Tell Me About Yourself!
My roots come from Panama, Jamaica, and the Philippine Islands. When I was little, my parents took me to see Alicia Keys and Beyonce in concert; it was an unforgettable experience that sparked my love for music and performing. I trained as a dancer at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy for several years and I’m a singer, songwriter, and a self-taught guitarist. As an aspiring artist, I attend the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music in NYC to learn about the business and develop my craft.
Were you a transitioner or a Big Chopper? What was your journey like?
I’ve often alternated between flat ironing my hair and wearing it natural. However, for the past four years, I focused on embracing my natural texture and kept my hair healthy by minimizing heat.
I learned to take better care of my curls after an ill-fated salon visit in 2007. The stylist damaged my hair and within a few months, I had about 10 inches taken off my length. My Filipina mom, discovered a community of hair bloggers on the web who inspired me to embrace my hair’s natural texture. I’m so grateful to Kimmaytube, HeyFranHey, Taren916, ShamelessMaya, and Naptural85.
Had you always embraced your texture?
Despite numerous discussions about individuality and self-expression with my parents, I found it challenging to embrace my natural texture, because I felt a lot of pressure to have long, straight hair like most kids at my school. As I got older, I discovered other women who proudly rocked their natural hair. I became more comfortable in my own skin and realized that my natural hair distinguished me – it gave me a lot more confidence!
How did family and friends react to your decision to go natural? What was your response to them?
My parents are avid supporters of the natural hair movement and have always wanted me to embrace my hair just the way it is. My dad used to have dreadlocks and now has a curly fro, and my Asian mom, both taught me to love my curly hair. They were definitely happy to see me rock my curls. My aunt did a big chop over a year ago, and she looks so beautiful!
There was one incident in high school where a teacher told me I “really needed to just brush my hair” which bothered me for a while, but I made sure not to let his ignorance get me down. I take a lot of pride in my hair because it represents all the people who have come together before me and I know that I am enough all on my own.
Describe your hair (fine or coarse, thin or thick, highly porous, low, etc.)
My strands are a mixed, but overall my hair is dense and has a lot of volume. It’s temperamental at times, depending on the weather, water, etc. It’s hard to retain moisture on my ends and like most people, there are areas that require a lot more maintenance and products than others.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to your hair?
I try not to really mess with my hair to the best of my ability, so I would say the craziest thing I’ve ever done was getting blonde highlights about three years ago. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I found it just dried out the parts that were treated and I had to patiently wait until they grew out.
What’s your biggest hair related regret?
There was one time I went to a Dominican hair salon (my first visit) to get my hair pressed, and upon washing it the week later, I noticed the texture of my hair had started to change – it was beyond porous and broke off at the ends, which really worried me because I didn’t want to lose my curls. I never knew what the stylist did or what products she used, but I learned a huge lesson about salon visits – there is no “one size, fits all”. While it was an awful experience, it prompted me to take action and start taking better care of my hair.
What’s your current hair routine? How often do you wash, condition, and style? Favorite products! Deets!
My hair routine varies but here is what I generally do. I wash my hair approximately every five days, but in between washes, I usually refresh the curls by using a spray bottle of water, some aloe vera juice and some Hibiscus Curl and Styling Milk by Shea Moisture. Whenever possible, I also use Emily Jayne’s Curl Butter….this product is amazing for defining curls!
On wash days, I start by detangling my hair in four sections using coconut oil, some water and the Shea Moisture Deep Moisture Mask. I generally let it sit for about thirty minutes before getting in the shower.
I also wash my hair in those same four sections, so on weeks that I shampoo my hair (which is generally every other week) I shampoo each section using Aubrey’s Island Naturals shampoo. I’m a loyal Aubrey supporter and my favorite conditioners are the Island Naturals Restorative Conditioner and the White Camelia Conditioner. I let the conditioner sit for about 10-15 minutes and then I detangle each section again while the conditioner is sitting, right before I rinse out. Then, I wrap my hair in a t-shirt to bring out the curls and reduce frizz.
To style, I either apply Shea Moisture’s Yucca & Baobab Volumizing Conditioner or their Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner, aloe vera juice and coconut oil on each of the four sections and wear it in a bun for several hours to stretch out the curls as a wash n go style OR do two simple braids that I wear until it dries. When I remove the braids, I just shake out my hair and flip it whichever way is most comfortable.
What’s your favorite hairstyle? Where do you get hairstyle inspiration?
My favorite hairstyles are ones that help elongate my curls and minimize frizz so I enjoy protective styles like a twist out or a braid out the most because they still look natural but can last a lot longer than a simple wash n go.
Who is your curl crush?
I have many – Corinne Bailey Rae, Esperanza Spalding, Lianne La Havas and Christina Santini are all hair inspirations for me! Shameless Maya is also one of my inspirations – she’s my kindred spirit, an Afro-Filipina!
How do you maintain your hair at night?
Because I use a silk pillowcase to retain moisture, I sometimes opt to simply put my hair in a top knot, or use the hooded headband to keep my curls nice.
How do you maintain healthy length?
It’s important to trim your hair every few months to remove some of the dead ends and leave your hair space to grow. I also think girls who go natural should try to get their hair steamed when they can because it really helps to lock in the moisture. I find that right after I get my hair steamed, it feels softer than what I could do on my own with just conditioner.
What’s the best thing about being natural?
The best part about being natural is the carefree nature of my hair and though it takes a lot of work to maintain, I enjoy being able to not worry about my hair against the weather. I also love the length that I can achieve by wearing my hair natural, and that I always feel like I’m just being me!
There’s an incredible sense of freedom that comes with embracing your natural hair – it’s truly empowering when you no longer feel like you have to conform and look like everyone else.
Where can folks find you on the web?
I should have my website up soon, but in the meantime, you can check out my song, “Out Of Breath” on soundcloud – “n-a-k-a-y-a”.