Meet Jael Byrd, a fabulous natural of five years. She shares with BHP her regimen and healthy hair care tips.
What is your name and where are you from?
Jael Byrd, from Birmingham, Alabama
How long have you been natural?
What made you decide to go natural?
It was mostly because of my daughter that I began my transition. I watched her hair morph into lifeless strands from relaxers. There were no balding spots or sores – just limp, lifeless hair. I made the decision not to relax her hair and to keep it braided. I now know this was the start of her transition. After a year with braids, she started to wear her natural texture and that is when the teasing began. Kids can be so cruel and the constant teasing from the other kids devastated my daughter. As a parent, one of the hardest responsibilities that come with the job is to see your child hurting. Now comes the time to pick up the pieces. All of the teasing and name-calling was because her hair did not look like their hair – anymore.
I constantly told her that she was smart and beautiful, not just beautiful on the outside, but a beautiful person. I explained, as best I could, that God made us perfect. Our hair is exactly how it is supposed to be. If He wanted us to have straight hair, He would have given it to us. But He didn’t. So be happy with what you have. There I was with long flowing relaxed hair, giving encouragement to my daughter – who was natural with short tightly coiled hair. That did not make me feel good. As a parent, there are two things that I have to remind myself of: children will usually do as you do and hardly ever do what you say. I feel like I should be the best example for my children – if not me, then who? Now, feeling extremely hypocritical, I came to a pivotal point and a decision needed to be made. Either I stay relaxed and relax her hair again or she stays natural and I transition. Now, five years into my natural hair journey, I have no regrets.
What’s your hair type?
For the record, I generally don’t type my hair because I have more than one curl pattern. According to the Andre Walker hair typing system my curl pattern ranges from 3C to 4B in various parts.
What are your favorite/staple products?
I keep my product list simple as well- shampoo (Aubrey Organics: Blue Algae (moisturizing) or Glycerin Protein Balancer (moisture/protein) or Kinky Curly Come Clean (clarifier)), conditioner (Giovanni Smooth as Silk and Kinky Curly Knot Today), hair rinse (Aubrey Organics Green Tea or ACV rinse), moisturizer (almond or avocado oil/water mixture), sealer (shea butter).
What is your regime?
My hair routine is simple: I feel that life is complicated enough, so I pursue the road of simplicity therefore I love protective styles and I wear them the majority of the time. Wearing protective styles allows me to accomplish three things: moisturize my hair daily, no to low manipulation and protection, especially the ends of my hair. I clarify when my hair begins to respond differently or not at all to products. Approximately every 12 weeks I use Aphogee 2-Step Protein Treatment.
On special occasions or when I am getting burned out on protective styles, I will wear my hair out. I keep my product list simple as well- shampoo (Aubrey Organics: Blue Algae (moisturizing) or Glycerin Protein Balancer (moisture/protein) or Kinky Curly Come Clean (clarifier), conditioner (Giovanni Smooth as Silk or Kinky Curly Knot Today), hair rinse (Aubrey Organics Green Tea or ACV rinse), moisturizer (almond or avocado oil/water mixture), sealer (shea butter). Whats your favorite style? My favorite go-to style would have to be an up-do. I have become very fond of twisting and tucking my hair with bobby pins and/or tuck (side) combs.
Do you have to deal with any negativity about being natural?
Fortunately, I have not had any negative experiences or at least I have not had an incident so negative that I could not view it as a positive because in the end. During my journey, I have found that an ounce of confidence can make the biggest difference. So, I have learned to take the compliments and criticism all in stride.
Did you transition or BC?
Before transitioning, I relaxed my hair all four years doing high school. During the summer of my senior year, I just decided to chop it all off. However, after three months of trying to figure out what to do with my hair, I relaxed it again. From that point, I relaxed my hair for the next nine years and began transitioning in January 2007.
I transitioned for 16 months by using a flat iron to smooth out my new growth every 2 months or so. Also, I trimmed/snipped as well. I did not flat iron to make my hair relaxer straight but only to blend my natural hair and relaxed hair better so the hair would not break at the line of demarcation. Around month 10 in my natural hair journey, my new growth was greater than my relaxed hair; I was flat ironing less and less and began trimming more of the relaxed ends. In May 2008 I trimmed for the last time and became 100% natural. Four and a half years later, here I am natural and helping other women discover their natural hair as well.
To you what’s the best part about being natural?
First and foremost, I really enjoying talking with and hearing the about the journey of other women I meet through my natural hair website. I have been able to help women with their natural hair journey as well as create a supportive environment for natural hair women. Second is education. I am a lifelong learner and through my five years of being natural, I have learned so much about natural hair and the science behind it all. What are some of the positive things that people say about your hair or your decision? Your hair is so pretty, I wish my hair could do that. I simply reply, “Thank you. It can, you just have to stop relaxing it.”
I have many people to tell me that my hair fits my personality. I am not quite sure what they are implying but I like I said, I take it all in stride.
What advice would you like to impart to new naturals or transitioners?
Once you decide to go natural, you should consider these eight things:
1. Know exactly why you are going natural and wanting to wear your natural hair.
2. Have a plan that will guide you through your transition or big chop.
3. Set goals to help you stay focused and take action to keep your plan real.
4. Become a life learner of natural hair.
5. Make a commitment to keep an open mind about your natural hair.
6. Create a regimen and make it a priority, make it important.
7. Be patient. I know this is easier said than done but it will help keep anxiety down.
8. Don’t fret, your hair is growing.
These steps are important because they are the building blocks of your mental transition – which is an integral element for a successful transitional journey. Think about these steps and I would love to speak with you more once you have thought about the answers and have taken action.
Also, I have a free eBook: Going Natural: How to Transition from Relaxed Hair to Natural Hair in 7 Simple Steps that should help new naturals with the process of going natural. The introduction starts with renewing your mind about your natural hair. This mental journey is often undervalued and/or overlooked until it is too late.
BHP thoroughly enjoyed the interview with Jael! It would be great if all parents were as sensitive to the emotional needs of their children and their haircare! It’s amazing how Jael proved to be such an outstanding role model for her daughter and gained a lovely head of natural hair as a plus.
Thanks, Jael, for your insightful interview, and please keep up the great work of being a super parent and natural hair guru!Show
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