Natural Woman: Tina-Gaye "Bernie" Bernard
City: Brooklyn, New York
Occupation: Cosmetic Executive, Public Speaker, Cultural Marketing Expert - www.COCOACHiC.com
Hair Journey: Bernie's mother, a licensed cosmetologist, tried to keep her little girl's hair chemical-free for as long as possible - so Bernie wore it natural and in plaits. "But growing up in Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, I clamored for 'Barbie'-like hair to assimilate," says Bernie. "So every once in a while she'd press it to appease me." Bernie finally got her first relaxer at age 13.
She loved wearing her hair long and straight, but in her late 20's, she decided she needed a change. So in October 2004 she did the big chop. "It was so liberating to release my hair from the demands of chemical processing," she says. "No more spending hours under a dryer, half a day at the salon, and avoiding rain, water sports, and workout sweat!" And now, Bernie has never felt more beautiful. "I used to be the one always tossing long hair over her shoulder, but now I feel so unique and different. My energy has exploded!"
Right now, Bernie's sporting a chic faux-hawk that gets positive attention wherever she goes. She's even noticed a change in the reaction from her colleagues. "I had a surreal moment in my hair journey, when I got a compliment from one of my mentors," she remembers. "During a routine meeting, she said 'your haircut is lovely...that's one of the best decisions you'll ever make.'"
Favorite Products: Hamadi Organic hair care, Aveda Brilliant Shampoo and Conditioner ($11 each, aveda.com), Pantene Relaxed and Natural Shampoo and Conditioner ($6 each, drugstore.com), Moroccanoil Intensive Hydrating Hair Mask ($30, amazon.com), Miss Jessie Curly Pudding ($38, missjessies.com), Elasta QP Glaze ($3, sallybeauty.com), Mizani Supreme Oil ($24.99, amazon.com)
Hair Icons: Eva Marcille Pigford, Nia Long, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Karen Tappin-Saunderson of Karen's Body Beautiful and Renae Bluitt of In Her Shoes Blog
Advice to Aspiring Naturals: "Define and OWN your beauty."