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Shashu and I go way back. We went to high school together, ended up at college together and then ended up working at the saaaaame spot back in 2004. We were just destined to be friends. She’s been my natural hairspiration for quite some while now and so it’s only right that I feature her as my first “natural hair style icon” of sorts on the blog. Long before I ever started researching natural hair, Shashu was that girl with the fly natural hair and I always admired her looks hoping one day my hair could look like that! Without further ado, I give you the gorgeous Shashu!

How long have you been natural? Did you transition or big chop?

I have been natural most of my life and always liked my natural hair. But I straightened my hair about 2005 and after a few years, my hair was breaking a lot and treatment and cutting wasn’t helping so I decided to go natural again in 2009. I stopped relaxing and wanted to transition for a while with braids but I got impatient and decided to big chop about 2 months after my last relaxer. I think this was better for me than the transition process, even though I was scared of short hair and never had it before. I grew to really like my short looks.

What has your journey been like so far? Has it changed you, your style, your personality in any way?

Though I am known for my love of variety I think I can declare that I am a natural for life. I get tuns of attention for my hair. People are very interested in how I style it and and even ask me what kinda hair I have in. DWL! But its all positive and I encourage everyone who is considering going natural to take the leap. I think I have finally found the look that matches my personality.

How did friends and family react to your decision to go natural and what types of hair comments do you get these days?

I didn’t really consult anyone before doing it and afterwards everyone seemed to think I had the “manageable hair” or the “good hair” so it should be easy for me. If I were to follow hair typing, I would be a 3C but I actually have multiple textures in my hair and at times my hair feels generally more kinky than curly. What I have confirmed along my journey is that there really is no “good hair.” Being natural is about embracing your texture in its variety and learning how to take care of it. All in all, I get lots of good comments about my hair and lots of people wanting to put their hand in it. (You’d think it would be my own hand in hair syndrome I’d have to guard against)

Do you think there’s still an “unpretty” stigma attached to natural hair? In your work environment have you ever come across any kind of discrimination towards your hair?

Luckily for me, my work environment, though conservative in many things including hair colour, is very accepting of my hair especially since I tend to wear my hair loose more often than not. I have big hair (well big enough) but I tend not to fluff it out too much for work. I have spoken to persons though who say they love my hair and want to go natural too but their work place would frown if they were to wear their hair loose and natural like I do. Another friend of mine who recently big chopped and is sporting a TWA was asked by a supervisor why she don’t comb her hair? Can you believe that? I guess that shows you that as much as we have embraced the natural look there are still old guards who still think well groomed means pressed or plaited hair cuz God forbid if we should let our natural tresses fly free.

What is a typical wash day like for you?

Generally I co-wash at least once a week. I never shampoo unless I have serious build up that co-washing can’t handle. I dont pre-poo or anything like that, quite frankly I think its a waste of my precious oils. I then deep condition (this is a must for me).

What’s your regimen? How do you style your hair over the course of a week?

After co-washing and deep conditioning, I apply leave-in conditioner to my wet hair and add my oils and my styling cream or shea butter or both then I flat twist out. (this is my favourite twist out technique, I get more definition and more stretched out curls.) Twist out is my go-to style and it is usually the foundation for others styles like up-dos or puffs or even a wash and go. So I’ll wash and twist my hair on the weekend. If i’m running errands I will wear my twists by pinning them in an updo or just pin the front twist back. Pinning also helps to stretch the hair while it dries. Don’t stretch too much though cuz you might affect the curl definition. By Monday, I will undo my twists for a twist out, I can wear this for about 2 days. Pay attention to you hair though, if it was windy a day I will go home and damp and re-twist. I don’t have to add more product just finger detangle as needed. I might turn a tired twist out into a puff or an updo by Wed/ Thursday or I can re-twist at nights as needed and wear my hair loose all week. On occassion I will wear a wash and go which I do with eco styler olive oil gel and a good leave-in conditioner and a mix of oils. Wash and goes can last a whole week and is easy to maintain. But I prefer the curl defnition and softness of a twist out.

Any favourite products? How do you find product availability in Jamaica?

Product availability has improved since I big chopped 3 years ago. I used to have to go online to source products and they would always be the expensive boutique lines like Ms. Jessies or Kinky curly or Curls but what I love is that all the big names in hair care that we all know and grew up on are producing a line of natural hair products that are sulphate free such as twist and curl creams and oils and moisturizing deep conditioners and the best part is they have the regular distribution channels that make it readily available to us here and the prices are far more affordable. So look out for Curls unleashed by Organic root Stimulator, Kera Care has a natural textures line, Soft Sheen Carson Roots of Nature has a good line and there are lots more. I like to try new products just so I know which ones my hair likes best. But as you did mention on your blog the best thing for natural hair are the things you can find in your grocery stores and backyard. I recently did the coconut oil and yogurt treatment and let me tell you my hair felt super soft. I did a twist out with homemade aloe vera gel and honey and it lasted all week without retwisting. For me I can’t live without a good deep conditioner some natural oils and my number one favourite hair product, shea butter. If I run out of every other product, I can live but I can’t afford to go without shea butter.

Any advice to those out there who are thinking of becoming natural?

Read and research and talk to other naturals and take the leap.

Anything else to add?

One thing I would like to add is that for me, a part of being natural is about peeling away some the layers around you and embracing yourself. There is a remarkable freedom that I have experienced by being natural and a boldness as well. I feel like I am one step closer to being the me I was always meant to be.

Beautiful Shash! That twist-out is everything! Thanks for agreeing to being featured!!! Shash is working on a swimwear line and currently has some cover-ups for sale, please like her Facebook page here!

If you’re a naturalista or a fashionista and would like to be featured on IrieDiva Style, please get at me here!

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