A: My name is Akosua. I am half Ghanaian, half Zambian and I grew up in Botswana. I came to the United States for university and am currently living and working in NYC.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
A: I’ve been natural for about a year and almost two months. I did my big chop in February of 2013. My decision to go natural was influenced by a combination of things. For one, I discovered YouTube and found women who had short hair for the majority of their lives went natural and were able to grow their hair longer than it had ever been. Prior to discovering YouTube and learning about hair, I was of the mentality that I could not grow long hair, or manage my hair without a relaxer or heat. The more I watched and read the more my stance changed. Seeing all the styles, regimens, and different textures made me very curious about what my own curl pattern would look like, and influenced me to investigate my hair’s potential.
Secondly, my go to style pre-natural was weave. I’d get an install every one and a half to 2 months and started to take shorter and shorter breaks in-between. It went from 2 month breaks to 2 week breaks, to removing and reinstalling on the same day. At some point my scalp, which was already sensitive started disagreeing with my weaving, so I listened and stopped. I also had heat damage at the front where I had my leave out. I needed something new! Lastly, I had been researching (just of out curiosity), the connection between foods and disease, which led me to look into the ingredients in things I use on my body and how they can have harmful effects on my health. So, I figured it was time for a whole body makeover, which included ditching the relaxer.
How would you describe your texture?
A: My hair is mostly 4c with some 4b in the middle and on the sides. The individual strands are fine, but my hair itself is very coarse and the strands are densely packed.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
A: I wear my hair in some form of low maintenance or protective style about 90% of the time. This usually consists of simple updos, flat twists, or different styles with two strand twists. I rarely wear my hair out during the week. Over the weekend, I let the fro out! I moisturize my hair twice daily using my spritz of water, aloe vera juice and glycerin. During the winter months, I do a lot of low tension long-term protective styling, such as flat twists with Havana hair just to keep my hair protected from the drying effects of the cold weather. I keep the protective styles in for 3–4 weeks at a time and take 2 week breaks in between. My goal is to find/create cute protective styles that I can keep in for 2–3 weeks that I can do myself (ideally without any extension hair).
What does wash day look like for you?
A: I start by separating my hair into 6 twists. I prepoo with Alikay Naturals Essential 17 Hair Grow Oil (sometimes mixed with coconut oil). I do this as an overnight treatment or for 20–30 minutes under the steamer, or under a cap prior to washing. I then run my hair under the shower and detangle it under the running water with my fingers or my seamless wide tooth comb. If my hair is really tangled, I apply some LuvNaturals Hair Detangler in addition to the oil.
I haven’t had much luck with shampoos, so I stick to wash products. I currently use Qhemet Biologics Egyptian Wheatgrass Cleansing Tea to cleanse my hair. I apply it only to my scalp, and rub with the pads of my fingers. Then, I rinse thoroughly and apply a deep conditioner. My favorites are Alikay Natural Honey and Sage Deep Conditioner and All Things O’ Natural Natty Cupuacu and Rhassoul Deep Conditioner. Both make my curls pop and leave my hair feeling soft and moisturized. I either leave the deep conditioner on for about 30–40 minutes under a plastic cap (or two), or go under the steamer for about 30 minutes. I then rinse it out and use a t‑shirt to soak up any excess water. Once my hair is about 85–90% dry, I spritz with aloe vera, add oil to my hair (Alikay Naturals Essential 17), as well as a leave in conditioner (LuvNaturals) and then something from the Qhemet line to seal, like their Amla & Olive Heavy Cream. I like the Qhemet products because my hair is very dry and these are designed as deep conditioners that can be left in. I often put a little Design Essentials CurlForming Custard on my ends. I find that it helps ward off some tangles without making my hair cakey or hard. After that, I put my hair in a style for the week.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
A: A pompadour in the front and one flat twist on either side going towards the back. It’s quick and easy.
How do you combat shrinkage?
A: I don’t consciously try to combat shrinkage because it’s just part of the nature of my hair. However, I do mostly keep my hair stretched, and if I am wearing it out I will first twist it or braid it. The aim here is to minimize knotting and tangles.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
A: I get quite a few single strand knots especially in the back where my coils are the tightest. I’ve found that coating my hair with the Design Essentials Custard (as mentioned above), helps to reduce those. Otherwise, I just cut those bad boys off as I find them. I also struggle with how to properly identify split ends. I haven’t come across anything thus far that has helped me learn how to confidently track these.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
A: 1) Moisturizing daily using my DIY spritz. 2) Keeping my hair in protective and low maintenance styles for the majority of the time. For this reason, I do styles on wash day that will last at least 3–5 days.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
A: 1) Washing my hair loose or letting my hair dry loose/out of twists. 2) Combing or manipulating my hair when it is completely dry (i.e. without oil or water).
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
A: You can find me on Instagram @afrokanomics. I’m thinking about starting a blog or YouTube channel in the summer.