Have you always been so confident and in love with your hair? What is your hair story?
First and foremost, I would be remised if I did not acknowledge my lineage. I come from a long line of Black Women who LOVE who they are and taught me to do the same. Throughout the 60s and 70s they rocked the biggest, baddest, proudest Afro’s around; partaking in the cultural awareness movement of the time. They adorned themselves in the flyest outfits too. Growing up I saw these same women embrace all their curves, vivaciousness and hair. That included working in various professional spaces. As a child and even today, I admire(d) and often raid their closets. Always looking to them for inspiration. With that being said, I decided to go natural 12 years ago! WOW it’s been that long. To behonest with you I only had a relaxer for 2 years of my life. As a child, my Mother didn’t allow me to get a relaxer. She said my hair texture didn’t need a relaxer. In the early 90s I begged my mother for a relaxer when all the ‘cool girls’ where getting them and coming to school with straight hair styles. Remind you not, they didn’t need to have all those chemicals piled into their hair either, however we know the story of being Black in America and the various cultural/racial identities that are attached with being Black. Meanwhile, my Mother styled my hair into the beloved “pig-tails” “bow bows” “high-buns, etc…Finally, my Mother allowed me to get a relaxer in high school. I just knew I was something wearing my hair blown out and cut into layers like
Aaliyah (I grew up in the beloved 90s!), but little did I know because of my hair texture my hair would curl right back up when it got wet, especially in the summertime. The major deciding factor was the fact that I begin to recognize that the relaxer damaged my hair and natural curl pattern. Making it brittle and thin. I didn’t like that at all! Therefore, I decided that I would stop getting a relaxer and just blow dry and/or flat iron, curl my hair like I did as a young girl; which was only on special occasions. It wasn’t until I went to college that I began wearing my hair in its full natural state and away from heat. My scalp had never felt freer!!! It took about 3-4 years to fully understand my hair as it transitioned. I didn’t make a big chop to cut out the relaxer, I just let it grow out. And that took forever being that my hair has is naturally and genetically thick and long. I have a curl pattern with a combination of Type 3c and 4a, which various from different sections in my scalp. Thankfully, I have always been confident with my hair and I thank my Mother for instilling in me wholesome values such as, “it’s not what’s on the outside of your head, but what’s on the inside that matters.”
How do you think going natural has affected you? For the better? For the worse?Being/Going natural has simply been a way of life for me! It’s not a ‘fad’ or ‘fashion statement’, but more so a way of living . I can’t imagine myself any other way!
What is your hair regimen and daily routine?
I am an advocate of clean and healthy hair. It doesn’t matter how short, long, natural or relaxed. Clean and healthy hair represents how you view yourself as a person, particularly as a Woman. Over the 12 years I have tried different products to see what works best for my texture. Even as going as far as making my own products with all natural ingredients. I wash my hair on a bi-weekly basis using Pantene Pro-V Shampoo and Conditioner and Hair Mayonnaise Deep Conditioner. I typically give my hair an entire day for love and attention. Celebrating it! I make my own deep conditioner with avocado, olive oil, shea butter and organic root stimulator mayonnaise as a base. I mix all the ingredients up with a blender so that it has a whipped consistency. Upon applying the deep conditioner, I allow it to marinate into my hair for hours. Sometimes you might catch me out and about with the deep conditioner in a style. Once I wash it out I like for my hair to air dry and/or comb and braid/twist into small or big plaits, depending upon how I feel. I will be honest with you, the texture of my hair is naturally wavy. To obtain my Afro hairstyle per se I dry comb it after I’ve taken the braids/twist out. In the past, I have gotten my hair cut into an Afro style to achieve the fullness of an Afro. I also believe in trimming my ends every 6-9 weeks. It is so necessary for the growth of my hair.. On a daily basis, I use Odara Shea Butter by Chic Afrique for growth, scalp and end treatment and Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Curl Define to strengthen my curl pattern. Most importantly, I comb the daily products through my hair for an even distribution for each strain. I have learned that my hair has 2-3 different textures throughout, so I pay close attention to what section might need more love/attention towards ultimate healthy hair. I do have to shout-out my hairstylist and friend, Michelle London. I like to go to her for my hair trimmings and hot oil-treatments on a monthly basis. She also colors my hair, which I’ve been wearing jet black for the past 3 years. Besides a few gray strains, All Black Everything! Notably, Michelle is the hair arteest to all of my braid styles!
Your styles are ALWAYS fresh and innovative. How do you come up with them? Do you ever consider how they will be received before styling?
