*Prepared for BGLH by Meosha Tall of 1MeNaturally
A: Hi! I’m Akilah, but you may know me as Smoothiefreak from YouTube! I’m from Cincinnati, Ohio (who dey!), but I just moved to NYC this summer and it’s amazing!
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
A: I had a few reasons, honestly. There was a girl on my college campus that had gone natural a few months prior, and I thought her hair was so beautiful! I also started to realize that my flat, broken, relaxed hair really didn’t reflect the vibrant person I was–I wanted to see what my own hair looked like without all the chemicals and processing. Most importantly though, I saw it as a huge challenge! I wasn’t sure what I’d look like with shorter hair, and I didn’t know if I’d be able to navigate all the natural hair products on the market, but it was so worth it!
After one failed attempt that just ended in reneging and returning to the relaxer, I decided to officially go natural in August of 2009. I decided against the big chop because I’ve always assumed I had a weird shaped head under that hair, so I just transitioned slowly and cut my ends every few months and wore lots of hats. So. Many. Hats.
How would you describe your texture?
A: I am pretty certain I have 4a hair. The tiny curls like to get tangled up in each other, but I find that if I moisturize enough it’s pretty easy to detangle. My hair responds well to styling, but after 3 or 4 days it gets to a point of being so dry that I have to co-wash and plait it up to retain some of that moisture.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
A: A month in the life of my hair is a total rollercoaster. I never know what to expect with weather and the like, but I do have a few staples that really make it more manageable!
I absolutely adore Mane N’ Tail conditioner. I’d die or be hairless without it! I use it when I co-wash, and when I’m running low on time before work, I use it as a leave-in for easy styling.
I usually start with a wash n’ go that lasts about 5 hours. Once it’s air-dried, I either braid it or twist it. I’m a fan of lazy-braiding and lazy-twisting, where I just do huge chunks in no particular organized way, and see where that takes me. I have some friends that do great twist-outs with hundreds of small twists, but I just don’t have the patience on my own head!
I use a satin cap to sleep in, and the next few days I pin back pieces and put some of the hair up and some down, all while moisturizing with either Mane N’ Tail or Shea Moisture creams. There’s never a specific product because I find they’re affordable and I try different ones all the time.
I love to experiment with ponytails on days when my curls aren’t working with me. Bobby pins have become good friends and right now I’m in a big side ponytail/side bun phase.
The most important part of my regimen is the braiding at night before bed. Like I said, I don’t do pretty braids. I usually end up looking like Coolio, but it’s worth it. When I go without braiding I get TONS of one-strand-knots, and that’s the worst to deal with.
What does wash day look like for you?
A: It’s a pretty serious day. I like to do a deep condition with honey for an hour before getting into the shower, rinse and use Mane N’ Tail. Once I’m out of the shower, I pat my hair dry with old t‑shirts and first try to detangle with my fingers. I do as much as I can, and then I detangle from the bottom with this comb I got at the dollar store. After that I just let it air dry and then twist or braid it up.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
A: SIDE PONYTAILS. Seriously. I usually do a cool braid in the front of my head or pin some of the hair back, and then I comb the extra curls into a cute low side ponytail.
How do you combat shrinkage?
A: Stretched styling is a must. I make sure to moisturize after washing and then be sure to braid it. I can’t stress braiding enough!
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
A: The middle of my hair is a nightmare. It’s extremely thick and gets super tangled up. I have to be sure to detangle slowly, or else I will tear out a chunk on accident.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
A: For me and anyone, I’d say find a product that keeps your hair feeling good, and don’t let it go. I’m beating a dead horse, but braid it up! Your hair will grow so much faster if you practice protective styling often.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
A: No gels. Gels just make my texture crunchy, and where there’s crunch, there’s breakage. Shampoo very rarely. I shampoo maybe once every two months. I’m so serious! Shampoos really dry out all of the curls and make it hard for them to maintain their natural moisture.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
A: Absolutely! I’m on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/smoothiefreak and I blog at http://soashulmedia.tumblr.com and http://enchanted-dystopia.tumblr.com! Come find me!