IGC: What is your name and how long have you been natural?
JAJ: My name is Jacqueline Azille- Joseph and I have been natural for a total of twenty (20) months.
IGC: Who or what inspired you to return au natural and step inside the shoes of a curly woman?
JAJ: I have always been in awe of my mother who would have long thick tresses. Then I started noticing that a number of women were turning their backs on the “creamy crack” and were either maintaining a low cut or producing some gorgeous hairstyles. Although I had long thick hair, ninety percent of the times I was not happy with my hair and the fact that only my hairdresser at Splinters (John Clarke, Marva and Betty) could make it look “drop dead gorgeous.”
In January of 2008 without any warning, one of my great friends Shayna George appeared on facebook with a big chop. Her luscious mane was all gone, at the time it was like watching a horror movie. Then in 2009, my fashionista sister, Latoya Azille decided to do the same, I was so stunned. Another ray of inspiration in my “Au naturel” quest was Caron Jacobs who in some way or another made natural hair look oh so fun.
In April of 2010, it was time for me to relax my hair again. While combing my hair in the mirror I asked, “Lord, what am I going to do with my hair?” Instantly I got a loud enough answer “Stop perming it!” I laughed and laughed and then made the appointment to have it relaxed. A few months passed and on the 16th July, 2010, the day after my seventh wedding anniversary, I Big Chopped.
IGC: You chose to do a big chop, would you advise future naturals to go that route or to do a long term transition?
JAJ: My choice to do a big chop was all dependent upon the fact that when I was in third form in secondary school, I decided to do a transition. It was not difficult since my coils are not so tight. I am not a fan of weaves or braids so my transition entailed my hair being in a pony tail for a period of two years. This time around, I thought of doing the same but after about a week I had decided to take it all off.
For persons planning on going natural, I would encourage them to think about what would be best for them. Some prefer to do protective styles such as a weave or braiding while others try to avoid the hassle of having to deal with split ends and treatment to avoid unnecessary hair loss. I say, if you’re bold enough, go for the big chop but ensure that it is handled by a hairstylist and not a barber (the barber’s machines tend to give a rough cut).
IGC: Tell me about your decision.
JAJ: Once I decided to go natural, I started dropping hints for my husband. Whenever I would ask my hairdresser to cut my hair, he would ask me if I consulted with my husband. Since I didn’t want to shock my hubby, I continued dropping hints. Soon it became a full-fledged discussion and somehow I managed to persuade him that it was the best thing for me to do. We had just gone on vacation and I figured what better time to do such a thing than when I was on vacation. It would allow me the time to get accustomed to the new look as well as give me time to learn to style it all over again. It was a Friday morning, when we dropped off the children and headed to the barbershop. As we walked in, the barber inquired as to what services my husband needed. He was shocked when he learnt that I had come to remove my mane. Jokingly he exclaimed, “If it were my girlfriend, she would have to leave until all the hair grows back”. He was so hilarious but in the end, I was pleased with the new look.
IGC: Most naturals have a love hate relationship with their hair. What’s the relationship between you and your coils?
JAJ: Surprisingly, I don’t have a love hate relationship, I just love my natural hair to pieces.
IGC: What is your proudest natural moment?
JAJ: At first, I would say my proudest moment was when I first cut it off but this event comes in at a close second. My proudest moment was when I walked into a business place filled with women, all with relaxed hair and all attention was on me, as one employee asked if the twist outs were my natural hair and then continued to ask me more questions – I read the smiles on the faces of some of the other women as if they were saying “wow, I wish I had the courage to do that!”
Ok, I know you asked for the proudest moment but I love the reaction I get when I show them a picture fresh out of the hairdresser. They are usually in disbelief at first but usually end off by saying your natural hair look really good.
IGC: What products do you use?
JAJ: At first, I was getting sucked into purchasing the olive oil and the coconut oil and was looking into getting the shea butter when I recalled, as a child, my hair grew to full length on simple hair grease. It will clog pores they say, and cause other problems, they say but I have resorted to simple hair grease.
When I had just done the big chop, I did a lot of co-washing (washing hair with conditioner alone) and out of the shower I would just add some eco-styler Gel. I do recommend Kinky Curly, but for persons who travel a lot or have connections in the USA. The kinky curly assists in producing some luscious curls – great product.
In summary, I currently use, regular shampoo and conditioner, grease, little olive oil or coconut oil (tends to soften hair).
IGC: Can you elaborate a little bit about your hair routine?
JAJ: Initially I did a lot of cowash and go but as it grew in the washing has been reduced to once, sometimes twice a week. If I am planning a twist-out, I ensure that my hair is plait at least the night before. On other days I comb it out and put it in a puff, or two. Once in a blue moon, I have it plait in a style for about a two week period. It is recommended that we sleep on satin pillow cases or wear head wraps, these I hate so I do neither. Don’t follow me though, take care of your hair. A trim and treatment is also encouraged, I am yet to see the need. LOL
IGC: What has been the hardest part of your hair journey thus far?
JAJ: The hardest part of my journey thus far is the plaiting of my hair for three to three and a half hours, I hate that to my core which will explain why I plait it so rarely. It is also difficult when I have to plait it myself.
IGC: Have you ever regretted your decision to return natural? If so, why?
JAJ: No I have not regretted any part of my journey – 20 months and still going strong!
IGC: What are your favorite hairstyles?
JAJ: I really enjoyed about two weeks into the boy cut when I could sport my waves – they were gorgeous. Currently, my favourite style is the twist-outs. They look fabulous when I wash, add Eco –Styler and twist them.
IGC: What advice do you have for other women who would like to embark upon a natural journey?
JAJ: My advise would be – “Just Do It.” After some research that is. Once you’ve made up your mind that this is the avenue you’re planning to take do some research on the internet, youtube is especially helpful. Ask other women who are rocking the natural do for some pointers and just go all out. God made us beautiful and I would encourage anybody to go ahead and embrace your natural beauty. It may not be all fun and games but when you think of it, nothing in life is – Jump in with both feet and enjoy the ride.
Jacque, thanks a million for the chit chat. Your hair is fabulous many times over.
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