Where do you live?
A: I currently live in Milwaukee, WI (get it, Midwest!) and work as a freelance makeup artist for POPbeauty cosmetics in the Milwaukee and Chicago area.
Why did you go natural?
A: There are a number of different reasons why I decided to go natural. One of the biggest reasons simply was that flat ironing my grown out locks felt like punishment. I dreaded washing and combing it all out, the hours I’d have to let it air dry before I flat ironed it, and exhausting my arms for two hours to make it straight. I started going longer and longer between washes and then began wearing it straight only when I had extra money laying around for a wash & style at the salon. Lastly, I got tons of positive feedback any time I sported a natural style, which began to make me feel a lot more confident in my God given kinks and coils. My parents have always encouraged me to wear my hair curly, but when friends, my boyfriend, and even complete strangers got excited about my wild mane, I knew it was time to fully accept and love my hair for what it was; AWESOME.
How did you transition?
A: I was never big on chemical straightening to begin with and have only had a handful of relaxers throughout the duration of my life. I haven’t chemically straightened my hair in ages (real time: about nine years), but I was stuck like glue to my right hand man, the love of my life…my flat iron. I was inexplicably attached to my straight hair. Although no one in my life had ever personally pushed me to wear it straight, I felt like I needed to have sleek and glossy strands of hair, not wild, seemingly untameable masses of “nappy” thick curls. My hair and its styles were my pride and joy, and I had always received a lot of compliments on the 50s and 60s inspired hairstyles I rocked.
I was never apt to wear my hair natural mostly because I was unhappy with the inconsistency of the curls; some pieces were perfect ringlets, some were zig zags, some ends were straight, and some strands protested and stuck up every which way. It was a lifelong battle between me and my hair, the score was something like Aja: 3, Hair: 3 million, I was easily frustrated when styles wouldn’t turn out, and I was sick of working so hard to make my hair something it was not. It wasn’t until I purchased DevaCurl’s Set It Free styling product that I realized I may be able to eliminate straightening all together.
So far it has been a 100% positive change in my life. Instead of letting my hair rule my life, I rule my hair. I no longer run screaming at the first sight of rain, I don’t avoid swimming or sigh in defeat in the midst of humidity, I simply love my hair (and it shows)!
How would you describe your hair?
A: Using the word thick to describe my hair is a complete understatement, it’s like I have four heads of hair on my one head. It definitely leans toward coarse as far as texture goes, and as I mentioned, the pattern is pretty inconsistent. Many locks of my hair are more of a zig-zag pattern than an actual coil, and some pieces aren’t even curly at all, they’re much more wavy than anything. Since I had spent so much time straightening my hair, I had plenty of damage to take care of. My hair was large, shapeless, and apparently where split ends went to die, so I cut off a fair amount to get a healthier start on my new style.
What’s your regimen?
A: Since I’m still pretty new to the curly haired world, I haven’t got a super solid regimen, nor am I married to any one product or line just yet. I’ve been alternating between two different LUSH shampoos that I adore, Cynthia Sylvia Stout and Curly Whirly. Curly Whirly contains coconut oil, vanilla, and avocado butter, it’s insanely moisturizing and smells like Heaven. After rinsing, I apply Kinky Curly’s Knot Today and brush through my wet hair with a paddle brush. After I rinse most of the conditioner out, I tilt my head toward the ground, stick my fingers in toward the roots of my hair, and shake it all out so all of the curly pieces separate, then I wrap my hair in a towel for only a few minutes.
For styling I work in about a dime size of LUSH’s R&B creme on my towel dried hair to add moisture, then I follow that with a small amount of Kinky Curly’s Curling custard and scrunch. I only use a blow dryer when it’s freezing cold outside so I don’t catch my death in this weather, but I will almost always let my hair air dry. In between shampooing I mist DevaCurl Set It Free on dry curls and use my fingers to redefine frizzed out locks.
What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learned from?
A: BLEACH! One word: YIKES. I too often have played kitchen beautician and have had more hair mishaps involving color than I’d care to remember.
What’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
A: Probably wrapping my hair before I sleep and adding as much moisture as I can (heck, I could even stand some more moisture).
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
A: Of course! www.facebook.com/ajaforpresident
Anything else you want to add?
A: I think embracing what you have is one of the keys to happiness. Whether you have long or short, thick or fine, kinky, straight, wavy, curly, unruly, or frizzy hair…make it work! Each trait we posses is working FOR us, to make us unique and lovely in our own ways, fighting against it is a terrible waste of time and energy. Love yourself and you will exude an unmatchable amount of confidence that is admirable and sexy.