Tress Exchange: Featuring Shannon Starks

I thought it would be a good idea to start a new segment called the Tress Exchange.  I will be interviewing other people’s perspective about their natural hair journey or about certain natural hair topics.  My first interviewee is Shannon Starks.  Below are some basic questions we discussed.

How long have you been on your natural hair journey?

I couldn’t handle the transition phase, so decided to do a big chop in 2012.  In 2015, I put a text-laxer in my hair.  I followed this fad on YouTube where people were mixing conditioner with relaxer.  This mixtures was only meant to slightly relax your texture but instead it made my hair drier.  Because I wasn’t happy with my results, I let my hair grow out and cut the relaxed ends off. 

Describe your hair journey in one word

Challenging

Elaborate more about the word you chose.

It’s a challenge to do my hair.  It’s a challenge to keep up with my hair, and it’s a challenge to get the things I need to appropriately take care of my hair.  Also, money is a challenge because it cost money to take care of natural hair.

What do you consider are your hair flaws?

My hair is dry, and I have at least three different textures.  The dryness of my hair affects my length retention.  

What do you consider are your hair strengths?

Best thing I can say is my hair always grows back.  Also, my hair doesn’t snap off or break at the ends.  I tend to mostly experience healthy shedding.  However, I tend to have moments when I do not take care of my hair properly. Currently, I am trying to get into a consistent routine but it’s hard. 

What is your hair care regimen?

If were talking about wash day, the first thing I do is gather all of the things I need.  I grab my shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioner, and leave-in conditioner.  After I gather all of the needed hair products, I start the washing process with shampoo. 

I try to section my hair, but that doesn’t always happen.  One of my major problems is being consistent; therefore, my wash day is never the same.  After shampooing, I add in the conditioner that goes with the shampoo and start to detangle.  Sometimes I section my hair as I continue to detangle.  After my hair is detangle, I rinse the conditioner out and apply my leave-in conditioner while my hair is soaking wet.  Once my hair is washed and conditioned, my next steps depends on what style I want to do.  For an example, if I’m want to style my hair in a wash and go, I will apply a styling gel after the leave-in conditioner.    

What is one hair tool and one hair product you can’t live without?

I can’t live with my wide tooth comb and my current conditioner. 

Do you think natural hair reflects a person’s personality? Does it make you resonate with hippie characteristics?

I do not.  I didn’t get my first relaxer until the 8th grade.  Prior to my first relaxer, I wore my two puff balls, and I was proud of my puffs balls. I don’t think returning to my natural hair makes me more of a hippie.  I am still conservative with the way I present myself.  A “hippie” is free or care free and I’m not that kind of person. 

Has your natural hair journey opened your eyes to topics other than hair?

No.  For an example, I’m trying to eat healthy not because of my hair but because I don’t know what’s being put into foods.  Today, the ingredients in foods are completely different than what our grandparents ate because the country continues to strive to make food cheaper.

What do you wish you would have known before going natural?

Not to listen to everybody.  Everybody doesn’t have the same hair texture. You have to be cautious of listening or watching people who use different products.  If the person keep trying different products, then the person couldn’t have figured out what works best for their hair. 

Why do you think people listen to other people?

First, I don’t think those people may be confident with how the hair looks.  Also, we tend to see advertisement from hair companies who don’t properly depict what curls really look like.  The models may have an ironed curl, two strand twist, or etc.  This fools natural hair people into thinking their curl has to look a certain way.  Secondly, because we’re in the social media generation, we tend to follow other people.  I’ve fell into that cycle.  However, if you find a technique that works for your hair, you should stick with the technique until your hair shows you it can’t deal with the technique anymore.  If you keep switching techniques, you’ll never know what is good for your hair. 

What is your advice for newbies to the natural hair world?

Don’t listen to everybody.  Be confident about your hair.  Be happy with your texture because some people don’t have any hair.  Don’t compare your hair to other people’s hair.  Also, don’t think you’re better than anyone else because you rock natural hair. 

Do you think you love your natural hair?

I don’t love it but I like it.  I don’t love it because it’s challenging right now.  If you don’t have the patient to deal with your hair, it’s a struggle to try and keep up with the natural hair journey so I’m trying to hang in there.