Vol 05. Hair Diaries X No Knot Co
For those of you have been reading our previous blog posts welcome back!! For those of you who are reading this for the first time Hair Diaries is a blog that aims to inspire and uplift as we explore the natural hair journeys of our favourite influencers and their advice to other wavy, curly and coily babes. This week, we interviewed the gorgeous D'Andre who loves to stand her ground, especially when she embarked on her natural hair journey! She gives us an insight into her favourite protective styles, and how self-love is not just about aesthetics! Are you ready to learn and discover new tips and tricks from @dvandre's hair journey? Then keep on reading!
What is your hair type?
I don't like to answer with a curl pattern but I typically would say my hair is 3C/4A. For me, a better explanation is that I have high porosity hair. It's medium density and the front strands are fine to medium.
One thing that I'm grateful for is that my hair is not a pain. There are things my hair likes versus other things [it does not like]. But generally speaking, it's not too hard to manipulate.
How would you describe your relationship with your hair growing up in comparison to now?
Growing up, I definitely felt like I didn't know anything about my hair. I've always been a huge proponent of the natural hair movement. However, living in the Caribbean, it's a whole different experience. I didn't care about my natural hair until I was maybe 17 or 18 years old. I feel like [after that], the natural hair movement skyrocketed mostly in America before coming to the Caribbean. Over here it wasn't that we needed to have straight hair [because of what we saw] - as there are predominantly black people where I live, but there were so many [other] factors. Part of it was texture discrimination. It was not like we were trying to have straight hair to look more Caucasian, but it was more about having a looser texture. Hence, you would relax your hair so it was easier to manage.
I have 3C/4A hair but I wasn't like “oh yes I have looser curls that everybody loves.” I didn't have this huge affinity towards my hair type. I thought “it is what it is.” The reason I wanted my hair to be relaxed was so that I could fit in with my peers. I didn't have an opportunity to learn about my hair because that information wasn't accessible to me until the natural hair movement happened. When that shift happened, I went from 0 to 100 really quick!! I went all in.
I think my natural hair journey has been one of the most intimate parts of self-growth and evolution. It allows you to see yourself for who you are without any filters or walls. It's a beautiful experience to go through and I'm happy that I embarked on my natural hair journey. Now, I have no desire to relax my hair. I love my hair and taking care of it. It's therapeutic for me when I have wash days. I know everybody doesn't love wash days, but it can be very therapeutic to indulge in that kind of self-care every week and make yourself feel good!
Did you ever feel pressured to straighten or relax your hair and where do you think those pressures came from?
I don't know if I would call it “pressure,” but I'd probably say influence. It's a little different. I have type 3C/4A, somewhere in the middle, [with this] hair type it’s still somewhat seen as 'acceptable'. The influence came from my peers because they were [getting relaxers]. Which made me think I wanted straight hair too. It felt kind of childish going into secondary school with natural hair. I know it's a cultural thing.
I am lucky that my mum never said, “you need to do this or don’t do that,” she would say, “oh, you want to do it? No problem. But you could also be natural. I'm not pressuring you to do anything.” I am happy that my parents never made me feel bad about what I did with my hair or anything like that. Unfortunately, it was the society I grew up in that made me feel like I should do certain things. My parents were always open to allow me to explore with my hair, which was nice.
What would you say are your top 3 go-to hair products at the moment?
I've been trying so many things in the last half of this year  because I started working with a lot more brands. It's been very hectic as I'm not good at switching it up. I’m very much a “what works for me, works and I'll use it till it die” kind of person. I would say my go-to products are Shea Moisture and Jamaican black castor oil. The castor oil was my everything when I could not get a hold of Shea Moisture. People have mentioned that Shea Moisture has changed their formula and maybe it has a little now, but that's my Holy grail. I don't think that will ever change because when I used it the other day, it was great!
Next, I would say, my Uncle Funky's Daughter Curly Magic Gel is the best gel I've used in my entire life. I don't say that lightly. It's so good!!
