As we celebrate Armed Forces Day, we honor fellow curly girls who serve and sacrifice. We asked curly girls how they manage their hair while serving all over the world. Meet these extraordinary women who rock their curls while protecting their country.
ARMY – Retired from the Army after 21 years of service as a Master Sergeant (E-8).
Founder of www.evenlynmarienaturals.com
What was your Go-To Style while on active duty?
When I first joined the Army, my hair was natural. The challenge I faced at that time (1981) was no one wanted to press my hair. I remember the lady at the PX beauty shop recommending that I get a relaxer, so I did. Getting a relaxer still didn’t solve my hair problems. In fact, it made it worse. I really had to take care of my hair to ensure that it wouldn’t break off. With the length of my hair, my go-to style was two braids or ponytail bun.
Hair Care Must Haves:
I started out as a product junkie then fell in love with Qhemet Biologic. The Alma & Olive Heavy Cream worked great on my thick coarse hair and kept my hair soft and moisturized. However, now I make my own hair products for myself and some friends. I love to use argan oil and avocado oil as a deep conditioner.
Wash Day Tricks:
I would recommend steam treatments to help retain moisture especially in dry climates. The most important thing that I’ve learned on my natural hair journey is to embrace it and have fun discovering the natural you. Where I live gets pretty humid in the summer, so I wear a lot of protective styles. This winter was very dry so I did steam treatments and used avocado oil as a moisturize for my scalp and ends.
Words of Wisdom
Once you get over the fear of what people will say or think, you will be glad you returned to natural.
Hair Must Haves
Coconut oil, shea butter, and glycerin. They kind of help, but I still have not found a good detangler yet, at least one that agrees with my hair texture. As with a lot of people, I am dealing with about 4 different textures in my hair with the top middle being the most coarse. Some of my go to styles include braid outs, twist outs,crochet braids, and wigs when I am in between styles. Crochet braids allow me to be very creative and I can almost put them in styles that are undetectable. I am still practicing on that though. Since my hair grows so fast in these styles, I am constantly looking for creative ways to braid my hair in for installation. I am also not the best braider so I have to constantly practice on that too.
Words of Wisdom
Moisture, moisture, moisture! Become aware of the climate you are in, that will determine what kind of products you will use. This is very important. You have desert climate and you have tropical climates. These are very different. The water in these places also makes a difference so you have to find products to compensate for what you are missing. In some areas it may not always be beneficial to find a braider so crochet braids seem to be a catch all for styles because it kind of hides the cornrows and protects your hairline more so than weaves and wigs. You can leave the edges out to let them grow and get repaired. After years of micros and other kind of braids pulling your hair back for military styles, it will take a toll on your hairline at some point. Also for those that want to do the big chop I say go for it. I did not do the big chop but I decided to let the relaxer grow out. Well I hope this helps and is useful information to all of the curly active duty military women out there!!
I did the big chop in March of 2013. My twa was extremely low maintenance, I’d just brush it and oil it with coconut oil, argan oil, or JBCO.
Go to Styles:
As soon as it was long enough, about 1/2 inch, I started braiding it. Every morning I’d rub some oil on it and/or spray it with moisturizer. When it got a little longer, 1-2 inches, I did twist outs with Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie. Sometimes I wash & go using Cowash, oil, leave in conditioner and gel. Once a month I wash and deep condition. Now I mostly keep it braided because it helps it grow faster than when I don’t.
Hair Must Haves
I absolutely cannot live without Shea Moisture! I need the smoothie for braids and twists to keep my hair from drying out and to give it the curl. If necessary, everything else could be replaced with something else, but not this!
AIR FORCE – Retired after 8 years
Hair Must haves:
Kinky Curly Knot Today conditioner, Kinky Curly Curling Custard, As I Am Smoothing Gel.
Go To Style:
Wash & go with a headband or a puff. Know the regulations for hair because people will challenge you on your hair all the time. I always spritz my hair with water in the AM to style and only washed on the weekends.
Words Of Wisdom:
Find fellow military naturals for a support system when it comes to military friendly styles. When in doubt about a style, ask somebody. Don’t waste your money or risk trouble because of your hair not being in compliance. Personally, I always pushed the limits with my hair as a young Airman but as an NCO. That would not fly because, as leadership and a mentor, you have to set the example. “Aint nothing to it but to do it” it takes courage going natural. You will run into people who love it or hate it but it’s only about what YOU want. The way I see it, hair will grow back. My hair has grown back way fuller than it has ever been while relaxed. It take a different kind of confidence to be a natural, and you will see exactly what I’m talking about over time.
Hair Must Haves:
Creme of Nature Argan Oil Line, Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie, Eco Styler Gel
My good friend Sasha the Wig… I would rock twists if they were in regulation. On weekends when I wear twistouts, I just let it be.
Words of Wisdom:
Moisture is key!!! I always use the LOC method. I mix my own leave ins (just a mix of my favorite conditioners and water). I always use coconut and olive oil no matter what, my hair loves it! Not everything will work for you the way it works for me. Learn your hair! She will tell you wassup lol!