-As told to Ellen Haille. Edited for clarity.
With a knack for fashion and art, Rogene shares how her years in college encouraged her to experiment and evolve into someone with a bold sense of self and even bolder hair!
Tell us about your hair journey.
My hair journey has been experimental, to say the least. In 2014, I went natural and began to embrace my natural texture – as much as my confidence would allow me to. When I got to college my hair choices began to evolve along with my personal style. Now that I’m reminiscing, my journey has been so satisfying because I’m continually trying new things.
Describe your hair in five words or less.
A reflection of me.
My Hair Through the Years
How did you wear your hair when you were younger?
Growing up, I wore my hair in about two or three styles that were in constant rotation. That included a ponytail, a bun, or braids. As I got older I began to experiment with hair texture, styles, and lengths.
The Big Chop
In 2013 I chopped the majority of my heat damage off and went “natural.” My hair was above my shoulders and I didn’t know what to do with it, so I wore Bantu knots, buns, or braid outs majority of the time. My natural hair is very hard to take care of. Too much manipulation will cause it to break off, which is why I always do protective styles. 2013 was when the natural hair movement began to get a lot of attention, and to me, it represented liberation and a new beginning. I was trying to find a sense of who I was so I thought I would try and do that through my hair.
Again, going natural was more about liberation than the actual style. I just wanted to experiment with my hair in a way I hadn’t done before. Growing up my hair was always pressed or curled. I never wore it in its natural state ever; it was always manipulated.
In 2014 during my freshman year of college, I dyed my hair red (I loved that hair color because it gave me so much confidence). I was going through a tumultuous “situation-ship” and decided that dying my hair would be the best way to cope. I am guilty of still changing my hair when relationships go bad, lol. My red hair was inspired by Rihanna (I LOVE HER). I wanted something bold; I wanted to be seen; I didn’t want to be ignored; Red was that color.
I only kept it for a couple of months because I took my weave out and I didn’t want to dye my entire head red. The bleach would have caused too much damage. If bleach did not damage my hair so badly I would still have red or honey blonde hair. Red hair requires a lot of color maintenance that I didn’t have the dedication for.
This past spring (2017) I got an undercut. This was very spur-of-the-moment. I got bored with my hair, as I always do, and wanted to try something new. Normally, there is always a traumatic experience that causes me to do something drastic to my hair, however, when I got an undercut I was in a very good place. I just got bored with my hair and needed a change. I wear a lot of buns and I figured an undercut would be a cool thing to do since I always wear my hair up.
Having an undercut is horrendous because when it grows out it looks extremely funky (actually we know how!) Also, the maintenance of having to get it cut every other week was wearing my patience thin. I’m currently attempting to grow it out and wish that I didn’t get it.
What has been your favorite look of all?
This is an extremely hard question. Part of the reason why I change my hair so often is because I get bored a lot and each style reflects a part of who I am during that time.
But if I must choose…. big curly hair. I love my hair the most when it serves Diana Ross/Chaka Khan vibes. I will forever live for curly voluminous hair!
A style you’ll never wear again?
I vow to never put on a synthetic pink wig again. Cross my heart and hope that someone does me a favor and kills me.
Tell us a bit about your hair routine.
My hair routine depends on the style I’m wearing. If I have a protective style (most likely to be a weave) I will wash my hair every two weeks and apply a leave-in conditioner and oil underneath my braids.
If I’m wearing my natural hair in its straight form, I will wash, deep condition, and apply a leave-in every two to three weeks.
If I’m wearing my natural hair I will co-wash, deep condition, and apply a leave-in/styler every week.
I clarify my hair and apply protein treatment every four to five weeks.
What products can’t you live without?
If As I Am ever stopped making their co-wash I would never wear my natural again because that product is the TRUTH! Also, Creme of Nature has a Perfect 7 leave-in conditioner that is awesome as well. Palmer’s makes a great protein treatment and Shea Moisture has this bomb deep conditioner in their Manuka Honey line.
My Hair Now
How do you feel about your hair right now?
After almost five years of going natural, I’m still trying to appreciate my hair for what it is. I either always think my hair is too short, too thin, or too kinky. It’s always too something I don’t want it to be. But honestly, I love my hair. The versatility that it provides me is amazing. It’s so silky, shiny, and soft. It truly is a reflection of me because just like my hair, I am always changing.
If you want to learn more about Rogene, check out her website here.