J: Hey Curlfriends! My name is Jodie-Simone Howe (yes, a hyphenated/double barreled first name!) I’m a Second Generation Caribbean, Born and Bred in the City of London, UK.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
J: I have always had natural hair. My mum has a very fine hair texture and used to have long hair. She used to do a great job looking after my hair and always told me my hair was beautiful, but I always wished for longer, straighter hair while admiring hers. It didn’t help that I went to a small Primary School and my close friends were mixed race with either long hair or fine curly hair and my hair ‘just wasn’t that!’ It wasn’t till I got to Secondary (High) School that I saw girls with different textures and girls with hair like mine. Then people would comment on how nice my hair was. Then I really began to enjoy my hair. I used to dye it and straighten it very often during my teens, as I have always liked to experiment with my style. I cut my hair into a small bowl cut and shaved off the back in 2009, for a change! After a while I realized the constant straightening to maintain that style was damaging to my hair, so I started to twist it or wear it curly more often (my version of a TWA!).
Over the past two years though, it has been a conscious decision to look after my hair. The catalyst for me to make the shift into embracing my hair in its natural state was realizing that we as black women often attempt to conform to societies depiction of beauty; which unfortunately isn’t dark skin and thick hair. I have always been a bit of a rebel visually and have been taught to appreciate what I have, so I felt that by me showing how proud I am of my curls, it would in turn, help others to do the same. Especially because I have younger female members in my family. It is important to show them how beautiful they are without any ‘enhancements’. I also think that there is a time in your life when you want to find out who you really are. Not what you do, but who you ARE. Embracing my hair more and investing in it naturally has helped me embrace my heritage and myself. Our hair is part of our ancestry. Long or short our textures tell a story, that’s why our follicles have ‘ROOTS’. I am still learning, but that’s what this thing we call life is all about.
How would you describe your texture?
J: My hair is a mixture of 3B/C texture. It used to be a lot thicker, but the combination of a shift to more natural products and a Pescaterian diet, my hair seems to be less dense. My hair is like a roller coaster. It has its ups and downs, it has its loops and twists, but it’s an overall exciting experience. Hehe! Like most Naturalistas, I have multiple textures. The back and front sections of my hair are looser whilst my crown (Shout out to the Queens!) is a lot thicker. I also get the random fine, straight strands too. I get it from my mama! It never used to behave, and I’m learning how to tame my mane, but sometimes I love to just let it do its own thing! I also have a dreadlock on the left side of my head behind my ear; this is my Learners Lock (Padawan Braid for the Star Wars Geeks out there!). It reminds me to always remain a student to life because you can never stop learning. I have also recently learned about Ninti Braids, which are similar and have a deeper meaning for women also.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
J: So every month varies because I have learned to ‘Listen to my hair’, especially because the weather in London is so temperamental and usually cold. I have realized that some foods I eat have had an effect on how my scalp reacts too. But I usually alternate between these 4 styles: buns, twists, twistouts and wash & gos. (I will throw in a victory roll or an updo to ever so often to keep people on their toes!) For my twists I split my hair into four parts and do 8 medium sized twists in each section. I spray my hair with water and aloe vera juice, seal with either jojoba oil or almond oil, then put in some Giovanni Direct Leave-In and twist. If I want a more defined twist out, I will use a little Kinky Curly Curling Custard too. When my twists are ‘flyaway’ or my partings look like they need Moses, I will wear a twistout or a bun for a week.
Because of the cold London climate I only do wash & gos when it’s above 12 degrees outside, which we have only just started to see! (Yay! Free the fro!) But for my wash & gos I soak my hair under the shower…and I mean it needs to be dripping wet. I separate my hair into the famous 4 sections and I coat each one with a mix of almond and jojoba oil, then liberally use the Giovanni Direct Leave-In (I used to use Paul Mitchell The Conditioner, but the ingredients in Giovanni were more natural!) if I want my curls to have that major Soul Glo shine and definition I will put in some Kinky Curly Curling Custard. I roll my hair into two buns and sleep with a satin scarf on at bedtime. I then spritz it with my water/aloe mix in the morning. After about 4 days my hair will get tangled (If I leave it any longer it will be a jungle…you could possibly find leaves and sticks tangled in there!) so I put it in 8 sections, coat each one in coconut oil and finger detangle. I spritz it with my water/aloe mixture and seal with jojoba, then twist. And then repeat!
