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Hamira // Natural Hair Style Icon

Avatar • May 25, 2009

I love the traits that identify me as a black, African woman. I love being a nappy-headed, dark-skinned woman. When someone tells me that I look good or that my hair looks good, it’s a boon to my truest, unaltered self.” ~Hamira






**All photos are of Hamira’s real hair. None are extensions.

BGLH: where do you live?
Hamira
: I’m originally from Nigeria, but currently live in Minnesota and most of the time I deal with what feels like hellish, blizzard conditions. I’ve only been in this state for two years and previous to that lived in much warmer climes (Louisiana and Florida), so my hair has had to deal with quite a bit.

BGLH: why did you make the decision to go natural?
Hamira
: I went natural in December 2002 and did so because I realized it was an option. That sounds a little strange, but my hair had been permed for as long as I could remember and it never occurred to me that stopping could be an option until I came across a blog discussing natural hair. I had “healthy”, thick, relaxed hair, so damage wasn’t one of my motivators. I just wanted to become my more authentic self. I felt then, as I do now, that my natural hair was part of my identity as an African woman and I embrace and love everything that comes with that.

BGLH: how does your hair work for your life?
Hamira
: It works perfectly. I am currently work in a university setting, and my hair is never mentioned unless someone is complimenting it.

BGLH: where do you get style inspiration from?
Hamira
: I’ve been doing hair since I was 11, so I love coming up with new styles on my own. I’m pretty low maintenance when it comes to styling in general and prefer simple elegant styles to anything too elaborate. My favorite updo is a simple French roll because it gets my ends out of the way and looks polished.

BGLH: what’s the best thing about being natural?
Hamira
: I love feeling like my authentic self. I love the traits that identify me as a black, African woman. I love being a nappy-headed, dark-skinned woman. When someone tells me that I look good or that my hair looks good, it’s a boon to my truest, unaltered self. L says~That is an amazing answer if I ever heard one!

BGLH: did it take long for your hair to grow out?
Hamira
: It depends on what you define as long. I mean, I’ve gone through several hair cuts for styling purposes, so keep that in mind when you’re looking at my hair. Is 4 years long? It’s taken me a couple of years to get to this point, and I think that I got to this place by practicing simple hair care techniques. I used to be a serious product junkie (I mean 23+ bottles of conditioner serious) but even through all that, my basic hair care practices never changed, just the products. Again and again the products. I don’t think my hair grows any faster than the normal rate of ¼ to ½ of an inch a month; I just retain a lot of it. When people complain about how long it takes to grow long hair, I always say that those 3–4 years are going to pass regardless of what you’re doing to your hair. Might as well come out of it with longer hair (if that’s what you want). Don’t think of it as a jail sentence

BGLH: could you describe your products and regimen?
Hamira
: I select products based on maintaining the moisture balance in my hair, and my mainstay conditioner is Nexxus Humentress (the old formula with the grey top). I use it as a conditioner and as a leave-in, and it’s one of the few products that makes my hair butter soft. They’ve recently reformulated this product, much to my dismay, and I’m buying up all the bottles of the old formula that I come across. I used to be a serious product junkie, but this has been my routine conditioner for the last 2–3 years.

For deep/protein conditioning, I like Nexxus Emergencee, Aveda Damage Remedy and Aphogee Reconstructor. Either one of these will restore the necessary proteins to your hair.

I also use shea butter to seal in moisture and castor oil for detangling. Every natural needs to give castor oil a try, at least once. It’s made the most notable difference for me when detangling my super shrinky hair.

As for shampoos, I’m not picky. As long as it’s not one of those cheap, laundry detergent types that will strip my hair naked, I’m okay. I avoid petroleum jelly and mineral oils. I’ve been reading up on henna (which sounds lovely) and ayurvedic hair care, but I haven’t started using any yet.

Keep in mind that my hair is almost always in micro braids (sans extension) or twists, so I don’t concern myself with combing, especially not daily. On the occasions that I do comb, I use a mixture of conditioner and castor oil and my Goody Styling Therapy brush. This happens maybe once or twice a year. I’ll part a section, brush it out, and braid or twist it. The flexible nature of the Goody brush means that my parted sections don’t have to be too small.

