Feature Friday | Tracey-Ann Wisdom

IGC: Please introduce yourself.
My name is Tracey-Ann Wisdom, but everybody just calls me Tracey or Trace. I’m from the garden parish of St Ann, Jamaica and I’m a journalist at Jamaica’s first new media company, eMedia Interactive Limited (shameless plug).

IGC: Tell us your hair story.
I didn’t really have a problem with my hair growing up, in terms of hating the texture or length or whatever. What I had major problems with and what drove me to BEG my mother for a relaxer was the way she treated my hair. I remember hating weekends because the washing/combing process took two days. Saturday was pulling out last week’s cornrows and washing, where my hair was roughed up and cursed for being tough while I screamed and cried. By the time that horror show was completed, my poor scalp would be too tender to do anything else, so I got big granny plaits til Sunday, when Mommy would beat my hair into cornrowed submission, again accompanied by screaming and crying because my scalp was still tingling from the wash.

I endured this for 11 years, in between times when I’d stay with my grandmother and she would wash my hair oh so gently, then press it. When I was preparing for common entrance exams, Mommy and I struck a deal – pass for St Hilda’s High (the best school in the parish) and she’d crème my hair. Best believe I got the grades to get into St Hilda’s!

Mommy decided to save money and crème my hair herself – read: RUIN IT! – and from that point til mid-3rd form, my hair was a hot disaster. I’d change hairdressers a few times – read: Mommy’s friends who said they could do hair – until I went to live with my aunt and got my first professional relaxer and my hair began to thrive. My scalp, on the other hand, not so much. No matter how ‘gentle’ the crème advertised itself to be, I’d get burns so bad there’d be scabs for weeks. Motions was the worst! Breeze blow and my scalp would feel like someone poured rubbing alcohol in an open wound on my head. I had scabs up to the time of my next scheduled relaxer and had to postpone it.

I did this for 11 years, until 2nd year at UWI (University of the West Indies), Mona. I’d gone to college with my hair nearing the bottom of my shoulder blades, thick and shiny and bouncy. All my flatmates – and random strangers – wanted to know what I used, how I grew my hair that long, if it was really all mine. But by 2nd year, stess and poverty hit me and my hair began to fall out. I mean shed like a fricking dog. A guy classmate even told me I needed to handle my situation because I was looking popped down. SHAME! So I braided it (WRONG MOVE!!!!) and lost my hairline. One day, in frustration, I walked into the campus beauty salon and asked how much to cut it all off and just did an instant BC. I’d been threatening to do it for weeks, but no one believed me, so it was no surprise that people were walking right past me then doing double takes when they realized it was me. Lol! 

I’ve been natural since 2006 and I’m not being dramatic when I say I never loved myself so much as that first moment I looked into the mirror at the salon and touched my hair. I can’t even explain it, but it was a powerful moment.

My hair and I, we’ve had our ups and downs since then, most notably the press job for graduation that left me with a half-fro, cuz my ends were burnt to a crisp. Two big chops later, my texture is back where I want it and I’m currently contemplating locks. But I’m having separation anxiety. My fro is EVERYTHING. Can I really say goodbye to it?

IGC: Who or what is your hair inspiration?
Everybody who knows me knows the answer to this question: Corinne Bailey Rae and Esperanza Spalding. OHMYGOSH, I fricking LOVE THEM. And their hair. I also love me some Solange Knowles, Tracee Ellis Ross and Elle Varner.

IGC: What is your hair regimen and some of your favorite hair products to use?
In the beginning of my natural journey, I used a lot of heat on my hair, trying to blow dry it straight because after 11 years, that’s all I knew. But after the 2008 graduation disaster, I’ve kept heat to a minimum and since the start of this year, I’ve banned it completely.

I wash my hair once a week or whenever the mood strikes me, use a mix of water, vegetable glycerin and some essential oils as a spritz, then add some Giovanni leave in and finish with shea butter. I’ve stopped using anything ‘manufactured’ on my hair, but it was subconscious. And cuz I’m broke. But this works for me, so what ain’t broke, I ain’t changing.

IGC: What are your favorite hairstyles?
Some version of the afro. I suck at styling. Like, REALLY suck. I can’t even do twists to wear in public. When my hair was bigger, I’d do lots of twist outs, but since I’m back to a TWA, I just moisturize/seal/brush/slap on a headband.

IGC: Do you have a hair goal?
To have a big ass fro like Esperanza, Corinne or Elle! Sort of negates the locks then, uh?

