Tress Talk With Uwa

July 13, 2014 in Interviews, UNCONDITIONED ROOTS by mkabba

Hair Talk With Uwa

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Hey Natural Nubian… Kindly introduce yourself!

Hola everyone! My name is Uwa Ibie 🙂 I’m 24 years old and I live in London, I just finished studying a music degree and I’m now looking to start the next phase in my life.

Have you worn your Natural Hair all since birth? If not how long have you been natural and what spurred you to return to you natural tresses?

I have NOT worn all my natural hair since birth; my mum actually relaxed my hair when I was six years old. To be fair, I kind of begged and one of my siblings encouraged the idea. I was under the impression that having straight long hair was prettier than a huge Afro that my mum struggled to comb, so I first relaxed my hair at the age of 6 years old.
I was spurred to return to my natural tresses when I turned 19. I was tired of my relaxed hair constantly breaking, looking so thin and wispy whenever I got the relaxed my hair every 6-8 weeks and the whole process became exhausting! From age 16 onwards I became totally obsessed with curly hair and wished I could grow my own, so I was over the moon when I discovered that there was a possibility that I could! I imagined myself with a big fabulous Afro that I could straighten whenever I wanted and I was hooked. I’m 24 now, so I’ve been natural for about 5 years in total.

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Did you receive immediate acceptance having been newly natural? What were the reactions of those around you? How was your newly natural self-received by others?

Thank the Lord, I got a very good reception from everyone around me when I cut my hair, most of my friends loved it and I got compliments from strangers now and then. It was a different situation at home, my mum and a few of my family members didn’t take well to me cutting off all my hair, but I was adamant about the decision and excited to be on the new journey, so I didn’t really care about what other people thought of the decision.

Tell us about your hair stages! Did you transition? Did you big chop? If so tell us about your TWA stages!

If I’m being honest, I’ve probably big chopped about three times in the five years I’ve been natural, and I’ve always enjoyed doing the big chop. The last time I did it was last September, and I’ve kept my hair short ever since then. The TWA stage however is a completely different ballgame, the amount of frizz I would get during the TWA stage would stress me out, and I had more bad hair days than good, however the minute my hair gets long enough for me to be able to do twist outs I start to enjoy myself more. The first time I big chopped I loved it because the process was new, exciting and fresh, but the second time around I threw braids in straight away, it was winter time and it was NOT about walking around with a wet head in poor weather from all the wash and go’s!! I’d have to say the most difficult for me has always been the awkward length stage, not long enough to hold it up but not short enough to let it run wild and free. I’ve never been a magician when it comes to styling my hair, so finding hairstyles that worked for me during the awkward length stage was difficult; however I love to colour my hair, so the different colours would keep the journey exciting for me.

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Do you believe there to be stereotypes and misconceptions of black women and their natural hair?

Of course there are and it’s a shame. Black women get the most stick about their hair, and it’s unfortunate that not a lot of people actually BELIEVE that young black women can grow long and healthy natural hair. If a woman has bouncy and springy 4a curls people insist she’s mixed race or has texturized her hair, because in their opinion if natural hair isn’t “nappy” then it isn’t natural – all of this is down to pure ignorance. Our hair is all kinds of fabulous and versatile and people need to get to know.

In you experience would you say managing natural hair is mentally and or physically demanding?

I’m not going to lie; it can be a demanding process. You have to really set aside time to look after your hair and to be honest it’s all the maintenance that led me to my third big chop (well… that and I bore easily) but I had finally gotten to the stage where I could throw it in a nice bun/up do but with new length came a new regimen. I also started to work out frequently and more often than not it meant washing my hair more than once a week, and each time I washed it I would have to put aside a certain amount of hours in the day, and I just didn’t have that kind of time. It’s not physically demanding at all – hell a lot of my styles would be done in front of the mirror or TV, but it is time consuming.

Kindly tell us your 3 most HOTTEST must have hair products?

