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“Growing up my little sister was the one with the hair everyone loved. It was thick, really long, shiny and wavy, curly. Even though I was never jealous of her, I just accepted that she had “nicer” hair than me. Fortunately I don’t look at it that way any more. We may have very different hair types but my hair grows fast, is thick and keeps great shape. Regardless of what anyone has to say, I think all hair types can grow long if you look after it well.

I grew up natural; my mom really doesn’t like relaxer and would never have allowed me and my sister to relax our hair until we were at least 16. I don’t remember ever having the urge to relax my hair, though I used to straighten it from time to time. It wasn’t until I was 18 and fell in love with Kelis’s “Little Star” hair that I had my hair relaxed and that was purely for the style. That was also the first time I had the side shaved. I curled my hair with curlers though, I never really wore it straight. I think in total I’ve only had relaxer applied to my hair 4 or 5 times in my life and I’ve half regretted it every time as it doesn’t take me long to start yearning for my natural texture. However tempting it might be I think it’s much better to stick to straightening with straighteners if you’re craving a straight style. It’s not worth the damage and there’s so many styles you can do with natural hair.

I can’t really say I have many staple hair products. It’s important to keep my hair moisturized, especially since my hair is usually in braids which makes it extremely easy to neglect so I use whatever hair oils I have lying around the house, paying close attention to my scalp. As I don’t wash my hair as often when it’s in braids. I use Label M dry shampoo a few times a week and at night I spritz my hair with Fantasia IC PM Night Time Oil Treatment.

In January I stupidly allowed my hair to be relaxed for a hairstyle I wanted, but it just turned into one of those nightmare salon visits people are always talking about where the hairdresser cuts off all your hair. Even though it didn’t look that bad I nearly cried because I’d just grown my hair out from the big chop I’d done about a year earlier and it was in great condition and had grown about 7 inches! Anyway, I cut off most of the relaxed hair but there’s still a little left at the ends which shows when I have my own hair out. Depending on what style I wear I sometimes straighten it so the 2 different textures aren’t so obvious! I use TRESemme Heat Defence (TRESemme Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Hair Spray in the U.S.) to try and minimize heat damage when I straighten, which is usually no more than about 3 times a week. I think when my hair is long enough to cut off the last relaxed bits I’ll probably stop straightening it altogether. I also died my hair blonde once but it was too much maintenance.

I have really dry skin so I use E45 cream all over my body everyday. Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Original Solid Formula, the one that comes in the hard butter, not the cream, is nice on my legs but my skin is too sensitive to use it anywhere else on my body. In the morning and at night I use Clean & Clear Morning Energy Facial Wash. My shower staple is Original Source Shea Butter and Honey Shower Gel, it smells great and doesn’t dry out my skin like a lot of other shower gels do. I also use olive oil on my body as well as my hair and anything that contains vitamin E as I have quite a few scars. When I get paid next month I might invest in Estee Lauder’s ‘Idealist’ Even Skintone Illuminator. I’d love to have a really even skintone on my face.

I think I’m quite a chameleon when it comes to style. I like to throw things together and I like my outfits to contrast like wearing a really feminine dress with an over-sized men’s coat, though sometimes it’s fun to do a look really well from head to toe. I usually like to look different each day. One day I’ll look really girlie and emulate the 1950’s, the next day I’ll wear my boyfriend’s baggy jumper with a big, clunky pair of boots.

I daydream about clothes I’d like to own all day! In terms of the evolution of my style I have a few looks in mind, but primarily I just want everything to get a bit punkier with more pieces from the ’80s and 90’s. I don’t ever want my wardrobe to be too contrived though, I think outfits look best when they’ve organically been thrown together, so to have a wider variety of textures and colors in my wardrobe would help things along. I’d also like more of a mixture of cultures to be reflected in my wardrobe, everything is very English at the moment and a bit bland. I’m going to buy some African materials with really strong prints and bold colors and I’d like more Indian jewelery. I think juxtaposing elements in outfits make them a lot more interesting as they give more depth to a look. How you dress is a great way to showcase your creativity and I intend to make quite a few changes over the coming months.

If someone is thinking about going natural but is still on the fence I’d say just go for it. Natural hair is very versatile, you’ll find yourself getting very creative with it. Don’t get preoccupied with what people you know will think or say about your natural hair if they haven’t seen it before. In all likelihood you’ll get nothing but compliments but just brush off anything negative or small minded, silly opinions are not your problem! As much as I love the natural hair movement, I don’t look at it as a major thing. Even though I appreciate that in certain circumstances going natural takes courage, whatever images we’re confronted with in everyday life through the media and etcetera, there should be nothing revolutionary about allowing your hair to stay the same way it grows out of your head! I think the idea that having long, straight hair is necessary for a woman to look beautiful is finally becoming outdated and I just hope that pre-occupation with curl definition and ‘softness’ dies down in the natural hair community as well. All hair types are beautiful in their own right!” – Zizi

Find Zizi on her blog and Twitter.

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