IGC: Name five things you love about your natural hair the most?
Hmm… That I don’t have to sprint out of the rain anymore; that I can wash my hair whenever I want; being called Queen or Empress by random Rastas (some of whom are cute); that it makes me feel like myself; that it’s absolutely beautiful!

IGC: What is the hardest part of your journey thus far?
The hardest part was after the pressing disaster. I actually cried. My afro was in full swing and that debacle has caused me to have to start over twice. But I think I’m over it. I don’t have any ‘real’ challenges, like family/friends not accepting my hair. Since the moment I touched my fro in that salon six years ago, my attitude has been, ‘If you don’t like it, bite it!’

IGC: Do you see natural hair becoming more popular in the mass media or are relaxers set to still be dominant in the coming years?
Natural hair is definitely the style du jour. It’s not only big in black media or the blogosphere, but even mainstream (white) magazines. That’s awesome, because little black girls growing up should see themselves reflected in their natural state. It might help halt some of the self-hatred black people, particularly women, seem to struggle with.

I don’t think the creamy crack will ever go away, but I just love that more women are growing to accept their natural selves and shaking off the centuries of negativity associated with it.

IGC: What advice can you give to someone who is natural, transitioning or contemplating the idea of returning natural?
‘Returning natural’. I LOVE IT! Never heard it put that way before. My advice is to do what makes you comfortable. If you’re transitioning and afraid of the big chop, do it gradually. If you’re feeling brave, go for the BC. In terms of upkeep/styling, the same principle applies. Do your research, but don’t get bogged down by all the opinions out there. There are some real ‘natural Nazis’ who think they know everything – avoid them. Experiment with different products until you find those that work for your daily life. That’s what I did and settled on my basic, natural ingredients.

And don’t worry that you ‘won’t look good with natural hair’. How could you not? That’s the way God made you and He doesn’t make mistakes!

 Tracey thank you for sharing your hair story. I don’t know about you guys but I certainly enjoyed and could relate to her story. Oh those ‘dreaded weekends’. lOl. Torture. Did you guys notice how flawless her skin is. Tracey girl you need to share your secret. We hope you achieve your Esperanza Spalding Fro girl. 

Show Tracey some love ladies. Don’t forget to rate, like, comment and follow. Thanks dolls!

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islandgirlcurls

This is a great protective style and was achieved using an old twist out, a goody banana clip, goody hair clips/bobby pins, eco styler gel and a soft bristle brush.

Step 1
Separate a piece of hair in the front of your head for the pompadour and tuck it away.

Step 2
Using some eco styler gel, brush the rest of the hair into one and secure with the banana clip vertically in the center of your head.

Step 3
Use the bobby pins and tuck the hair away as you would a bun.

Step 4
Go back to the hair in the front and roll into a pompadour and secure with bobby pins.

Step 5
Secure any stray aways and voila! You’re done!

Banana Clip Bun & Pompadour Protective Style

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Feature Friday | Meet Melissa Sebastien

IGC: Please introduce yourself and tell us how long have you been natural?
Hello there. My name is Melissa and I have been natural for a little over a year now.

IGC: Tell us your hair story. How did you come to step inside the shoes of a curly woman?
Well I had been straightening my hair for about three years due to pure laziness. I felt that it was a safe escape from the frizz, breakage, and work that came along with my natural hair. However I got bored with processed hair. It had grown to the middle of my back, I’d cut off, bleached it, dyed it… I’d exhausted my options. It was at that point that I made the decision to go back natural.

One day my sister sent me a link to the video “Good Hair” by Chris Rock. What I saw and heard touched me, saddened me and infuriated me. It’s not like I’d hated my natural hair for being curly or kinky. To me hair was just that… HAIR! It amazed me how much some people judge you based on what you have growing out of your head. It was right then and there that I knew for a certainty that I wanted to return to my “roots”. Not only was it a personal liberation from the restrictiveness I’d experienced with straight hair, but it was also my way of protesting the ignorance I’d just heard.

This was my thought process. “Straight hair is more professional than my kinks? I’m less likely to get a job because of my hair? We’ll see about that!”

IGC: How much support did you receive when you decided to go natural?
My mom was excited about the news especially since she was never for the creamy crack. My sister was also excited. I could feel her excitement after I told her I was going to chop all my hair off. My brother wasn’t too thrilled about his little sister having a “man” head. My parents weren’t too thrilled about the super short hair either…which is why I didn’t tell them until it was all gone. Hehehe ^_^

Outside of that, my friends were really supportive of my decision. Quite a few of them were either already natural or transitioning. So they had a lot of helpful hints and they were a HUGE source of encouragement for me.

