Tress Talk With I Love Afro

November 15, 2014 in Interviews, UNCONDITIONED ROOTS by mkabba

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Hey Natural Nubian… Kindly introduce yourself!

We are Tasha and Sasha directors of the company I Love Afro.

I Love Afro is a UK family based company specialising in natural haircare for kinky and curlier hair textures, using ingredients that nourish and encourage soft manageable curls. Our company was put together to encourage and assist those who wish to embrace naturalism but do not know where to start or for those who are already natural but want more information and advice.

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

Sasha – I haven’t always worn my hair natural but after a mishap with hair dye and relaxer in 2006 my hair was left so damaged (and Orange – long story) there was nothing left to do but Big Chop. Initially it was a shock to have such short hair, it was so new to me and apart from my mum who had locs at the time I didn’t know anyone with natural hair. After some research and time I fell in love with my hair and have never looked back.

Tasha – I wore my hair natural until I was about 15 as I wasn’t allowed a relaxer.  By 18 I had shaved my head and was rocking little curls like the girls from Zhane (rnb group in the 90s). I did that for about 5 years and then returned to relaxer again.  So I had been natural on and off throughout my teens and twenties.  Sasha inspired me to become natural again in 2007 as her journey was entirely different from anything I had seen before.  She did so many different things with her hair that I hadn’t ever tried and I was totally inspired watching her.

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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?

Sasha – My family and friends were very supportive when I became natural, however I believe they thought it would be temporary until it grew a little but once they saw how I adapted to having natural hair they knew that it was the right path for me. I have now been inspiration for several people becoming natural which is extremely flattering.

Tasha – I didn’t receive immediate acceptance from my collegues at work when I decided to go natural in 2007.  They couldn’t vision it looking nice – some thought my hair would look rough (picky) or I’d be letting down the side because I’d be coming to work unkempt.  As we worked in a corporate environment it wasn’t the norm seeing fellow black ladies with natural hair other than braids or locs. They were so used to seeing me with a short relaxed hairstyle they just couldn’t imagine it being a positive thing. So at first it was daunting going to work and I felt as if I had to put my armour on so as to deflect any negative comments.  I also felt insecure at first because they all had so much to say – very opinionated and not that positive either.

Anyway after a while it was clear to all that I was comfortable in my own skin and soon enough the negative comments changed to “I’d love to wear my hair but I don’t have good hair” or “it really suits you”!! It’s laughable now because I could have let silly comments from my colleagues deter me from becoming natural and yet once they saw what I could achieve they too wanted to try it.  So no matter what comments you get about anything you want to do in life never let the opinions of others change your course of direction especially if it is something you really want to do!!

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

Sasha – I big chopped, TWA stage was scary at first as I felt naked without my relaxed hair style however that quickly changed and I loved have my mini afro. My advice would be to enjoy your TWA stage as before you know it you’ve grown into the next stage.

Tasha – I tried to transition from relaxer but it didn’t work out as I hated working with two textures. I put it in braids for a couple of months just so I didn’t have to deal with it and as soon as there was enough regrowth to wear a number 3/4 I did a big chop. I’ve always worn my hair short so cutting it wasn’t a problem. I enjoyed my TWA styles very much and it really is a must to enjoy every stage of your hair growth rather than yearning for long hair as you can miss out!!

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

Sasha – There are definitely misconceptions of black women with natural hair, it is almost like wearing your own natural hair is a statement (negative or positive). An example is a woman who wears her hair in an afro can be labelled with the “black power” stereotype when she might just have thought it looked cute.

People from other cultures can often have misconceptions but I think that is down to a lack of education about black hair. An ex work colleague of mine once touched my hair and asked “why is my hair so different from the other black woman in the office?” I had to explain to that the majority of the black women in the office wore a weave, extensions or were chemically treated hence the difference in appearance and texture. She was really surprised, not only by the new information I had told her but because she was bewildered as to why the ladies didn’t wear their hair natural as she thought it was really beautiful.

Tasha – In my opinion I do think there are stereotypes and misconceptions of black women and their natural hair. For instance re the good hair and bad hair issue.  So many times I’ve heard “you have good hair so it’s alright for you to go natural” OR “your West Indian so your hair isn’t as course etc… ” or even “natural hair suits you so you can get away with it”!?!  Those statements right there are misconceptions of black women and their natural hair.  Everything isn’t for everyone but rest assured the hair that grows out of your scalp is definitely for you whether you like it or not as it wouldn’t be there.  How you love and nurture it is another story!!