Thank You! I am highly inspired by two things: Beautiful Young People and Culture (African and Indigenous People). I am always enlightened by the moving and shaking of young people. When I see their latest fashion crazes that I admire, I often envision how I can place a sophisticated adult spin to it. I really admire how young people express themselves, regardless of how adults view them. It’s their personal ode to raging against the machine. Youthful energy rocks! Most importantly, my Culture paradigm/perspective plays a major part in the styling of my hair. Being a proud Black woman of African and Indigenous descent, I have made it my commitment to pay homage to the ancient traditions of hairstyling. I like researching traditional hairstyles of a particular group of people or era and attempt to renaissance it. In my down time, I like to play around with different styles to see what works/doesn’t work for me. If I love a hairstyle you will see me wearing it for a while. I am also a fanatic of hair accessories: headwraps/turbans/gele, headbands, yarn, beads, etc.. As do our African and Indigenous people, I like to adorn my natural styles with hair accessories either for special occasions or with a particular outfit. As a Naturalista I feel proud to strut down the street with my crown of glory! I don’t think about how people will perceive me, but how I will make an impact on their perspective of natural hair, Black women and ultimately Black people. With an attempt to stay fresh, innovative and culturally inspiring my hairstyles is just a reflection of my identity as an Afro-Chic woman/fashionista. I believe strongly that fashion is for the moment, while style is lifetime of statements!At the end of the day, I create and adorn hairstyles that I feel will reflect my inner-beauty and represent my cultural paradigm.
What is the worst mistake you have made with your hair?
The worst mistake has to be my boldest and flyest mistake! One year I dyed my hair copper w/bleach based chemicals at the beginning of the spring.Then after spending an entire summer at the beach my skin was all pecan-tanned and my big ole afro was bright blond! I didn’t notice it until I stepped back into city life and walked past a store window and saw my reflection. It looked gorgeous, but my hair was extremely damaged. I notice split ends and dry hair a mile away, especially my own. After immediately dying my hair back to jet black, gradually trimming and a lot of moisture therapy my hair was back to a healthy afro again. I learned from my “blond” life that I wouldn’t dye my hair with harsh chemicals such as bleach again, especially my entire head. I will be honest with you, at times I don’t show my hair as much love as I know I should and forget to moisturize my hair on a daily basis which leads into breakage and uneven growth. I have to play catch-up in moisturizing my strains back to healthy hair. So I always find myself making this as my second worst mistake.
There are many women who have anxiety when it comes to wearing their hair natural in the workplace. They often question if it is pseudo-professional, if it will be taken seriously and if it will hold them back. You are a young professional. What has your experience been?
I consider myself to be a Cultural Advocate: One who has worked in multi professional capacities as an Artist, Educator, Activist, Fashionista and sometimes Scholar. I have had the amazing opportunity of working with amazing people in various spaces: museums, art galleries, performing arts centers/companies, charter and public schools, non-profits and academia; with a ‘stint’ in banking and I worked side-by-side with a fellow Naturalista and we rocked our afro tough! I did have an unfortunate encounter with a colleague of mine that asked me to pull my hair back during our art shows, which consisted of major clientele communication. In which, I took the opportunity of educating and informing her on the importance of me expressing all of my natural self, especially while at work. And found it disturbing that this colleague of all people couldn’t understand the significance of my hair and its vital-ness to being displayed as a reflection of not only me, but the culture that was being expressed within the art space. It’s interesting enough that same colleague has recently begun wearing her hair in beautiful natural twist-outs. And it looks great on her! Nonetheless, she loves her new feeling and energy that she is receiving from being a Naturalista. I smile when I reflect on this situation, knowing that our conversation assisted with the growth of the both us into the successful professionals that we’ve grown into. Overall, I have received nothing but LOVE in my professional life as a Naturalista. As I see myself with having being blessed with allowed expressing my aesthetic self/values, while in the workplace.
Lastly, any words of wisdom that you would like to share with the masses?
To quote one of my mentors Dr. Kariamu Welsh, “Walk Proud and Walk
Strong!!!!!! KCRaesthetic Approved
Keep Up With Kenya!Kenya C. Ramey: The Aesthetic Connoisseur Where I ‘CURATE’ the life and times of an enthusiast of life, culture, the arts, fashion, traveling, music, beautiful people and anything purple!!! Feel free to browse, follow or dialogue with me in the following spaces. Check out my blog: http://theaestheticconnoisseur.tumblr.com/ Follow me on Twitter: @kcraesthetic Follow me on Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/kcramey.