Tell us your name and where you are from?
My name is Monique Thomas (the creator of moniquethomas.co.uk) and I'm a graphic designer living in London.
How long have you been natural?
I’m not 100% natural as yet, but I’ve been transitioning from September 2012 (18 months).
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
In 2005 I coloured my relaxed hair just in time for summer. A few weeks later I got my friend to re-touch the roots, but I made the mistake of not moisturising the coloured part of my hair beforehand. This ended in a complete and utter disaster. Whilst rinsing out the relaxer, my hair started to fall out from the roots. This was one of the worse days of my life.
The saving grace was that my hair fell out just in front of my crown and just before my hairline, so I was able to cover the bald patch with other parts of my hair. Phew! But I had a major problem…what do I do now? I didn’t want to relax my hair again, as I feared the worse (as you would) for my hair. I wasn’t a fan of weaves, extensions and wigs, so I was unsure what my options were as I’ve been relaxing my hair since I was 16 years old. It did cross my mind to go natural but my memories of natural hair consisted of dry, nappy, tough, difficult hair that was too much deal with. So I took the risk and I went with what I knew…the creamy crack.
Over the years I often ask myself what I plan to do with my hair. Because God only knows that I couldn't take another fall out. Having seen my cousin go from having relaxed hair to beautiful locs, going on holiday to the Caribbean and seeing all those women with stunning, healthy, long natural hair. I was inspired and I knew this was what I wanted. BUT how can I transition from relaxer to natural hair without the fear of how I was going to look? I didn’t have an answer, so I chickened out and continued relaxing.
In 2009 I saw a movie called ‘Good Hair’ by Chris Rock, it was an eye opener for me. The movie not only highlights the issues of how black women perceive their hair, but also how the hair industry and 'clever' marketing pushes what they believe is acceptable and desirable for black women's hair. It goes into depth about the effects a relaxer has on our hair and scalp. It was at that point I knew I had to start my transition from relaxer to natural hair sooner rather than later.
In September 2012 I finally made the decision to grow out my relaxer and pursue my journey to natural hair. Yey! I started to do some research and came across a few photos of Solange Knowles (who is my fashion muse) with her natural hair and fell in love. Her confidence, style and vibe drew me in and I was sold. When she rocked her box braids, it definitely pushed me in the right direction and I decided that box braids was the best way for me to start my journey. I love retro, funky styles and this 90’s style was right up my street.
I wore my box braids for over a period of 6 months and within that time I considered different options for when the time came for me to take out my braids. Prior to this I had never allowed my re-growth to be on show for longer than 8 weeks, so I needed something that was going to make transitioning as easy as possible.
I did some research and I discovered a keratin treatment by Arosci called Intensive Restructuring System. I clearly wasn't ready or prepared to deal with two textures (as well as letting go of having bone straight hair) at this point, so i got some advice from my lovely hair dresser Carol to see if my hair was suitable for this treatment. Thankfully it was and i was so pleased with the results. [My review on the Arosci IRS treatment will be posted soon.]
September 2013 was the last time i re-applied the treatment, so i tend to style my hair with twists outs, updo’s and protective styles when necessary. I now enjoy seeing; touching and playing with my hair more than ever, so I can’t wait to see how it will look once I do the big chop (cut off the relaxed ends).
What is your hair type/texture?
I’m no hair expert but I’d say that my hair type is 4B with some 4C.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of a week.
My styling regimen over the course of a week usually consists of the following…
- Moisturising my hair daily with my homemade water spritz (water, aloe vera and oils) and moisturizing cream
- Daily scalp massages
- Bantu knots/Flat twists out
- Up do’s (after the curls become less defined)
Describe a typical washday.
Since the start of my natural hair journey, I really look forward to washdays, as my hair seems to respond better when it’s clean and freshly moisturised. My typical washday consists of the following…
- Pre-poo (this refers to applying oils and/or a conditioner to the hair before shampooing) using coconut/jojoba/shea butter/castor/olive oil and/or my leave in conditioner.
- Co-wash using As I Am Coconut Cowash (I only shampoo when I need to, which tends to be once a month if that).
- Condition using As I Am Hydration Elation or Organic Hair Mayonnaise and I mix it with honey with coconut, olive and jojoba oil.
- Moisturise using Giovanni Direct Leave in conditioner and/or Crème of Nature Argan Oil leave in conditioner, As I Am Moisturizing Milk and my homemade oil mixture (coconut/jojoboa/shea butter/castor/olive oil).
What is your favourite go to hairstyle?
My favourite go to style is a Frohawk (afro Mohawk) after a twist out. Or an up do (pompadour), which is a protective style that is easy to create and maintain, so I love it.
List your top 5 products.
- Virgin coconut oil
- As I Am Coconut Cowash
- Ecostyler gel
- Homemade oils mix
- Wide tooth comb
Can you recommend any websites/blogs that are great for providing hair advice, styles and inspirations?
I follow quite a few websites/blogs, so I’ll list four of my favourites below…
If you could give advice to someone currently transitioning or thinking of transitioning, what would it be?
Don’t do it…only joking. Lol.
My advice to those transitioning or thinking of transitioning is research, research and more research. I can’t stress how important it is to educate yourself in order to achieve the best for your hair. There are so many different products, techniques and regimens that may work for some but not necessarily work for you.
On a lighter note have fun with it, experiment and embrace your natural beauty.
Now say it loud and say it proud…TEAM NATURAL BABY!