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Monifa // Natural Hair Style Icon

Avatar • Dec 21, 2009

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Where are you from?
M:
I am from St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands. I am an architect practicing project management at our local transportation agency. I manage our designers, architects and general contractors.

When did you go natural?
M:
I went natural in 2005. My last perm was in March 2005. I had been telling myself that I would go natural at 30. For some reason, 30 seemed like a good age to take myself seriously. With that said, it was something that stayed on my heart so I took the plunge and never looked back.

Growing out my hair has taken me about 3 ½ years. I wouldn’t say it has been quick and it certainly hasn’t always been smooth. I would definitely say that it has been fun. I’ve enjoyed it. It’s true what they say – “Time flies when you’re having fun!”

Was it difficult at all?
M:
Not at all. Anyone that knows me (well) knows that I have always been obsessed with my hair. When I had a perm, I was at the salon every (and I do mean every) week. I love healthy hair and learning about my natural state was exciting! I was excited to do research! I was excited to experiment! I was excited to seek out professional natural hair care professionals! I wore braids for a year. But, once I grew out about 2 inches of hair, I started to wear my afro out and I played in hair constantly. During those first six months of wearing my afro out, I think I washed and twisted my hair every night. Man I was tired, but I just loved to play with my hair!

What were family and friends’ reactions to your hair?
M:
Most of my friends didn’t think I was really going to do it. My biggest surprise came when I told my mother I was going natural. Her exact words were – “Your hair has always been your crown of glory Monifa. Why do you want to cut it all off?” I was crushed! You have to understand – my mother is a classic afro-wearing, alice-walker-black-fisting regal black woman. She has been natural all of her adult life and I just knew she would be my biggest supporter. Her reaction was a big surprise. However, what her reaction did do for me was remind me that as I embarked on this journey, our hair should be our glory. For me, it is (and will always be) just that. I’m proud to say, she is now my hair’s biggest fan!

Have you had any difficulties wearing your hair natural at the office?
M:
Goodness, yes! Hahaha. I can’t say I experienced (or noticed) a lot of adverse reaction from my co-workers. I did get one guy that asked me “…how do you sleep on that?…” The longer my hair grew, the bigger the afro and the more nervous I got about wearing my afro to the office. I was a closet hypocrite. I started wearing my hair twisted with a roller set. It took me awhile to realize that as long I’m confident with my hair, whatever adverse effects there may be at the office will fall into the background.

What do you like about being natural?
M:
I love the self discovery. I love the versatility. I love the way my hair continues to surprise me. It’s been years and I’m still excited. Mostly, I like that natural hair care has evolved so much. There are so many (great) professional products available and the online support communities have grown so much. Support is a big part of transitioning. I love that being natural is no longer has to be a personal “struggle”.

What is your wish for black women?
M:
My wish for black women is to regain self love. We are the most giving and loving women on the planet, but we are also the most self hating and self critical women. I wish to see us regain self respect – the ability to love others AND love ourselves.

The black hair debate (perm-vs-natural) is really about self esteem. Once we regain self love, there is no debate only option. Chris Rock’s movie “Good Hair” was/is a conversation piece because it exposed us. No, it didn’t expose the fact that we spend a lot of money on hair; it exposed that we (black women AND black men) don’t like our natural state. That movie made us look at ourselves again and own up to our lack of self love.

What style do you like to rock?
M:
These days I love rocking my twist out. I don’t like hair on my face, so I usually have a little bit of flat twisting at the hair line.

What do you use in your hair?
M:
I use a combination of a lot of products. I’ve learned that my hair has “moods”. So I no longer fight against the moods. I use what works well for whatever the mood is.

I use Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding and Baby Buttercreme for my dry twisting and leave in conditioning. When I need an extra boost of moisturizing, I add raw shea butter. I use Kinky Kurly Curling Custard for my wet sets and I use Castor Oil Soap to cleanse (when I actually shampoo). I mostly do no-poos (no shampoo cleansing). Pure Aloe Vera gel and vegetable glycerin are also staple products.

Can you give us a tutorial for your chunky dry twist-out?

      M: 1.) Section hair out into six sections. Apply a moderate amount of moisturizing curly cream to each section. (Do not try to detangle dry hair!!!)

 

      2.) Apply generous amounts of curling cream to one inch sections of hair. Start applying product at the root and carefully pull the hair section to allow the product to spread to the ends. Repeat until there is a noticeable stretch in the curly pattern. You should be able to stretch and spread until the hair section is detangled. (Do not attempt to detangle with a comb!!!)

 

      3.) Divide the section into two strands and twist. Add a dab of aloe vera gel at the ends of the twisted section to “close” the twist.