A third one would be my Camille Rose Moisture Milk. All of The Camille's moisturising products that I've tried like their almond one and twist & butter curl moisture water, they all have an intense moisture factor. It's really good! I don't know what they're doing over there, but shout out to them!
What hair types or advice would you give to your younger self?
I big chopped my hair when I was around 15 years old. I didn't have a bad relationship with my natural hair, I didn’t hate it even though I would relax it. However, my advice would mostly lean towards self-care. I feel like [my hair] is a part of that. It doesn’t matter what length it is or what style it is in, I value that part of myself. I think especially with younger women, long hair is everything. It’s not about a particular length that you have, it's about how you are taking care of yourself. By extension the thing that grows out of your head and how it makes you feel as a person.
Upkeep yourself on value, be very positive, no matter what you look like. That's what I always say to myself. I think [back then] I was trying to maintain this “aesthetic look” with my hair and it was less about taking care of it. But I have to ask myself “is what you’re doing healthy? are you taking care of yourself?” I would lean into my younger self and say: “Hey girl, I know that you think that looks good, but you probably shouldn't do that!”
When growing up, would you say you had any hair role models?
My peers and I would look at celebrities and unfortunately at the time natural hair wasn't important to us. It was about what looked good, that's who you would aspire to be like. After I did my first big chop, I was 15/16 years old, at the time when more natural hair influencers were on YouTube. Shameless Maya @mayasworld had a huge influence on me, she still does. By the time she had her big curly fro, it was so dope to see her, I love her hair!
What steps do you take to keep your hair healthy?
How long is your typical wash day? And can you talk us through your steps from beginning to end?
I'm super simple and I'm so unapologetic about it! I've been natural for about eight years now; it's been a minute. But I've become more seasoned as I’ve gotten older. I know what works and what I don't have to do as much. For my wash day, I try not to go past a week because of my scalp, she doesn't play [games].
When I do a full wash, it takes me about maybe two-three hours. I shampoo, I don't pre-poo. With the type of hair I have, I don't feel like I need to as most times I have super dry or super tangled hair. But mostly I'll start with my shampoo (a salvage free one). I use Kérastase, it's my favourite shampoo because it's very moisturising and it cleanses my scalp very well. My hair gets really soft from just that.
Then, I follow up with a conditioner. I usually switch up my conditioners, now I’m using one from my Mommy Moisture and before I was using one from Swab. I go in and detangle to try to take out all my hairs that have shed.
I do a defined wash day routine where I put in a lot of conditioner in my hair, once it's detangled, I shake my head like a wet dog. It really brings it together! It works pretty well, especially as my hair gets longer, there’s this new weight on my head and it starts to clump.
Then, I put my head under the shower and rinse out all the conditioner, but I don't touch my hair after or whilst washing out the conditioner so that I don't get any frizz. When I let the water run, the curls remain clumped and I just leave it like that. If I'm deep conditioning that day I will condition to detangle, then follow up with a deep conditioner to get in there. That's it for inside the shower!
Afterwards, I'll come out and depending on what type of style or if I'm doing a wash and go, I will usually leave my hair as wet as possible. I then come into my room, grab my products and I like to style my hair immediately after coming out of the shower. It’s best for me. I grab the moisturising products that I'm using at the time and I flip my head over to pass the products through my hair, trying not to manipulate my hair too much. My hair is already defined from the shower so I don't have to do too much to it. I have high porosity hair, thankfully, so I don't have to do much for the products to soak into my strands. After that, I put gel in the areas where it’s the frizziest and the tightest, usually in the middle. I also don't like to air dry my hair anymore, I don't have the patience for it, it's too long!
I then diffuse my hair which takes about 20-30 minutes to completely dry. I typically would leave my hair to lay over my shoulders, let it get its natural shape, letting gravity do its thing! Maybe an hour later I'll go back in to break, whatever is there and stretch my hair. I typically do the banding method, where I’d put my hair up in four or five sections and put some scrunchies to stretch my curls out. After about an hour of stretching, that's it!
