N: My name is Natasha Gaspard and I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. I am a first generation Haitian American!
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
N: I did my big chop in 2000, so I’ve been natural for 13 years now… Going natural for me came about through the process of self-reflection. At the time Lauryn Hill was a huge success and I really respected her talent and admired her beauty. She exuded an aura of confidence and commanded such power and a respect that was purely undeniable. I also noticed she was natural and wore locks, which were absolutely beautiful! I wondered to myself if I could go natural as the idea never occurred to me. At the time I didn’t have any issues with my relaxed hair. I wasn’t forced to go natural because of breakage, damage, or scalp issues. It was primarily a question of “Is natural hair an option for me?” I decided to look at the women around me in my family, around campus, on the train going to work. I didn’t see one woman wearing her hair natural!! I did not know one person that was natural. When I asked my friends and family if they would ever stop relaxing and wear their natural hair, they looked at me as if I had two heads! They couldn’t fathom it! A common response was…”In this day and age with every type of relaxer available out there why would anyone want to be natural?” I was stunned at the responses I was getting.
Those answers hurt me a great deal. I couldn’t understand why I was getting so much resistance to the suggestion that we wear our hair the way it grows out of our heads. Why was it such a big deal I wondered? Was our hair so bad, so unmanageable, so unattractive that it had to be hidden never to be shown again?! I didn’t want to accept that idea. As much as I didn’t like the pushback I was getting I had to stop and realize that I too had been conditioned to believe the same thing! Wearing my hair relaxed was so natural to me (pun intended!) until I began to question its validity. I began my journey by researching natural hairstyles because if I was going to do this I had to make sure I was going to be able to style my hair. The last memory I had of my hair being natural was when my mom punished me by not allowing me to get a touch up for the summer, and I had tons of new growth to deal with. I couldn’t do anything to get my hair slicked back into a ponytail and it was a nightmare! In my mind natural hair was a struggle that I didn’t know how to deal with. I was determined to change my mindset and give myself the opportunity to learn how to care for my natural hair!
How would you describe your texture?
N: I don’t really subscribe to the hair typing system. My hair is dense and very coily more or less all over and is a bit more wirey in the front. The right side of my head has a tighter coil pattern than the left so I have to accommodate for that when styling so it looks even. My strands are fine and shrink a whole lot when wet!
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
N: My styling regimen usually consists of a two-strand twist style. I love two strand twists! I can curl them, pin them up, wear them down, style with a hat…the possibilities are endless! If I’m not wearing a two strand twist style then I will opt for a twist out style, but usually worn in half up/half down style or a funky updo! Right now I’m using Shea Moisture products. I’ve been cocktailing the Curl Enhancing Smoothie with the Soufflé. I also love to moisturize my hair with Karen’s Body Beautiful Sweet Ambrosia leave in…I love it! Her Super Duper Hydrating Hair Cream is the BUSINESS!!
What does wash day look like for you?
N: Wash day is usually an ALL day process! In a perfect world I would wash every two weeks, but realistically I’ve been washing 1x a month!! I try to listen to what my hair needs so if it’s tangled I will start off by detangling with a mix of conditioner and oil. Other times I start off with a hot oil treatment (usually with olive or coconut oil) I then shampoo with whatever I have (I really like Miss Jessie’s Super Slip Sudsy Shampoo…it’s an amazing detangling shampoo!) I usually skip the conditioner and go straight into deep conditioning! I really, really like the BEE-U-Ti-FUL Moisturizing Deep Conditioner from Bee Mine Products!! Talk about major slip! I also like the EDEN BodyWorks Deep Conditioner…the jar is huge and it really makes my hair feel like butter! It’s really thick and creamy so I find that I need to add a little water to my hair when it’s in so I can work the comb through, but I was very impressed with it!
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
N: My favorite go-to hairstyle after two strand twists is a twist out with the front pinned up! I love this style because it looks so intricate but it takes no more than 5–10 minutes…all you need are your trusty hairpins and your imagination! I’ve learned though that natural hair has a mind of its own, so it will let you know what it wants to do that day…I’ve had many good hair days when I just go with the flow…lol
How do you combat shrinkage?
N: I think shrinkage is a part of what makes natural hair so cool! It’s what our hair (particularly my hair) does! My twist out hairstyle one day can look totally different the next day based on shrinkage alone…that’s hot! Never a dull moment!
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
N: Since my hair is coily, it tangles very, very easily. I notice that I experience lots of tangles when I need a trim. As much as I love my two strand twists…too much of anything can turn into a bad thing! Having my hair twisted for weeks at a time doesn’t allow for me to remove as much shed hair on a regular basis as I should, so not only am I experiencing tangling from the ends, I’m also experiencing tangling at the roots which drives me crazy! I now realize that I have to actually start combing (or finger detangling) my hair more often to remove shed hair.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
N: My texture (as most coily textures) needs moisture! I use a homemade leave in (recommended by natural hair care expert Diane Bailey) of water, aloe vera juice, conditioner, glycerin and oil in a spray bottle! Also, regular trims will keep those tangles at bay along with regular detangling.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
N: I don’t think there are necessarily 2 don’ts for my texture in a particular. In general all of our hair needs the proper balance of moisture and protein to remain healthy along with tender care…no detangling with a fine-tooth comb! I would also say that wash and go’s for tightly coiled hair isn’t the best move…at least it doesn’t work for my hair.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
N: You can view the natural hair videos I produce on my website, Mane Moves TV at www.manemovestv.com or catch me hosting the new online web series Make Me A Naturalista at www.youtube.com/MakeMeANaturalista OR you can learn about the natural hair advocacy group I’m a part of called The SuperNaturals at www.facebook.com/SuperNaturalsBK!