Z: Hello! My name is Zeba. I’m from Accra, Ghana and I live in Jersey City. I’m a writer and film critic.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
Z: I initially didn’t set out to be natural — I didn’t even really know about the concept of being “natural” when I cut my hair. Throughout high school I relaxed my hair, it grew to about APL then just became really thin and dry. I’ve always had thick hair, so this kind of freaked me out. During the year when I was living back in Ghana I impulsively cut my hair because I was just really annoyed with how unhealthy it was. After the cut I immediately got braids. It was only a couple months after that when it grew out a bit that it occurred to me to maybe not start relaxing again! I’ve been natural for six years since. I did my (first) big chop in 2009!
How would you describe your texture?
Z: If I had to guess I’d say I’m like a 4b/4c mix. My hair is dense and coarse, and my curls are more defined at the crown of my head, but usually only if I apply mad product to them (which I rarely do).
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
Z: Since I experience major shrinkage, which leads to tangling, my hair is always in a stretched state. I lose about 60% of my length when my hair is in a shrunken state. I go through phases with my styling regimen, so sometimes I will protective style by bunning, wearing puffs, loose twists, twist and box braid extensions, wigs, or scarves. I love big hair and I love to wear my hair out, so I will generally wear a twist out fro for a few weeks at a time. I sometimes use Taliah Waajid’s Curly Curl Cream for my twist outs then cover my hair for a few weeks at a time, and repeat. At night I’ll spritz my hair with a mixture of a cheap conditioner and coconut oil. If I’m feeling lazy I’ll pineapple it, but I usually always braid or twist my hair at night to keep it stretched. I experience a lot of dryness, but ever since discovering the LOC method I haven’t had to moisturize every single day, which has been amazing.
What does wash day look like for you?
Z: Wash day is a whole situation. I really dread it and I’m really bad at regulating my regimen, so sometimes I might wash my hair once a week, and other times I might go a month in between washes because I’m just feeling lazy. The night before I wash my hair, I lightly detangle and pre-poo with coconut oil. The next day I finger detangle my hair again and put it into four twists. I’ll then go in the shower and wash my hair with Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo, then condition with their Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner, which I just started using recently and I LOVE. My hair tangles a lot so much of my wash day process revolves around doing lots of detangling from root to tip under the running water with a wide-tooth comb. I try to be as thorough as possible and not rush through even though I’m over it by the second section lol. Once I’m out of the shower I let my hair air dry a little bit then I go about moisturizing. My go-to moisturizers are usually shea butter, coconut oil, and castor oil as a sealant.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
Z: If I don’t have a lot of time my go to is always to tie a scarf around my head and wear my hair in a high bun/puff, but I generally make time for my hair. If I feel like I’m coming up on a busy month or something I just get braids or twists.
How do you combat shrinkage?
Z: I have been fighting shrinkage ever since I went natural and I’m actually trying to let go of it. Like, there have been times when I’ve woken up in the morning and I see it’s raining and it’s literally ruined my day because I feel like I can’t wear my hair out. I’m trying to be more comfortable with how my hair looks when it’s a little shrunken — of course I generally keep it stretched just to ensure it doesn’t tangle, but I’m also trying to understand the difference between wanting to prevent tangling and being length-obsessed. It’s a process!
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
Z: I dyed my hair a honey-brown/reddish color a couple years ago, and since then even though I went back to black I’ve definitely noticed the damage that did to my ends, in terms of them just being weaker and having a lot of splits. My ends are very delicate, so I make sure to lavish a lot of attention and moisture on them whenever possible!
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
Z: Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. I really used to think that moisture wasn’t a factor in my hair’s health, but it wasn’t until I started paying more attention that my hair began to flourish. Also, I’ve seen that drinking lots of water (and I mean lots), exercising, and taking my vitamins has been a big help as well.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
Z: Too much manipulation, which I definitely am guilty of. I need to just leave my hair alone and stop doing the most. Not doing my research — I recently did a cholesterol treatment without looking up the product and it almost ruined my hair. Also, keeping braids in for too long. I used to keep braids in for months (I won’t say how long, but you can guess — such a mess), and I would take them out and be all shocked when most of my ends broke off. Like, girl.