S: My name is Samtou. I’m from Paris, France and I originally come from Togo and Benin, West African countries.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
S: Simply cause I was fed-up with damaging my hair with relaxers. I used to relax my hair to have a softer texture, make it easier to style, and especially to gain more length. My hair is so kinky that the relaxer couldn’t really stretch it, so it looked more wavy than straight. There were negative effects. My hair was great one year then became really dry despite my hair care regimen. It was so damaged that I had to cut it. I let it grow naturally while in protective styles one year only to relax it again and again. I ended up cutting my hair at least 4 times, but last year it was the Big Chop. My goal now is to see how long my natural hair can grow.
How would you describe your texture?
S: I have a tightly coiled hair texture that is really dense and coarse, but very soft. I have predominantly 4A and 4B all over my head except at the back which is 3C.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
S: Fros, twist outs, blow outs, buns, high puffs, wash and go’s and protective styles like Senegalese twists. I love to experience new hairstyles. So far the twist out is my fav cause it helps me to combat shrinkage and makes my curls really defined. I wear a twist out for 4 days and I pineapple every night to maintain it. After my twist out is beyond old I pick it out and wear a fro. I just have to spray my hair a bit with my Vapo mixture and apply some hair cream and that’s it! I will usually do this 2 or 3 days maximum cause after that I lose my length again due to shrinkage. Other styling options depend on my mood; when I want a change, or when I’ve got plenty of time to (Wash and Go), or when I want to protect my hair for a bit. All of these styles are really good for length retention cause they eliminate the need for you to put stress on your hair through styling.
My Care Range:
I rather use homemade products cause I’m sure about the contents and I love making them. You can find my recipes on my webpages:
• I use my Vapo to moisturize my hair every day cause our hair is like a plant. It needs water to reinforce the elasticity and suppleness.
• My homemade shea butter cream is applied every day like the Vapo. It’s excellent for nourishing the hair.
• For deep conditioning, my favorite is my Greek yogurt recipe. I apply it, cover my hair with a plastic shower cap, and leave it for 30 minutes to 1 hour. It makes my hair really moisturized and shiny.
What does wash day look like for you?
S: I wash my hair once a month as follows: I detangle my hair, only when wet hair with coconut oil and a large comb. It’s silky texture helps me to detangle. While I’m detangling I separate my hair into medium sections, which I then twist. I then massage my scalp and I rinse. Next I clarify my hair with a mix of apple cider vinegar and water, which helps me to get rid of all the build-up. I apply it to all of my twists from the scalp to the ends. The container I use is a color applicator bottle cause the tip helps to control the amount of product you use and prevents it from spilling everywhere.
My homemade shampoo has Rhassoul clay as a base. It cleanses my hair gently without irritating it. I undo one twist, remove the shed hair and apply a small amount of the shampoo on the length, a bit on the scalp, around the section, and massage lightly with the pad of my fingertips. I don’t use my nails cause I don’t want to scratch my scalp. I repeat the same thing for each twist then I rinse my hair. Right away before I dry my hair I apply a bit of my homemade hair and body oil. It adds shine and softness to my hair. I use a t‑shirt instead of a towel to dry my hair a bit because it causes less frizz and static as my hair dries. Depending on the style I want to achieve I apply my homemade shea butter cream and I re-twist my hair while it is still wet for my twist out style, or I apply Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie for my wash and go style.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
S: I wear a bun or high puff when I don’t have the time to style my hair. It’s really easy to do and my hair stays invulnerable to weather and damage.
How do you combat shrinkage?
S: My way to combat shrinkage is to use different hairstyles to strech my hair without heat like African threaded braids and twist outs. These are my favorites. First I moisturize my hair with my Vapo, or after a shampoo or hair mask while my hair is still wet I style it and let it dry, generally during the night. The African threaded braids look like twists, but you make them with thread. You can find the thread in any hair and beauty supply store. To gain length with my twist out style, I stretch my twists and clip them with bobby pins. I do this when I’ve just finished twisting my hair, while it is still wet. If it is dry I spray my hair with water.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
S: My ends are the sensitive part of my hair. To protect them I’m doing some protective styles that I can keep at least a month like Senegalese twists and box braids, or styles which keep the need for me to comb or manipulate my hair down to a minimum. Also, when I moisturize and apply cream to my hair I make sure to moisturize the ends as well.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
S: Do moisturize day and night with a Vapo and a cream. I use my homemade shea butter cream every day. Do massage your scalp sometimes when you apply products to your hair cause it activates hair growth. Before you sleep, do tie your hair down instead of leaving it loose, and put on a satin cap/scarf.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
S: Daily styling of tightly coiled hair causes breakage. My solution is trying to detangle and style my hair once a week after my wash or cowash. I gently detangle my hair only on wet hair with a large comb from my ends to my roots. Also, don’t use heat because in the long term it will damage your hair the same way as a relaxer.