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

Sasha – I personally do not think natural hair is anymore physically demanding than having a relaxed style or weave, (when I was relaxed I used curling tongs every day) the difference is mastering the technique as being natural is a completely different way of managing your hair. Regarding mentally demanding it really depends on where the individual is and how they feel about their hair. I have my off days but for the most part I am extremely confident about my hair and that makes a huge difference to how much of a burden you find it.

Tasha – I find hair time consuming period!! But I manage it well.  I have to say that most folks who do not like dealing with their hair will find natural hair difficult because they find EVERYTHING to do with hair difficult.  For some, there will be mental and physical challenges that they have to overcome as when you first go natural your looking at yourself in completely different way but once you’ve given yourself a chance to settle into it you soon realise the weird and wonderful things you can do with your hair.

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

We love our I Love Afro range – the 3 hottest selling products would definitely be our styling range which includes Shea Moisture Lotion, Moisture mist and Butter Melt (either Shea or Choco). They leave hair soft and hydrated as well as smelling yummy!

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

The most popular question is how did you create that style? We love creating innovate hair styles which often get a lot of attention. Pro’s are that we often get new customers as we are their inspiration. Cons are the people we talk to who aren’t confident about their hair and feel that what we have is unacheiveable. It’s disappointing as everyone has their own hair celebrations and some people cannot see theirs.

*SNIP SNIP SNIP* How often do you trim your hair?

Sasha – I trim about 2 – 4 times a year. I only trim when necessary.

Tasha – I must admit I didn’t really trim my hair a great deal and that wasn’t because of length retention just didn’t feel I needed it at the time.  I have cut my hair into a short style now and am loving it.

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

Sasha – Be gentle, finger detangle don’t just rip out tangles. Protective style definitely promotes hair growth as your hair is untouched. Most importantly keep hair clean and moisturised, I use the lock method where you use a water based moisturiser and lock in with a butter or oil.  Make sure that any butter or oil you use is not too heavy otherwise hair will be unable to breathe.

Tasha – all of the above plus time.  Never do your hair when you are in a hurry because this can cause damage.

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

We both agree that hair typing isn’t a necessity however it is useful as it give naturalistas (especially newbies) an opportunity to learn about what works for their hair. Both of our hair textures are mainly 4b with a mixture of 4a elements.

What are your favourite MUST HAVE staple products for the following (those that apply)

Conditioner: I Love Afro Detangling Conditioner

Deep Conditioner: Bentonite Clay Mix

Sealant: I Love Afro Choco or Shea Butter Melt

Scalp: Personally don’t put anything on my scalp (choco butter would be my choice)

Pre Poo: Olive Oil

Shampoo: I Love Afro Wash and Go Shampoo

Protein Treatment:  Good old homemade Mayo and Honey deep treatment

Styling: I Love Afro Choco or Shea Butter Melt and Aloe Vera Gel

Heat Protection: L’Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Heat Protect Styling Spray

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

Sasha – My Hair regimen is quite basic – it consists of washing once a week, deep conditioning once a month and ensuring hair is kept mositurised. I try to stay away from heat and let hair air dry.

Tasha – I deep condition once a week

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

We both believe that it is all about learning to love what God gave you and knowing that you can look and feel amazing with your own hair.

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

A common disaster would be hair not drying in time and being a fuzzy mess. The only advice we would give would be to plan ahead and if all fails invest in a good stand alone dryer.

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

Yes that black hair is nappy and unmanageable – complete rubbish!

What is your go-to hairstyle and how do you achieve it?

Sasha – My go to is a Braid out. I braid my hair into 8 – 10 braids from freshly washed hair, let it air dry and have a gorgeous defined hair that I either leave out or put in an up do.

Tasha – presently I have a short style which is great – I can either wash n go, braid out twist out and all seem to work nicely.

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

Take the leap of faith that it can work, it will work and you’ll love it.

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

You can purchase our products and find out more about I love Afro at www.iloveafro.co.uk we are also on Twitter (Iloveafro), Intstagram (Iloveafrouk) and Facebook (I Love Afro).

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