IGC: In your opinion, what has been some of the best things about having natural hair?
On the very top of my list is the versatility! I get bored with my hair pretty easily when it was straight. So having the multitude of options that I do now is a HUGE plus in my book.

I also feel a sense of satisfaction and ease within myself. Being in my most natural state makes me feel more ME than I ever have. Another big plus is that the health of my hair has improved. I’ve experienced and lot less breakage and my strands feel stronger.

IGC: Please elaborate a little bit about your hair routine?
I keep it pretty simple. I shampoo, and do a deep treatment once a week. While my hair is still damp I apply Extra Virgin Olive oil to seal in the moisture, and then apply a leave in conditioner. In between washes I mist my hair with water and seal with olive oil.

IGC: Would you consider yourself a product junkie or do you like to keep your products simple? Tell us about your hair products.
I can safely say that I am not a product junkie. I do like trying different products BUT when I do it’s one new thing at a time. For deep treatments I use Bambu Nutritive Hair Treatment. For my regular shampoo and co-washing I use Motions moisturizing shampoo, and conditioner. My leave in conditioner is also from Motions. Outside of that I use Extra Virgin olive Oil and some good old H2O.

IGC: What is your hair goal?
My overall goal is to continue growing a healthy head of hair. Presently though, I’m on a 5 year “no cut” journey (trimming excluded… healthy hair over length any day! Plus it always grows back).

Another goal of mine is to continue encouraging those who are interested in going natural or already transitioning.  Having a support system is always useful.

IGC: What has been the hardest part of your hair journey thus far?
The most challenging part of my hair journey thus far would have to be the “in-between” stage. You know that annoying point where the hair is not super short but it’s not quite long enough to do much of anything with? Yeah… that was a pain.

IGC: What advice would you give to anyone who is thinking about returning natural?
Research is key! Knowing the different hair types, getting an idea of what works for each is definitely important. Then once you are sure that going back natural is the right thing for you GO FOR IT!

IGC: Anything else you would like to share?
Being natural is not hard. It is only as complicated as you make it.

Melissa thank you for sharing your story. It’s great when you have support from your friends and family. I know you get bored with your hair easily but natural hair is versatile and you have loads of options. We’ll check back with you to see how your “no cut” plan is working out. lOl! 

Show Melissa some love ladies. Don’t forget to rate, like, comment and follow. Thanks dolls!

Feature Friday | All About The Locks | Meet Marcella Andre

Photo Credit – Mark Brown

IGC: Please introduce yourself.

Well Hello World!! (smile) I’m Marcella André.  I’m a media personality, teacher, and creative (writer, artist,). I’m truly humbled to be among your invited guests for “Feature Fridays”.

IGC: How did you come to lock your hair? Tell us your story.

Many years ago…oh so long ago, I think it was in 1998 or so, I went to a lock/natural hair event in Brooklyn.  At the time I was still rocking a processed LIE.  All around me, literally everyone had locks. There were little children with locks in two pony tails,  men with regal looking styles, women with coloured locks and hair jewelry, older people with heads full of white, silvery stunning locks. There were hundreds of people and they all had locks.  I think I was impacted by how they all seemed to carry themselves with a certain confidence and freedom that was the result of being liberated from the use and dependency of chemicals, hairdressers, and trying to fit into a mould that was not of their own making. Before this experience I had always thought of how beautiful locks looked on other people I knew with locks.  As much as I thought about it, at the time, I grew up in a house where my mother said “not in my house!!!” Full stop.

Photo Credit – Mark Brown

IGC: How do you manage to have locks and remain in your profession?

That’s an interesting question, and one that I have never really considered or even thought of as a possibility or problem in my life. I must admit that though I know of people who have had difficulty with their workplaces because of attempting to grow locks, I have never had a negative inter-action with an employer specifically because of how I wear my hair.  I will say that it has always been my position that should this occasion ever arise; the job would have to go before my hair ever did.  I like to think that people hire individuals for what is IN their heads as opposed to what is ON it. I will not compromise my individuality, my beliefs and myself for anything, any job or any position. Should I one day decide to cut, go back to an afro, change my hairstyle (anything natural of course) it will be because I wanted to, not because the job, a man, or society said I should.

IGC: Why do you think locks have become such a popular hairstyle?

I think that people are embracing their natural hair first of all. I believe that even though it may not be true for all people who eventually go natural, many people who do make this decision have an awakening.  This awakening marries embracing what one was born with to embracing oneself completely.  This means accepting that “WE” do not have long flowing hair that you can run your hands through, that what we were born with is what we were meant to love and care for in our own way, using products that work for our particular type of hair.

