Naturalista Series™ Presents: Rene Syler

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What's your name and where are you from?

My name is Rene Syler. I grew up in Sacramento, CA but my television career took me to Reno, NV, Birmingham, AL, Dallas, TX and ultimately NY where I live now.

Have you always been natural? If not, what inspired you to go natural? Did you transition? If so, for how long?

I have been natural for just over a year and I LOVE IT! Being on air talent for various TV stations and ultimately CBS (The Early Show), I wore my hair in the style of most black anchorwomen, relaxed and styled into a bob. When I got to CBS, we experimented with my look a bit and I started wearing it curly. The problem was, it was still relaxed straight, then my staff hairdresser, EVERY MORNING, would blow it out and then hot curl it (you know, with the oven, not a regular curling iron). Along with that, I was getting it relaxed every 5 weeks (per another hairdresser’s suggestion) and coloring it too! It’s a wonder I had any hair on my head when I left in late 2006. I continued on with my over processing ways until November 2008. I cam down with asthmatic bronchitis and had to be hospitalized. They pumped me full of medication and when I was released two days later, I headed right for the beauty shop for a touch up. Well, my poor hair had had enough. It started breaking and falling out, most acutely in the crown where the hair was about ½ long. I had never, even in all the years of abuse, had an issue with my hair falling out. I was so stunned I didn’t know what to do. By this time, I was seeing another hairdresser who told me no more relaxers, at least for the next several months. I took her advice and then some. I used no relaxers, I didn’t even manipulate it much, it was all hats for me (perfect since it was winter in NY). By late December, I had about ½ inch of new growth and I was shocked by how beautiful it was! I had no idea because I was so busy beating the heck out of it , relaxing as soon as one little curl turned up. I had actually forgotten what my natural hair looked like! Lo and behold it was gorgeous and in that instant I decided, no more chemicals for me, I am a natural girl.

I transitioned for about 3 ½ months, checking out YouTube videos and my own daughter’s hair for inspiration

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What is your hair type?

I guess I am a 3B with 3C around the crown but not really sure. I could be all 3C. But what I have discovered is I have a bunch of different things going on on this head, LOL. I have hair that is nearly bone straight right next to a corkscrew shape, tightly curled hair. I do LOVE the curl pattern near the nape of my neck and at times, wish I had a head full of that. This whole journey, as traumatic as the beginning was, has been a wonderful learning experience. I was a 45-year-old woman who had NO IDEA how to take care of her own hair, much less what my hair type was or the products I should be using.

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What do you love most about being natural?

There are so many things I love about it. I love that this mass of curls totally fits my personality, wild and untamed, soft and surprising. Curly, straight, twists, I love the versatility, who knew I could do so much with my hair? I love that I have NEVER had a bad hair day since going natural. I love that God made my hair so unique and I now (after more than 4 decades of not) appreciate it. I love that it takes so little time for me to get going in the morning and I love that its like a new toy with me.. everyday is a new surprise.

What are your hair goals for 2010?

When I first cut my hair, all I could focus on was length. I now understand “if you build it they will come” in other words, the length is a byproduct of a solid foundation of good hair care.

I just want the kind of healthy hair that turns heads and makes people ask, “ is that a weave?” KIDDING!

Name a few challenges you are currently facing with your hair. Have you been doing anything different to overcome these challenges?

I would have to say I am blessed because I haven’t really had many challenges with my hair, once I stopped beating the crap out of it! But I suppose my main challenge would be retaining moisture. I baggy at least 4-5 nights a week, for the whole night and that helps immensely. I also carry around travel size moisturizers in my make up bag and will apply it at least once or twice a day, depending on the time of year.

What styles do you love to wear the most and why? How do you go about achieving this style?

I am really pretty much a wash-n-go girl. I use Hair Rules for curl definition, though sometimes I like the way it looks with just a little JBCO on the ends. I like twists as a protective style and I pull them back during the day but to be honest, I have not managed the twist out look for me as yet. My hair is still a bit uneven as the back has a looser curl and hangs differently. So when I do a twist out is resembles a mullet. I do roller sets about once a month.

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List the products that you use and how you use them. What is your current hair regimen? Share what works for you!

Well the path I took to get here is littered with shampoo bottles and curl products, lol but here goes.

--I pre-poo overnight with olive oil then cleanse once a week using Organic Curl Maintenance shampoo that I buy at the health food store. It has no sulfates which I SWEAR by.

--Deep Condition with whatever is on hand. I like the Olive Oil Replenishing Pak by ORS.

