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Intro­duce your­self!
A: I go by April Kae and my cre­ative project is called Imani Gold.  I’m orig­i­nal­ly from Austin, Texas and just moved to Harlem from Port­land, Ore­gon.

Did you tran­si­tion or big chop? Share your nat­ur­al hair jour­ney with us! 
A: Some of my ear­li­est mem­o­ries are of my moth­er perming my hair over the kitchen sink.  But as soon as I was old enough to get her to stop, I got her to stop and haven’t looked back.  When I was 13, I was real­ly into dying it, almost every sum­mer I would col­or my ends pink and pur­ple.  I’d also reg­u­lar­ly straight­en my hair with a flat iron.

Fast-for­ward a few years.  Around 16, I was trim­ming my ends in the bath­room, and then just kept cut­ting until all of the dam­aged bits were gone.  This was in 2006 when there were not near­ly as many resources and prod­ucts for nat­ur­al hair, so styling and care involved a lot of tri­al and error.

Ten years lat­er and I’m still fig­ur­ing it out.  Now there are so many more options for peo­ple with nat­ur­al hair, and so many more peo­ple rock­ing the look.  I love this com­mu­ni­ty we have, and look for­ward to see­ing it grow even more.

How would you describe your tex­ture?
A: 4a and extreme­ly thick.  I break rub­ber bands reg­u­lar­ly.  Some strands are more fine, some are quite coarse.

Describe your styling reg­i­men over the course of the month, and the ratio­nale behind your var­i­ous styling deci­sions. 
A: I’m real­ly into braid­outs.  The end of my wash-day rou­tine almost always involves a braid­out.  I adore Bright N’ Boldly’s “Nat­ur­al Hair | Defined & Heat­less Curls (Braid­out)” tuto­r­i­al on YouTube.  Before I braid it up, I always put on Can­tu Shea But­ter Leave In Con­di­tion­er.  Some­times I seal it with coconut oil.  Some­times I use Eco Styler Olive Oil Styling Gel. I’m not great and doing corn­rows, so if I don’t have time and ener­gy for Bright N’ Boldly’s style, I’ll just braid it into 10 braids and sleep on that. My hair takes a long time to dry.  When it’s not dry by morn­ing, I’ll put the braids into a bun, and sleep with the braids in again for a sec­ond night.  In the morn­ing I take out the braids, fluff it up a bit, and head out.

Most nights fol­low­ing, I sleep with it in eight braids.  I try to remem­ber to cov­er it with a silk cap.  Some­times I put on Can­tu at night, some­times I don’t.  If I’m exhaust­ed at night, I’ll sleep with it in a top­knot. I work in an office, so Mon­day thru Fri­day, I try to keep the frizz to a min­i­mum.  Top­knot every­day.  I’ll put on some Eco gel in the morn­ing, and if I have time, I put some Curls Pas­sion Fruit Paste over the frizzi­er bits. When I’m rock­ing big hair, I’ll usu­al­ly spray it with some water, and put some Curls Pas­sion Fruit Paste over the frizzi­er bits.  Some­times I put oil on the ends if they look thirsty. I wash my hair every one to two weeks, real­ly, I go more on how dry it feels. There are some styles I like that look great with dry hair, so I push the lim­it and don’t wash until it feels brit­tle.

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What does wash day look like for you? 
A: 1) Con-wash with pret­ty much any con­di­tion­er, and light­ly detan­gle with my fin­gers. I like the Can­tu Mois­tur­iz­ing Con­di­tion­er and Pan­tene Pro-V Women of Col­or Con­di­tion­er. I mix it up a lot though.

2) Occa­sion­al­ly (and admit­ted­ly, not recent­ly) I’ll do a pro­tein treat­ment.  Think of this step as option­al.  There’s this stuff called Jamaican Black Cas­tor Oil Pro­tein Hair Con­di­tion­er that is incred­i­ble.  It smells hor­ri­ble, but it’s well worth the way it makes my hair look and feel.  Before apply­ing it I tow­el dry my hair (while still in the show­er) and cov­er my hair with the treat­ment.  I’ll usu­al­ly just put it up in a bun, put on a show­er cap, and then a ban­dana over it to secure it.  Since it smells so bad, I do this before I go to bed and sleep with it in.

