Hair Diary: Meet Nia4:04 PM
I have been trying to get Nia in a Hair Diary forevvver!! Well, I finally got her lol...thx Nia :)
Where do you live? How is the natural hair community there?
I live and work in the DC area and the natural hair scene is huge here. There are lots of natural stylists, salons and easy access to products. Most of my friends have natural hair so we style each others hair and provide support and advice. In comparison, I grew up in Bloomfield, CT and lived in Boston for 7 years before I moved here almost 6 years ago. The aesthetic of straightened hair prevailed in my family and communities there so it was hard to find support if you weren't pressing or relaxing.
When and why did you decide to go natural?
It was a lovely accident over 9 years ago. I was stretching relaxers to 3 months while I was in college to save money. I used Motions relaxers normally, which left some texture in my hair so I could wear it "curly" when my schedule got hectic. In April of 2001 I got a touch-up with a much stronger brand that made my 3 months of new growth SUPER straight. I had no way to remedy the 3 textures I had once the new growth came in. I decided that once I had enough hair I'd cut it short and go back to my original relaxer. BUT, after transitioning for 4 months I cut my hair down to my own texture and I immediately fell in love with it. I have not had a relaxer since!
Were your friends and family supportive? If not, how were you able to move forward?
My friends were shocked that I went through with it and cut my hair very short. The term "going natural" was not really used then, so It was more about wearing it short than kinky/curly for a while. I kept it short for a few months and didn't let it grow out, but when I stopped cutting it I began to get the questions. "What are you doing with it? When are you getting a relaxer? How do you get it to do that?" However, very soon after, the idea caught on and several of my friends cut their relaxers out as well. I was always into doing hair so I quickly learned how to twist it and style it and got more compliments than questions as my family saw it progress at holiday gatherings.
Describe your hair routine.
My routine this past summer had been almost strictly wash and go based. I'd co-wash it once a week or so, and use gels and leave in conditioners to define the curls. I'd wear it out for a few days and begin pulling it back as it got fuzzy. I was avoiding cones and had put in highlights, and then a rinse to darken them as they grew out. This winter I think I will shampoo it once every few weeks and go back to using cones and heavy leave in conditioners and do more braid and twist sets.
What are some of your favorite hair products?
I love castor oil, natures blessings pomade, Natural oasis hair and scalp conditioner, Yes to Cucumbers conditioner, IC Fantasia and pink Eco Styler gel. Kinky Curly Curling custard works well in my hair and the Deva Curl Set it Free leave in spray is great. I've also always loved Paul Mitchel's The Conditioner. Sally's sells a pretty good imitation of it for cheap.
Do you have any hair goals? If so, what steps are you taking to achieve them?
Every few years I have different goals for my hair as my life changes. I recently got very busy with the business of buying and renovating a house, and cut my BSL length hair into a shoulder grazing angled bob for the warmer months. I wanted stylish, easy to take care of hair. Before that I had been trying to grow it long, and was trying to keep it strong and healthy to avoid loosing my ends to damage. I'd done a second big chop before that in 2006 after sustaining heat damage. No more extreme heat for me! I was also recently diagnosed with PCOS, and though I have few symptoms, one common one I want to proactively watch for is thinning hair. Right now I just want to get through the winter with healthy hair before I decide what to do this coming summer. I may dabble with color and get another precision Deva cut for a medium length.
Wow, in so many ways. I looked very different with short natural hair than I had looked my entire life before that. I began to meet very different types of people once I no longer attracted (or repulsed) the long hair, light skinned, light eyes obsessed. All of a sudden I was having more conversations and I wasn't worrying so much about how I looked or maintaining that look in the weather or at a party. It was liberating and refreshing. When I realized that many of my old products no longer helped my hair, I learned more about the ingredients, why they are used and what I should avoid. That inclination to research products naturally leaked into my cosmetic and food buying process. I generally became more aware of myself as an individual and more spontaneous which ultimately made me more confident.
My top 5 obsessions are...hmmm. My home renovation projects are like, truly addictive lately. I'm working on simplifying my life (wardrobe, products and general routine), growing my own herbs, my blog and following the natural hair and arts blogospheres, and 5th would be my job. I hope to get a dog or two soon, so that might bump something lol.
Anything else you'd like to add...
My lil blog is www.itsjusthair.com and I have lots of pictures and styles there. Also, the thing that resonated most with me about having natural hair is the notion that I'm simply not relaxing it anymore. I decided instead to just work with whatever grows out of my head, as best I can. If you go natural as a function of accepting your hair for how ever it is, you stand a much better chance of falling in love with it and enjoying it down the road.
You can also follow Nia on Twitter and on YouTube!