--I have been around the horn on gels and crèmes and the like. I started with Miss Jessie’s, then on to Kinky Curly Custard Crème, Deva Curl before settling in on Hair Rules, which is my favorite. I like it because you use it in the shower and then let it air dry, or sit under the dryer. It pulls my curls together and minimizes frizz without looking wet or greasy.

--I baggy overnight 4-5 nights a week to help ends and retain moisture.

-- I use NO DIRECT HEAT, in fact, I used a flat iron only twice in the last year and one of those was an emergency TV appearance.

--I avoid like the plague sulfate shampoos and conditioners with silicones in them. My curls really started to pop after I did those two things.

--I co wash 3-4 times a week with VO5 conditioner (no cones) and dry hair with a COTTON (not terry cloth) T-shirt, which helps minimize the frizz.

And that’s it!

What products do you use to achieve soft beautiful curl definition?

I’ve tried a lot of things, but have settled on Hair Rules. I think you really have to find the thing that works best for your hair. I was not a fan of Kinky Curly and though I began with it, really ended up not being wild about Miss Jessie’s. I like my curls to look natural, like I just rolled out of bed, gave my head a shake and they tumbled into place. Some of the other products made my hair look wet or greasy and I was not wild about that for me.

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How do you detangle your hair?

I use a Denman brush to detangle sometimes but mainly I just use my hands. I get the hair good and soaked with my cheapie conditioner and then use my fingers as a rake sort of and work my way through it. I like using my hands because I can get a feel for how hard I am working my hair and if need be, lighten up a bit.

What product or technique would you say really helped your hair flourish?

Wow, that’s a tough question as I don’t think there is really an easy answer. But it boils down to what I stopped and what I started. I stopped abusing my hair with chemicals, color and heat. But it really took off once I got the sulfate shampoos and silicone conditioners out of my regimen. The baggying helped me retain length and treat the ends well though I never had much problem with breakage (outside of the post hospitalization episode). Being consistent with the hair vitamins, exercise and drinking water have helped a lot too.

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Do you have any advice for other naturals?

A couple of things I think are very important.

--For those who have just BC’d I’d say be patient and enjoy every stage you are at. I look back at pictures of me from last summer and think, oh look how cute that short hair was. Your hair WILL grow if you are good to it.

--Have realistic expectations. Yes, your hair will grow. No it will NOT grow three inches in one month. Expecting it too, watching with a tape measure will only create stress, which will not help. RELAX!

--Find the regimen that works FOR YOU! You will read about so and so tried this and her hair grew three inches in a month (no it did not) and you may run out and buy and try that regimen. Don’t be sucked into that cycle. Follow your own path.

--Be Flexible. You may need to make changes here and there. Products that worked for your hair while it was shorter may not be as effective as you get more length. Don’t be afraid to switch it up.

-- Be proud of your look! Others may not understand “why you cut off all that beautiful hair” but they don’t need to. This is a personal decision and you don’t need to explain your motives to anyone. Look in the mirror, repeat after me “ I-AM-BEAUTIFUL!”

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Where on the web can we find more about you and your styles?

I update my progress on my own website at, on facebook, I have a fotki page (need to update that too, LOL) and of course, HAIRLISTA.COM!

Thank you Rene Syler for sharing all that information with us!

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  1. I hear you on not jumping on the bandwagon when you someone posts that product that gave quick growth results. I have learned my lesson with all the products I have in my cupboards. LOL I am finding my own way now and am seeing which products work and do not work for me. HHG

  2. I've really enjoyed reading up on the naturalista series! I'm about 4 months into my HHJ (formerly relaxed now texlaxed) and at times I have wanted to go natural mainly coz i'm in love with my curls but I worry about not being able to care for it!mainly due to me struggling now with two textures but we'll see!

  3. i've enjoyed following Rene's hj progress & i'm happy to see her featured in the Naturalista Series! her hair has really flourished during the past year & sum change. truly inspirational for all of us!

  4. This is the second feature I have read on Rene and I really enjoy reading about her journey and her progress. It's really inspiring. I too have a favorite Hair Rules product -- the aloe and grapefruit purifying shampoo. It's the best shampoo I have found for my transitioning hair. Thanks for sharing your story Rene. Your hair is gorgeous!!!

  5. I really enjoyed learning more about your hair journey Rene and it's very helpful to a newbie like me. I BC'd 2 weeks ago after transitioning for 6 months.

  6. Renee is awesome. I have been looking at her various natural styles on Hairlista and I love it! She is a great inspiration to me now that I am more into being au naturale. Thanks for sharing this great interview!