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Dr. Phoenyx Austin // Natural Hair Style Icon

Avatar • Aug 11, 2011

Introduce yourself 🙂
DP:
I’m originally from Panama and currently living in the Washington, DC area. I’ve traveled extensively and I’ve lived all over the US- from New York (Queens baby!), to Florida, to Texas, to Tennessee, and now DC! I’m a writer, media personality and physician. And I typically talk about beauty (natural hair, skin), relationships and culture topics.

Why did you go natural?
DP:
I got my first relaxer in kindergarten. And if I had to describe the experience, I would say it was a full on indoctrination. I didn’t know why it was being done- but I was told that the process was making my hair “more manageable.” Every 6–8 weeks of new growth was instantly met with relaxer. That was the protocol. And that’s the way things continued until I later became fully conscious of the constant conundrum of wanting to look good (as most budding young women do), but being in a constant state of hair vigilance. Sweat, water, wind (actually all the elements) were my biggest hair adversaries, and I did everything possible to avoid them- even to the detriment of my own enjoyment.

I didn’t realize it then, but I had become a prisoner to my hair. On occasion, I would wonder what it would be like to be free of the relaxer ritual. But that wasn’t enough to ignore the social and psychological stigma of natural hair. I was very fearful. And though my chemically-processed hair was literally driving me up a wall, I still felt safer with a perm.

That’s the way things continued until one hot, humid and hell-ish hair day in the summer of 2005. I was in front of the bathroom mirror desperately trying to once again make something of my chemically-damaged mess. That’s when I finally stopped cursing my hair and instead forced myself to answer a really hard question: ‘Why am I doing this to myself?’ It was a profound moment for me and after I honestly answered the question, I made the decision to go natural right then and there.

How did you transition into natural hair?
DP:
I did the big chop. Though not for everyone, the big chop held a certain symbolism for me. And it was one of the most exhilarating experiences in my life!

In what ways (if any) has going natural affected you?
DP:
Going natural was a pivotal point in my life. It marked a period where I forced myself to face and ultimately conquer immense, deep-rooted psychological stigma and insecurity. It was a very spiritual time. And ultimately, going natural has been very liberating.

It’s so wild to now look in the mirror, smile, and see a totally different person than who existed almost 7 years ago. I’ve become a lot more self-aware and even a bit more health conscious.

My hair isn’t all there is to me. But my hair is a major part of who I am. When I’m out and about, I get compliments and constantly approached by women with questions about “going natural.” And I’ve also had many women tell me that I inspired them to go natural- which I think is pretty cool. I think natural hair is beautiful. And I’m very proud to be natural. I love being and looking unique. This is me- not me trying to look like someone else.

How would you describe your hair?
DP:
My hair is very thick and pretty healthy. I really don’t pay much attention to the whole curl type classification system. But if I had to type, I would say I have a mixture of 3b and 4a curl textures. Though it’s thick and sometimes has a mind of its own, I would say my hair “behaves” pretty well. But I’ve never been one to want to “tame” hair. I like big and wild hair- think Tanika Ray and Lisa Bonet. I don’t like when my hair looks “too done.” I like it to look free and fierce.

Also, when it comes to how my hair behaves, the biggest irony is that since going natural I’ve NEVER had a bad hair day. I had tons of those miserable days when I was relaxed. Since going natural, even a ‘bad hair day” is a “fab hair day.”

What is a brief description of your regimen?
DP:
When it comes to hair, I’ve always been a low to medium hair maintenance girl. And on a typical day, you won’t find me in the mirror more than 10–15 minutes doing hair. I typically wear my hair in two strand kinky twists. So on those days, I will just wake up, shower (without a shower cap), spray my hair with a daily moisturizer, and go! I put on clothes too. LOL. But I swear my regimen is very quick. On the days that I’m rockin’ my afro, things take a little longer because I have to untwist my hair from the night before. Then I add certain products to boost shine, add moisturize, define curl, etc…

Also, I NEVER sleep with a loose afro. I always keep my hair in some sort of protective style overnight. When it comes to cleansing and conditioning, I recently started co-washing. Before that I was using sulfate-free shampoos.
I’ve used many products and I’m a fan of trying products out until you find something that works best for you. I love using raw products like shea butter, castor oil, aloe, etc… I’ve also had overall positive experiences with products from Shea Moisture and Taliah Waajid’s (both at Target).

What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learned from?
DP:
One major mistake that I made when first going natural was not acknowledging the importance of daily moisturizing. I moisturize my hair twice daily with a light spray. It’s such a simple, yet crucial step if you want soft, supple, and strong hair. Another mistake was not sleeping with my hair wrapped.

