*Prepared for BGLH by Meosha Tall of 1MeNaturally
X: My name is Xihuanel and I’m 20 years old. I currently live in Los Angeles, but I’m originally from Oakland. I’m in my 3rd year at UCLA studying World Arts and Cultures with a cultural emphasis. I am also Project Director of two projects on campus called SANAA, (Social Awareness Network for Activism through Art) and the other, AEP (Afrikan Education Project). I work with the youth within these two organizations in Compton, California every Saturday. I help plan curriculum and field trips. I am also an aspiring filmmaker and create projects in my spare time.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
X: I have been natural my whole life, but coming to love it is another story. I never knew how to do my hair when I was younger and did not know what products to use. I usually just wore my hair up in a bun and used Pro Styl gel. As I grew up I began to experiment with different curly hair products because someone mentioned Pro Styl is really bad for your hair. Towards my junior year in high school I wore my hair out and realized my hair is beautiful; it is what God gave me, so why not embrace it. From then on I had fun experimenting with different hairstyles and color.
When and how did you transition into natural hair?
X: I transitioned into my natural hair junior year in high school. I would straighten my hair at least 5 times a year. Not often because of how long it would take. When I started really wearing my hair out and wild I felt empowered in a way. I definitely experimented with different hair products until I found the right combo. I always use a set of products in unison because they all serve a different purpose, whether it’s to strengthen, lengthen, keep it healthy, control frizz, add shine, etc.
In what ways (if any) has going natural affected you?
X: Going natural has affected me in the sense that I became more confident with myself in my truest form. I feel that natural hair is beautiful and feel that hair is such a big issue in the black community. By being a light skinned black person, I do know that my hair is coined as “good hair”, but that is a reflection of the internalized sentiments we have gained throughout our existence in this country; formed out of survival and then transformed by our culture.
I see how many of my fellow black female friends have deep seated issues and it is truly a touchy subject, so I am very careful as to how I bring it up, or how I deal with it. I recognize my position in this dynamic as having “good hair”, but I would love to see the day where “good hair” and “bad hair” are no longer in our vocabulary as a people. I always encourage my friends to go natural and embrace it. Although I do receive annoyance, I feel that it must be said, “your natural hair is beautiful”. We need to hear it enough to believe and embrace it. I love my hair and what it means as far as my roots and my ancestors go. They are in me with everything that I do, and my hair is a beautiful reflection of the beauty of my people.
How would you describe your hair?
X: I would describe my hair as thick, loose curls, thinner on the edges and thicker towards the middle of my head. The curls are tight and my hair has lots of volume.
What is your regimen?
X: I use a lot of Garnier Fructis products such as the Leave-In Conditioning Cream and the Anti-Frizz Serum. I also use the Fiber Gum Putty. I use a shine product called Hair Polisher by Fantasia. I only comb my hair in the shower. I wash my hair about every 3–5 days. Right when I get out of the shower I put the conditioning cream in. I put the fiber gum throughout my hair, which controls the frizz. Then I put in the cream to set the fiber gum. To finish it off, I put the hair polisher on to get that good shine.
Tell us about your hair color?
X: My hair is sort of blonde with an orangish hue. I got it done by my friend. She is a Hair Stylist. I have died my hair every year since sophomore year in high school. My hair takes color well, but I always make sure to deep condition it with hair mayonnaise and one egg for protein. I leave that combo in for about 2 hours and afterwards I wash it out with warm water. My hair always feels so soft and healthy. I also get my hair cut about every 3–5 months depending on how it feels.
How do you retain length and moisture in your hair, especially now that you have color?
X: I think constant trims, deep conditioning and the hair products I use help keep my hair healthy.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
X: You can check my blog out at www.ekscreates.tumblr.com. I post a lot of pics of natural hair beauties. Also to check out my org SANAA: www.mysanaa.webs.com and my Radio Show: www.creativemindradio.podomatic.com.
I had a radio show for the past 4 years at my past job, Youth Radio based in Oakland. My show was based on new music, current event issues in the community, discussions on race, gender and life in general. Check Youth Radio out at www.youthradio.org.