July 21, 2015

Keora- "I became the captain of my own ship and it was liberating."

Tell me about yourself!
My name is Keora Illiana Bernard, and I am going to be 27 on July 26.  I currently reside in Germantown, MD and have a four-year old son named Jeremiah. I work at Home Depot on the Merchandising Execution Team. I graduated from The University of Maryland with a degree in Communications and am hoping one day to become an entrepreneur. I love inspiring, educating, and motivating others especially in regards to natural hair care. During my free time, I like writing about natural hair on my Facebook page or website, spending time outdoors with my son, and traveling.


Were you a transitioner or a Big Chopper? What was your journey like?
I was a little bit of both. I unintentionally transitioned for about nine months. My scalp was burned and irritated after a bad perm. Starting school three months later only exacerbated matters. I was neglecting my hair to concentrate on finishing my last year at Maryland. During my winter break from school, I finally observed how damaged my hair and scalp were. I vowed to never put another relaxer in my hair. In March of 2014, I did the big chop. During my transitioning faze, I noticed that my hair began flaking badly and considered going to a dermatologist. However, I knew I wasn’t taking care of my hair and decided that I would first take matters into my own hands. I went to Wal-Mart and got a few utensils, such as a rat tail comb, a deep conditioner, shampoo, and a blended oil for my scalp. The oil contained a mixture of avocado, castor, and olive oil with an applicator at the end. I began shampooing, deep conditioning, and lightly oiling my scalp. I had developed a small bald spot so I made sure I gave that some extra TLC with my oil mixture. In about a month, I started to see improvements with both my hair and scalp. During this period, I would blow dry my hair on low heat and wear it in two French braids. I began noticing how beautiful the roots of my hair were and how unattractive they were in comparison to the stringy and lifeless ends. I was ready for a change. I watched YouTube to muster up the courage for a big chop and I was convinced, I could do it. Having a TWA was liberating but bewildering too. I had to do a lot of online research about caring for natural hair and since it was tax season around the time of my big chop, I experimented with products like a laboratory scientist. After about two months of being natural, I established a routine. Giovanni and Shea Moisture were my two favorite brands at the time.

Had you always embraced your texture?
I think like most black women, we are told from a very young age that we need to get a perm. While I always admired other naturals, my father said some disparaging words to me once when my perm was growing out so being less independent in mindset, I got a perm. Going natural seemed like something that was only reserved for the mixed chicks or the Chilli’s of our time. Plus, I knew very little about natural hair and how to care for it, so I just figured getting a relaxer was better for me.

How did family and friends react to your decision to go natural? What was your response to them? 
I didn’t tell many family members I was deciding to go natural but my friends were pretty supportive. However, I remember one friend telling me that when some people go natural their hair looks “dry and brittle.” Afterwards she told me that she didn’t think “my hair would look like that.” Considering her hair was bone straight, it was a little offensive to me. I told her that “you have to take care of it.” Any negative comments I got made me even more emboldened to go natural. I wanted other naturals to feel comfortable with whatever texture they had.

Describe your hair (fine or coarse, thin or thick, highly porous, low, etc.)
I would describe my hair as being 4A/4B with a 3C at the very nape of my neck. I have fine hair that is thick. I jokingly refer to my hair as the United Nations. Like many naturals, I have mixed textures. In the very front of my hair, its Bob Marley or “Rasta girl” as one person called me. At the back, it’s Traci Elli Ross. Additionally, I have low porosity hair which means that lightweight moisture is key for me.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to your hair? 
I’m somewhat of a boring natural choosing hair health over hair versatility but I would say the big chop was the craziest thing I have ever done to my hair. I was natural and had very little hair which for a long time was a social taboo for black women. The next closest thing would be when I cut my hair in an asymmetric, bob-like fashion. The nape of my neck was shaved down low and it gave me an edgy look.

What’s your biggest hair related regret?
My biggest hair related regret was perming my hair. Of course when I was younger, I loved going to the hair shop and getting that freshly permed look. However, my hair was getting thinner with time. It just wasn’t worth the money and compromised hair health.

What's your current hair routine? How often do you wash, condition, and style? Favorite products! Deets!
My current hair routine is washing once a week with Shea Moisture’s Moisture Retention Shampoo and conditioning with Shea Moisture’s Restorative Conditioner. About once a month, I clarify my hair with Giovanni’s Tea Tree shampoo and do a protein treatment. I like to mix together avocado, egg, honey, and olive oil for my protein treatments. For my styling products, I am currently using Oyin’s Herbal Leave-in tonic and their Handmade whipped pudding moisturizer. My favorite moisturizers are Oyin’s Handmade whipped pudding moisturizer along with another moisturizer which is locally made by a woman named Debra Stansberry. My favorite leave-ins are Oyin’s Herbal tonic, Giovanni’s Direct Leave-in, and Beautiful Textures Leave-in. My favorite conditioners are Shea Moisture’s Restorative Conditioner and Giovanni’s Smooth as Silk conditioner. My favorite shampoo is Shea Moisture’s Moisture Retention Shampoo and my favorite co-wash is Tresseme Naturals. I love products that work well but that are also budget-friendly.

What’s your favorite hairstyle? Where do you get hairstyle inspiration?
My favorite hairstyle is definitely a twist out. It’s super simple and looks great on me. I get my hairstyle inspiration from everywhere and everyone. I don’t have a particular place I go to. I am Facebook friends with many popular natural haircare bloggers and see naturals every day. I usually just go with whatever I see online or in real life that works well for me.

Who is your curl crush?
I see many naturals with a great mane of hair. However, I think Chime Edwards has one terrific mane. I love the body, length, and versatility she can achieve with her hair.

How do you maintain your hair at night?
I always wear at satin bonnet at night. I almost don’t even have to think about it anymore. It’s just second nature now. I also oil my ends with coconut oil, if my hair feels a bit dry or it’s been exposed to harsh elements. Not to mention, I have been using Jamaican Black Castor Oil a few nights a week to help me with a little thinning around my temples.

How do you maintain healthy length?
I am a big believer in protective styling. Once I discovered protective styling, I couldn’t go back. I also limit my use of heat. I will straight style every four months, if even that. Thirdly, I like to trim my ends every four months or seasonally. My hair responds well to cutting off the dead or split ends for a fresh start. Lastly, I believe in deep conditioning and moisturizing my hair daily which gives it pliability and less breakage.

What's the best thing about being natural?
Many people discuss the fun hairstyles and showing off their big mane of hair. However, I loved going natural because it was a way for me to assert my independence. I didn’t have a lot of advice or opinions when I made the decision. I had a few rocky moments and side-eyed looks but continued to learn about how to master my naturalism. I became the captain of my own ship and it was liberating.

Where can folks find you on the web?
I currently have a Facebook Page named KeorasKinks and my website is http://www.keoraskinks.wordpress.com but it is currently under construction. I hope to be completed with my website no later than September.

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