April 2013 | February 2014
1) Please introduce yourself.
Holaaaa, My name is Che’Renee Zaragoza.
2) How long have you been natural?
I have been natural for three years on and off. I have consistently been natural for over a year and have a straightened my hair a couple of times in between.
3) What made you decide to go natural?
My decision to transition to the “natural side” was truly decided by the fact that my hair was unruly, wavy, had lost its natural curl pattern, and was brittle. Honestly, I wanted to wake up daily and embrace the most natural version of myself.
4) Did you do the big chop or did you transition?
I wish that I was a “big chop” kind of girl but I slowly transitioned into my curly lifestyle. I trimmed my hair CONSISTENTLY throughout the process because my ends were so dead, dyed, and brittle.
5) What was the hardest part of going natural in the beginning?
THE TIME SPENT ON MY HAIR was by far one of the hardest parts of going natural. Learning to control the frizz and limpness of my brittle hair was difficult as well.
June 2014 | October 2015
6) Did you care what others would think about your hair? Do you still care?
I guess a part of me did not want to have “big hair”. I did not want people staring or touching my hair, and prefered it “sleek” and straight with minimal attention. I especially felt this way when I went to a predominantly white private university. I already felt so different from the average population at the university. When I wore my hair natural, I felt like I stuck out even more like a sore thumb and at the time it was not enjoyable for me.
Now, I could care less if people like or do not like my hair. I do love getting compliments in regards to my curls! But those compliments do not make or break my decision to keep my hair natural. My hair is finally something I am confident with!
7) How did others react to your hair in the beginning? How do they react now?
The person probably to react the happiest in regards to my hair would definitely be my dad aka Papa Z! He is probably the biggest supporter of my curly hair. He was genuinely happy I stopped straightening my hair on a daily basis and he made sure to compliment my curly hair every time he saw me! My family in general was very happy to see me embrace the curl and that made the process enjoyable.
Now, my curly hair is a part of who I am for those who are consistently around me.
People are now surprised and freak out a little bit if they see me with straight hair.
8) Have you faced any struggles from being natural in school or in the workplace?
I faced the struggle of acceptance within my own self in regards to the workplace and school. I was so plagued by the Westernized concept of what was “beautiful”. It was difficult for me to wear my hair natural for interviews or for presentations because I was afraid to be viewed as “unprofessional” or “a frizzy mess”. I truly had to self-reflect and come to the realization that I define what is beautiful for myself and had to learn to embrace it. Hair, facial, and body features will not be the composition of what I believe is beautiful. Now, when I walk into an interview or any professional event I will implicitly demand respect regardless of the the unruly curls on top of my head.
April 2016 | March 2017
9) What is your current hair regimen?
Recently, I have updated my hair regimen. For months I used only two products. The two products were the OGX Thick and Full + Biotin and Collagen Conditioner/Shampoo. I would shampoo my hair once a week. Daily, I would use the OGX conditioner as a leave in product. I would comb the conditioner throughout my hair with my fingers and would usually let hair dry. Currently, my hair regimen consists of the same same OGX shampoo/conditioner. I comb out my hair in the shower with a wide tooth comb while my hair is lathered in conditioner. I leave the conditioner in for about five minutes and then rinse out. After I am out of the shower, I use a tresseme holding gel in my hair. I split my hair into sections and add gel to my hair from top to bottom. (I do not use the scrunching method or the raking method because it causes frizz in my hair). I use a minimal amount of gel at the top of my hair but this gel helps to eliminate frizz. Lastly, to create soft curls because I am not a fan of crunchy curls, I apply a Blue Magic Coconut Oil Hair Conditioner. The coconut oil keeps my hair shiny and helps define my curls.
10) What products do you love?
OGX Conditioner/Shampoo Thick & Full + Biotin & Collagen Blue Magic Coconut Oil Hair Conditioner Tresemme Hair Gel Flawless Curls Tresemme Extra Firm Control Gel
11) What is your favorite hairstyle?
One braid on the side with the rest of my hair down is probably one of my favorite hairstyles.
12) What is your hair motto?
“Be the real you”. This motto helps to remind me that no one’s curl pattern is the same, products that work for others may not work for me, and to embrace the hair/curl pattern on my head and embrace MY version of beauty.
13) What’s the best part about being natural? What is the hardest part?
Feeling free, beautiful, individualistic, and the random conversations with strangers about products we use is by far the best part about being natural. Natural hair is a great conversation starter!
14) What tips or advice would you give others that are starting their journey or thinking about starting?
Embrace the journey with open arms and with joy! Do not let the frustration, time, or opinions of others dictate how you choose to wear your hair. Lastly, DO NOT BE afraid to ask fellow curly haired individuals about their hair regimen and products they use. I have met some amazing people in grocery stores, at parks, and in coffee shops by just complementing their curls and asking them what products they use.
What part of Che’s hair journey inspired you the most?