United Members

United Member Alyssa

Meet Alyssa!
She’s a third year studio art major at Georgia State University. She was born in Germany, spent a couple years in Turkey, and then finally moved to Georgia. Her mom was in the army, so she moved around a lot. Alyssa is a creative passionate individual with a unique natural hair story of her own.
How long have you been natural?
I’ve been natural all my life. I’ve never actually chemically processed my hair, but I did get it pressed regularly starting in middle school.

Were you excited to wear your hair differently?
I wasn’t too concerned with it. My mom was the one who wanted my hair straight. My biggest worry was how I was going to sit in the chair still for that long.
Why haven’t you had a relaxer?
I was fortunate enough to have an awesome hair stylist named Ms. Christy. She had dreads and had a firm stance on me not relaxing my hair. To this day, she’s the only person I trust to do my hair.

How often did you get your hair straightened?
I got my hair straightened every 2 and half weeks, sometimes once a month. At night, I would braid it up to keep it from getting messy and then I would do a little touch up at home to keep it looking fresh.

When did you stop getting it straightened?
I stopped straightening my senior of high school. My home life was becoming toxic emotionally. I didn’t feel like I fit into either side of the family. My mom is African American and my father’s side of the family is Italian. Although they did love me and was there for me, there were some things that they couldn’t help with simply because they didn’t understand. I really wanted to stop trying to be what my mom wanted me to be and became more self aware. It was important to me to be myself and love myself as I am without changing my appearance to drastically. This was my way of accepting myself and my unconventional place or role in my family.
Was your family supportive of your decision to wear your hair naturally?
 My mom was not supportive at all, actually. I grew up living with my mom and her partner and I found it surprising that she had such a problem with my hair especially since she is a homosexual. I expected her to be more open minded. From her perspective my hair  looked under-kept. None-the-less, I had to make this decision on my own and do what was right for me. My mom’s partner, who was essentially my second mom, was actually very supportive. She even helped me research how to care for my hair in a more healthy way. That’s how I learned about the ingredients in the products I was using and what was actually good for my hair. This was the key to finding a better regimen that I use to this day.
Was it easy for you to make the transition to natural hair?
At first, it was difficult. While I was learning about my hair, I had to get use to the work that it took to maintain its health. I could no longer just go to the hair salon and have someone else take care of it. It was my responsibility. There were some days that I was so frustrated and would just start to cry because I didn’t know what to do with it. Eventually, I realized that I had to throw away my unrealistic expectations and just accept my hair for the way it is. When you make this transition, you really have to change the way you see yourself and the way you see beauty all together.
What is your daily regimen now?
In the morning, my hair is usually tied back from the night before. I usually style my hair according to what I have to do that day. I am an artist, so if I’m headed to the studio, my hair needs to be out of the way. There’s nothing fun about getting acrylic paint in your hair! If I’m going to school, an event, or maybe an interview, I’ll wear it down. It just depends on the day. I usually use Shae Moisture’s leave-in conditioner and I wash my hair once a month with Shae Moisture’s shampoo. I also like to use and oil spray that I mixed myself: it has olive oil, water, and a little bit of leave in conditioner.
What’s the best advise you can give someone who is thinking about transitioning to natural hair?
Prepare yourself for how the people closest to you may react. It can be positive, but not always. And just take care of yourself first. Do what makes you happy because that’s the most important thing.
United Members

United Member Iman

Meet Iman, she was born and raised in Morocco and studied economics in Paris where she received a Masters Degree. She is fluent in French, English, Moroccan dialect and Modern Standard Arabic.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of natural hair?
For me it’s more of a cultural thing. When I was a little girl, my mom used at home products like olive oil, Ghassoul, Argan oil, and rose water for both our skin and hair. My sister also liked to use a egg yolk, coffee grinds mixture as a home made conditioner and lemon juice as a gentle cleanser. Another common product is henna which was commonly used as a hair dye or just as a treatment. These natural hair recipes were passed down from my grandmother to my mother and then to me. Natural hair care personally reminds me of my family and my roots.
How does your hair texture differ from the other members of your family?
My sister and I both have really curly hair. My mom’s hair is wavier and not as kinky as ours. My Father is descended from Tagounite and that’s where we get our kinky hair texture of hair from. It’s more common for Moroccan women to have straight or wavy hair but my family has members from multiple ethnic backgrounds so we are quite diverse.
What lead you to decide to wear your hair curly on a regular basis?
When I was about 13 years old, I decided to change my hair style and went to this particular hair salon my mom regularly goes to. Little did I know, the stylist did not know what to do with my hair at all. Because he was so use to working with straight hair, he just resorted to chopping off most of my hair! I was mortified. At that age, having a short hair cut was a huge deal. I then developed a fear of hair salons. The last time I recall having my hair straightened was for my sister’s wedding in 2009. 
For me, it’s just easier to wear my hair as it is. Straightening it just requires a lot of maintenance. Every time I straightened my hair my curls pattern would change because of the heat damage, so it’s not really worth it at that point.
How has the media and other influences from the people around you effected your perspective on beauty?
 I am a young woman and it is hard to say that the media doesn’t affect how I see my self or others. I did grow up in Casablanca, which is a major city, so I grew up seeing women straightening their hair and chemically processing it or applying color. However, I was also exposed to the opposite. For example: the organic side to hair care like the henna and the ghassoul. By being exposed to multiple perspectives, I was able to make a lifestyle choice of my own.
What is your current hair regimen?
I wash my hair about once a week or even once every 2 weeks. Every morning I rinse my hair and every now and then apply a conditioner to co-wash if my hair feels really dry (especially during the dryer weather in the winter). Then, I’ll apply a leave in conditioner and let my hair air dry. It’s a pretty simple routine. I prefer to use products that have argan oil in it because it helps to maintain the frizz.