BGLH: anything else you want to add?
Hamira
: Growing long hair isn’t hard; just leave your hair alone. I know this is easier said than done, but keeping styling to a minimum is important if you want to retain length. If you’re the type who likes to switch it up daily and doesn’t care about how long your hair gets, then disregard this as it doesn’t pertain to you. But if you are constantly twisting for that twistout, braiding for the braidout, coiling for that coilout and wondering why your hair doesn’t seem to be growing, it’s probably because you’re playing in it too much. I think that most black women are fed the line that their hair has to be “done” (as in styled) all the time, especially with natural hair, which has the extra requirement of being “tamed” and “styled”. Don’t be afraid of frizzy twists or the little poof of new growth on older braids. I’ve seen “growth aid” trends come and go and I recommended staying off of those bandwagons. I’ve seen people getting demoralized because their hair didn’t grow the 2+ inches a month that some product promised them and I think that most of these trends are destructive and undermine normal, patient hair care practices.

Another thing that comes up a lot of hair care boards is the issue of texture and shrinkage, which sometimes goes hand in hand, but can be exclusive of each other as well. Learn to love and work with the hair you have. If you can truly accept what inches out of your scalp each month, you will save yourself the trouble of trying to “fix” or hide it. This is one of those things that’s also easier said than done. It’s also something that you can’t change (without chemicals) which is why accepting it becomes crucial to your hair’s survival. A lot of times texture/shrinkage-fighting manifests itself in the constant styling mentioned in the paragraph above, so if this is you, I’m not going to be patronizing and say that “God created your hair the way it is and you should learn to love it now” (as though saying that makes detangling any easier); I will suggest however that you try to find flattering laissez-faire styles that your hair likes and wear those more often.

On a final note, don’t obsess. This sounds strange after my dissertation on growing out your hair, but seriously, don’t waste time monitoring you hair growth monthly (do you know how small ¼ of an inch actually is?) you will only drive yourself crazy. I have no idea how many inches my longest or shortest layers are and don’t care. If you make it your goal to get your hair as healthy as possible, then the rest will follow, measurements or not.

For more of Hamira, check out her fotki page: http://members.fotki.com/Delushious/about/.

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Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

hey sista, as a fellow Nigerian-afro-rocking-beauty, i salute you. your hair really rocks!

Ebony Intuition
Ebony Intuition
11 years ago

Her hair is fab.

Professah Monee
Professah Monee
11 years ago

very beautiful woman with gorgeous hair.I want to play in her hair. http://curlyluv.blogpsot.com

keisha
keisha
11 years ago

i’m impressed with the microbraids sans extensions…the patience to put those suckers in AND take them out. 

but hamira said some very deep things. like the use of growth aids can undermine normal, healthy hair practices! TRUTH. and measuring monthly…i had to stop doing that because it was really no point. i always enjoy that moment when i can actually SEE that my hair has grown because it’s noticeably longer and not because the tape measure said so. 

excellent choice for rock solid regimen, L!

Patricia Grannum
Patricia Grannum
11 years ago

I love what she says at the end about not worrying about the length! And her hair is gorgeous! 

http://womanofcolour.blogspot.com

Sunshinelovespeace
Sunshinelovespeace
11 years ago

I love your hair and what you had to say about it.

Peace

msjaim
msjaim
11 years ago

this sister has a great head of hair and i love the attitude she has regarding being able to be her authentic self ‑fully . i can dig that…im just wondering though, how do u deal with knots and splits ?…ive had locs the majority of being natural, so ive nver really had to worry about splits and knots,but now, when ever i see splits/ knots i break the shears out.i cut off about an inch last week :/

eccentricyoruba
eccentricyoruba
11 years ago

i love the gele in the first picture. and her advice regarding length is so true. i needed to hear that.

Bronze Trinity
Bronze Trinity
11 years ago

I love the quote you highlighted in purple. Wow! That’s something every little black girl should hear!

