Meet Suhaly Bautista, aka, "The Earth Warrior." Originally from New York City, she currently lives in Asuncion, Paraguay. She says, 'it's a long story, gyspy stuff.'
How long have you been natural?
As long as I can remember. I came across some baby pictures of myself in my mother's closet recently and the first thing I noticed in each photograph was always the mountain of unruly, untamable curls living on top of my head. I've never relaxed my hair so it wasn't a very challenging transition into the full-fledged natural world for me. In 2004, I made a vow to never straighten my hair again, so that means 8 years, but i've cheated once or twice. The curiosity was killing me!
Tell us about your hair...
My hair is huge and wild. It (like its owner) knows no bounds. I like to think of my hair as both a physical and symbolic representation of myself: wild and free. Someone once told me, "You hair is going to be more famous than you." That prophecy has already been fulfilled. I'm pretty adventurous when it comes to my hair. I love to experiment and my hair lends itself to that far too easily. I can make it do almost anything I want. It blow dries bone straight, is easy plaited, twisted, entwined etc. My wish is its command. If I fluff it out enough, I can create a pretty epic fro, but i can also coil it into a neat, rather huge bun at the side of my head (I call that my Lianne La Havas hair).
What's your current regimen?
My regimen is that I don't really have one. I don't really believe in patterns and formulas, not in life and not with my hair. What kind of wild would I be if I stuck to a routine?! I love my hair and I'm good to it, that's my creed. There are some things I'm faithful to, however. I almost never touch shampoo. If I do, it's the non-lathering kind but mostly I just use lots and lots of conditioner (one for curls or extra hydration). I tell myself to detangle each time I wash my hair (which is about twice/week) but i only really get around to it once/2 weeks (not recommended!) I use the widest tooth comb in the land for this and invoke all of the patience in the universe, starting from the ends and working my way up like my mom taught me. The splitting into 4 parts method works really well. It usually takes so long that I turn the shower off so the water doesn't run unnecessarily. I'm an environmentalist. I usually leave a small amount of conditioner in my hair, provided it isn't greasy. I wring my wet hair out until it's no longer dripping and apply whatever styling product i'm using in that era evenly throughout. I'm not loyal to any one product, but I find that I enjoy the simple, minimalistic stuff the most. I also find that less is more. Plus, I'm a volume addict and using less product always gives me more flexibility to amplify. I can't stand hard, crunchy curls so I stay away from gels and go for the softer stuff. I usually bend my head over and shake the excess water out. That's the most fun part! I've been experimenting with a blow dryer recently but I find that it just takes too long, so I tie a t-shirt around my wet hair and wear it for about 10-15 minutes. At night, I wear my hair in a high bun or pony tail on the tip top of my head. No drama.
How do you dye your hair and still keep it healthy?
I'm really trying to tone it down with the dye, but it's just so tempting! So, I try to space out the time in between my dyes (at least 6 months). To keep my dyed hair from drying out, I have to drink a lot of water and deep condition whenever I can, especially in the weeks rights after I've dyed it when it's the most brittle. My trick is to not dye my entire mane and instead, only dye chunks/streaks or do highlights. This way, I don't have to nurse my whole head of curls to health from the trauma.
What does your hair say about you?
It says I'm brave. My bravery is my favorite thing about myself and it's nice to have a full lion's mane to show for it.
Who are your hair idols?
Kelis (circa 1999) and Sideshow Bob
Where can we find you on the web?
What do you love to do?
Take photographs, travel the world, create stuff. Being an artist (I'm a photographer) really helps me feel comfortable wearing my crown of curls and really, genuinely allowing my hair to flow as naturally as it does from my head out into the world. Art gives me the liberty to be unapologetic and I love it. In my world, the creatives are king and this means that I am constantly surrounded by people who find beauty in expressing themselves in a way that is true to who they are at the core. The people around me embrace and applaud me and my big, wild hair because self expression is such a powerful element for artists.