 

      4.) Sit under a dryer for 15–30 minutes — depending on your thickness and length. Hair should be completely dry to the touch. (Sorry ladies…the dryer is key to capturing the stretched curl pattern.)

 

      5.) Untwist each section. Start by twisting each section in the opposite direction of the twisted pattern from the root.

 

      6.) Spritz with hair finishing gloss and loosely massage through your hair.

 

    7.) Place your fingertips to the root of your hair and shake it loose!!!!

If your hair had a nickname, what would it be? Why?
M:
SIMBA!!!!…I’ts kinda corny but…when I get it blow dried, I’ve been told it looks like a lion’s mane.

Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
M:
I just started blogging at http://ilandgul-onbeingoutthere.blogspot.com/. I haven’t started a hair blog yet, but I’m a big follower of several blogs and online support communities.

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Kweenie
Kweenie
10 years ago

She looks amazing. Have been contemplating getting a dryer, but they’re so pricey! Can she tell us how she got the color? 🙂

S23
S23
10 years ago

I love her hair! I love the color. My hair wants to be like this when it grows up and out.:)

NappturallyHappy
NappturallyHappy
10 years ago

I’M.HAVING.SERIOUS.HAIR.ENVY.

Josephine Bea
Josephine Bea
10 years ago

Her hair is beyond beautiful and EXACTLY what I’m aiming for, and her words are oh so wise. So creative with her styles too. Love love love! Xx

tamren
tamren
10 years ago

I LOVE her hair!! I’m going to try the tutorial as well.

Amma Mama
Amma Mama
10 years ago

BeautiFUL!
I love your pics!

Steph
Steph
10 years ago

Love the color, and the hair! My head is too big for the giant twist-outs, but I may try this style on a smaller scale.

MizzTriniRi
MizzTriniRi
10 years ago

I LOVE the thickness of her hair. Every style looks very professionally done.

tnt_FTW
tnt_FTW
10 years ago

BIG UPS for people who work in the design/development biz! im an urban planner and a fellow natural head so to see your hairstyles for work warm my heart.

w00!

Jai
Jai
10 years ago

Love this, “The black hair debate (perm-vs-natural) is really about self esteem. Once we regain self love, there is no debate only option. Chris Rock’s movie “Good Hair” was/is a conversation piece because it exposed us. No, it didn’t expose the fact that we spend a lot of money on hair; it exposed that we (black women AND black men) don’t like our natural state. That movie made us look at ourselves again and own up to our lack of self love.” PREACH!!!!!

Gorgeous hair sis, thanks for sharing your story.

Great interview Leila!!!!

Monifa
10 years ago

Hi ladies! Wow…thanx for such womderful comments.

I get my hair colored at a local natural hair salon. Because my hair is so thick, I like having highlights to give it dimension and a bit more character. Hint — a liscensed natural hair stylist is so important. Most states don’t require natural hair stylist to have liscenses. So if you find one that is liscensed, not only can you rest assured they have been professionally trained, you can also get color treatments!

Ms. Bar B
10 years ago

I love her color choice!

Tiffany
10 years ago

Nice hairstyle.

lina40
10 years ago

great hairstory! I also just ADORE her hair color and the flat twistout in the last pic — just glorious! SIMBA is an appropriate name, lol! Its beautiful!

Val
Val
10 years ago

Monifa has convinced me to fall back in love with my decision to go natural! I’ve been struggling over these last few weeks to go back to a relaxer. Not anymore. I have to work harder to maintain my beautiful, natural mane!!! Monifa’s hair is gorgeous!!!

Angel
Angel
10 years ago

Monifa, what curl cream did you use — Miss Jessie’s or Kinky Kurly? Thanks.

Paula
Paula
10 years ago

I love her hairstyles! Absolutely BEAUTIFUL! I will defintely follow the directions for the chunky twist out!

Brie
Brie
10 years ago

Love it!

NATRALLEEMEE
NATRALLEEMEE
9 years ago

I think Monifa is absolutely beautiful! What I love the most is the photo of the flat twists. I wish we could see the front & back view. Heck, I wish I could actually style my own hair like this. Maybe one day I’ll attempt to recreate this look when I have some time.

Kim
Kim
9 years ago

I have been looking all over for some castor oil soap where can I purchase some? Your hair looks similar to my 4year really looking for some help!!! but you have helped me already more ways than 1!!

Nichelle
9 years ago

Your hair is amazing, especially with the thick twists.

Marsha
9 years ago

I love her hair and the color. The last hairstyle is my fav. It looks like flat twists with two strand twists.

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