Darcel
Darcel
11 years ago

Beautiful hairstyles!

Kristy
Kristy
11 years ago

I love how she said sometimes you should just let your hair be, and that it doesn’t always have to be styled. Sometimes I’ll wear twists and I’ll leave them in for a week or two, they’ll look fuzzy but it’s ok with me. I like letting my hair do its own thing sometimes and listening to what it needs instead of controlling it all the time. It’s also cool that she said to not worry about how much its growing, i agree, life’s too short then to measure how many inches your hair is. It’s not like you can… Read more »

Beautifully.Conjured.Up
Beautifully.Conjured.Up
11 years ago

That Nexxus is the best!!! I swear by it, and I’m glad to see her using it.

Sugabelly
Sugabelly
11 years ago

LOL @ How ever since you did that post on Naturals in Nigeria all the Nigerians have been coming out the woodwork. It’s like flood of Nigerians are washing up on this blog which is very amusing for me since I am.… Nigerian too.

Black girl with long hair
Black girl with long hair
11 years ago

@ sugabelly… lol, i know! i have a south african ‘naturals from around the world’ interview coming up… so it will be interesting to see what happens after that…

Urban
Urban
11 years ago

She has gorgeous hair. Can’t wait for the South African edition!

serenissima
serenissima
11 years ago

her hair is indeed beautiful, and i totally agree with the ‘less is more’ POV for retention… 

nexxus shampoo is the shizz also!

Rebecca V. O'Neal
Rebecca V. O'Neal
11 years ago

LOVE LOVE LOVE her hair.

jenteel
jenteel
11 years ago

wonderful advice hamira!
your hair speaks for itself 🙂

Emily
Emily
11 years ago

Your hair really is beautiful! I’m so jealous of people with long, thick hair! Keep taking care of it so it stays healthy and beautiful forever!

Amina
Amina
11 years ago

wooow, her hair is goorgeous!!
I love the advices she gives too

Laurel
Laurel
11 years ago

true talk!! I definitely needed to read this today ‘cos my hair and I seem to have had some kinda miscommunication going on for the past week; as it grows out, its becoming dry and does not respond to whatever I put in it..I have just put in cornrows so I don’t have to deal with it for a couple of weeks..
ur advice is encouragement..:)
btw, I wonder how much condish to castor oil ratio she uses for detangling..

Gem
Gem
11 years ago

Hamira, your interview and hair are super inspiring. Thank you!

sweetlauren
sweetlauren
11 years ago

Tks for ur inspirational advice!!

shannon moonchild
shannon moonchild
9 years ago

thankyou so much for this passage. I have had to teach myself how to care for my hair. I go in annually to get my ends clipped. This can only be done after a 2 day process of flatironing it. Which always ends up with 2 handfulls of broken off hair in the brush & comb. Makes me sad to see, but what can i do, they cant get a comb through it otherwise. Add to that I wash my hair weekly & detangling it after gets me a 12 of a combfull. I feel like DANG! But my scalp… Read more »

grace
grace
9 years ago

I used to say the same thing, my hair seemed to stop growing a couple inches past my shoulder. It really just works to just leave your hair alone!! Practice protective styling as they protect your ends, and decrease daily styling. That totally saved my hair, and before I knew it, my hair grew well into the middle of my back! Ironically, I graduated from undergrad and just wanted to do something drastic with my hair so I cut it, and now have a TWA! It’s so different since I haven’t had one in a looong time, and there are… Read more »

Cee
Cee
9 years ago
Reply to  grace

did you do the bc? or just some inches?

cherie
cherie
9 years ago

moonchild

Have you tried washing your hair in braids? I started doing this a couple months ago, and it has really decreased tangles. Keeping my hair stretched, not only during washings, but at all times, has really helped keep the knots at bay. Because of this, I no longer have to use a comb–I finger comb, which also decreases tangles. Try it, I hope it helps!

Cee
Cee
9 years ago

Yes I would like to know how to take care of your hair in cold Cold COLD minnesota! lol

Cee
Cee
9 years ago

I live in Minnesota, how do you keep it moisturized during the long cold winter? lol

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