3)  Every time I wash, I deep con­di­tion.  I’ve tried many prod­ucts over the years, and noth­ing beats Organ­ic Root Stim­u­la­tor Olive Oil Replen­ish­ing Con­di­tion­er.  If I pro­tein treat­ed, I’ll of course rinse out the treat­ment.  I’ll also co-wash again after rins­ing out the pro­tein treat­ment, to deal with the smell.  I like mix­ing the leave in con­di­tion­er 2:1 with coconut oil.  I usu­al­ly keep the con­di­tion­er in all day, so I’ll dry my hair before putting on the deep con­di­tion­er and then comb it out and put it in 3–8 braids with the con­di­tion­er still in. To keep it moist, I’ll put it under a show­er cap and put a hat on over it so I can go about my day.

4) At night, I’ll rinse out the leave in con­di­tion­er, and then tow­el dry my hair.  After that I’ll style my hair into a stretch­ing style (twist out, braid out, ban­tu knots – the pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less).  Instead of cov­er­ing up with a silk cap, I sleep on a tow­el. My hair is so thick that it refus­es to dry if it isn’t out in the open.

Describe your favorite go-to hair­style for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
A: Slop­py top­knots are my jam!  Because that’s my default style, my hair is usu­al­ly stretched, so if I sleep with a top knot in, I can just take it out in the morn­ing, maybe spray it with some water, tug on it for a lit­tle bit, fluff it out, stick in my favorite black pow­er afro pick, and I’m out in less than 5 min­utes.

What are some of your prob­lem areas (if any) that require extra care and atten­tion?
A: My ends. Because my hair is so long, the mois­ture from my scalp doesn’t get all the way there.  I also make sure to put leave in con­di­tion­er on them, and trim them with nice shears when I have the time.

What are 2 do’s for your tex­ture?
A: Do: not give a care most of the time.  My hair is part of who I am, and I love it, but the time I’ve spent doing this inter­view is more time than I usu­al­ly spend on my hair in week.  It looks effort­less because it is.

Do: Have a green smooth­ie every­day for break­fast.  Take flaxseed oil pills.  Drink water.  Healthy body, healthy hair.

What are 2 don’ts for your tex­ture?
A: Don’t: My hair is very par­tic­u­lar when it comes to oil and con­di­tion­er.  Too much and it becomes greasy, too lit­tle and it’s like I didn’t use a prod­uct at all.  Most prod­ucts for mixed race women don’t work for me, because there’s not enough mois­ture in them.  Most of the old school oils and pomades don’t work either, because they’re too greasy.

Don’t: Sleep with­out braid­ing it or putting it in a top­knot.  It will tan­gle.  There’s this thing I call the uni-dread that hap­pens.  It’s not fun to detan­gle.

Is there a blog/webpage or social media account where we can find you?
insta­gram: loveimanigold
web­site: imanigold.com

Christina Patrice

Born, raised, and liv­ing in Los Ange­les, Christi­na is BGLH’s res­i­dent tran­si­tion­ing expert and prod­uct junkie. In addi­tion to lov­ing all things hair, she is a fit­ness novice and advo­cate of wear­ing san­dals year-round. For more infor­ma­tion on tran­si­tion­ing, nat­ur­al hair, and her own hair jour­ney, vis­it maneobjective.com. Or, if you like pic­tures fol­low Christi­na on Insta­gram @maneobjective.

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2 Comments on "April Kae from Austin // 4A Natural Hair Style Icon"

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Sabrina black

I like the way her hair is out. What a charm.

cryssi

Gor­geous, her hair reg­i­men and styling is sim­i­lar to mine.

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