N: I live in South Florida (Fort Lauderdale). I am a Haitian multidisciplinary artist (visual, jeweler, spoken word, musician) currently pursuing a degree in neuroscience.
Why did you go natural?
N: I have gone through every hair process known to man unfortunately. My hair has been pressed, relaxed and then there were the dreadful jheri curl years. While in high school I had this burning desire to go natural but mother would not approve. I was oscillating between a brush cut or locs. Unfortunately my mother spoke to my hairdresser and clearly informed her I could do anything I wanted except go natural. To semi satisfy my desire I cut my hair as short as possible with the relaxer. While in college I started to really explore my identity and became more health conscious. When I thought about the possible health implications of me relaxing my hair (I literally was relaxing my hair every 4–6 weeks) and the historical connections I decided it was time for me to make a change.
How did you transition to natural hair?
N: I made the transition in 2001. At the time I was transitioning from a really short relaxed cut (similar to what Toni Braxton, Halle Berry, Nia Long were known for). To make the transition I kept my hair braided, mainly micro braids, until I had a certain length for my big chop. My big chop arrived a little sooner than I anticipated. I was scheduled to have my hair rebraided and my braider was not there when I arrived. When I was able to get her on the phone we discovered that she double booked and totally forgot about me. Any other time that would have been great but I was scheduled to be at an event the next day. I ended up going to a natural hair salon for a consultation and before I knew it the day that was supposed to be about hair braiding turned into my big chop day. I wore my hair in an afro, double twists, and single twists for a while and eventually decided to lock my hair.
In what ways (if any) has going natural affected you?
N: Going natural has made me be more versed in our hair. It also has made me more sensitive about what I put in my hair. Right after I transitioned I had to go to the ENT doctor for a lump on my neck and my physician informed me that it was from the products I used in my hair, particularly relaxers. I was stunned to say the least. He said that he has clients come in all the time with the same growth. He said that women use all these products on their hair and many of them enter our blood stream. Our body identifies it as a poison and in a response to protect itself it is encapsulated in our lymph nodes. Once I had that piece of information I really evaluated what I put in my hair.
What’s your regimen?
N: I wash and twist my hair every 2–3 weeks and do a dry wash with sea breeze depending on how active I am. Every other wash I do a clay treatment as well as a hot oil treatment. I moisturize my hair every other day.
How do you retain length and moisture in your hair?
N: I make sure I do a hot oil treatment once a month. I try my best to not over twist my hair so that I don’t create weakness from my roots. I like to moisturize my hair with Crystal Royal Secrets hair rejuvenator.
What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learned from?
N: I had my locs cut before — not shortened — but instead had my stylist cut all the frizziness from each individual loc. In hindsight I would not have done it especially with my locs being as small as they are I feel like it created a weakness.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
N: www.NzingahDesigns.com (jewelry line) www.Nzingah.com (artwork)
www.facebook.com/beautyisstrength (Jewelry Fan Page)