I: Hey folks hey! My name is Iman and I’m from New Jersey! Most people hate on my state, but there’s nowhere else in the world that I’d rather have grown up! I currently work as a Health Educator, working to prevent teen pregnancy and the incidence of Sexually Transmitted Infections amongst adolescents. Fun stuff and never a boring day when I’m in the classroom! Plus I love when my students are shocked because my hair makes me look like a new person every other week! I’m also a volunteer track coach for my local youth team. IMAN LUH DA KIDS.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
I: I have had so many different styles over the course of my short 25 years. I was natural until high school, and by that time I’d had locs (4th grade-5th grade), a twa (5th-7th grade), then because I wanted to be like everyone else I got a perm in high school. Did the whole Halle Berry cut, let it grow out… Heck! At one point I used semi permanent dyes to make my hair either purple or pink… All that. But then I decided to go natural in 2007 during my second semester of freshman year. I wish I had a “finding myself” or “loving what grows out of my own head” kind of reason for going natural, but the truth of the matter is that I am CHEAP! I didn’t feel like going to a hair salon every 8 weeks to pay someone $70 to get my hair relaxed again. And on top of that, I could never find an inexpensive Doobie (roller set and wrap, if y’all remember, lol) place in Philly, where I went to school. So I said forget it, I don’t make enough money to spend so much money. I came home and cut my hair into a short relaxed style and immediately put my hair in kinky twists. About 3 months later I was so over the two different textures of hair (even though it was only like an inch and a half of new growth). Then in about April of 2007 I said, “Awww what the heck!” and chopped it off myself at the sink in my dorm suite. And there it was, I big chopped and have been natural ever since.
How would you describe your texture?
I: Like most heads of natural hair, I have a mix of textures on my head. For typing’s sake, I would say I’m a mix of 3C and 4A… Maybe even some 4B in there. The back of my head (at my nape) is 3C and softer. In the front and on the sides of my head it’s not really curled, but rather the wave/Z pattern of 4A, and in the middle/crown it’s just straight up fluffy, cottony goodness. When I do out styles though, I usually fluff it out so it’s all closer to the cottony, fluffy, afro goodness that I love so much.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
I: I have like… Hairstyle ADHD. People are always telling me, “Iman, wasn’t your hair different YESTERDAY?” and the truth is, it probably was because I switch my style up so often. For the most part I’m lazy, so I’ll stretch my hair after washing it in about 8–10 large braids and pull them back into a bun. Then I’ll let the twists or braids free after a few days (depending on how lazy I am) and wear my hair in a twist or braid out, making sure I braid it back up each night. I also bun my hair when I get tired of it being out and in my face, sticking to my lip gloss and such, lol. For the most part I use the LOC method to maintain moisture. I pick whichever spray leave in (usually something from a BSS like African Pride Braid Sheen Spray or I get fancy and use Jane Carter’s Revitalizing Leave-In Conditioner), then I’ll either do the O or the C step… Whichever I feel like that day. For my creams I use a mix of things. Recently I have been using Shea Radiance Nourishing Hair Repair Cream (LOVE THAT STUFF!) or Shea Moisture Curl & Style Milk. I also have my own shea butter mix that is just divine. For oils, I like safflower and almond oil.
I also enjoy my fair share of protective styling. So I do box braids (my hair does better in braids than twists), sometimes with my own hair, sometimes with extensions. I’ve gotten full head weaves before. Name it, and I’ll probably try the style at least once! I straighten my hair roughly every 6 months. This usually happens because I’m training (can’t NOT work out because of my hair for something random like… ohhh… A half marathon, full marathon (never again), or a Sprint Triathlon). One of the awesome things about being natural is that I can exercise and not mess up my ‘do. I’ve always been an athlete, so why should my hair stop that? I also get a good trim from my hairstylist when I get my hair straightened to get rid of split ends I might have missed on “Search and Destroy” missions during the interim time.
What does wash day look like for you?
I: Wash day happens roughly every two weeks for me, sometimes a little sooner than that. Wash day has also gotten simpler over time (it gets better ladies!). I make sure I saturate my hair with an oil the day before I decide to wash, usually almond oil, sometimes coconut oil. I make sure I put my hair in 7–10 braids so it’s easier to wash… Otherwise it would be tangle city and a knotted, matted nightmare. I then shampoo either with the LUSH Trichomania Shampoo bar or Elasta QP’s Creme Conditioning Shampoo. Lush’s shampoo bar has sulfates in it, but it’s still really moisturizing, and Elasta just does everything I need it to and more. I then take whatever conditioner is closest to me in my shower (unfortunately I’m a recovering Product Junkie and LITERALLY have about 8 conditioners… 8! Who needs 8 conditioners?!) and then I condition each section of hair. Sometimes that’s with a protein conditioner like Redken Extreme and sometimes with a more moisturizing conditioner like Giovanni’s Smooth As Silk. I put on a shower cap or more like a plastic Target or Walgreens bag and let the conditioner sit for about 10 minutes. Sometimes I bust out the dryer to get a good deep condition in, but otherwise it’s still all good. After washing all that out, I use another cheapie, V05 conditioner. I t‑shirt dry and then proceed LOCing. Total time takes about an hour. Sometimes more, sometimes less!
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
I: I keep it in the SAME tired big ol twists I washed it in and pull them back into a bun when I’m low on time.
How do you combat shrinkage?
I: If I were to let my hair just do its thing after washing, my BSL hair would shrink right back up to above my shoulders… So with that in mind, I like to keep my hair stretched by washing it in twists or braids and letting it dry in those same twists/braids. This minimizes shrinkage from the gate and since at night I re-braid my hair, my hair just keeps getting more and more stretched until the next wash.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
I: “Girl the back of [my] head is RIDIKALUS!” No but seriously. The crown and right smack dab in the middle of my head have a completely different texture and I have to make sure I pay extra attention when detangling because for some reason in those spots my hair likes to tangle at the roots ‑________- It also requires a lot more moisture, so I find myself re-LOC-ing once every few days to make sure it doesn’t become “Snap and Breakoff City”.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
I: Do tie up your hair at night! I somehow manage, even after a night of serious partying, to always find my scarf before bed. Also my hair needs moisture! I recently got my hair highlighted auburn, so moisture is really the key now.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
I: Don’t let it air dry without being styled! Just thinking about it makes me think of the hours of finger detangling I’d have to do. And also don’t get caught up in the hype of long hair. Yeah it’s cool and all, and I have styling options, but at the end of the day it’s just hair! DON’T FORGET TO ENJOY IT! (okay that’s like 3, but still…)
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
I: I have a small blog just getting off the ground. It’s really got like 50 posts, called My Ridiculous Natural Haired Life and you can find it at: www.mrnhl.blogspot.com. I also have my hair blog email: firstname.lastname@example.org and an IG (where I post more than hair, so know if you follow you’re gonna see selfies and other random ish). It’s @Beetsalina.