Curly Essence:Tell us a little about the history of your curly hair (mostly negative things that you swear never commit).
Azha: I was about 8 years old when I got my first perm it was cute for about a year, perm and swimming pools do not mix chlorine and tight singles/braids slowly broke my hair off. I then grew my hair out at my 8th grade graduation I got another relaxer. By then my hair was to my shoulders/mid-back that lasted about a year and I broke it off again. I have super coarse and kinky hair and all of these things I did were not helping it be healthy and just grow. My hair has been this never-ending battle to be accepted into this box that the media/ society formed. The box I wanted to fit into was; a girl with loosely coiled big hair or straight that I could slap in a ponytail on top of my head. That’s not what my hair does and I am happy and okay with that now, loving my 4c hair was hard when I was younger. Growing up I was bullied about my hair texture/protective styles and I thought perms and relaxers were my way out.
How long did you find yourself in the transition process – Transitioning to Natural – and why you made this decision?
I eventually transitioned around my senior year of high school because my sides and edges were breaking off. My mom has supported me going natural she helped me so much and is really my role model. She did her big chop 4 years ago and has big chopped again sense then my mom really believes hair is just hair and it will grow back; she’s constantly sending me youtube tutorials I have the best support system. Sometimes going natural can be very traumatic so instead of big chopping I got sew in’s until my hair was at a length I felt comfortable with, then I slowly began to cut out all of my stringy straight ends, it took me about a year to fully transition and I have been natural for 4 years now.
What is the hardest part of your transition?
The hardest thing about transitioning is the changing of your hair it goes in 3 waves first its lose because its of course damaged, then your natural curl pattern grows and it looks so awkward, after that you must let go of the straight ends and I think the cutting off of my ends was such a big deal even though it was probably only 3 inches hahaha.
Are you always worried about in having your curls in perfect shape, or are you more of an apologist of the “let it be”?
It really depends on what is happening in my life I am a college student and I also contribute to & run 3 blogs, sometimes I have great hair weeks that allow me to have three day hair and sometimes I just give up and put on a scarf, I live in San Francisco so fog really effects my ability to wear my hair out or wear stretched twist outs!
Is there a secret that you can share concerning your curly hair?
I am not the best natural not like my mother, I really just try to oil my scalp twice a week and spray my hair with moisture mixes (youtube is your lord and savior if you’ve forgot how to wash/do your hair after a month of protective styling) shout out to my 4c Diva @jouelzy she’s saved my life many times.
How do you see this new “back to our roots” movement?
I see it as a positive thing but also I do not promote weave haters and people who bash women who still chose to straighten their hair. Dealing with our kinky coils isn’t for everyone and it doesn’t make you any less close to our culture if you don’t have a fro you know?
What products do you recommend and can’t live without?
Castor Oil, Avocado Oil, Veggie Glycerin,Giovanni Leave in conditioner, Herbal Essence Curly Conditioner, IC Fantasia Gel/ Aragon/Olive Oil gel, Yellow Bird Blow Dryer and Sally’s Bobby Pins.
What were the worst mistakes you made? What advice would you give to anyone who wants to venture out to take of their curls?
DON’T BOX YOURSELF IN! Imaging that my hair was going to be big 3a curls when I am a 4c girl with kinky coils was a mistake haha. I think that all of us who make up the “natural hair movement” should always keep in mind that we have to consider alllllll hair textures as beautiful. From the twa, to the kinky coils, and the huge fluffy curly afros. There is not one way that should be viewed as acceptable because they all are!
What’s the best thing about being curly?
The best thing about having kinky, coily, and curly hair is that my hair can pretty much do whatever I want it to! I am really happy with my hair and the way that I treat myself because of how I have to care for my hair. The bond that natural hair creates between young naturals is insane as well hair conversations can go on for hours! I really just love the idea of community and uplifting of black women!
Photos by Mancy