S: Akwaaba! My name is Sherida Kuffour and I’m a Graphic Designer and Illustrator from a lovely little city called Rotterdam, in the Netherlands. Both parents are from Ghana (Ashantiiii) and I’m currently studying Graphic Design in London, England.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
S: I’ve been natural for three years. I was about 4 years old when I got my first relaxer and from then on I didn’t know anything else. I knew that your hair was relaxed and neat, or not and unkempt. Nobody had to tell me this; it was something that I figured out myself. At around this age too I went to live in Ghana with my Grandmama and I had my head shaved for the first time for school. My goodness, I still remember how I felt! I felt confused and angry, “Well of course girls need hair – what else would make me a girl,” I remember crying to my Grandmama. She paid me no mind. She found it was odd that a 5‑year-old girl was so concerned with people’s perceptions of what a little girl should be like. When I then returned to The Netherlands with a shaved head, age 7/8, both teachers and students didn’t really know how to approach the situation. Every other day I’d be plagued with the question “Are you a boy or a girl?”…Fine. So I didn’t have any hair, but I was clearly a girl.
I also lived in Liverpool, (North England) some years back where being mixed raced was very much your ticket to respect and adoration. To be anything other than African signified your beauty and importance. Because of this, I was very insecure pretty much all throughout my teenage years and my relaxed hair was my only pride back then. This insecurity plagued me right up until even after I did my big Chop in 2010. Letting go of this idea that I was ugly because of my lack of hair and my heritage was a big deal. Because I wasn’t just letting go of relaxed hair, I was revisiting my 4‑year-old self with a shaved head. However this time not with grief or annoyance but embracing how I looked with dignity and a new found understanding of myself. Though it took some time.
For those of us whose parents didn’t really know what to do with our hair because it was too thick, or too matted, or too this, or too that, or whenever we were sat in the hairdresser’s chair feeling guilt-ridden for our uncontrollable manes, hair is not just hair. Going natural is not just something I felt like doing, just because of the fact. Of course you may say that that’s a lot of importance tied to something that should not have that much meaning, but it does. I can’t really explain it but it makes sense to me. It’s kind of like a lost house key that’s been returned to me. Oh and I also had a Jerry Curl – but we won’t go into that. *shivers*
How would you describe your texture?
S: I’m a 4B! …I think. In my first year of being natural I really disliked my hair for not being thick and unruly as everyone said it would be. “But I want hair like my Nigerian friends” I’d moan! Gahhh, I mentally prepared myself for hours of detangling… Only to find that my hair just lies there, waiting to be commanded, no struggles, no breaking the comb. Nothing. I’m grateful! But sometimes I wish there were some more challenges. 🙂 My hair is basically frizz with occasional curl. I’d say my hair is 80% frizz and 20% everything else! My individual strands are very thick, almost cotton thread-like, but my hair isn’t dense at all. Of course I love it, but then it also means that I have to work really hard to get volume since there isn’t an awful lot of hair. Unless my hair texture has changed since I was little, I don’t really get what was so unmanageable about my hair… *cough-mum-cough* *side-eye*
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
S: I wash my hair every two weeks with Organix Shea Butter Shampoo and follow up with Tresemme Naturals Conditioner. I deep condition once every two weeks after shampooing with Organic Root Stimulator Replenishing Conditioner, mixed with raw honey, olive oil and Vatika oil. Once in a while I do a protein treatment using avocados and honey, or apply some Henna to my hair. I do everything in twists and then moisturise with Giovanni Leave-in Conditioner and seal with my shea butter/coconut/aloe vera mix on damp hair.
What does wash day look like for you?
S: I love wash day! It’s the best thing about being natural for me. It’s almost therapeutic. I have really bad ‘Hand in Hair’ syndrome and wash day just gives me an excuse to touch my hair for a full 2 hours (Though I always try to stretch this out). It takes about an hour and a half to fully wash and detangle my hair, and then I deep condition for about an hour.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
S: I split my hair in the middle and flat twist either side so I end up with 2 big flat-twists around my head. It’s so simple and effective, I can’t think of anything more brilliant.
How do you combat shrinkage?
S: My hair shrinks about 75% of its actual length. I’ve never fully stretched my hair. I’ve blow dried it a bit, but I’ve been to scared to go all the way and it always shrinks to half its size. I mostly keep my hair in twists. I re-twist every other day or as needed. But I like it when my hair shrinks; it looks amazing picked out and in a puff.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
S: The sides of my hair are very bushy and they get tangled the most. No curl pattern and harder to retain length there… Well actually lets be honest, the sides of my hair are often subject to impromptu scissor attacks, so I can’t blame them too much. This one time, I was taking my extensions out and I only had 1 last twist on the side of my hair to take out. This darn twist wouldn’t unravel and turned into a tangled mess, so I cut that sucker out. Moral of the story is, don’t do your hair when you’re frustrated. Take it from me.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
S: Moisturising every 2 to 3 days or so. I don’t know what it is, but every time I try to do protective styles with my own hair I get loads of breakage! So the best thing for me is avoiding doing too many protective styles. That or I add extensions when protective styling. I have no idea why this is better for my hair. But I’ve learned after 3 years of being natural, that sometimes it’s best to just smile and nod, just smile and nod.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
S: Wash and Go’s. I’ve actually never ever attempted a Wash and Go. I’m scared! Secondly Bantu knots, only because I hate how they look on me. Very scalpy. Also one thing I don’t do anymore is twisting my hair all the way to the end. Instead I leave about an inch or two and roll them up with flexi rods. This prevents my ends from tangling.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
S: Come on over! www.coconutandcreamblog.com
*Tune in to BGLH Style next week for Sherida’s take on vintage style*