Are you natural-curious? You know, one of those women who has seen the influx of women flaunting gorgeous, curls, waves and twists, who loves the look, but isn’t sure if she can pull it off? Believe me when I say that you’re not alone.

It took almost a year for me to finally big chop and I decided that I wanted to let go and let fro, but during those 12 months I remember visiting sifting through several articles and blogs and watching just about every YouTube video in the “natural hair” category.

Whether you’re thinking about making the big chop or you’re already rocking natural curls, getting advice from pro is always a treat. We’ve managed to catch up with one of the natural hair care industry’s leading ladies, Jane Carter, and the fabulous beauty expert has tons of tips to share for women on every end of the natural hair spectrum.

Check out what the curly-haired natural founder and CEO of the Jane Carter Solution line (which both curly-haired and relaxed-haired women love) ad to say about some burning natural hair questions.

Coco+Creme: What is the biggest mistake women make when transitioning?

Jane Carter: Putting too much heat on the hair. The other thing is an identity thing. You really have to get your visual identity in line with having a completely different look and a completely different maintenance regimen.

C+C: What’s your take on using heat on natural curls during and after the transitioning process?

JC: A lot of times if you use a hot flat iron, the high temperature of heat will straighten your hair like a relaxer would so that’s critical. If your hair tends to be fine, it’s going to be super-sensitive to heat so if you put too much heat on your fine hair, you’ll permanently straighten it. If your hair tends to be on the coarser side, you can get away with putting a little more heat on it. On the same token, if you color treat your hair, it tends to be a lot more vulnerable when you put heat on it.

C+C: How do you feel about wearing weave as a protective style?

JC: My feeling about weave is that it’s obviously a huge business. It’s not a bad thing, but I think that it’s a lot of maintenance. My only other concern is the pulling and the weight of the hair and the fact that you don’t really get to take care of the scalp. I’m going to make this analogy: In the 70s when Jheri curls were really big, people all of a sudden had this long hair they never had before and it was mostly because their hair was moisturized all the time.

I don’t think that a lot of women who wear weaves exfoliate their scalps as often as they should, and that creates scalp issues. You really have to get some water and some natural oils on your scalp to keep the skin soft and supple.

C+C: What advice do you have for enhancing natural curls?

JC: If you put conditioner on your hair when it’s sopping wet and it has a somewhat elongated curl pattern, then you could just use that product in your hair to keep that natural pattern. If your hair tends to shrink when it’s wet, then you might want to use twists just to elongate that curl. If your hair tends to shrink then you really want to put product in your hair when it’s really wet. Also if you detangle you hair while in the shower with a paddle brush and conditioner, it’s great.

C+C: Is it better to shampoo or co-wash hair?

JC: You can definitely rinse and then reapply conditioner, unless your hair is really dirty, then you need to shampoo. If you don’t want to completely strip your hair, then you can dilute the shampoo by adding water to the container and mixing. If you exercise, you have to rinse your hair. Perspiration has salt ammonia and your hair will be really hard. It really depends on your lifestyle.

We’re actually doing a shampoo now. It goes in like oil, you add water and it turns it to a cream and rinses out really clean, even on fine, straight hair. We’re making sure it doesn’t leave an oily residue, we’ve gotten a lot of really great results, so we’re hoping to put more products like that on the market.

C+C: What tips do you have for maximizing length?

JC: Scalp care is critical. A healthy scalp is the foundation to growing hair. If you want to grow healthy hair, you need to eat good protein and eat well. Doing simple things like taking vitamins and drinking a lot of water are key.

C+C: Many women are apprehensive to go natural because they believe it’s maintenance. Is natural hair hard to maintain?

JC: No. It’s just a different orientation. The key to natural hair is finding the right product and regime. Once you do that it becomes a no-brainer.

-Margaret Francois

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