Hi! My name is Kiana Gardner and I reside in New York and have for my entire life. I am 21 and I’m graduating in May with a BA in Psychology and Sociology/ Anthropology. I’m still working on life after graduation but let’s talk about my hair!
How long have you been natural?
I received my last perm in January of 2011 and transitioned until August of 2012 which is when I “big chopped”. I count from when I chopped so I’ve been fully natural for 1 year and 7 months!
What motivated you to transition? Were you a transitioner or a Big Chopper& why?
I began to notice my hair becoming drier and more brittle every time I got a perm (I would perm every 6 months) and it became tedious to keep having to rely on a perm and straightening all of the time. One day I just sat and wondered what my actual hair texture was and it baffled me that at 19 years of age I had no clue. From that point on YouTube became my best friend.
How would you describe your hair?
My hair is free. She’s something I aspire to be. She does what she wants when she wants even when I have different plans for her. She’s beautiful, wild, curly, kinky, short, long, big, small, colorful, soft, and so on. For the hair typers she’s a 4a/3c.
What do you love most about your hair?
I love that she’s so curly and kinky and soft all at once. It amazes me that this is what God allowed our hair to do. The versatility is off the charts and I love that I have so many options. She makes me feel wild and carefree.
What has been the most memorable part of your journey? Has it been easy or difficult or both?!
The first thing that comes to mind for me is when I chopped my hair. I used to be so dependent on my hair and it being perfectly straight and having bangs in my face hiding me away (that’s not to say that I don’t adore my curly bang haha) but me deciding to cut off what I’ve known for my entire life was so big for me. I had to learn how to care for hair that was new to me and get used to showing off my features more and I love that this journey was one that brought me so much growth and confidence. It’s definitely been easy and difficult. One day a style can be the best you’ve ever had and the next a disaster but even when I think my hair is misbehaving, I get the most compliments! It’s difficult dealing with finding all the single strand knots and split ends and learning the do’s and don’ts of products but once you’re past that everything gets easier.
What are some of your favorite transitioning hairstyles?
To this day I preach about how Senegalese Twists saved my life. I can’t even imagine having had my hair out the entire transitioning period. However, when I did have my hair out perm rods were a life saver. They make blending the curls so much easier. I would two strand twist from root to tip and use a perm rod to roll the entire twist up. My hair would look like a successful Bantu Knot Out. Sometimes I would braid the sides because they were kinkier and do perm rods for the rest of my hair (essentially a Mohawk). Beanies/ Hats are also a NECESSITY for those bad hair days. Since I’ve been fully natural three stand twist outs are a MUST. The definition from them is incredible. I usually braid the root for more uniformity and three strand twist the rest. Braid outs don’t really work for my hair nor do bantu knot outs. I keep it pretty simple and do updo’s or mohawk’s out of my twistout. For protective styling I do mini twists or Havana twists.
What have your experiences been as a ‘natural?’ Any memorable reactions from family or others? When I first started to transition my family didn’t understand why. They thought that I should stop and thought that it was just a phase. Now they love my hair and ask me how to do styles and I even did my little cousins big chop for her. Others always ask me how I do my hair and what products they should use and I try to tell them it’s all trial and error, time, and patience. A lot of people automatically assume my hair is a wig or a weave and it gets annoying sometimes to be repetitively asked.
What is your hair regimen (including fav. products)? I wash my hair once a week usually every Sunday. I deep condition overnight on Saturday and then use one of my staples for each step and proceed to three strand twist. Staples Deep Condition: Overnight (with Tresemme Naturals or Herbal Essences Hello Hydration) or mix an avocado, banana, honey, plain yogurt, and olive oil together for a deep/ protein treatment. For extra protein I’ll add an egg or mayo. Shampoo- Shea Moisture’s Deep Treatment Shampoo, Trader Joes Tea Tree Tingle or Nourish & Spa, or just diluted Apple Cider Vinegar. Conditioner- Tresemme Naturals or Hello Hydration (& while the conditioner is in my hair, I either finger detangle or use my Denman brush and twist away sections.) Leave In- Mixed Chicks leave in, Giovanni’s direct leave in, or Kinky Curly leave in. Moisturizers/Styling- Shea Moisture’s Curl Enhancing Smoothie or their Yucca and Baobab Treatment or Cantu’s Coconut Curling Crème. Sealants/ Oils- Coconut, Olive, or Grapeseed Oil (if my hair start to dry I’ll spray with Aloe Vera Juice)
What are some of your favorite natural hair websites,YouTuber’s, or blogs? Sites: Aroundthewaycurls.com, Naturallycurly.com, curlynikki.com,globalcoutureblog.net 😉 YouTubers: Naptural85, Mahoganycurls, Naturalneiicey, Yolanda Renee, Donedo, Ambrosia Malbrough, iknowlee, My Natural Sistas, MeechyMonroe, Nikkimae2003, TarenGuy, ItsMyRayeRaye, Godzdesign1, MsVaughnTV, MsArielle89, Lovelyanneka, BlackizBeautyful, itsmeshana (I could go on for days really) Anything you want the readers to know? Inspirational words? There WILL be times that you feel like giving up on your hair but just know that your time and patience is worth it. This is what grows out of your scalp, it is a part of you. Love all of yourself. Where can people find you for more information? Instagram: kiana_g Youtube: Kandicurlies (Natural Hair channel I started with a friend last summer) Tumblr: musicaloutlet.tumblr.com