*Prepared for BGLH by Meosha Tall of 1MeNaturally
N: My name is Nneka (everyone calls me Nika). I was born in Jamaica, and I am currently living in White Plains, NY hoping to make my move into the big city in a few years.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
N: One day I realized, hey you wear weaves every day, minute and second. Since my hair was always hidden, it was silly to waste money relaxing it every month. Who knew then, that I would end up on this fantastic journey. Natural hair has changed the way I see many things like beauty, health, and even patience. Before going natural, patience wasn’t my strong suit. However, between waiting on my hair to grow, or the long detangling and wash sessions, I have now found patience I didn’t know I had! Natural hair has even changed my own perceptions of beauty. I’m not proud to say my views were skewed. Now I see beauty in people that don’t fit the mass media’s perception of acceptable.
I’ve been natural close to three years now. One and a half of that time I wasted doing all the wrong things. How I wish I could have a sort of do over, knowing all the things I do now. In the beginning of my journey, I focused my whole world around natural hair. Take my word and don’t over do it, because I was surely obsessed! After a while the newness wears off and then you will figure out if you are on this journey for the long run. I’m glad to say I am!
How would you describe your texture?
N: I am 4c all the way, but only recently proud of it! From very early on my hair was characterized as “difficult”. Throughout my childhood many combs, barrettes, and blow dryer attachments have broken in my strands. I rinsed my hair in vain twice, and never saw any sign of a color deposit. I’ve always had the “pleasure”, of having the Super strength perm used in my hair, most of my life. If you didn’t know they made super, then you may not feel my pain.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
N: I make a conscience effort to keep my hair in a protective style at least six months out of the year. I do various styles of box braids, yarn braids, and twists. The other six months I do low manipulation styles Mon — Fri, then on the weekends I do a twist out of some kind.
What does wash day look like for you?
N: I wish I knew in the beginning that more didn’t necessarily mean better. I used to spend all of Saturday mixing concoctions, detangling and twisting. Now a days I can be finished under two hours, sometimes even less. I wash my hair in plaits. I keep my hair in plaits while I do the whole routine. I install the plaits, pre poo (the plaits), wash (the plaits), rinse (the plaits), and then deep condition (the plaits). Next I rinse again, spray my I Love My Fro black tea leave in, and then use a creamy moisturizer to seal it in. Once a month I clarify my hair. When I do that, my hair is not in plaits. I clarify with my Nothing But shampoo, or a bentonite clay mix.
Regular Shampoo: Neutrogena Triple Moisture
Clarifying Shampoo: Nothing But Clarifying Shampoo
Deep Conditioner: I use all of them, just add some honey and olive oil to it.
Moisturizing Spray: Natural Roxx
Leave in Conditioner: I Love My Fro Black Tea or Giovanni Direct
Moisturizer: I Love My Fro Shea Butter Whip
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
N: My go-to hairstyle is an updo. I just grab my Natural Roxx moisturizing spray, a hand full of hair pins, and then tuck, roll and pin.
How do you combat shrinkage?
N: I don’t really try to combat shrinkage anymore; I embrace it. If I tried to combat it, I imagine that would be a never ending battle. At this stage of my journey I allow my hair to do what it wants.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
N: Right now I am paying close attention to my nape area, and edges. Neither of these areas retain much length. A while back I did a five month Jamaican Black Castor oil challenge, but had no success. Now I’m on to another possible solution.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
N: Do keep your hands out of your hair as much as you possibly can. Our hair type suffers when manipulated too often. Also know that conditioners of all kinds (deep, leave in, and rinse out) are your best friends.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
N: Don’t go to sleep without protecting your hair. Also don’t be afraid to step out the box. You don’t have to follow every natural hair rule/tip. For more than a year I followed the “rule” of detangling my hair with conditioner, oil, and a wide tooth comb. Imagine my surprise when I realized (by accident), I lose less hair when I detangle my hair bone dry, with oils and just my fingers.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
N: I can always be found at www.darkerthanbrown.com, where I document my personal hair journey/struggle.