Name? By day, I'm Nike Taylor. By night, I'm Screwy Haired Girl.
Where are you from and where do you live? My father's Yoruba and my mother's Igbo and I've lived in Lagos Nigeria all my life (if you don't count the 10 years I was away in Washington, DC), so I'm from Lagos. I moved back to Nigeria in 2007.
You write a blog on natural hair. What made you decide to do this? It was a way for me to really learn about my hair and how to take care of it in a new climate. The climate in the US made my hair care easy; for years, my everyday style was a fro, with long braids or twists for winter or when I needed a break. So when I moved back, I thought hey, I can keep wearing my hair out everyday, right? Wrong: months later, my hair was breaking badly, with split ends, and I lost a lot of length. Sounds crazy, but I ignored it for the most part because I had a stressful job at the time. I had it in weaves, cornrows, fros (for going out), or braids/twists until early this year. I could do that because it somehow still looked good in a fro.
I started my blog in February and as I blogged and surfed other natural blogs, I realized my relationship with my hair wasn't healthy, so my hair wasn't healthy. So at about one in the morning on April 25 this year, I took out a pair of hair scissors and cut off about 8 inches, leaving 2.5 - 3 inches of hair. Best decision ever. My hair knowledge has grown with my hair and we're now a loving couple, who just have occasional fights :-)
From your perspective, what is the natural hair scene like in Lagos / Nigeria? It's growing and being natural has become more of a serious decision than a fad for many women now. When I first moved back, I hardly saw any naturals anywhere; at the office, the grocery store, the cafes, or the clubs, and the one or two I did see lived overseas and were just visiting. Then a couple years later, I started seeing a few more naturals, but then half or all of them would go back to a perm months or a year later. But now, the community seems to be growing by leaps and bounds and there's a greater sense of permanence. There aren't just TWA's now; I see a lot of inches on women these days. Waiting for the brothers to catch up :-)
But do you know the most beautiful thing I now see? Little girls with healthy natural hair instead of a relaxer, even if their moms still have perms.
At one time you had your hair relaxed. Tell us why you decided to go natural. There was no big, life-changing decision, no spiritual awakening for me. I've just always loved to play with my hair. I've had it in every haircut under the sun (including a not-on-purpose fade), baby curls, weaves, braids, spray-on color, texturizer, locks, name it and I've probably done it. But being natural makes my hair so versatile and is the longest hair commitment I've ever made. Also back when I went natural, natural hair wasn't that common at my college (outside afrocentric circles), so it was nice being different.
How did you go natural? Did you transition or did you do the big chop? Did anyone help you or encourage you? Big chop. No active encouragement, but my sister had gone natural a year before and I thought, hey I haven't done that before! I was home for Christmas in 1999 and walked over to a neighborhood barbershop one day. After he finally agreed to cut it down to about a half inch, I had it put in small middle-back-length twists before I went back to DC. I took the twists out 4 months later. I know, I know, way too long! And found I absolutely LOVED the texture of my unprocessed hair.
You and Natural Nigerian recently organized a Natural Hair meet-up. What was the motivation behind organizing it? What was it like organizing it? The meet-up was on Saturday. (It was great meeting you!) A couple months ago, Natural Nigerian emailed me the idea of hosting a meet-up. I've been natural a good while but never attended one and I was excited about being part of planning one. We chatted and found we had the same motivations: we wanted to create a place for naturals to come together to support each other, learn about their hair, and share their experiences so that we could all learn, but we also wanted to embrace both naturals and non-naturals. (We don't have an "us and them" mentality. After all, almost all of us had a perm once.)
Organizing it was a lot of work, but you know we naturals love to talk hair, so it was fun work. NN and I had a great team: Sherese Ijewere (a nutrition consultant and meet-up presenter), and NatMane (blogger at http://deepbrownkinks.blogspot.com/ and meet-up presenter). We all shared the same meet-up goals and worked well together, juggling our day jobs with planning the event. Three other women were a vital part of making the event a reality: Sherese's friend through whom we met Sherese and to whom we owe so much, a friend of NN's, who helped quite a bit, and the lovely Ugoma Adegoke, owner of meet-up venue The Life House and the most helpful and pleasant venue owner I've ever dealt with. We also had a lot of unexpected help from folks online who took it upon themselves to spread the word via blogs, tweets, Facebook pages, and word-of-mouth. Thank you, so much!
The 3 weeks before the meet-up were a whirlwind of activity for me because I suddenly had a lot of work deadlines and I struggled with my health, but somehow we didn't miss any meet-up planning targets. (Thanks, ladies, for giving me time to design the flyer!). All the work, long nights, and lack of sleep were well worth it: we had a better-than-expected turnout, everyone had a great time, and we all learned from each other.
Do you have a “hair mentor” or “hair crush”? I don't really have a hair mentor, but oooh, girl you know we all have several hair crushes! My sister's one, as are youtubers Sera2544, MsVaughnTV, Ahsiek1118, and RusticBeauty, the Black Girl with Long Hair ladies (bglhonline.com) and the women featured on their blog, Ms GG (FroStoppa.com), JenellyBean (kinkycurlycoilyme.com)...I have a long list of hair crushes and they all have coily hair.
