In the latest installment of our weekly ‘Natural Hair Diary’ series, Afrobella.com’s Patrice Grell Yursik profiles Danielle N. Lee, a stunning scientist with a head full of luscious, relaxer-free ringlets.

Natural Woman: Danielle N. Lee

Age: 37

City: St. Louis, Missouri

Occupation: Biologist, Outreach Scientist, Science Blogger of Urban Science Adventures http://urban-science.blogspot.com

Hair Journey: “As a child, I had long, thick, curly hair and combing it into my signature handlebar ponytails was a battle for my mother,” says Danielle. At nine, she had her hair pressed for the first time and fell in love with the straight texture – however fleeting. “The summertime humidity in Memphis always made my hair ‘go back’,” she remembers. “My mother thought it was ridiculous to spend money for a press that only lasted a couple days.”

Danielle got her first relaxer when she was eleven, which kicked off years of scalp issues. She suffered through repeated chemical burns, especially when she went to college and had to do her own hair. “My scalp would burn and scab after every relaxer, without fail,” she says. “I tried everything — I stopped scratching my scalp for days prior to the treatment. I based it with petroleum jelly. I sprayed with oil sheen. I even used kiddie perms, thinking they’d be milder, but nothing helped.”

Finally, she decided no amount of beauty was worth that pain, so in July 1999, she did the big chop. “I mostly wear a curly afro with headband or hair combs,” she says. “I love to wear my hair big, but I think pulling it away from my face best suits me because I have a small forehead. I accent my hair with colorful accessories like flowers or barrettes.” 

Favorite Products: “My staples are inexpensive, moisture-rich products like clear gel, hair dressing grease, and shampoos and conditioners by Suave and Pantene Relaxed & Natural.  I supplement with specialty products like Happy People Only, Simply Curly and Butter Drops.”  

Hair Icons: Cree Summer, Jill Scott, Afrobella, Camille Cosby

Advice to Aspiring Naturals: “Taking care of two different hair textures is very hard, so don’t be afraid to do the big chop.  Hair can’t do anything but grow

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