*Prepared for BGLH by Meosha Tall of 1MeNaturally
L: My name is Leila. I was born in Queens, NY but was raised in Maryland from 9–18 years old. I moved back to NYC for school and have never looked back. I’ve been natural for 2 years now. I big chopped May 13, 2010.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
L: It was never a plan but something that kind of happened. I’m always looking for better ways to live and what makes sense to me. (That’s how I became a vegetarian) I went from every process of coloring, relaxing, haircuts and applying heat to keep it super straight that it eventually caught up to me.
One day I was in the mirror and noticed the breakage that was in the middle of my head and also how lifeless my hair was starting to appear. That was around the same time Solange went natural and I thought she looked so regal and beautiful. I started researching for about a week and came across Mae on YouTube and she also inspired me. Natural never crossed my mine before, but after some research it just made sense. I was all for it and once I make up my mind I don’t hesitate. After getting a relaxer 4 weeks prior I went to Tendrils in Brooklyn and had everything cut off and was left with half an inch of hair. It was shocking, but the first time I really saw myself.
How would you describe your texture?
L: I have many different textures in my hair. I’m not really keen on hair types. The front and back are looser and can be styled easily. The sides are very tight curls while the middle is pretty much curl free. My hair behaves pretty well. It keeps a twist out for over a week and holds up well in pretty much any weather.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
L: I usually wear a twist out to keep my hair stretched and from tangling. I don’t like fresh twist outs. My favorite is third day hair so I really separate them that first day so it’s not perfect. I sleep on a satin pillow and retwist the old twist out maybe twice during a 10-day to 14-day period. In the morning to refresh I simply spray water and apply Shea Moisture’s Hair Milk, which gives my hair life and I seal with Anita Grants Café’ Latte. I don’t really do protective styles, but I moisturize daily.
When it’s almost wash time I put it up in a high puff and if I’m feeling fancy braid my hair in the front as a headband. For really special occasions I stretch my hair with the low-tension method and do a blow out twist out which I absolutely adore and is always a big hit. I’m really simple and I love my hair best when it’s the wildest. It reflects my easy carefree personality. My grandmother always ask me what am I doing with my hair and I always reply nothing lol.
What does wash day look like for you?
L: Well I wash and style every 10 days and deep condition on those days. I first detangle on dry hair with conditioner and my fingers and put my hair in about 10 twists. After I rinse, I put shampoo in a bottle and dilute it and apply it only to my scalp. I keep my hair in the twists the whole time to prevent tangles and then I rinse and apply a deep conditioner.
Right now I’m using Jane Carter’s shampoo and conditioner. I leave the conditioner in for about 30 minutes to an hour with a plastic cap. I rinse once more with warm water then cool to close the pores. I dry with a micro fiber towel from Deva Curl that I love. I then apply a leave-in which is Direct Leave-In by Giovanni and seal with Anita Grant’s Café’ Latte or Whipped Butter which I can’t live without. I let the twists dry then style from there the next morning.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style?
L: When I don’t have a lot of time I do a wash and go which I style with Kinky Curly Styling Custard.
How do you combat shrinkage?
L: I try to combat shrinkage by constantly twisting my hair throughout the week even if it’s for 30 minutes while I do my makeup and get dressed in the morning.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
L: My biggest problem area are my ends which I moisturize every day and trim every three months to keep from tangling. Besides that my hair is pretty well behaved and gives me no problems.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
L: Two do’s for me are to detangle on damp hair, not dry or soaking wet which causes just as much breakage for me as detangling dry hair. Another do for me is to moisturize daily.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
L: My first don’t is to not force my hair into any style that it can’t handle. The key is to be patient and embrace every stage. Another don’t for me is color because my hair gets so dry as is.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
L: My Facebook page: Leila Mahalia, Instagram: @leilamahalia