so i’ve been show­ing some pret­ty intri­cate styes in our ‘mon­day style icon’ seg­ment, and this can be intim­i­dat­ing for those who have lit­tle time or styling abil­i­ty. so, i thought i’d mix things up a lit­tle bit and, post an hon­est con­ver­sa­tion about every­day styling. zara is a grad stu­dent (pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured on BGLH) who co-blogs about nat­ur­al hair at ‘the soul that lives with­in’.

BGLH: what are your favorite styles to do? why?
ZARA: for every­day wear, i pre­fer to wear my hair tied back because it’s faster to style in the morn­ing and i don’t have to wor­ry about reshap­ing it when i wake up. basi­cal­ly, i’m lazy, lol. so it’s usu­al­ly in a pony­tail (pony-puff?), some­times with a cen­ter part, or a side part, or some curls hang­ing over my fore­head. i also recent­ly dis­cov­ered that my hair can be put into a bun, which pro­tects my ends as i get to tuck them in, so i was excit­ed about that. L says ~ okay, i’ll be hon­est, i high­light­ed this because i’m a bun girl fo’ real, lol… for spe­cial occa­sions, i try to pull off a chunky fro, either with the curls intact or brushed out because the large hair always draws atten­tion =)

BGLH: how do you deter­mine how to style your hair? does it depend on weath­er, event, or any­thing like that? or is it just how the mood strikes?
ZARA: my hair­styles def­i­nite­ly depend on a lot of things. weath­er is a big­gie- i don’t wear my hair out much in win­ter or in dry cli­mates, but in humid hot places, the fro comes out to play more. i’m all over con­ve­nience with my hair, i’m a grad stu­dent and i def­i­nite­ly don’t have time to be doing any­thing too crazy with it. i also get irri­tat­ed if there’s too much hair in my face, so i tend to pull it back or sweep it off to the side. i’ve had styl­ists scold me because i don’t explore many styles, they tell me it’s a waste of hair :P oh, i also stay away from corn­rows, flat-twists, etc because my scalp gets irri­tat­ed and starts accu­mu­lat­ing buildup, itch­ing and flak­ing with­in a few days. i have no idea why it does this, but even with 2 strand twists, i can only keep them in for maybe a week.

BGLH: what are your ‘holy grail’ styling prod­ucts? walk us through how you use each one, and what it does.
ZARA: leave-in con­di­tion­er: i nev­er ever let my hair go with­out it. i use Gar­nier Fruc­tis Col­or Shield leave-in con­di­tion­ing cream, dilut­ed with water and a few tea­spoons of whichev­er hair oil i have avail­able (almond, coconut, etc). after wash­ing my hair, i squeeze it dry and apply the leave-in thor­ough­ly.
sul­fur-8 med­icat­ed scalp con­di­tion­er: if i’m wash­ing my hair every oth­er day, i don’t real­ly need this, but once i try 2 strand twists or brush my hair out, it becomes essen­tial because my hair is going to be with­out water for more than a few days. if i don’t use this on my scalp, it dries up and flakes rather quick­ly. it prob­a­bly has a load of unfriend­ly chem­i­cals, but i haven’t found a prod­uct that can treat dry scalp/dandruff oth­er than this. if anyone’s got any nat­ur­al alter­na­tives, do let me know! L says ~ help her out ladies!!
nat­ur­al but­ters: i use these for day to day mois­tur­iz­ing of my hair, and i order them from the awe­some­ness that is From­Na­ture­WithLove. i’ve used their hemp seed, avo­ca­do and shea but­ters mixed with avo­ca­do or coconut oil, and my hair loves it. i was going to order their shealoe but­ter to try it out, but i end­ed up order­ing hair pud­ding and hair but­ter from Curls by Sis­ters Smith, which i’m excit­ed to try out.

