Where are you from?
L: I am from NYC and live in Michigan currently. I work in academic affairs administration for a university.
When did you go natural?
L: I went natural twice–once in college, and once again in graduate school (starting in 2004). I went natural in college because a relaxer made my hair fall out and I was tired of braids, and the second time I was tired of paying for salon visits and saw that styling with heat was thinning my hair. Finally I missed the feel and texture of my hair in its natural state and wanted it to be healthier.
At first it was hard finding products and getting over the idea that hair should have a certian texture to be acceptable enough. After changing my own mind, I stopped being concerned with what others thought. My family was supportive (although curious about whether my hair would be linked to my ability to be employed) and my friends liked it, although I got mixed reactions from some who think “done” hair is straight hair, and told me so. Sometimes it was frustrating hearing peoples’ misconceptions–that I am militant, angry, tough, eccentric, intimidating –none of which are bad but have nothing to do with a hair style–but after explaining my decision to them, and wearing a lot of styles they started appreciating it as I do.
I like the versatility of natural hair, how others react to seeing it, having it touched, played in and marveled at, the fact that it can morph into different lengths and textures without adding any chemicals or cutting it into a style. I like that there is an enormous, international community of women with natural hair, from nappturality, to BGLH, to the fotki sites that give me inspiration and help me find different styles and products to expirement with.
What are you passionate about, aside from hair?
L: I am passionate about writing fiction, sketching and finding a good bargain. I am currently working on a natural hair styling and maintenance book focusing on looks that work well with various fashion trends, which will be my first attempt at nonfiction.
Have you had any difficulties wearing your hair natural at work?
L: I never had any difficulties wearing my natural at work–I’ve done everything from a ‘fro to twists to updos and plaits. It has not impacted my ability to move forward or succeed professionally.
What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learnt from?
L: I made the mistake of blowing my hair out after slathering glycerine on it (it turned into a crunchy mess), using mousse because I thought it would give me instant curls. Anything sticky or watery, with weird chemical smells or that promised to get rid of naps or add artificial shine is what I avoid now after some bad expirements those first two years. I also don’t dye…did it once and didn’t like the drying. The other mistake I made was ever relaxing it! When I think back to sitting in a salon with a burning scalp…I just don’t think getting your hair done should cause suffering.
What’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
L: Washing it using the crown and glory technique (in giant braids) that pretty much does away with any kind of breakage and retains volume…I don’t lose any hair in the shower anymore and learned how to comb backwards (ends to root) when the hair is wet or conditioned.
What do you use in your hair?
L: I always admired people who make everything from scratch, but the only things I’ve made are sulfur oil for growth and a glycerine spritz for moisture. I currently use afroveda scalp oil, afro detangler as a daily leave-in. I wash with giovanni products, deep condition with my honeychild honey hair mask. That’s been my go-to routine for overall health. Sometimes I mix it up with a protein treatment or oyin handmade burnt sugar pomade. Finally moisture and steam, which are free!
What style do you like to rock?
L: My favorite is a massive braid-out damp from the shower and fingercombed to the high heavens.
If your hair had a nickname, what would it be?
L: I think it would be Honeybear Jenkins because my hair should have starred in a blaxploitation movie. It would have played the part with irony because my hair has a pretty good sense of humor.
What is your wish for all black women?
L: I wish all black women would enjoy their lives and work harder at pleasing themselves–you become irresistible when others notice you are happy and content.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
L: Check me out at www.fotki.com/Debbiesdaughter for hair photos! I don’t have a blog yet, but one is coming soon.