Girl, let me tell you.
1) Miss Jessies baby butter ceam – This product was expensive but my hair LOVED it. I mixed coconut oil in that bad boy and I was good to go EVERY time, whether I was doing a wash and go or a twist/braid out I was well set up as long as I had my baby buttercream.
2) Cantu Shea butter leave in conditioner – I have been using this the whole 5 years of my being natural, it hasn’t steered me wrong once. I mix a bit of olive oil in there and I’m well set.
3) Alberto Balsam conditioner – This thing costs 89p mate, 89 PENCE and my hair has been in love with it from day one. I use it as a standard conditioner and also as a deep conditioner (I mix some olive oil and honey together with it and put my hair under a plastic cap) and it has been faithful to this day.

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What’s the most popular questions you get about your natural hair? Pros & or cons?

I regularly get people asking me how I got my hair so soft/curly and when I tell them it’s just regular maintenance they think I’m lying. People don’t know that all you need to do is look after your hair properly to bring out the best in it. I get questions like “What distin did you put inside this your hair to make it curly like that?” and then get accused of lying about being full Nigerian when I tell them my hair is just like that and it’s the cream that locks the texture together. On the flip side I’ve also had people ask me why my hair is “like that” in the sense of, why is my hair not “tamed” and straight and relaxed, and the reality is I just tell them that I prefer my hair’s natural texture, end of story.
I’ve also had people ask me why I put so much water in my hair and accuse me of wanting my hair to break, but these are people going off the relaxed hair logic so I don’t blame them.

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What are your TOP TIPS for healthy, lengthy, successful hair growth?

1) Water, water, water – both on your hair AND in your body. You really are what you eat, so if you want to promote healthy hair then drink lots of water and eat properly.
2) Get a good moisturiser. You can have all the oils and water that you want in the world but if you don’t have a good moisturiser to help lock in some of that water then there’s no point. A good moisturiser could be your leave in conditioner, a butter (like shea butter, avocado butter etc) or just a good standard hair cream.
3) Pay attention to what your hair likes and doesn’t like. If your hair feels brittle, dry and dead after using a product then you probably shouldn’t be using it. If a product makes your hair itch as well stay away from it (in my opinion anyway, don’t quote me, but I can’t stand the itching)
4) Keep the heat to a minimum, there’s no need to be frying your hair so often especially when there are ways to effectively straighten your hair without heat.
5) Be easy on the protective styling. Some people have some lovely protective styles, but then they’re too tight and defeat the purpose because when you’re taking them out they pull chunks of your hair with it, be easy.

Let’s talk Hair Typing! Necessity or Nuisance? What’s your hair type and what are your views on hair typing?

I think hair typing is a nuisance, because you rarely ever find a young black woman who has just one hair type on her whole head, more often than not you will find different textures. My hair type is 4a/b, more 4a at the front and 4b as you move towards the middle/back, but it’s straight up 4c on the sides. Hair typing can be seen as a way to further separate us, and I’m not involved.

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What are your favourite MUST HAVE staple products for the following 

Conditioner: As said earlier, alberto balsam conditioner FTW.

Deep Conditioner: To be honest I home make my deep conditioners, I’ve never find a store bought one that does the job the way I’d like it to, so I’ll normally take the alberto balsam conditioner and mix it in with honey and virgin olive oil, sometimes with aloe vera juice too. If I’ve got colour in my hair I mix it with polymedic’s reconstructor conditioner.

Sealant: Sometimes standard shea butter, sometimes the Miss Jessie’s or “bee mine – bee hold curly butter with coconut”

Scalp: T444z hair food – this cream is full of MAGIC.

Pre Poo: Aye? Mate, warm coconut oil is what I’ll put on my hair before I wash it, the end.

Shampoo: Alberto balsam shampoo, or if I’ve coloured my hair polymedic’s shampoo.

Protein Treatment: Polymedic reconstructor treatment

Styling: The Bee mine curly butter because I love the smell mostly.

