"I had no idea that this would take off like this, but it's a pleasant surprise. I had no idea that chopping off my hair would be adding to my brand as well," Coles says, admitting that watching naturalistas share their stories on YouTube and other social media forums is her new obsession. "I am amazed and delighted by what I learned from these girls."
Just tweeting the phrase 'natural hair' about her new 'do on Twitter garnered her 800 additional followers in a couple of days. Coles' transition even inspired natural hair-care blogger Nikki Walton at popular curlynikki.com to ask her to participate in a six-month-long hair-growth challenge aptly titled Kim Coles' Grow-Out Challenge.
Coles' challenge "dares you to forgo bad habits during this 6-month quest for BIG, healthy natural hair." Grow-out challenges are popular for online hair communities where participants observe better eating and exercise habits and practice healthy hair maintenance to help facilitate better hair growth. It's more of a self-challenge than actual competition among participants.
"It allows me to have accountability to remain healthy because healthy on the inside equals healthy on the outside. Kim has to drink a lot of water because my hair needs it and so does Kim," says Coles, who blogs daily about her hair experiences.
The newly-natural actress changed her hair because, quite frankly, she was bored; after all, she looked the same way for 20 years. Although Coles hasn't had a relaxer since 1988, she began wearing microbraids in 1991, as seen on hit shows 'Living Single' and 'In Living Color,' and wore other braid styles and weaves before that.
So, a few days after Christmas, she cut out the braids and decided to style her own hair. She didn't tell her agent, publicist or manager, and even purchased a wig that looked like unraveled braids just in case she didn't like her hair.
As sudden as her decision may appear, Coles had considered sporting her chemical-free coils for about two years. Initially she was going to jump straight into Sisterlocks but her 'My Black Is Beautiful' TV show cohost, actress Vanessa Williams - also a natural hair maven - suggested she wear her own hair for a while. Coles relied on trichologist Dr. Kari Williams, owner of Mahogany Revolution Salon in Los Angeles and celebrity hairstylist Felicia Leatherwood to style her hair into double-strand twists and other coily looks.
As much as she's enjoyed wearing these styles, a recent red carpet appearance has Coles reconsidering getting locs.
She attended an event for the 42nd NAACP Image Awards and planned to rock a freshly styled twist-out.
"My hair was blown out, stretched and it was foxy," Coles says. But it was raining in Los Angeles and she noticed that her hair was transforming every time she did a mirror check. By the time she returned from the outing, her defined twist-out had morphed into a poodle-like poof.
"Nobody really explains how tough it's going to be," Coles says about mastering shrinkage and the ability to wear loose afro styles with longevity.
Don't take this as a sign of her throwing in the towel! The funny woman adds, "I don't mind that my hair is curly, kinky. The challenge for me is to find the absolute right product that will bring out the texture of my hair."
Right now, she says her hair loves castor oil, coconut oil and jojoba oil, and she's a fan of products by Oyin Handmade, Jessicurl, Kinky-Curly and AfroVeda. Her hair takes about 30 to 45 minutes to style compared to the 10 minutes she used to spend styling her braids.
Coles knows that going natural doesn't automatically make you immune to the programming that straighter hair that "blows in the wind" is better than tightly coiled hair textures. She loves her natural hair but admits wearing microbraids had its own security.
"It's so funny how we get indoctrinated. The reason why I wore braids for so long is because I wanted the length and wanted my hair to blow in the wind," she admits.
Coles, who turns 50 next year, isn't trying to make a political statement, but realizes that her hair experience is part of a bigger journey toward freedom and living a more authentic life.
"This journey is personal. It's an outpouring of my own spiritual growth. And I don't fault anyone for doing anything to their hair, especially girls in show business. I get why they do it," shares Coles who also has an empowerment program, Open the G.I.F.T.S.
For the ladies who are thinking of starting their own natural hair odyssey, Coles wants you to know that "with a little bit of extra work - sometimes a lot of extra work - it's really, really worth it."
To learn more about Kim Coles and her natural hair journey and Open the G.I.F.T.S., visit kimcolesinc.com.
Has Coles inspired you to go natural or have you already started your journey? Please share your experiences below.