Naturalista Series™ Presents: Amil

Monday, May 03, 2010

What's your name and where are you from?

Hi, I'm Amil from Philly!

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Have you always been natural? If not, what inspired you to go natural? Did you transition? If so, for how long?

No, I was relaxed probably when I was in kindergarten by my mom. I loved my relaxed hair, it was healthy, long, thick but I became obsessed with big natural hair in 2007. I was texlaxed without knowing that I was. I decided that I was going to go natural when I was in the 9th grade (2003) but I didn't want to make a drastic change in my appearance during high school. I had prom and graduation, and I wanted my hair to be long and straight for the pictures. So I decided that I would chop my hair when I went off to college. New face, new town, no one would ever know that I cut my hair off. Well, I met my boy friend in 2007, right before I went off to college and he didn't want me to cut my hair off. So I waited for 1 year and then I started growing my relaxer out in May 2008. I grew my hair out for 8 months and then chopped it off on January 20, 2009. I haven't looked back ever since!

Yes, there were and are days when I wish my hair was straight and long down my back. But that day will come. Right now I want to enjoy my hair in it's natural state. The way it grows out of my head. Me.

Transitioning wasn't easy. My hair got tangled whenever I wore it out in a wash n go which resulted in 2 hour detangling sessions and a lot of hair conditioner washed down the drain. I mainly wore wet buns, with the front of my hair wrapped. I would recommend a Denman brush to anyone that's transitioning. I brought a knock off one Conair from Rite-Aid. It really helps prevent tangling. No, I didn't know how my hair was going to look when I cut it. I had a clue because the new growth was spiraling while most other people's new growth grew in waves.

(Transitioning, BC, and NOW!)

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What is your hair type?

Not sure. 4 something with C spirals...? The back of my hair is more defined than the front. The bottom of my hair (closest to the nape) spirals and is very defined. The middle back has larger spiral curls. The front sides are very tight spiral curls that frizz very easily and can easily appear undefined. The top is more wavy than any other part of my hair but it still spirals, it's a gentler spiral than the rest of my hair, more of a loose curl.

What do you love most about being natural?

That NO ONE (ok maybe someone) has hair like mine! When I walk outside, I see plenty of women with straight hair and only a handful of women with natural hair and no one with hair that spirals like mine! I love natural hair at all it's lengths and styles. TWA, short fade, fro's, flat ironed. Natural hair is versatile. When I was relaxed, I relaxed once every 4 months so my hair still had a good amount of texture to it and I would try to rock wash n go's as if I was a natural. But it's just not the same!

I love that my hair keeps people guessing! Everyone always asks me if I'm loc'ing my hair or if I went to the salon and got my hair set on rods/straws. They're surprised when I tell them no, they ask "Well what did you do?" And I tell them "Nothing. I just washed it." Natural hair is beautiful because it's simply you!

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What are your hair goals for 2010?

More protective styling! I rarely ever do protective styling other than wrapping my hair in a pretty scarf because I don't like to manipulate my hair too much. I would love to do two strand twists or cornrows but that would require combing and possibly blow drying my hair (for the cornrows).

I don't have a length goal for 2010. I'm hoping that my hair will touch my shoulders in it's natural state within the next 2 years (I will be 3 years natural by that time).

Name a few challenges you are currently facing with your hair. Have you been doing anything different to overcome these challenges?

I have a lot of hairs that wrap around themselves. Lately, I've been trying to cover my head with a scarf when I go to bed and keeping my hair wet during the day. The one technique that has drastically cut back the tangling in my hair is leaving my conditioner in my hair after I cowash.

It's also really difficult for me to dust my ends because my hair is so curly, it's hard to get to every section of my hair to see where there are split ends. (Dusting is when you trim individual strands of hair that have visible split ends). When my hair was relaxed, it was really easy to see the weak spots and split ends but since my hair curls in spirals, the split end bends in the same direction as the curl so my hair may look healthy, but there are hidden split ends in there! I found that most of them are at my nape where my hair rubs against my clothes. The only way that I can really get rid of them is to cut my hair short (which is not happening). So I trim my hair often, maybe once every couple of months. I take about 1/4 to half an inch off.

What styles do you love to wear the most and why? How do you go about achieving this style?

I love wearing my hair out in a wash n go! It's cute and I always get compliments when I wear my hair out with some hanging down over my forehead. I've tried other styles such as braids and twists but I always go back to my wash n go because you really can't go wrong with it. It's simple, quick and cute!

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List the products that you use and how you use them. What is your current hair regimen? share what works for you!

I have a few hair products in rotation right now but I don't use all of them every day. The only product that I use every day is my conditioner (because I cowash just about every day). I use Pantene for curly hair. I don't waste my money on leave in conditioners because my regular conditioner has the same ingredients and does a much better job.

I also have Kinky Kurly Custard. I rarely use it because it makes my hair hard and it's no better than aloe vera gel (maybe because aloe gel is it's main ingredient!). The custard is used mainly when I braid or twist my hair.

