*Prepared for BGLH by Meosha Tall of 1MeNaturally
E: My name is MiMi and I live in the DMV area. I was born in Sierra Leone, West Africa and moved to the States when I was a teenager.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
E: I wanted to try something different. I get bored very easily and love afros, so over the last 12 years I have done a big chop every three years. My hair would grow back long and healthy and I’d get a fresh perm and do the whole chemical hair thing for another 3 years, miss my afro and do another big chop and start over. In 2009 I just decided that I’d stick with natural for good. It was healthier for my hair and I wanted a fresh start.
How would you describe your texture?
E: My texture is some sort of 4. I still cannot distinguish all these alphabet hair types. My strands are pretty coarse most of the time, especially when I’m eating well, taking my vitamins and being healthy. When I slack off they get pretty thin and break off.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
E: My styling regimen is pretty simple. My day job requires a lot of international travel so I strive to wear my hair in ways that will make it manageable no matter where in the world I find myself. Some of the places I go to do not necessarily have a salon or running water so finding something that holds up in any circumstance is my top priority for my hairstyles. For daily wear I rock afros. I was born loving afros. It’s the only reason why I decided to go natural and even though I get a lot of flack for always wearing my hair out, it works for me and I LOVE it. When I want some protection, I do primarily tree braids. On occasion, I’ll get individual braids (sticking to tree braids now though) or rocking a curly afro wig. I’d say that my hair is in tree braids about 8 out of 12 months a year. They last about three months on average and it’s great because they are ridiculously versatile and can be styled in a 100 different ways.
What does wash day look like for you?
E: Whether my hair is in its afro state or in tree braids, I wash it once a week or every two weeks depending on how dry it gets. I have been using Carol’s Daughter products on my hair for years and I love them. I consistently use the Tui Moisturizing Shampoo, Tui Moisturizing Conditioner and Tui Hair Smoothie. I keep it simple with just the shampoo and conditioner. I shampoo twice and wash it out. Then I put in the conditioner and comb my hair through after leaving the conditioner in for about 5 minutes. After washing and conditioning my hair, I moisturize with a mixture of Tui Smoothie, Tui Oil and castor oil and braid it while wet into about 10 plaits.
The next day or whenever I need to, I take the braids out for a curly fro and keep braiding into 10 plaits each night to stretch out my hair and build my afro. I rarely use any heat or a blow dryer on my hair. On lazy nights I just do five big two-strand twists to stretch the hair out. On occasion I’ll put some olive oil on my scalp to combat my extremely dry scalp or just use the Tui oil. I always rub olive oil on the tips of the plaits to keep the ends from getting too dry.
How do you combat shrinkage?
E: My hair is the queen of shrinkage, but stretching it out with the nightly braids/plaits helps combat that issue.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
E: My problem areas with my hair are the hair around the perimeter. My hair is thinner in the front, sides and back and very thick in the middle. To prevent breakage I tend to just finger comb these thinner areas.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
E: I notice my hair grows faster when I’m doing all the right things like drinking 2 liters of water a day, taking prenatal vitamins (which I’ve been taking for about 10 years) and eating at least three fruits a day…in addition to my regular meals. When my diet is high in protein, my hair gets longer, stronger and thicker.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
E: I’m pretty sure one big don’t for my hair is all that combing I do while conditioning. So far, I really haven’t lost much hair from this practice.