What are your favourite protective styles that you use?
There are many styles, especially when I'm doing a weave or wearing a wig, I'm either doing box braids on my natural hair without any extensions or anything. It's usually in a protective style already. I think anything that is low manipulation and hides your ends, is good, it doesn't always have to be a protective style.
My favourite is braiding my hair with extension box braids! I think it's best for me because:
I've recently got into Knotless box braids, which is more seamless. It looks nicer, it's cool, and there is less tension on your scalp. I know there's also passion twists and all these different things, but those styles don’t last as long for me.
Once you have a good pre protective style routine, making sure your hair is properly moisturised and conditioned, then your hair is good for at least three to four weeks in that style.
What advice would you give to your fellow curly sisters starting the new natural hair journey?
I would say patience is your best friend, it's key. I know this for a fact! I cut my hair in 2018 and it started growing late last year so I get it. I get that it's high maintenance because you need to make sure you're styling it properly and style it regularly, more so than when you have long hair. At least with long hair, you can style it in a high ponytail, you can do this, you could do that, it's a little easier. It's important to know that you will learn [about] your hair over time.
It's not as quick for everybody, your hair may be high maintenance to you. Especially girls with type 4 hair, they may feel like there is so much to do, the ends are easy to break off and it's sensitive. I get it. But your hair is like a baby in a sense, It is delicate. It requires you to be gentle with it and to take that time with it. It can be frustrating, but I think when you get a good flow and when you shift your perspective from, "oh, this is too much" to, "this is part of my process of learning who I am.” Then, it can become a little more tolerable for you.
I would also say to do a lot of research! Just because it works for me, doesn't mean it works for you. I don't care about curl patterns because I feel like the density or porosity of your hair are relevant factors with regards to taking care of your hair. Don't look at somebody because they have the kind of hair that you wish you had. This is because you might hear me say, “I use this kind of gel on my hair which makes my curls look like this” but when you use it, your hair is not the same as mine. You will then find that you’re not getting the same results as me. Well, that's because it's not meant for your hair. You have to find those products that work for you!! That's when research comes in handy. Even if you're into watching YouTubers with natural hair; look at different ones, find somebody with as close to your hair type to you as possible so that you can refer to it.
Who is your hair inspiration now?
I look at growth, it's less about goals and more about the attitude, demeanour and approach to haircare. Casey Aliyah @aaliyahjay is somebody I followed for years and was even able to connect with her via social media. She chopped [her hair] probably as many times as I have and got backlash for it. I find that within the natural hair community girls with tighter hair curl patterns like type 4 hair (she's 4a/4b), it’s somewhat of a crime to people when you don't want long hair. If you cut your hair short, people question why you did it. especially if your hair wasn't damaged. If you wanted to cut your hair for whatever reason you should be allowed to, but for some reason, people get upset about it. Seeing Casey evolve [from the backlash] and grow, to be confident in saying: "Y'all, I don't care about how y'all feel about what I do with my hair, it’s my hair and that's how I'm going to operate through life. It's about how I feel about myself.”
When I got a big chop in 2018, I did go through a similar thing of, “oh, am I as feminine? Am I as beautiful?” It can really shatter your confidence. To even see her progress through her journey like that has been so inspiring to me!! What matters to me is that my hair is healthy, I love what is growing on my head and how it looks. Self-love is fully encompassing everything, not just a certain aesthetic.
If your hair journey was a song, what would it be?
There is one song that came to my head, and it's hot and cold by Katy Perry. That was literally me because I have gone through the highs and lows [with my hair]. Damaging it with colour and heat. It’s been a whole journey! Yeah, that's my song!!
MAKE SURE YOU FOLLOW D'ANDRE ON @DVANDRE ON INSTAGRAM!
- No Knot Co x
Rusheen Hemley —
I love your hair diaries!! I think they’re amazing. I would love to get involved with this. Feel free to contact me via email or Instagram @rusheenshair ☺️