Coco + Creme caught up with one of our many hair idols, Natarsha McQueen who works behind-the-scenes at BET Networks. The natural hair maven dished about her hair journey, favorite products and more.

Coco+Creme: How long have you worn your hair “natural”?

Natarsha McQueen: I’ve been natural for 16 years. I initially wanted something that I thought was less maintenance but boy, was I entirely wrong about that!

C+C: When and why did you decide to wear your hair natural?

NM: When I started college, I knew I wanted to do something different. So many things about my life were changing and I’ve always been the type of person that expresses what’s happening in my life through my personal style. I’ve had relaxers, jheri curls, tracks, you name it I’m sure I did it. But my hair was tired and I felt like I need a fresh start.

C+C: How did you transition from relaxed hair to your natural, unaltered texture?

NM: I started with braids to help my natural hair grow out. It was the easiest way for me to begin. After my hair started to grow out, I took out the braids. I started wearing bantu knots to give my straightened hair more texture. I was trying to simulate a curly fro, but after a while it started to become too much work and my hair started breaking. So I literally woke up one day and decided I was going to chop it all off. I went into the bathroom with my scissors, cut off my permed hair and was left with nothing but my natural hair. The next morning I got up and went to the barber and walked out with a caesar. It was the most exhilarating experience of my life and one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

C+C: How would you describe your hair journey?

NM: My hair journey has definitely been a learning process both about myself and the people around me. Like most women, I come from a background where hair is very important. When I was younger, I never thought I’d be rocking a ‘fro. I always had long hair but as I got older and My mom allowed me to express myself my relationship to my hair evolved with it. Going natural respresented a new chapter of my life. I was becoming an adult and I had also just come out of a difficult time. So with my big chop came a new sense of self. I was learning to accept everything about me, both good and bad. Of course, you always get the negative responses but I’ve always been comfortable enough with myself to truly believe I am beautiful. If I had let others’ fears and disapproval of the way I chose to wear my hair affect me, I would be allowing myself to become a person who I was never meant to be.

C+C: What are three hair products and three tools you can’t live without?

NM: I recently discovered Miss Jessie’s Curly Buttercreme a few months ago through a friend of mine and I haven’t been without since. It’s a great all-around product for moisturizing and styling natural hair and it smells great as well. Second is my detangling comb. Lastly, I love Roots of Nature Shea Butter and Green Tea Deep Conditioner. It leaves my hair super soft and manageable.

C+C: Describe your hair regimen.

NM: I wash my hair once a week with Pantene Naturals Moistuizing Shampoo. Once a month, I’ll do the deep conditioner. On a weekly basis, I Use Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk. I usually style by doing a twist-out with Miss Jessie’s Curly Buttercreme and then I set it under the hood dryer. I tie it up with a silk scarf at night to maintain the moisture and prevent any type of breakage. When the weather is particularly humid, I do a wet twistout using Miss Jessie’s Silk Strengthening Creme. I dry it under a hood dryer, then loosen. It gives me a tighter twist and not as much shrinkage. It also holds up to the humidity better. I also moisturize my scalp with pure shea butter.

C+C: What do you love about your natural hair?

NM: Despite some people’s misconceptions,  there are a variety of things you can do with natural hair. My hair is the healthiest its every been and I get complimented on it all the time. My hair is truly an expression of my style and personality and I could never imagine myself without it. And I actually think my husband loves it more than I do!

C+C: What was the most frustrating part of your hair journey and how did you overcome it?

NM: I think the most frustrating part was when I decided to start growing it longer. When you’re growing your hair from a caesar to something longer, you go through that awkward hair phase where it’s either too short or too long to do the styles that you’d like to. That part is definitely tough but once you get used to it and learn your hair’s tendencies, it becomes much easier. It’s a learning process.

C+C: What advice do you have for women considering the “big chop” or that are transitioning?

NM: I would make sure you are comfortable with yourself before you go natural. You will experience a myriad of reactions both positive and negative. You’ll definitely have family members and maybe even some friends that will express their disapproval so you should have a strong sense of self.

You should also be aware that natural hair requires just as much if not more care than relaxed hair. Make sure you keep your moisturized at all times. That is the key to helping our hair grow. Also the less manipulation you do to your hair, the more it will grow. When I was transitioning, I found that frequent deep conditioning and regular trims helped my hair grow in healthier.

I wholeheartedly feel that going natural was the best decision I’ve ever made and I can’t ever imagine myself any other way!

-Jessica C. Andrews

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