Natural Hair Diary: Renisha James, Personal Trainer

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Welcome to the first installment of "Natural Hair Journeys," written by Patrice Grell Yursik, creator of the award-winning hair, beauty and fashion blog, Afrobella.com. Every Thursday, Yursik will profile a different woman's experience transitioning from relaxed to chemical-free tresses. Here, she chats with Renisha James, a Chicago personal trainer who recently underwent the "big chop" for the second time... NATURAL WOMAN: Renisha James AGE: 28 CITY: Chicago, IL OCCUPATION: Fitness Coach and Personal Trainer HAIR JOURNEY: Renisha got her first perm at fourteen. Inspired by a natural friend, she underwent her first big chop as a college freshman. "I kept it really short and it was cute," she said, "but I didn't know how to take care of it." So she went back to a relaxer -- and then tried to grow locks! When that didn't work, she relaxed her hair again. Renisha says her most recent transition will be her last. "My last relaxer was a little over a year ago, and I cut it off in September." This time around, Renisha feels more beautiful than ever. "Before, I didn't think I was pretty without long hair. Now I'm more educated about how to care for my hair... and I identify being natural with feeling pretty." FAVORITE PRODUCTS: "I love Carol's Daughter Rosemary Mint Shampoo ($12.50, carolsdaughter.com), Karen's Body Beautiful Butter Love ($18, karensbodybeautiful.com), and I really like Pantene Relaxed and Natural conditioner ($6, amazon.com)." HAIR ICONS: "My mom and Karen Tappin of Karen's Body Beautiful. Every time I see a photo of her, it's the bomb. When my hair gets longer and bigger, I'll wear it like hers." ADVICE TO ASPIRING NATURALS: "What's on your head shouldn't define you--beauty radiates from the inside. Love your hair in the state it's in!" If you'd like to submit your natural hair transitioning story and photos, please email Patrice Grell Yursik at essencenaturalhair@gmail.com.