What’s your hair regimen? My hair is naturally porous, so I need heavy-duty conditioning, but I discovered it doesn't like a lot of manipulation. What I do:
Every 2 weeks (or whenever I finally get to it), I work in a lot of olive oil as a pre-poo treatment, then co-wash in four or so sections with any VO5 conditioner. I then do an apple cider vinegar/bottled water rinse (to balance out my hair's pH and smooth my hair cuticle), dry well with an old T-shirt, then work in a honey/coconut oil/glycerin deep conditioning mix, put my hair in large twists (to minimize tangling and breakage) under a shower cap and thick scarf (to catch the drippy mess), throw on a headwrap, and go about my day. Because I have hard water, I buy a couple bags of pure water and use them to wash/rinse my hair. I don't use warm water because I'm a little lazy and room-temperature water works the same way.
Several hours later, I work in a Forever Living Products Aloe-Jojoba Conditioner for a few minutes and then rinse out the entire DC. I then section my hair into 8-10 parts and then do a bunch of twists in each section to air-dry, spraying each with a vegetable glycerin/bottled water mix and working in some Motions CPR Triple-Action Leave-In Conditioner gel, my olive oil/coconut oil/jojoba oil mix, and my homemade shea butter mix. This is the only time I ever comb my hair. I air-dry my hair and only undo the twists when I have to go out.
Every night, I twist up my hair and sleep in a plastic cap (to lock in moisture) and a satin bonnet. I sometimes put aloe vera gel on my edges in the morning. Every other night, I work in some water/glycerin mix, oils mix, and hair butter before I go to bed.
Products you would wait in line for? Hmm, I used to be a product junkie, but I don't use a lot of products anymore. So I'd stand in line for apple cider vinegar, coconuts (to make coconut oil from, if the trees in our garden aren't in season), and vegetable glycerin.
Where in Lagos do you get the hair products you use? Again, I don't use a lot of products. I use VO5 to co-wash because it's in every grocery store and supermarket. Apple cider vinegar's also in every store. I get shea butter from the east or from a girl who brings it in from Ghana and my mom gets honey from the east as well (and sometimes from the north). For coconut oil, we buy coconuts from the market to supplement the ones in our garden. I get glycerin and jojoba oil from the US. My Motions leave-in is from the US, but I'm only using it till it runs out. I make my own hair butter.
How do people react to your natural hair? Positive, or negative or just odd? It's been a mixed bag: In the US, I got a lot of questions from people of other races and they were mostly positive and born out of curiosity. When I first moved back to Nigeria, there weren't many naturals around at all, so I got lots of stares, especially at my son's school LOL. People sticking their hands in my hair to check for tracks became normal (which is one reason why I have a lot of hair butter and oils in my hair) and I got a lot of questions about why I wear my hair this way or if I was a music artiste. I've gotten a few negative comments, but they're generally amusing and the overwhelming majority of reactions and comments have been positive.
If you get negative comments about your natural hair who are they from and how do you deal with them? I tend to forget the negative comments unless they're really funny. The ones I remember right now were from my wider circle of girlfriends in Nigeria and I just laughed them off. I usually just try to pull people out of the dark, if they'll let me.
Comment about natural hair in your place of work. Do you feel awkward about wearing your natural hair to work? I've been natural for quite some time, so there's no awkwardness for me. I now work for industries that allow for personal expression and I worked for nonprofits in the US, so I've never felt constrained by my job. My stint in corporate Nigeria kept me in a perpetual state of stress, so for convenience I had braids and weaves all the time, but I didn't feel my hair wasn't professional.
What hairstyles do you usually wear? Why? My go-to style is a faux-hawk twist-out, but I only wear my hair out maybe once or twice every couple of weeks. Most of the time, it's in twists that I tuck in (to protect my ends) and I wear a beanie or headwrap. I used to do Ghana weaving and braids a lot, but they damaged my edges, so I no longer plait my hair. I don't do weaves either because they wrecked my edges even more.
What do you like best about being natural? I love the texture of my hair, how it feels. I love how I look with natural hair. I love taking care of my hair - whenever I can get around to doing so :-)
What do you hate most about being natural? Coming home after a long day and having to twist up my hair to go to bed if I've worn it out. So I sometimes do it in traffic, with people in other cars staring into mine :-)
Have you ever had an “Ooops!” or “OMG!” moment with your hair? Tell us about it and how you resolved it. I had a big "ooops!" moment when I texturized my hair years ago a few, but the biggest "ooops" and "OMG" moment was a few months ago when I tried to give my son and me a banana/honey/oils deep conditioner. I used the wrong type of banana and it took hours to wash out most of the mix from my son's hair and mine. My mother said I should've used eastern bananas instead of the Yoruba bananas I used. My back hurt for days.
Why are you still keeping your hair natural? I love it the way it is and I've learned how to care for it, so why not?
What do you say to people like you about going natural? Going natural is a choice. It's a fantastic choice that for most people broadens their knowledge about hair and health, and it helps you begin to appreciate what you put on your hair and body as well as what you put into your body, but it's still a choice. If you've got coily hair like mine, it's a lot of work. But when you love your hair right, it'll love you back.
What's next for you on your natural hair journey? 24 inches or bust :-) Okay, on a serious note, I now love my hair, no matter the length. I'm not as length-obsessed as I used to be and I'm just enjoying the ride. I also want to blog more often and help black women and men understand their hair better through my experiences.
Glo Naija Sings or Maltina Family Dance All? Um, Sons of Anarchy :-) Because bikers are cool :-)
LOL! Thank you Screwy Haired Girl.
Keep it natural!