BGLH: how did you devel­op your “nat­ur­al style”, was it watch­ing over women? was it research? did you know how to do hair before you went nat­ur­al?
ZARA: hmm. when i first went nat­ur­al, i didn’t real­ly have a lot of nat­ur­al role mod­els to observe. i used Motown­Girl a lot for advice on what to do, and i always want­ed my fro to look like Erykah Badu’s (before I dis­cov­ered it was a wig!), but my style evolved by sim­ply lis­ten­ing to my hair. it’s impor­tant to know what your hair is capa­ble of han­dling (eg heat, col­or, etc) before styling it. i do a lot of research online (BGLH is won­der­ful for that!) to find out more about how i can style my hair, and i actu­al­ly like doing hair, which was a plus. i used to give my friends perms, and i still trim and curl/iron their hair (not a lot of peo­ple have patience to deal with hair for hours at a time). oh, and i’m amaz­ing at twist­ing dread­locks!

BGLH: style-wise, what are the advan­tages of hav­ing nat­ur­al hair?
ZARA: wow, where do i start? no mat­ter what style i put it in, my hair has per­son­al­i­ty. i can alter­nate between curly and straight, and even rock out an inter­me­di­ate with no stress to my hair. my hair is a lot stronger than it was when i had relaxed hair, and its tex­ture makes all the styles fan­tas­tic. my hair looks alive when its nat­ur­al, instead of dead and flat, most­ly because it just has more body. it’s just more dope, more ver­sa­tile, more expres­sive.

BGLH: how does your style reflect your per­son­al­i­ty?
ZARA: i think my style reflects who i am quite well. it’s out there, it makes you turn your head and it’s unafraid. it’s loud and beau­ti­ful, elo­quent and in your face. it shows that i’m not afraid to try new things. it’s basi­cal­ly awe­some =)

BGLH: final­ly, could you do a ‘tuto­r­i­al’ for one of your favorite styles?
ZARA: it took me a while to decide on my favorite style, but to date, it would have to be the chunky afro. i pulled it off best when i was down in the coast of Texas by the beach, the humid­i­ty seemed to work in my favor. L says ~ it’s the pic­ture at the top. it’s my favorite style because it’s a com­fort­able style to wear, it looks great, it shows off the nat­ur­al curl of your hair and you don’t have to wor­ry about keep­ing it in place.
wash your hair as usu­al, comb­ing it out in the show­er if nec­es­sary
rinse out the con­di­tion­er with COLD water, this will define your curls bet­ter
squeeze excess water from your hair gen­tly with a tow­el
apply a light leave-in thor­ough­ly
start­ing from the back, divide your hair into large rough sec­tions, about 3“x3”
divide each sec­tion into 2 fur­ther sec­tions and twist them togeth­er. you may secure the ends with a rub­ber band if you want, but they’ll prob­a­bly hold with­out one
repeat until all your hair is in chunky twists
let it air-dry, but not com­plete­ly, then take out the twists and shake your head :)
it should look like an afro instead of a twistout, except that the sec­tion­ing will now allow your hair to be more mobile (yes, the wind will blow it, lol). my afro used to have the stead­fast­ness of a hel­met if i didn’t sec­tion it first. for those with hair my length, to stop the fro from flop­ping into your eyes, you can use a thin hair­band and push it back about an inch from your hair­line. this will lift your hair a lit­tle high­er so your ends don’t inad­ver­tent­ly blind you.

fab­u­lous tuto­r­i­al… fab­u­lous advice! thank you zara!

zara’s style snaps

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noel­liste, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop cul­ture and black beau­ty enthu­si­ast. bell hooks’ hair twin…

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9 Comments on "Zara // Natural Hair Style Icon"

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Beau­ti­ful hair!


Wow, she just described my pre­cise scalp sen­si­tiv­i­ties. I can­not wear braids, corn­rows, any kind of style that pulls and seper­ates my hair, def­i­nite­ly not exten­tions for any decent length of time because my scalp will start to itch uncon­trol­lably and dan­druff will ensue-by day two. Nah, my hair needs to be free or in a tug free style or my scalp will go off!Which is a shame, because I love pro­tec­tive styles.

analog girl

Her ‘fro is just mag­nif­i­cent. Beau­ti­ful hair and great inter­view!


I love the thick­ness!

Ebony Intuition



Absolute­ly jeal­ous of that thick­ness!! My hair is so thin in com­par­i­son :((. Beau­ti­ful hair!


Her hair is gor­geous. LOVE IT!


Her hair is awe­some!


Great inter­view — here hair is won­der­ful :o)