T: My name is Omotara Arikawe, but I go by Tara. I was born and currently reside in Little Rock, Arkansas. However, I grew up all over Missouri and went to college in Kansas, so I can’t truly claim a hometown. I guess I’m from the South/Midwest!
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
T: I began transitioning my sophomore year attending the University of Kansas in fall of 2010. I wish I had made note of the day and month so that I can keep track of my hair growth, but at the time I didn’t think it was too important. I cut all of my relaxed ends off in the summer of 2011. I went natural because I thought it would be easier to take care of my hair. I had met several girls on campus with gorgeous natural hair, and wanted to have my own afro. I also wanted to achieve longer length. My hair has never really been past my shoulders, and I knew it was because the relaxer was damaging my hair. My parents are from Nigeria, so for them it was very important that I a) focused on my studies, and b) looked presentable in any situation. My mother can attest to the fact that I spent a ridiculous amount of time on my relaxed hair, and she would often catch me styling it in the bathroom mirror instead of studying. When I told my mother I was going natural, she thought it was very odd. The funny thing is, when she was in primary school in Nigeria, she was not allowed to relax or press her hair. She hated it, and actually thought her hair was ugly. At that point, showing my mother that natural hair could be beautiful became another reason to continue on my natural hair journey.
How would you describe your texture?
T: I suppose I am in the type 4 category, but I have no idea what letter I fall under. I am still very uncertain about the hair typing system. Whenever I look at pictures of type 4 hair, a lot of them either look the same, or look like type 3 hair. My hair in the front and crown forms more of a tight “S” shape, the sides form very tight “O” coils (like the metal spring in a pen, but some larger or smaller), and the back forms larger “O” coils than the sides. My hair is leaning towards dense, and I believe I have a mix of fine to coarse strands depending on where you look on my head!
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
T: I love to try new things with my hair. Where I currently work we have to wear “team colors” (fancy term for uniform), so I like to express my individuality through my hairstyles. I love updos, retro styles, and “out” styles. Once my hair gets longer, I will start to wear twists more often. To moisturize during the week in warmer weather (and depending on the dew point), I use DevaCurl One Condition or Beautiful Textures Tangle Taming Leave-in Conditioner. In colder weather I moisturize with DevaCurl Heaven In Hair or Beautiful Textures Rapid Repair Deep Conditioner. Regardless of the time of year, I always spritz with a mix of water and aloe vera juice, and seal with either raw Ghanaian shea butter or grapeseed oil. I’ve started to work out 5 days a week, so I use DevaCurl No-Poo Quick Cleanser to keep my scalp under control between washes.
What does wash day look like for you?
T: I wash my hair once per week. I used to be strictly Curly Girl, but I’ve found that my hair responds well to normal amounts of silicones. I recently started to deep condition on wash day, and boy has that made a world of difference! Detangling and cleansing used to take me well over an hour, but now it only takes about 30 minutes when I deep condition first. I begin by deep conditioning for 20 minutes with either my DevaCurl or Beautiful Textures deep conditioners, and then I detangle and section my hair into eight sections. Next, I either co-wash with Yes to Carrots Scalp Relief Conditioner or thoroughly cleanse with Terressentials Left Coast Lemon (or an apple cider vinegar rinse), depending on the needs of my hair and scalp.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
T: I love high buns, but I’m beginning to love low buns just as much!
How do you combat shrinkage?
T: I always try to keep my hair stretched. I love to use bantu knots, flat twists, and two strand twists. If I’m short on time, I will dry my hair with the tension method on the coolest setting with a concentrator nozzle attachment. When I do blow dry, I use grapeseed oil as a heat protectant, and I never blow dry my ends completely.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
T: My ends definitely require extra care and attention, so I make sure to moisturize that part of my hair first, and thoroughly. My scalp has also started to give me trouble, especially when I work out. If I don’t feel that the DevaCurl dry shampoo I mentioned is completely soothing my scalp, I will occasionally dab a bit of pure apple cider vinegar on the irritated areas.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
T: Do deep condition before washing, and do remain patient when sealing and styling my hair.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
T: Don’t attempt anymore wash and go’s because it’s always a hot mess, and don’t ignore my scalp during the week.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
T: Work and home keeps me pretty busy, so I’m not sure about starting a blog or YouTube channel just yet. For now, you can check out my hairstyles on Instagram as littlemiss_redgirl.