*Prepared for BGLH by Meosha Tall of 1MeNaturally
N: Hello! My name is Nagela! It’s up for debate how to pronounce my name. My family says Nah-yell-uh, but everyone else says Nuh-gel-uhh. My parents are Panamanian, but I was born and raised in Brooklyn, Prospect Heights to be exact!
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
N: Well, I’ve been natural my whole life! My parents would not allow me to relax my hair growing up. So my hair was either in plaits (braids), twists, or some other hairstyle. Occasionally I wore my curls out, but I did not discover hair products to keep my wash and go’s till high school. So before then my hair would just look unkempt…very unkempt.
Initially I stayed natural because my mom told me I had to. But around 9th grade I finally began to see the beauty in my curls and I ended up loving the versatility. For high school I went to a Quaker boarding school in Pennsylvania (yeah…) and when the black girls were worried about finding a hair stylist or getting a perm, I didn’t! I could go running in the rain or jump in the pool whenever I wanted. I could be a curly head one day, but the next (after many hours of flat ironing) wear it straight. The freedom I discovered was fun.
How would you describe your texture?
N: A mix between 3b/c…It is hard for me to pin point it exactly. My hair is wavy on my crown. Then the perimeter is super coiled and curly. I would say I have thick hair. Is it possible to have five hair strands in one follicle? lol My hair also has a lot of volume.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
N: I am in the midst of my fall semester in college (last year!) so my routine surrounds how busy I anticipate my week to be. So my hair styling strategies vary a bit! Lately I don’t really have the time to wash my hair more than once a week, although I wish I could. If it’s an exam week or one with a lot of assignments due, I wear my hair in braids that take me about an hour to do. I usually do these braids on a Sunday. I divide my hair in quadrants, and each section has six braids. There are three braids on the top row and then three on the bottom row. These braids can last for about a week and a half, although I kind of push it to two weeks. When I take it out I have a braid out that I wear for about two days. I do these braids when my hair is sopping wet. When the braids are completed, I then remove the excess product and water with a t‑shirt and seal my ends with olive oil or a homemade shea butter paste my sister made. I put the braids in a tight bun and wrap it with a scarf so it dries very slick and smooth. It stays in this bun or in a ponytail. I use Shea Moisture Style Conditioning Milk and some Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie for this. If I want a style that is bouncy and something I will wear out that is not as constricted. I do twists. I do about 10–12 twists to a quadrant. I put them in a loose bun and sleep with them in a big bonnet. I also use Shea Moisture Style Conditioning Milk and Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie for this style. And always seal with my homemade shea butter paste or an oil.
Some days if I need to wash my hair, but do not have time to do a lot of braids or twists I just do two big French twists in the shower. It’s my favorite style because I like the curl pattern it creates when I take it out. I wear this for a day or two. Each night I lightly dampen and moisturize the outside and ends of the braids before wearing my silk scarf. I use Shea Moisture Style Conditioning Milk and some Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie, or Kinky Curly Leave in for this style. I like Kinky Curly when I know my hair will be worn out that day or in a day or two.
If it’s a week where I want to wear my hair out it’s a different routine. When I get out of the shower I just wrap my hair in a t‑shirt while I’m getting ready (removing some of the excess product and such). Then I wrap my hair in a pretty scarf or fabric and I’m off to my morning classes. By midday I take the head wrap off. With my hair moderately dry I wear my curls out without my whole back being so wet! By bedtime it’s almost dry so I braid my hair in fours. I usually do braid outs for the next three to four days. But there’s a secret for my hair and specifically my ends to look fresh! Although my secret is not particularly unique or original haha. I spray my hair with warm water, apply a bit of Jane Carter Curl Defining Cream (it’s so expensive so I only use it for this), concentrating on the ends. After I do a few braids, I then roll/coil each braid up to about my neck (like you are putting curlers on the ends of your hair) and pin the rolled braid with a bobby pin. So in the morning it is curly and the ends are not straight. It looks great!
What does wash day look like for you?
E: I have not consistently used shampoo in about 7 years. So if my hair is dirty and dull because of a lot of build up I will cleanse my hair with apple cider vinegar or baking soda. Typically though I use conditioner as my “shampoo”. My staple is Suave Coconut Conditioner, with some oil in it. I put a lot in, scrub and massage for about five minutes and wash it out. After I use Herbal Essences in the blue container (for the slip) when I need to detangle my hair. I’ve been trying to only use my fingers, and carefully remove the shed hair from my ends. I do use a comb (wide tooth) if it’s a bit too tangled and might go over it with a paddle brush to smooth the curls and ends out.
As I mentioned above a bit, I currently alternate between four leave in conditioners: Elucence Moisture Balancing Conditioner (I’ve used since high school), Kinky Curly Leave in, Shea Moisture Conditioning Milk, and Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie. If I use Shea Moisture and plan on wearing it out within a couple of hours, I use the Shea Moisture Curling Soufflé on top. I use the Shea Moisture Conditioning Milk and the Curl Enhancing Smoothie for my braids, twists and for moisturizing my curls at night. I like to especially use the Elucence when I plan on doing a deep treatment (because it is excellent!!!!). I have a heating cap that I use for like 30 minutes then I sleep with a shower cap and plastic bags over night. I also always seal my hair with either extra virgin olive oil or Vatika oil.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
N: I just put my hair up in a loose bun. It’s so easy. I just spray warm water and put in conditioner. Or I’ll use Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Hold & Shine Moisture Mist. Other days if I feel my hair looks a lil’ too rough I wear a head wrap! Haha
How do you combat shrinkage?
N: I will admit I don’t think about shrinkage much. I prefer some shrinkage because I am still uncomfortable with how big my hair can look. I think my lack of concern could be attributed to the fact that my hair has always been labeled long…so I guess attaining growth has never been a conscious goal. I DO, however have PLENTY of shrinkage. My wet hair hits 1 ½ an inch above my butt and dries like an inch after my bra strap. That’s crazy! So I can understand how shrinkage can be incredibly frustrating. But I noticed by the fourth day of a braid out my hair is very stretched. Also a couple of times I have held the ends of my hair, fully extending my curls (stretched out), while running the blow dryer on low heat up and down. It dries the curl straighter and there’s less volume- so maybe less shrinkage?
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
N: Good gosh- MY ENDS! Argh…I do not have anyone who can give me a decent trim without chopping off an inch or two, so I try to take care of them before it gets to that point. But I am not always successful. I try to trim them with my sheers when I have them in braids.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
N: 1) Moisturizing it at night and at least putting it in two braids so in the morning it is not frizzy.
2) Deep conditioning! My hair looks noticeably different.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
N: 1) Waiting over a week to wash it.
2) Not detangling frequently!
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
N: I have a tumblr! I update it here and there. Indiebeauty.tumblr.com