Naturalista Spotlight: Alicia

Kinky Curly Coily Me
Welcomes Alicia

What inspired you to start growing natural hair?  How long have you been natural?  What styles did you wear before this decision? 
I went natural for the first time when I was fourteen.  At the time, I was in a boarding school in Nigeria and we had to cornrow our hair every week. I noticed that the few girls who had natural hair seemed to have neater and “prettier” cornrows.  I was going through an emotional roller coaster around the same time and decided that it was the perfect opportunity to try something new. Altogether, I’ve been natural for about six years. However, I did “backslide” into a relaxer for about two months in 2008.   Before I  went natural, I mostly wore my hair out in its relaxed form,  although I usually got braids/extensions on special occasions. 
What were the responses you received in response to your natural hair decision?
I ended up doing a BC to go natural.  Most people at my school were shocked because it wasn’t something they expected from me. Also, many people in Nigeria who have short afros are lower-class. These women usually cut their hair because they can’t afford the weekly maintenance.  To cut a long story short, it took people a while to get used to it. 
How often do you wash and style your hair?  What are your favorite styles to wear?
I wash my hair about every two weeks, but I often co-wash or douse my hair in the shower in-between.   When I first went natural, I would alternate between two-strand twists and my afro every two weeks. However, I’ve been wearing protective styles (braids) for most of this year. My favorite style is tying my afro back with a scarf. 
What products do you use in your hair? 
I have the tendency of being a product junkie, but I’m trying to cut back. I’ve used a lot of different things at different points in my journey. I really, really like Design Essentials‘ line of products. I tried their Natural Beauty package and fell in love. However, I do still keep Pantene’s Relaxed and Natural Shampoo and Conditioner on hand, even though I am aware it contains sulfates. One of my resolutions for 2010 was to experiment with “natural” oils,etc. So far, I’ve tried Jamaican Black Castor, Almond, Olive, Coconut and Avocado oils. I think I’ve gotten the best result with the Castor oil, although the smell is a little strong at times. I also tried using Dudu Osun Black African Soap to wash my hair and I really liked the result, although it becomes harsh if I use it too often. 
What are somethings you’ve learned about your hair during your journey?
I’ve had two big chops and I can definitely say it was easier the second time. When I went back to the relaxer, I convinced myself that I was just trying to support my best friend who finally decided she wanted to transition to being natural. However, in reality I had endured a lot of teasing and at times felt insecure and wondered what it would feel like to “belong” again. From that two month experience, I learned once and for all that relaxed hair is NOT for me. I found that even though I had cut my hair into a short Halle Berry-ish cut, my relaxed hair required more maintenance and was therefore more stress. I am very laissez-faire with my natural hair, but I found that that wouldn’t work with the relaxed hair. When my hair is in a ‘fro, I usually pick it out with my hands and go. However, with this style I had to comb my hair each and every morning and often I would walk outside and the wind would blow and I’d be back to square one. All in all, I’m now much more confident than I’ve ever been before. In fact,when I finally cut the perm off I did it by myself. I’ve found that natural hair is liberating and I can rock any style confidently.
What advice would you give to women contemplating growing natural hair?
To me, having natural hair means that you love the skin you’re in. It is a process and sometimes it can be frustrating, but you should listen to your hair and do what feels right to you. People have different regimens and use different products, but at the end of the day it’s your hair and should stick with what works and get rid of what doesn’t.
How do you feel when you see other Naturalistas?
I usually get so excited!! I wish there was some secret handshake so we could greet each other. I’m proud of all women who dare to wear their hair natural despite societal constraints.  
What are 5 hair items/products you can’t live without?

ha ha this is hard:
An afro pick
Shoe String (for my signature bad hair day style)
a hat (when all else fails)
Are you a member or any Natural Hair social networks?

Yes, I am member of and follow almost every Natural hair blog that I find. 
How can you be contacted?
I am definitely willing to talk further about my experience and I have wide(almost embarrassing) internet presence: 

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