As Black History Month continues, we want to continue spotlighting our diverse Aerie fam and community (check out our insightful #AerieREAL Shop Talk with AEO’s Jade Garcia or our vibrant floral studio post with Mallory with the Flowers!). For our next feature, we caught up with #AerieREAL Ambassador Donnya to learn more about her natural hair and get firsthand tips on caring for natural styles! 

In the video below, Donnya breaks down the ways that she focuses on nourishing and moisturizing her scalp when her hair is in a protective style. With a few supplies including oil, spray and a scrunchie, Donnya shows how she’s learned which simple tricks help foster her hair growth. Watch it to see her protective routine and learn more about her natural hair journey in our Q&A interview below.   

What do you love most about your natural hair? 

My natural hair is categorized as “4C hair.” I love my 4C natural hair because it is accustomed to my lifestyle. My hair grows and is at its healthiest when I don’t touch it at all, which is perfect. Through protective hairstyles and moisturizing my scalp daily, I’ve been able to focus on important tasks rather than stressing over my hair. 

How did you learn to care for your hair?

It literally took me 8 years to realize that my hair grows when I do not touch it! I used to dye my hair, do hairstyles every day, and wear heavy protective hairstyles. Through that, my hair did not grow. I lost hair, and even shaved my hair off 3 times because I was just over it all. Then one year, I decided to place in a protective style that was lightweight for the entire year and my hair grew inches!  

It takes trial and error to learn what your hair loves. Mine loves to be alone and oiled down every other day. 

Why is it important for black women to be able to choose to represent themselves with their natural hair? 

It is so important! It’s crazy that we even have to talk about it because it should be normal to do so. This hair is what we were born with, we have no other choice but to love and wear our hair the way we see fit. It is also great to have that representation for young girls to look up to. My daughter absolutely loves her hair because she sees how I appreciate mine. 

What’s your favorite part of wash day? 

To be honest, wash day is literally the WHOLE DAY! Probably my favorite part is right after a deep treatment. You can literally see my curls pop and come alive from being nourished. 

What advice do you have for other black women who are learning how to embrace and care for their natural hair? 

I’d advise you to do what makes you happy, and what works for YOUR hair. I spent years doing what I thought was right when it came to my hair. We are all not the same, and our hair textures prove that. I had to stop doing hairstyles that were made for 3C natural hair, and stick within my lane. This decision literally made me so happy because I was so tired of staying up late to twist my hair at night. There are natural women who have curls, afro’s, locs, sisterlocks, and more. Our hair journey will be different from someone else’s and that’s okay. 

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about your hair, or yourself, along your natural hair journey? 

What surprised me the most through my hair journey was how it changed me. It was not easy cutting my hair off and getting made fun of by my friends. I started this journey before it was embraced within  society so my first couple of months were rough. This journey equipped me for other aspects in my life. I wasn’t afraid of trying something new, I wasn’t afraid of failure or people’s acceptance, I was just unapologetically me.  

I think being a black woman in general really gives us an extra layer of confidence and strength to do anything, because of the trials we have been through. For that, I thank my natural hair for showing me what I am made of. 

What did you think of Donnya’s natural hair care tips Aerie, fam? What advice do you have for natural styles? Let us know in the comments!

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