IGC: If you could do it all over again and have any hairstyle, would you still choose locks? Why or why not?

If I could do it all again, I would have started my locks sooner, I would never have had my hair chemically processed and I would have made my locks thicker since they are a bit smaller than I would like them to be. Why?  I am convinced that embracing your “natural” self leads to a more positive outlook and performance in your daily life.  I am not sure what may have been but I think all of the “isms” and “schisms” that come with trying to be and look like what you are not, creates and maintains a type of complex in adolescence and into adulthood that would be sooner discarded with the acceptance that “this is how my hair is and this is a part of me that I love, regardless of who doesn’t”.

IGC: What do you enjoy best about your locks?

I love the versatility. There’s never a loss for options.   ANY style that can be created with a perm can be done with locks. I also particularly enjoy rainy moments when my chemically processed friends are running for shelter and I meander along amused because I don’t have to worry about my hair or style “dropping”. Basically, hair is one less thing to worry about

IGC: What are your favorite styles for your locks?

My style is mostly dependant on the occasion.  I love coming up with something for special occasions.  I particularly like old school looks with side sweeps and sometimes curls.  For work I do variations of buns and or ponytails.  Sometimes I do two strand twists or plaits to get a particular look.  I occasionally love a crazy all out there look for fetes/carnival, but mostly I like to experiment.

Photo Credit – Zahra Airall

IGC: What is your current routine and do you go to the salon to get your locks styled or maintained?

My routine is simple.  I wash every two weeks and re-twist once a month.  Over twisting can lead to a receding hairline and weak locks so I’m not a fan of the always perfectly neat locks. One of the reason I grew locks was so that I would not be dependent on hairdressers.  I have been doing my own hair for several years and do not use many products.  There is a concoction in my spritz bottle that comprises of a variety of oils (castor, olive, carrot,) in a bottle with a little water and I spray that on in the mornings or before going out.  Occasionally I also do a home made aloe conditioner that gives my hair a nice natural glow. On a very very very rare occasion I may visit a hairdresser but those occasions are few and far between.

IGC: Have you experienced or noticed any changes in how you are perceived with your locks?

When my locks were at the baby and in between stages I got some looks, some quizzical stares from work colleagues, the occasional dumb question – “so you start smoke weed now?”, and of course my mother’s constant complaining “what’s really going on with your head?”. Overall, as time passed the comments and looks were more positive and more of admiration than anything else.

IGC: What advice would you give to a woman who is considering locking her hair?

For anyone who is considering locking their hair, I would say the following:

Be sure you know what you are getting into. Do the research. Read as much as possible as you can about cultivating locks BEFORE starting so that you know and understand what to expect.

Be REALISTIC!!! Locks will not grow overnight.  I’ve had mine for nine years but in the beginning it felt like they just were not growing. If you’ve had processed hair for a while it takes time to learn about your natural hair and to form a “relationship” with that natural hair. Remember your natural hair is nothing like and will be nothing like that straight hair you have been accustomed to for years.

Be Patient and Get Creative with how you “present” yourself. Most of all enjoy the journey and enjoy the little awakenings you will have along the way. It will all be worth it and soon you will be in love with your hair and yourself!!

Interlocking is NOT your friend. It may seem quick, easy and neat in the beginning, and it may even help you to maintain a constantly neat appearance but be warned, eventually your hair will thin out, your hairline will recede and that lovely crop of locks will look stringy and weak. Interlocking puts additional pressure on the hair roots. Allow your hair to do it’s thing. Your hair will eventually “learn” to maintain the cylindrical look that comes with twisting.

Last but not least DO NOT use beeswax or anything with the words “petroleum” or “petrolatum” in your hair. It makes the hair heavy, makes it attract dirt and these things also lead to heavy buildup.

Thanks for inviting me to share these thoughts with your readers Caron.  I hope something I said will prove helpful and inspirational. Keep up the good work with this blog.

Well Marcella, I’m sure our readers can agree that your lock hair story and perspective was quite an interesting and intriguing one. You gave some very useful pointers there at the end that I am positive will help someone. It was a pleasure having you. We will definitely have to catch up with you for a follow up interview. 

Let’s show Marcella some ❤! Friends don’t forget to rate, like, comment and subscribe.

Cheers!

Photo Credits to  Mark Brown & Zahra Airall

Feature Friday | Meet Dr. Saran P King

IGC: Please introduce yourself.
Hi Caron, thanks for having me. My name is Saran P King and I’m a physician at the Mount St. John’s Medical Centre here in Antigua.

