I: Hey BGLH fam, I’m Ijeoma, a Nigerian-born, New Jersey bred gal currently living in New York City! I’m technically supposed to be pursuing a doctoral degree in history of public health, but I pretty much blog at Klassy-Kinks.com while going to school on the side!
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
I: I’ve been fully natural since May of 2010. The summer before that, I randomly got some kinky twists and was enjoying the break from my hair, and at the same time started reading articles in Essence Magazine about natural hair. That led me to YouTube and different people’s Fotki pages (is that still a thing?), and I desperately wanted to see what my real hair looked like because I’d had it relaxed since I was a toddler. It was my second year of college, so I wore twists and weaves over the course of the school year before cutting all but a few inches off just a few days after I came home from finals.
How would you describe your texture?
I: After serious reflection, I don’t think hair typing is the most useful categorization, but most charts put my hair in the upper 4 range. I have coarse, densely packed strands that really like to shrink up like it’s their job, and medium porosity. I definitely have kinks and coils, not curls.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
I: If I do a braid out or twist out, I’ll wear it for a week or more, retwisting every few days. I’ll then morph the style into some kind of an updo, and switch between those for two weeks. Alternatively, if I start off the month’s style with a flat twist updo or something similar, it will evolve into a twist out that will become a braid out that will become a puff. I nearly always end up with a puff by wash day lol. Keeping my hair stretched helps reduce knotting, and doing low maintenance styles helps reduce breakage from manipulation. I’ve stopped using combs in the course of the past three months, so finger detangling has now become part of my routine. After experimenting with it, I definitely feel like there’s no real point in combing out your hair if you keep it stretched and use a mix of water, conditioner, and oil to detangle before washing. I go on protective style kicks every once in a while, favoring mini twists and Havana twists with Fingercomber hair (it’s so soft!), which I just learned how to install on my own. My favorite twisting product hands down is the Carol’s Daughter Healthy Hair Butter, and I typically refresh my hair with Shea Moisture Curl and Style Milk. I don’t like my hair super defined so unlike many, I tend not to gravitate towards products that promise hold or magic curls.
What does wash day look like for you?
I: I only wash my hair about every three weeks to once a month (grad school + laziness = later and later washes). I’ll start off by using a mix of conditioner (currently Trader Joe’s), coconut oil, and water to carefully finger detangle my hair and put it in about 6 braids. I’ll then shampoo with Carol’s Daughter Monoi Shampoo and deep condition with Organic Root Stimulator Hair Mayonnaise, still in braids. Once I’m done prancing around, I’ll undo each braid in the shower and apply some more conditioner (Carol’s Daughter Monoi, Aussie Moist, or Trader Joe’s Nourish Spa), smooth over my strands, and braid it back up. After drying under a t-shirt for a bit, I spray the Carol’s Daughter Tui or Monoi Leave-In, seal with my shea butter/coconut oil/aloe vera gel mix, and begin styling. When I need a deep clean, especially after a protective style, I use Terressentials Mud Wash.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
I: Puffs are the greatest! They’re the perfect blend of carefree yet regal. If I want a more toned down look (or if I want people to see my face and not just my hair) I’ll do a flat twisted crown.
How do you combat shrinkage?
I: I don’t mind shrinkage that much, because it’s kind of cool how you can have different hair lengths in one week (or even a day!) without extensions or cutting. I braid, twist, or pineapple my hair nightly just to lock in moisture and minimize tangles, but that also combats shrinkage.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
I: My hair was recently color treated, so I don’t skimp on monthly deep conditioning. I just had a bad experience with cornrows that left some hair at the nape of my neck fragile and broken so I’m using Jamaican black castor oil daily on that section. My scalp can get dry, so I give myself scalp massages whenever I’m doing something to my hair at night using jojoba oil. Plus it’s relaxing, which I can always use.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
I: Seal in moisture! Shea butter really locks moisture in for days on end for me, so I’ve got to make sure to not just moisturize, but trap that stuff in before the air tries to suck it out of my hair.
Love it! Not that I’m a veteran or anything, but being on this journey for a few years has made it clear that certain curl patterns tend to get more love than others in the natural hair community. I’m trying to change that with the whole Klassy Kinks project, so by loving my super kinky hair, I can hopefully help redefine society’s perception of kinky, Afro-textured hair.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
I: Wash and go… without some kind of stretching. I’ve done wash and go puffs and a banded wash and go, but not stretching at all post wash would probably defeat the process of finger detangling before I wash.
Don’t be rough: I’ve always had the kind of hair that stylists complained about and tugged at trying to get it to “lay” and behave. Even though I’ve got a strong (aka hard lol) head, that doesn’t give anyone—especially me—license to yank and abuse my strands. I’m not dainty or extra delicate with it either, since nobody has time for 5 hour detangling sessions, but I don’t worry about getting every miniscule knot out or being able to run a fine-toothed comb through before twisting. Too many combs have lost their lives over the course of my own at the hands of my hair, so I’m just trying to do them and my hair a favor!
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
I: Of course! I’m on Klassy-Kinks.com several time a week where I offer my two cents on the latest natural hair news, advice and tutorials for hair styling and maintenance, healthy food recipes, weekly features of other fabulous kinky-haired women (and men!), and most exciting of all, monthly giveaways! I’ve actually had my YouTube channel the longest (since I cut my hair) but I’ve been struggling to post videos lately. My Tumblr is a great source of inspiration as there are pictures of hundreds of women with gorgeous hair! And of course I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Say hi!