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Let’s talk HAIR REGIMEN! What does your current/staple hair regimen consist of? How does your hair respond to this?

Right now, my hair regimen consists of basically coconut oil and co-washing because I’m wearing my hair short right now. However, when my hair was longer it would be me putting the warm coconut oil in my hair then detangling a little with my fingers to make it easier when I wash it. After doing this I’d wash my hair with a bit of shampoo to lift the dirt from my hair then continue washing with conditioner, from there I’d deep condition and detangle working my way through with a comb first and then my fingers (to thoroughly remove any shed hair). After this I’d wash it out, dry my hair with a t-shirt (the drip drip dripping of wet hair, I couldn’t take it), put in a leave in conditioner mixed with oil and start twisting my hair in sections. I’d do this once a week and really try and take my time, topping up oils or water in the week if I needed to depending on the style. I would rarely do wash and go’s on my hair, and the longer your hair gets the less I recommend one does it to be honest, because you’re just asking for hell on wash day.

Do you believe returning back to natural to be a statement? If so of what sort?

It depends on the individual if I’m being honest. For some, they just want healthier hair and want to try it, whereas for others it’s a statement of freedom and about finding themselves. For me, going natural was entirely about freedom and the journey to learning who I was as a young woman. Two years prior I would have rather died than walked into a barber shop and cut off all my hair and being unaware what kind of hair would grow back, however at the stage I was at that time I was really taking the time to figure out who I was without sticking to what the stereotype of what a pretty black woman is supposed to look like by media standards.

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Have you made any mistakes/ experienced any natural hair disasters? If so what? And what advise would you give to other naturals?

Yes, in the past I’ve mixed products together that clearly shouldn’t be mixed and gone out with my hair basically looking just WHITE, flakes everywhere, it was a nasty state of events. My advice when experimenting with products to other naturals is NEVER do it when you’re about to go somewhere, because that’s how I ended up at my friend’s 21st birthday party looking like I suffered from dandruff.

Has being natural dispelled any myths you previously had of “black hair?”

Yes definitely, the myth of black girls not being able to grow long, curly kinky healthy hair has definitely died within me.

*SNIP SNIP SNIP* So you’ve recently done another BIG CHOP (and might I say you look STUNNING!) is this a look you intend to maintain? If so why?

Definitely. At this point in time, I just can’t see myself growing a big afro and trying to get to bra strap length and bla de bla, it’s all quite boring to me right now. I’m enjoying experimenting with low cuts and tapered cuts and the likes. Hair will ALWAYS grow back, and in future if I decide to start growing my hair properly again I will, but for now while I’m young I’m going to experiment with cuts and colours. I’ve been walking around with a low cut for 10 months now, so now I’m going to grow out and colour the top and see what happens – naturals can have fun with their hair too, it’s not by force to grow a big long afro if you don’t want to.

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What one piece of advice/words of encouragement would you give someone who’s considering going back to their natural hair?

Don’t be afraid. Going natural should be about you and not anyone else. If you have a boyfriend and he doesn’t support you going natural you should question the kind of man you’re with, because you will need to call into question whether he will appreciate and love the hair that grows out of your children’s scalp. Also, enjoy the process for what it is, trial and error is key and there’s no other way to learn what your hair likes. Take your time and be patient, if your aim is to get to BSL then encourage yourself by watching other naturals who are there, if you don’t think you’re about that life and just wanna do the short/TWA thing then that’s fine too. Like I said, going natural is about you, not anyone else <3

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Latterly where can our readers find and reach out to you (Online)?

Of course! My instagram name is “Rosecreates” and I have two tumblr accounts and one blogger account.
Tumblr: epiphany.box.tumblr.com and latebloomings.tumblr.com
Blogger: latebloomingrose.blogger.com

The blogger account I’ve just recently started, it’s a platform for me to put all my creative outlets on, so if you’re interested in illustration, writing or music then you can check out some of my stuff on there and also share your own 😀