IGC: Tell us your hair story. {Why have you stayed natural for so long?}
I have been natural most of my life, but my “healthy hair journey” only began a bout a year ago. I have always loved my hair and all the curls it had, which is why it has been natural for the most part but I longed for a change. I never liked to see my hair bone straight so I decided to texturize my hair about eight years ago hoping it would still have some curl to it. That was an EPIC FAIL. LoL! My worst nightmare came true and the texturizer made my hair, you guessed it, bone straight. I was so upset with myself and I began the journey of long term transitioning from the moment I stepped out of the salon, lol. It took about a year for all the texturizer to grow out and I kept it in its natural state for a year and a half.

Once again, longing for a change, I decided to give the texturizer another chance and this time it turned out exactly as I imagined: curly, soft and full of bounce. I kept the texturizer, retouching 2-3 times a year, but not knowing how to take care of my hair back then, I experienced severe breakage after two years. Once again I long term transitioned and have been natural ever since and loving every bit of it.

IGC: Who or what is your hair inspiration?
Wow, that is a tough question and the list of persons would be almost endless. But I would say number one on the list would be You, :). I remember seeing your hair in a wash and go some time ago and drooling over all the curls in your hair and wanting that for my hair too, then you introduced me to YouTube. I became a YouTube fanatic and went crazy with all the beautiful ladies on there. There are too many to mention and I wouldn’t want to single out any one person because I have learnt a lot over the past year and I would say they have all inspired me and taught me on my journey.

IGC: What is your current hair regimen and some of your favorite hair products to use?
I wash my hair every week, sometimes twice a week depending on how I style my hair or what products I use during the week. Every other week with shampoo and conditioner and every other week with just conditioner. I deep condition every week, put in my home made leave in moisturizer, then make medium to large size two or three strand twist most of the time.

My favorite products to use other than water would have to be 100% shea butter and extra virgin olive oil, both of which are in my home made leave in conditioner. I love them both and so does my hair.

IGC: What are your favorite hairstyles?
My favorite hairstyles would have to be mini two strand twists (which I don’t do much of these days because it takes too long :() and the simple bun.

IGC: Do you have a hair goal?
My two main hair goals are to have healthy hair and to have waist length hair.

IGC: Name five things you love about your natural hair the most.

  1. I love the way my hair curls up when it’s wet and when I do a wash and go
  2. I love the fact that it is 100% my hair growing from my scalp
  3. I don’t have to worry about sweating it out when exercising
  4. That it doesn’t matter if it gets wet when it rains or if I go to the beach
  5. That I have the option of a straight look without committing to a texturizer or a perm

IGC: What has been the hardest part of your journey thus far?
The hardest part was mostly at the beginning, trying to keep my hair moisturized but now that I better understand my hair it has been much easier and I know exactly what my hair needs.
IGC: What are some other challenges you face in your hair journey?
My biggest challenge is coming up with new hairstyles. My hair is in twist most of the time and struggle to come up with something new.

Another challenge I face is dealing with single strand knots. My hair has to be throughly detangled weekly and moisturized twice a day to help reduce knots from forming.

IGC: Do you see natural hair becoming more popular in the mass media or are relaxers set to still be dominant in the coming years?
I have seen and I am seeing natural hair becoming more and more popular as the years go by. More people are returning natural for whatever reason and being criticized less for doing so. I do believe in the coming years there will be more people with natural hair than with relaxers.

IGC: What advice can yo give to someone who is natural, transitioning or contemplating the idea of returning natural?
The first piece of advice I would give is to ignore all the negative feedback that you may get from other people, especially friends and family and do your research.

Secondly, don’t compare your hair to anybody’s hair because every head of hair is unique and beautiful in its own way.

Lastly, embrace, understand and love the hair that was given to you.

IGC: Where can we find your presence online?
Well Caron, I recently started a blog. It’s about living a healthy lifestyle from inside out.

Blog: antiguabarbudagirl.wordpress.com.

YouTube Channel: AntiguaBarbudaGirl

Twitter: AntiguaBarbudaG

Facebook: Saran P King

Email: antiguabarbudagirl@live.com

Saran I would love to thank you for doing this interview with me. It’s always a good feeling to know that I’ve inspired someone to love and embrace their natural hair and to even return natural in some instances. 

Ladies let’s show Saran some love.  Please leave a comment and don’t forget to rate, like, subscribe and share. Also, head on over to Saran’s blog where she writes about health and life.