Meet Diana, a young woman that I meet many moons ago when we were just children in elementary school. Through the miracle of social media, we were able to reconnect and I was able to draw inspiration from the beauty of her hair and character. I am so pleased she has agreed to share a bit of hair, beauty, health and emotional wisdom with us. Please enjoy!
Natural Beginnings

I have been natural most of my life.  I went natural before it was “cool.”  I got a relaxer when I was in third grade, and I decided to stop getting them in the sixth grade. I don’t know all the factors that prompted my decision, but I think at the core it was about self-acceptance. At 11 years old, I accepted that God had given me a head full of kinky, curly, nappy hair--and I liked it.  My best friend, Kertia Duga, joined me in the process of “taking out my perm“ (it wasn’t quite called “going natural” then), which made it double ok to love my hair.
Products and Regime

I keep it simple--I wash/condition my hair every 3-4 weeks and re-tighten my locks every 7-8 weeks.
I am not a product junky so I don’t know any hot new products.  As a general principle, I stay away from anything with alcohol or a string of ingredients I can’t pronounce. In addition to store bought products, I use homemade products for deep conditioning because it is cost effective and I am aware of exactly what I’m putting on my hair.

For shampoo, right now I use sisterlocks salon formula. After washing, I use the sisterlocks moisturizer spray or Jane Carter’s leave-in conditioner.  Ninety-eight percent of the time I let my air-dry my hair. Sometimes I braid my hair while it is damp and take it out when it dries for a crinkly finish (braid out).

As far as deep conditioning, which I try to do after every few washes, sisterlocks has an awesome moisture treatment cream.  Sometimes I use homemade deep-conditioners. One of my favorites is a nice mix of egg, avacado, oilive oil, jojoba oil, and rosemary. There are tons of these natural mixes online so I recommend folks explore and see what works for them. When I’m in the mood, I apply the product, put on a cap, sit under the dryer for 15-30minutes, then rinse. Other times I skip the dryer.
At night I sleep with a satin bonnet. This is a MUST for retaining your hair’s moisture, elasticity, and shine. You can also do a satin scarf, pillowcase, and/or sheets.
Lastly, my regime includes relaxation.  My hair’s health is partially due to the fact that I don’t do much to it. Too much styling and change stresses your hair out so try to give it as many breaks as possible.


At home I use Jane Carter’s Foam Setting Lotion to do a roller set or braid out. I use different rollers for different effects depending on if I want crinkles, tight curls, waves, etc. Youtube is wonderful for “how-to” videos on fly styles so I search and try new styles when I’m in the mood.

Hair Color
I love color, but using it most often has an undesirable impact on the moisture, elasticity, porosity, texture, and overall health of hair. Some coloring systems and colors are worst than others. Still none of them, no matter how much you moisturize, come without trade offs. So right now my hair is dark brown because my desire for health outweighs my lust for coloring.
I use Bovanti facial cleanser and their moisturizing cream in the morning and at night.
I also throw in a mask/facial scrub every few weeks to exfoliate and rejuvenate. Here is another instance where you can find all sorts of do-it-yourself versions online. YouTube is great for demonstrations. I like combos with avocado, honey, and sugar. I use a store bought masks for combination skin from whole foods as well. 
Steam treats are also good for your skin.  I take really hot showers with the door closed so I also get quasi steam treatments that way. Of course, online you can find do-it-yourself steam treats including the use of warm towels and hot water.
As with other aspects of life, you should not over do it with skincare. Doing treatments too often can irritate your skin and/or result in undesirable outcomes.

Healthy Lifestyle Advocacy
As far as nutrition, I keep it simple—the food pyramid/plate and exercise. I also live by a few principles: portion size, diversity, stress management, and balance.
Portion size is huge because quite often we eat way more than necessary. And even more often, we over do it with meat, sugars, and fat instead of getting the proper amounts of fruits, veggies, and whole grains. We need plenty of fruits and veggies to get all the nutrients that make for a healthy body and beautiful skin and hair.
Diversity in what you eat and do is important. No one food or workout plan can do everything for you. For example, swimming is great for cardiovascular health, but it doesn’t help much in the way of preventing osteoporosis. I am big on fixed routines, but it is important be more flexible so that even routines incorporate diversity.  Flexibility is also important because if something stops working (as often happens for any number of reasons) you need to make necessary changes with ease.

Stress management is HUGE. Stress affects everything including your hair and skin. Ultimately stress management is about self-care. In between doing purposeful and fulfilling work (paid and unpaid), I make sure I eat, sleep, play, nurture relationships, get spiritual nourishment, relax, and see a counselor. The importance of the last item cannot be overstated.  There is a lot of stigma in society around mental health so I’ll take a minute with this one.
There are many reasons one might see a counselor. I’m hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t believe in certain forms of therapy such as premarital counseling, but far too many of us are opposed to individual counseling. This is puzzling because as beautiful and wonderful as it can be, life also full of tough situations, conflicts, trauma, pain, and dilemmas.  Even on the “positive” end of the spectrum, the reality is that leading a fulfilling and purposeful life, especially via work, can also be psychologically demanding.  Furthermore, your choices and behaviors now are undoubtedly influenced by experiences and happenings in your past (good, bad, and otherwise).  Not dealing with these realities can be devastating and stifling to you, your purpose, and your loved ones.  A counselor offers a more objective and detached, yet empathetic, perspective on issues as well as strategies for optimum health in the emotional realm.
All reputable counselors have websites that provide you with information that will help you in your search. Do your research when it comes the type of counseling and counselor that works best for you and the particular aspects of your life that you are interested in making better. And if the first counselor you try isn’t a good fit, don’t give up. Because there is so much diversity in methods, approaches, and personality, there is no formula for finding the perfect counselor. Lastly, when asked why I see a counselor given that right now my life and health are both pretty good, I often reply, “I see a counselor because I want to stay happy and healthy.” Its called preventative medicine folk!
Unsurprisingly, achieving and maintaining balance is an ongoing theme in my life. It is at the core of everything mention above. My final comment on health is that I recognize how much I don’t know. I don’t know everything, but I do know how to learn, and most importantly, I know how to reach out to others. Therefore, I even have a balance of people in my life in terms of talents, interests, personality, and relationship type.  I often say to my friends, “see…that’s why I need people like you in my life” because I understand that we all have something unique to offer the world and each other. 
I also don’t expect any one person to fulfill all my emotional needs. During a talk she gave at Spellman a few years ago, bell hooks discussed forming a circle of support. She outlined how the model of an intimate partner being one’s end all be all is fragile and unhealthy, to say the least. The fragility often comes when for some reason that person is gone, and the individual remaining falls under the weight of tremendous emotional distress. Furthermore, being someone’s everything is really exhausting. Like all of life, breaks allow for refreshment and rejuvenation.  hooks argues that having a circle makes it easy for people to enter and leave one’s life. They also allow folks to step up and step back at one time or another. 

A circle is also important for maintaining balance in each of the kinds of relationships we have. Inside a circle there are many more circles. So I have different circles for different aspects of my life; I have friends, family, like-kin friends, best friends (four to be exact, which happen to correlate with my educational journey-- middle school, high school, college, and graduate school), colleagues, mentees, mentors, spiritual advisers, people with whom I share faith, students, teachers, peers in the struggle for a more just world, advisers, and the list undoubtedly goes on. Rather than dwelling on hierarchies between relationships (“blood is thicker than water” is what they say where I’m from), I focus on the beauty and uniqueness that each has to offer. This is important because most of us have all of the relationship types I mention, and more, but not all of us nurture them.  I do--and that’s an unguarded secret to a healthy life.