Unrefined coconut oil. I use this on my damp hair on days that I care more about moisturizing my hair than curl definition.

What products do you use to achieve soft beautiful curl definition?

My conditioner! It's true, my conditioner is the main and usually only product that I have in my hair!

I use any conditioner that's on sale (honestly, I really do, they all do the same job). But, I always try to buy conditioners that are for curly or dry hair. Right now I have Pantene for curly hair. My favorite natural conditioner is Aubrey Organics-Honey Suckle Rose because it makes my hair feel sooo soft and smell good. I've found that my hair likes the un-natural conditioner better only because, the cones help define the curls when I leave the conditioner in my hair.

For the BEST defined curls all of your detangling and smoothing...then...shake your head (like a rock star or a wet dog) free from excess water...then leave your hair alone. It's that simple. If you touch your curls as they're drying, they will get frizzy and you will be upset. Touching=combing, brushing, towel drying etc. If you leave your hair alone, it will be defined as defined could ever get. That's my secret to defined curls.

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How do you detangle your hair?

I finger detangle when I cowash. My hair needs frequent detangling because I don't do protective styling. When I wear wash n go's my hair is prone to more tangling so I have to make sure I detangle it every day when I cowash. I usually cowash in the shower. I run my hair under water and then I hold my head upside down and run that under water. As my hair is running under the water, I use my hands to smooth my hair and gently detangle. Then, when my hair is really saturated, I put a lot of conditioner in and I just use my fingers to separate the curls and knots. I do this holding my head upside down and right side up. I DON'T RINSE IT OUT! Then, when I get out of the shower, I stand in front of the sink and smooth my hair in sections. As I'm smoothing my hair, I rinse my hands so the excess conditioner doesn't get redeposited into my hair. The water from my rinsed hands helps get the excess conditioner out too, but I still don't rinse it out! You shouldn't see globs of conditioner in your hair. If you do, just use your hands to smooth the conditioner out, wet your hands if necessary to smooth it out.

What product or technique would you say really helped your hair flourish?

The curly girl method! I always thought that conditioner wasn't supposed to be left in our hair but that's a myth! When I was relaxed, I remember when I would deep condition my hair by letting the conditioner stay in for hours, my hair would get really really hard. So when I went natural, I heard of people leaving conditioner in their hair but I thought that my hair would just get really hard. So I brought the leave in conditioners and they made my hair frizzy so I just stopped using them. But then one day, I decided to test out leaving conditioner in my hair and my curls were the most defined that I had ever seen! I've been in love ever since :)

Also, rinsing my scalp under a strong water pressure every day. I used to rinse my hair in my laundry room sink.

Do you have any advice for other naturals?

I really believe that keeping the scalp free from products allows the hair to thrive the best. Rinse your scalp as often as YOU can manage. I don't cowash every day in the winter because it's too cold. If you can't or don't want to cowash your hair every day don't. Just try not to put products directly onto your scalp without washing them off within a day or two. This is what has worked for me and I've learned that everything really doesn't work for every body :)

Also, try to detangle and smooth your hair using your fingers. Smoothing really helps define your curls. Avoid brushes.

Stick to natural products. Aloe vera gel and unrefined coconut oil are my staples! If I can't eat it or use it on my skin then I'd rather not use it on my hair...(this rule does not apply to my cowashing conditioner of course hahahaha).

Don't use heat! Or use as little indirect heat as possible. Air dry as much as possible. When you transition, try to use as little heat as possible because it can damage your curl pattern when you chop your hair.

When you're growing your hair out, know that the way your hair looks will change. It might not curl as much as you want it to when you first chop. Give it time and moisture and it will curl. Maybe it won't curl. Embrace whatever your hair decides to do :)

Be your own hairspiration! Find a picture of a length you had when you were relaxed and work towards reaching that length as a natural. I do this instead of comparing my hair to other people's because, it's just more inspirational when it's your own hair.

Where on the web can we find more about you and your styles?

Hairlista of course!

I have a Youtube channel where I will be posting more videos as soon as this semester is over I promise!

Thank you Amil for sharing all that information with us!

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  1. Wow, I love your hair and you...girl your such an inspiration! Like you, I have not relaxed since '06 or '07 and I don't use any heating products so my eyes are wide open reading your sage words.

  2. OMG wow I loved this post. I didn't think I'd read it all but I did!! I just went natural so I'm constantly looking for tips and this interview had plenty!! Thanks Amil :) I love your hair is sooooooo beautiful!! I hope to get mine like yours one day.

  3. Thanks ladies for your kind words. I'm sure Amil is grateful as well :-)

  4. Thanks soooooo much! I can't even explain how grateful I am!! Much love to all :)

  5. This interview was fabulous and just what I needed to hear at this time. So many great tips, tricks, suggestions, and advice. This sister really knows her hair and that is the major key to being successful in any hair journey, whether relaxed or natural. Kudos Amil...fantastic! I will definitely be checking out your YT channel.