What does wash day look like for you?
J: Wash day is exactly that…A DAY! It always has been, but I’ve definitely cut down on time over the past 6 months. I first, prepare myself mentally! Haha! That’s the first and most important step. If I am not in a great mood, I won’t wash my hair because I am definitely rougher with it. I section my hair into 4 (no surprises there!) and clamp the sections in crocodile clips. I use my homemade coconut oil *Big Grin* to coat my strands. If my hair isn’t too dirty I then either Co-Wash each section with Aussie Moist conditioner (I prefer the American Aussie, the UK one smells amazing, but doesn’t have the same effect on my hair.) If it needs it, I shampoo with either Shea Moisture Organic Coconut & Hibiscus Curl and Shine Shampoo or Shea Moisture Organic Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo depending on how my hair feels. Next, I will use Aubrey Organics Honey Suckle Rose as a wash in, wash out conditioner, or Aubrey Organics GPB Conditioner as a leave-in. I sit with a plastic bag on my head; looking really attractive, for an hour or so then rinse each section. If I have noticed my scalp is itchy I will do an ACV rinse, or if I see a lot of shedding whilst washing I will do a green tea or nettle tea rinse. Lastly, I coat each section in almond oil and twist. If my ends are a little dry I will add some shea butter too. Then I make the difficult decision whether to twist it into smaller parts or not.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
J: I wear a lot of head wraps. Over the past year I have experimented and learned different and quick ways to wrap my hair. Its 100% essential in the winter here! So if my wash & go is looking like a wash & no, I will usually wrap my hair. My favourite quick go to style is a high slanted bun. It’s so easy to do. It protects your ends, it’s easy on your edges and looks really pretty. Put that with a red lippy and you turn that pretty into HOT!
How do you combat shrinkage?
J: I used to blow-dry my hair on a low heat, but now if I am going to attempt to battle the shrinkage, I twist my hair into 8 and put it in a little bun at the back of my head. But to be honest, of late I just let the shrinkage be because I am happy with the length of my hair, and it gives that awesome WOW factor when you do blow dry or straighten it out!
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
J: The front of my hair has always been the most delicate and dry area since I was young. If I pull my hair too tight, my hair will break and my scalp will be a little sore. This doesn’t happen often anymore as I work with styles that don’t cause too much tension on the front. My ends are not as fragile as they used to be, but because they are the oldest part of my strands I give them a little extra care. After all, they are the OAP’s of your hair! Also the center of my head has a thicker texture, so it needs more moisture, more often.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
J: Always spritz with water and seal with an oil because my hair will get so dry if I don’t. I definitely spritz at least once a day. Also I need to sleep with a satin scarf on at night as those cotton pillowcases steal that moisture out of my hair and don’t give it back, even if I ask politely! Sometimes it slips off, but I have recently bought a satin pillowcase; which has become my safety net, so I am extra protected!
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
J: I don’t think this is necessarily for my texture, but I cannot use castor oil in my hair anymore. I used to love it to seal my hair and help thicken my new growth, but I got excited and bought an extra dark version of castor oil. I thought EXTRA DARK = EXTRA GOOD, but it was too strong for my scalp and it became very irritated. Since then, I have tried a lighter castor oil and even mixed it with other oils, but I can’t trick my scalp. It knows! Another don’t for me is ‘Don’t be predictable’! That goes for styles and products. Learn what works for you, but experiment with your hair. You may just find something that works even better. If it doesn’t, you can always go back to your staple products and styles.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
J: I am everywhere! Being social is my thing online and off, and I am pretty sure I’m the only Jodie-Simone Howe out there…as far as I know! So I should be easy to find. I have recently started a Vlog on YouTube called Hair The Beat, (www.youtube.com/hairthebeat) with my sister where we incorporate our passions of dance and art with our healthy, natural hair and lifestyle journey with some singing, dancing and laughs for good measure. We would love your support, as we are still quite new!
Follow us on Twitter @hairthebeat_
Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @jodiesi
I am so grateful to be apart of BGLH as many Naturalistas on here have helped to inspire me to keep going and exploring the many facets of my hair. My journey is ongoing and I am learning more about my hair and myself every day. I hope that my interview has helped someone embrace their own Kinks, Curls and Coils because your hair isn’t all you are, but your roots tell a story. Turn the page and continue to write…