A: My name is Ashley Pratt, originally from the DC Metro Area. Currently a student at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore, Maryland.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
A: I have been natural my whole life! My Mama never allowed my sister and I to ever get a perm, or a “kiddie relaxer.” I grew to fully accept and love my hair in 2006 and although I love my hair now, for a while growing up I just wanted straight hair. My Barbie dolls had straight hair that I could cut or color with a magic marker. My classmates had long straight hair too. Every night Mama would put my hair in a few ponytails. As I got older and had to do my own hair I tried all sorts of things, gel, hair grease, even lotion, and mixed it all together to put in my hair.
I started flat ironing my hair every so often in middle school and for every special occasion. In high school I was fed up with having to braid it all that I woke up the next morning, wet my hair, and walked out the door. That was the first time I had worn my hair out big and proud since kindergarten! I received so much positive feedback that it just became my style. Annually, I would wear my hair as big as possible by picking it all the way out into a glorious Afro. I’ve learned to love and accept the endless possibilities that I can do with my hair. Never gets dull. As an artist a lot of my work that I am most passionate about is identity based, which includes my hair. It is a symbol of beauty, pride, loaded with history and politics. My natural hair choices give me roots back to Africa, when I would feel otherwise cultural-less. Above all, it is my crown.
How would you describe your texture?
A: My hair is predominantly 3C. It is thick and kinky-curly.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
A: Whatever style I use depends on my mood! I change my hair up sometimes just as often as I change my outfit. Most commonly it is a wash-n-go. I let my hair air dry and walk around with it wrapped in a towel before I mess with it. I try to keep the amount of product I use to a minimum. I love Cantu Shea Butter Leave In Conditioning Repair Cream and Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Spray Sheen to spritz my scalp. For Afro days I section off my hair and use a hair pick or a paddle brush to pull it apart and finish up with a hair dryer on low. During the winter months I tend to straighten my hair (so I can wear cute hats!) I use the Wet-to-Dry Flat Iron. With my hair brushed, blow dried, and separated I add olive oil, especially to the ends. I run a comb through my hair right along with the flat iron. This can last up to a month or two with a touch up to my roots here and there. That’s what I love about being natural I can change my look in a matter of hours.
What does wash day look like for you?
A: I try to wash my hair as little as possible. It winds up being maybe once every two weeks. I use Pantene Pro-V Relaxed and Natural for Women of Color Shampoo and Conditioner. While shampooing I consistently rub my scalp and scrunch my hair. I detangle it with my fingers, then with the conditioner in it I used a paddle brush to run all the way through. I deep condition every one-two months with Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Replenisher.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
A: I just dampen my hair a little in the morning and add shea butter. If I want to go the extra step from my wash-n-go, I do a braid that goes across my head from ear to ear. Sometimes I bun it up, or do a half up, half down look.
How do you combat shrinkage?
A: Sometimes I don’t bother fighting it. I get shrinkage after wash day so it is to be expected. I call it my “small hair day”. Depending on the occasion, I may blow dry it out.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
A: I shed like crazy! I always warn my roommates of possible tumbles of my hair around the apartment. I also have to keep my scalp oiled every day.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
A: DO use products that are creamy like shea butter that do not weigh it down. DO when in doubt always use the appropriate conditioner for your hair.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
A: While straightening your hair is nice DON’T use the flat iron every day. You don’t need a lot of heat to keep it looking neat! Also, DON’T wash every day. Wear a shower cap and try to avoid too much water. It will lead to a dry scalp and dandruff.