July 22, 2014

On the Couch with Abraham

Tell us a little bit about yourself 
My name is Abraham, but you can call me Abe. I’m from the small town of Camden, NJ where I spend my summer and winter vacations from school located in downtown New York City. I study English and Photography, and this is my final year—thank God.

I’m a writer, vlogger, and entrepreneur and have been working online with various publications including my own for over 4 years. I also have my own natural hair and skin care line called Love Shea, which has been featured on Ebony.com.

Why did you want to start growing your hair out?
The honest reason: I just wanted long hair. Back in 2011, I saw this guy walking past the World Trade Center stop of the PATH train with his brown and blonde curls bouncing in the wind. I was so jealous—curl envy is real. For a few months, I had been knowledgeable of the natural hair movement but didn’t think that someone with kinky hair could produce the same results. Even though I don’t have curls, my results are my own and I love my hair for what it is. And I make sure to perfect my routine to ensure my hair will be healthy and long disregarding the desire for curls.
"I want a big, ridiculous fro that unapologetically hits people in the face when I ride the subway. I don’t need curls for that life accomplishment."

What’s your current hairstyle?
My hair is currently in temporary loc extensions. I’ve been fascinated with them since the New Year, and I know that protective styling is good for hair. I experienced a lot of dryness and breakage in 2013 that I’m trying to recover from. I’ve altered my routine and incorporated some new things to repair the damage. Also, I was sick of wearing my hair out all the time and being uncertain of what to do with it. I tried a flexi rod set a month ago and really liked it. My curls were phenomenal. Locs are another great alternative, and I’ve been loving them and so has everyone else. My fro hasn’t gotten as many compliments as my locs, but I do miss it.

When did you start growing your hair out? How did the people around you react? 
I did my big chop in December of 2011. The general reaction during my first year was “what are you doing with your hair?” not because people genuinely wanted to know but because they didn’t like how it was growing. You’d be surprised how many people find type 4 kinky hair distasteful. So many people still perpetuate curl envy and believe anything that doesn’t curl shouldn’t be shown. People have called my hair dry even when it was moisturized—I learned dry-looking hair is different than hair actually being dry. People have felt my hair and told me I need to do a deep condition even though I do one every week—because my hair is coarse, it will always feel wiry even though I know the difference between feeling dry and being dry.

I still get some of that to this day. My mom doesn’t even like when I have my fro out. It still offends me but since it’s been going on for a while, I’ve developed a thick skin toward comments like that. Generally, I’ll ignore them, but sometimes I want to curse the person out.

How do you maintain your look?
I wear twist-outs and Bantu-knot-outs mostly after Wash Day. After clarifying with ACV, removing the build-up with Shea Moisture’s Purification Masque, and deep conditioning, I put on some leave-in conditioner and my homemade Love Shea shea butter to seal then twist my hair up. The next day I’ll take it out and rock it a few days before I have to refresh it. Wearing fros for years now is the exact reason I’m bored with them and am now in loc extensions.

Do you have any favorite products or hair tools that you would recommend to other men out there?
Most of the products I use are the same as other naturals regardless of gender. I know men are lazy and don’t like a lot of steps in their routine—me too—but it’s all necessary for healthy long hair. I tell people all the time to experiment with products first before settling on any as staples in their routine. What works for many may not work for you—found that out with coconut oil the hard way.
Disregarding specifics, every man should invest in a spray bottle, a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, a leave-in conditioner, a great deep conditioner, a styling cream, and a wide-tooth comb. For me, I love refreshing my hair with a mix of water and aloe vera juice. I don’t shampoo. I do a monthly ACV rinse. But great moisturizing shampoos and conditioners would be Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle and Giovanni’s 50:50 Balance and their Smooth As Silk. A great clarifying shampoo is Shea Moisture’s African Black Soap Deep Cleansing Shampoo. My favorite leave-in conditioners are Giovanni’s Direct Leave-In and Shea Moisture’s Thickening Growth Milk. I make my own Deep Treatment Masque—video on my YouTube channel. But I like Camille Rose’s Blue Algae Deep Conditioner, Shea Moisture’s Anti Breakage Masque for fine hair, and their Curl Enhancing Smoothie.
The Anti-Breakage Masque is too much for my thick hair, but after using it I can tell you it works at thickening hair and making it stronger. I also don’t use the Curl Enhancing Smoothie because my hair hates anything coconut that isn’t rinse-out and the smell makes me sick. As far as styling creams, raw organic shea butter will do. I suggest avocado or olive oil for people with type 3 curly hair because butter tends to weigh it down. Some other favorite oils of mine are sweet almond, apricot, castor oil, and Jamaican black castor oil for sealing and my scalp.

Do you think there should be more inclusion of men in the conversation about natural hair? 
Yes, I do. Even though most of our routines are the same and don’t vary much, men would like to see other men so they can have someone to relate to. If they saw men with awesome hair just as much as they see women, then there probably wouldn’t be somewhat of a stigma on men with long hair. Some people believe it’s too feminine, but that’s stupid.

Anything else you would like to share?
This is one of those dreaded questions during an interview where you have to appear really interested in the company and tell them something about yourself they didn’t ask. But no one really cares. So viewers have just wasted their time reading this believing I was going to say something valuable and profound when it comes to natural hair, but no. Everything was mentioned earlier in the piece. This is just a part of my annoying charisma that makes people laugh or hate me.

Where can people find you?
These are links to my social networks. If you do have any questions, tweet me or post a comment. I get back to everyone. I have to warn people I’m somewhat vulgar and thoroughly involved on Twitter so take caution with following. I swear it’s the reason I don’t find professional work. Oh well. Instagram is a great place to see me post consistently about my hair, and I have a lot planned for my YouTube channel. Also, I create and sell my own Shea Butter at LoveShea.com. Links to those accounts are below as well.

Twitter: @Tomo_Jr | @WeLoveShea
Instagram: @Tomo_Jr | @WeLoveShea
Facebook: http://Facebook.com/FierceAndLove | https://www.facebook.com/WeLoveShea
YouTube: http://YouTube.com/ATFierceTV

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