K: My name is Koku Gonza from Chicago.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
K: I’ve been natural since 2005. I decided to go natural because my hair started to thin out. I also hate the smell of relaxed hair. I wanted to explore my hair in its natural state and see what would happen if I let go of consistent straight hair.
How would you describe your texture?
K: My hair is a combination of 4B and 4C. I have fine, dense hair that behaves according to the climate. I’ve learned over the years that Chicago summers are the best for my hair. The humidity makes my curls pop, however winter is very rough on my hair so I’ve learned to stick with protective styling to avoid breakage and keep my growth pattern consistent.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
K: My current styling regimen is focused on preventing my hair from breaking during the cold season. During the winter I wear protective styles three weeks out of each month. I wear my hair loose during the last week of each month until May. Mini twists are what I’m wearing right now. I might switch it up and do a flat twist style next month. I try to keep my routine simple by using the L.O.C. method five days a week and steaming my hair once a week. I use water, Jamaican Black Castor Oil mixed with Peppermint, Tea Tree or Eucalyptus Oil, and MY DNA Leave-In Conditioner to lock moisture in my hair. When I steam my hair I use the Huetiful Steamer and Coconut Oil to seal in the moisture. I co-wash my hair once a month with MY DNA Detangling Conditioner. Preventing my hair from breaking is definitely a priority this winter. I want my tresses to gain inches instead of losing. Retaining moisture and protecting my hair are pertinent to reach my growth challenge of 16 inches of healthy hair by May 1.
What does wash day look like for you?
K: Wash day is my whole entire day spent with my beloved kinks LOL! My hair gets an overload of TLC on washday. I make an event out of it and watch my favorite movies on Netflix or Hulu. I know I’ll be in the house all day due to the long process. I spend two hours finger detangling with coconut oil as a pre-poo and 15 minutes washing my hair in 6 sections with ACV or MY DNA Sulfate Free Shampoo. I alternate every other month between ACV and a sulfate free shampoo. My hair feels better and behaves better when I alternate between lab made shampoo and homemade shampoo. I do a co-wash once a month alternating between MY DNA Detangling Conditioner and my own D.I.Y. protein conditioner. My D.I.Y. protein conditioner consists of 1 Avocado, ½ a can of Coconut Milk, 2 tbs of Olive Oil and 1 Egg. I use my Huetiful Steamer to seal in my conditioners for 20 minutes after a thorough shampoo.
I keep my hair in sections throughout my wash process to prevent any tangling from happening. After rinsing out my conditioner in cold water I saturate my hair in olive oil for about 5 minutes and rinse out the olive oil with warm water. I wrap my hair up in an old cotton T‑shirt for about ½ an hour to soak up the water. I leave my hair in large twists while I air dry if I don’t have to leave the house. If I do have to leave the house I sit under my Gold N Hot Soft Jumbo Bonnet Dryer for about 45 minutes with my ends tucked away. Once my hair is some what dry I precede with whatever style I plan to do. I usually wait until the next day to style my hair due to the fatigue that sets in after the first 8 hours of the wash process.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
K: My favorite go to hairstyle is to spray on some oil and water and let my hair fro out. I usually do this when the temperature outside allows it. If it’s in the dead of winter and below 32 degrees, I’ll usually put on a hat or head wrap.
How do you combat shrinkage?
K: I don’t fight with my shrinkage anymore. If my hair shrinks up I let it do its thing. I usually plan my hairstyles around shrinkage anyway because I love my curl pattern. The only method I’ve discovered to eliminate shrinkage for at least a couple of weeks is to blow out my hair or use the African Threading method on dry hair. I haven’t found a product to eliminate shrinkage without adding additional heat, or some type of tension method.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
K: I have issues with my ends breaking off and appearing thinner than the rest of my hair because of the blonde color that still remains from 2011. I have to be really careful with my ends and always add extra coconut oil prior to and after steaming my hair.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
K: I do the L.O.C. method at least five days a week to maintain my curl pattern. When my curls are hydrated they look like beautiful 4B curls. If I don’t hydrate my hair it breaks off, becomes fragile, my scalp itches like crazy and my hair looks frizzy in an unstylish way. Also immediately after working out or sweating I have to use my D.I.Y. scalp spray. My post work out scalp spray consists of Aloe Vera Gel, Water, Castor Oil and an essential oil like Peppermint, Tea Tree or Eucalyptus. I do this to prevent buildup of sebum on my scalp. I don’t have the time or energy to wash my hair after each work out so this is the safest and easiest thing to do. I wear a satin scarf every night and make sure my ends are tucked away to prevent fairy knots and tangles. I don’t always twist my hair before going to bed, sometimes I just separate it and use pins or bands to tuck my ends away. I have to keep my hair sectioned and tucked to lock in moisture and prevent the friction caused single strand knots.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
K: I don’t do brushes or fine tooth combs ever. I always use a wide tooth comb or my fingers. When I used brushes and fine tooth combs to detangle early in my natural hair journey, I noticed that my hair would break the fine tooth comb or break off in chunks in the brush bristles. I’ve retained more length by avoiding both over the past few years.