A: Hi! My name is Araki. I was born and raised in Paris, France with a Guinean (Conakry) and Malian heritage, and an international mindset. From age 19 I have lived, studied and worked in France, UK, China and Canada. Today, I am currently based in Reykjavík (Iceland).
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
A: The first time my hair was relaxed was when I was about 9 or 10 years old (against my mother’s will). My sister and I, begged our aunt to help us have hair like African American girls on kid’s relaxer packaging. Soon after, we realized the result was far from what we expected, but we kept on doing it for years. We didn’t know better, and thought it was an integral part of the normal black hair care routine, and especially wanted to avoid the pain of dealing with our hair. I personally never liked my hair relaxed. It never looked straight and had no volume, so I was mostly wearing braid extensions and finding ways to hide it.
In May 2005 at the age of 18, I came across a French forum about natural hair, which was a complete revelation for me! So, after spending weeks reading through it, I big chopped my hair in the bathroom without telling anyone. When my family found out, they thought I was crazy and that my hair wouldn’t grow back. To stay motivated, I kept on reading natural hair blogs and sharing my hair journey with other natural women around the world through the internet. I then let my hair grow from 2005 to 2013. The first years I was really into taking care of my hair and trying all kinds of new routines, products and all, but as the years went by, despite the growth, I started loosing interest and became lazy to the point that I was only wearing extension braids and twists. My hunt for low maintenance haircuts started (laughs).
One day, I was looking through old family photo albums and came across amazing pictures of my mom in the 80s/90s, when she was maintaining a very short cut. Another revelation! It took me years to find the guts to cut all my hair off, especially after 8 years of natural hair growth and not knowing how it would fit me. But in March 2013, I walked in a South London barbershop and did it! The best decision I ever made. Now I feel more feminine and confident than with any haircut I’ve ever had, and it also helped me become more bold in my clothing choices.
How would you describe your texture?
A: My texture is mainly dense 4B, with a small 4A section on the top of my head and 4C on the back.
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
A: My very first haircut with my short hair was done at a barbershop. I asked for a faded look with a side part. As it grew, I realized it would be too annoying to maintain, so I decided to buy clippers and shave everything off with no guard. I do it every 2–3 weeks and love it better when the length is around 1–2 mm. When it is close to 1 cm (which I rarely let happen), I apply coconut oil. It is actually crazy how quickly it grows and how few millimetres can change the look and feel!
What does wash day look like for you?
A: When I had the faded look I used to put some gel on my hair to get cute curls and was washing my hair with SLS and paraben free shampoos and conditioners (Shea Moisture brand mainly). However today, because I barely have hair, I just run water and some mild soap on my scalp daily when I take a shower, and it works perfectly fine.
Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
A: Hmm so bald is not enough?! Haha! Well, when I don’t feel like having a small head, I like wearing a headwrap with whatever fabric I find, a woolen hat (Iceland weather people!) or a hat turban that I found in my mom’s closet.
What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
A: It’s a minor issue, but I am still looking for the perfect clipper, which will allow me to get the exact length I like.
What are 2 do’s for your texture?
A: Spring and Summer.
What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
A: Autumn and Winter.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
A: Yes, many!
Personal Blog: http://mademoiselleaki.tumblr.com/
My Illustration Portfolio: http://arakikoman.tumblr.com/
I also run a Community Blog called The Oum x Yuki Society, a fashion tribute to our immigrant grandmas, moms, aunts, and neighbours’ unique sense of style, and how it is shaping our aesthetic tastes, our identity, and self-expression.