Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Your Life In The Natural Lane: Introducing... Ms. Safiya S.

Why we love her: Because I am so excited about her new hair journey. I was lucky enough to snag this interview with Safiya as she transitioned from locks to BEAUTIFUL coils & curls! 
What made you decided to go natural?
I went natural in 2001.  I was a sophomore in college, broke and frustrated by the challenge of trying to keep my permed hair maintained.  It was shoulder-length by that time, but I was just so over the upkeep.

How long have you been natural?
Over a decade now (wow!).

What made you decide to comb your locks out?
This entire idea started when I had my first daughter.  She is half Latina and half African American, so she typically wears her hair in a tightly-curled fro.  I was surprised how many people -family, friends and strangers alike - would approach me and say, “Your daughter is so beautiful.  When are you going to start doing her hair?”  I’d always look puzzled thinking, her hair IS done.  I decided it was important for my girls (I have a second now) to have a hair role model with whom they could identify.  I wanted to comb out my locs to wear an afro like my girls so they could grow up knowing that their hair is beautiful just as it is - no braids, beads or other accessories necessary - and see a woman who embraces that.

What were your first thoughts when you finished the comb out process?
I really couldn’t believe it.  I looked at this massive, mushroom of hair on my head and for a moment I panicked.  What had I done?  I don’t know the first thing about how to take care of MY hair.  Then I remembered why I did it and started to think about how much fun it was going to be getting to know my hair again and experimenting.  I haven’t looked back since.

What (if any) research or advice did you get about the comb out process before you did it?
I googled it extensively.  I asked friends with locks.  I talked to a coworker who’d actually gone through the process.  I thought about it literally for at least three months.

How long did you have your locks?
4 years, 10 mos.

How long did the comb out process take?
It took me 13 days, a lot of conditioner, a lot of patience, and a lot of help from friends and family.  On average, it took between 30 and 45 min. PER LOC.

Do you regret combing your locks out?
Nope.  Almost daily one of my girls touches or gazes at or asks about my hair and that makes it all worthwhile.  We style our hair together, and get ready together.  I let my oldest “do” my hair.  It’s really something I would not change.

 Have you found any product you can’t leave without yet?
Not yet!  I do love Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk and Lisa’s Elixir, Shea Moisture Leave-In Conditioner, and Miss Jessie’s Rapid Recovery.  I’ve used, and liked, LuvNatural’s leave-in conditioner recipe as well as Giovanni’s 50:50 shampoo. Oh, and good ol’ water!

How do you feel now: do you love it, do you miss the lock?
I love it.  I maintained a lot of length and am excited about my next challenge: seeing how long I can grow my natural hair.  I’m in the find-which-products-work-for-my-hair process, and even though it can be overwhelming at some time, I’m enjoying it.

What are/were some people’s reactions?
I walked into my boss’ office the day after I finished and she looked at me and said, “What happened to your hair?” It was jarring, and a little off-putting.  But she went on to say she didn’t know people could comb out their locks so it gave me an opportunity to talk about how I did it and why.  It’s growing on folks now.  My husband was in love with my locs; he’s warming up -- slowly!

Would you go back to locks?
I’ll never say never, but I don’t think so.  I feel like that season’s over and done with.  On to the next thing.

What advice would you give someone that is thinking about going through this comb out process?
Think about it and research it a lot.  You need to be dedicated to the process.  Know that - in my opinion - free, natural hair is A LOT more work than my locs ever were; and a lot more daily maintenance.

What advice would you give someone new to the natural scene, that you wish someone would have told you?
No matter what natural style you choose, free yourself from the idea that straight, or soft waves, or “good hair” is what looks good.  However your hair grows out of your head is how God made you beautiful in your own way.  Anything you do to it is just an enhancement to what God made.  Going into it with that idea - the idea that you don’t have to make your hair beautiful, but that it already innately is - will allow you to really enjoy the freedom that comes with natural hair.

Who would you consider to be you natural inspiration?
Hmm. Definitely my daughters.  And, now that I’m on a mission to maintain length, I would say that KimmayTube (LuvNaturals) is definitely someone I admire.  I also really admire Afrobella and my girlfriend, Jenn Roberts, who is like my hair and product mentor and is just so patient and brave and knowledgeable. 

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