What’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
DP:
The best thing I’ve learn to do for my hair is to protective style. I love wearing my hair out in a huge afro. But I don’t do that every day. And I honestly believe I’ve been able to grow my hair to long, full lengths because I protective style most of the time. I typically rock two strand kinky twists. It’s my signature hair style. And it’s a great protective style.

Your skin is beautiful. What are your skincare tips?
DP:
Thank you! I follow a pretty basic skin care regimen. I make sure to cleanse, exfoliate and moisturize daily. I also drink tons of water, eat pretty healthy and exercise regularly (making sure to break a good sweat.) Though I haven’t done it in a few months, I also like to hit up a sauna from time to time. Saunas are also great for skin.

When it comes to skin care products, I particularly like products with alpha and beta hydroxyl acids because they’re great for promoting dead cell turnover to reveal healthy, glowing skin. I also make sure to use sunscreen.

I want to emphasize that skin is primarily a reflection of your internal health. So if great skin is your goal, I’d also suggest getting in the habit of being more health conscious. Drink water, eating lots of fresh produce, and also exercise.

Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
DP:
Of course! You can find me on Facebook and Twitter.

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LBell
LBell
9 years ago

Rarely do I read an interview with someone whose hair journey so closely matches my own. From “I didn’t know why it was being done” to “I had become a prisoner to my hair” to “Why am I doing this to myself?” to “My hair isn’t all there is to me but my hair is a major part of who I am”…I relate to ALL of this.

VERY nice to have met you, Dr. Phoenyx! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

Phoenyx Austin
9 years ago
Reply to  LBell

Hi LBell! Many women have told me that my experience was VERY similar to theirs. And I honestly think that many of us have had similar if not the same thoughts about the journey. Glad I connected with you- and thanks for checking out my feature and commenting! — Phoenyx
[img]http://bglhonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Phoenyx-40–1.jpg[/img]

Rain
Rain
9 years ago

Its so funny I’ve seen her pictures all over tumblr especially the one with the kinky twists/braids and I thought she was so young…lol* I did a double take when I saw the word ‘Dr.”
Anyway what a gorgeous woman!

Phoenyx Austin
9 years ago
Reply to  Rain

Hey Rain! Thank you for the compliment. LOL- I always hear people comment about how “young” I look. Gotta thank the fam for the genes. Black don’t crack 😉

sosoulful0125
sosoulful0125
9 years ago

I love Dr. Phoenyx Austin, i loved to read her discussions on FACEBOOK and curlynikki. It’s great to ready her story

Phoenyx Austin
9 years ago
Reply to  sosoulful0125

Hey mama! Thank you so much for showing love and support! Mauh! — Phoenyx

cartman
cartman
9 years ago

i have read several of dr. austin’s pieces on curlynikki-always great advice and interesting questions. it is so nice to read about her hair journey and get some insight on her as a person.

gorgeous photos and a wonderfully honest story.

thank you for sharing. 🙂

Phoenyx Austin
9 years ago
Reply to  cartman

Hey Cartman! Thank YOU so much for the kind words and for checking out my story, as well as my pieces. I def look forward to sharing more!

Ester80
Ester80
9 years ago

What a great interview, love your articles on curlynikki. I have two questions that I’m sure you get all the time, the twist that you wear in most of your facebook pictures all your hair? And if it is, how do you keep the roots so neat? Thank you in advance.

Adriane
Adriane
9 years ago

I love the kinky twist look. How do you make them look so thick? Most of the kinky twist I’ve seen look anemic. I would like to do this look for my 8 year old daughter for a carefree back to school look. Also, are you free for guess talks on college campuses?

Phoenyx Austin
9 years ago
Reply to  Adriane

Hi Adriane! I like letting my kinky twists get a bit “ratty” so they start to have a “dread” look. This is what gives them that “look.” Also, I most certainly do talks on college campuses. I have one coming up at Howard U in a few weeks. Do you have a school in mind? Email me and I’d be happy to discuss more! dr.phoenyx@gmail.com

Monisola
9 years ago

OMG! yes DR. Austin, how do you do those amazingly thick and gorgeous kinky twists?
How big is the section of hair you use underneath and what kind of hair do you use?

Athena
8 years ago

Lovely natural hair. I have the same question as Ester80, are the kinky twists all your hair? IThye look like great natural looking extensions. Are they? Lovely!

trackback

[…] Inspired to write the book after the positive response to her features on Curly Nikki and Black Girl Long Hair, If You Love It, It Will Grow is a witty, informative guide to caring for and growing natural hair. […]

Beatrice Hunter
Beatrice Hunter
6 years ago

Dr Austin, l love your hairstyle. Where can I get mines done in either Columbus, oh, Richmond Va, or Atlanta Ga? Thanks, Bea

trackback

[…] Inspired to write the book after the positive response to her features on Curly Nikki and Black Girl Long Hair, If You Love It, It Will Grow is a witty, informative guide to caring for and growing natural hair. […]

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