, so she moved around a lot. Alyssa is a creative passionate individual with a unique natural hair story of her own.
How long have you been natural?
I’ve been natural all my life. I’ve never actually chemically processed my hair, but I did get it pressed regularly starting in middle school.
Were you excited to wear your hair differently?
I wasn’t too concerned with it. My mom was the one who wanted my hair straight. My biggest worry was how I was going to sit in the chair still for that long.
Why haven’t you had a relaxer?
I was fortunate enough to have an awesome hair stylist named Ms. Christy. She had dreads and had a firm stance on me not relaxing my hair. To this day, she’s the only person I trust to do my hair.
How often did you get your hair straightened?
I got my hair straightened every 2 and half weeks, sometimes once a month. At night, I would braid it up to keep it from getting messy and then I would do a little touch up at home to keep it looking fresh.
When did you stop getting it straightened?
I stopped straightening my senior of high school. My home life was becoming toxic emotionally. I didn’t feel like I fit into either side of the family. My mom is African American and my father’s side of the family is Italian. Although they did love me and was there for me, there were some things that they couldn’t help with simply because they didn’t understand. I really wanted to stop trying to be what my mom wanted me to be and became more self aware. It was important to me to be myself and love myself as I am without changing my appearance to drastically. This was my way of accepting myself and my unconventional place or role in my family.
Was your family supportive of your decision to wear your hair naturally?
My mom was not supportive at all, actually. I grew up living with my mom and her partner and I found it surprising that she had such a problem with my hair especially since she is a homosexual. I expected her to be more open minded. From her perspective my hair looked under-kept. None-the-less, I had to make this decision on my own and do what was right for me. My mom’s partner, who was essentially my second mom, was actually very supportive. She even helped me research how to care for my hair in a more healthy way. That’s how I learned about the ingredients in the products I was using and what was actually good for my hair. This was the key to finding a better regimen that I use to this day.
Was it easy for you to make the transition to natural hair?
At first, it was difficult. While I was learning about my hair, I had to get use to the work that it took to maintain its health. I could no longer just go to the hair salon and have someone else take care of it. It was my responsibility. There were some days that I was so frustrated and would just start to cry because I didn’t know what to do with it. Eventually, I realized that I had to throw away my unrealistic expectations and just accept my hair for the way it is. When you make this transition, you really have to change the way you see yourself and the way you see beauty all together.
What is your daily regimen now?
In the morning, my hair is usually tied back from the night before. I usually style my hair according to what I have to do that day. I am an artist, so if I’m headed to the studio, my hair needs to be out of the way. There’s nothing fun about getting acrylic paint in your hair! If I’m going to school, an event, or maybe an interview, I’ll wear it down. It just depends on the day. I usually use Shae Moisture’s leave-in conditioner and I wash my hair once a month with Shae Moisture’s shampoo. I also like to use and oil spray that I mixed myself: it has olive oil, water, and a little bit of leave in conditioner.
What’s the best advise you can give someone who is thinking about transitioning to natural hair?
Prepare yourself for how the people closest to you may react. It can be positive, but not always. And just take care of yourself first. Do what makes you happy because that’s the most important thing.