Natural Hair Stylist Interview: Miss Di

Tell me a little about you. How long have you done natural hair?
Hair was always a very important part of grooming in my family, and I learnt the basics from my mother. Once she thought I was good enough, she split the Sunday-night corn-row duty with me, and we’d sit together doing my younger sisters’ hair. From that starting point, I’d be ask to style hair by extended family members, school-mates, friends of friends, even strangers off the street.

Once I started wearing my hair in locs 3 years ago, the scope expanded to include inter-locking, palm-rolling, treating & styling locs.

Do you work in a salon or from a home location?
Depending on what is convenient for the client, he/she visits my home location, or I go to their home.

Do you have a Facebook group or other social networking site?
These days, I mostly disseminate info via my twitter account – rhapsodyinD

What type of services do you provide?
I provide most basic services – washing, treating, styling for natural hair and locs. I stay away from chemical services, including colouring.

How much experience do you have with maintaining & styling locks?
3 years

What is your biggest challenge when dealing with locks?
One of the challenges for me in dealing with locs – both mine, and others’ – is allowing the beauty to come from the hair, rather than superimposing an external concept. I think locs is a hairstyle which allows the hair to develop its unique character, and this should be embraced. There can be frustration sometimes when the locs don’t do what I want them to do, whether in terms of the rate of maturing, rate of growth, or styling. At these times, I realize it’s necessary to take a step back, to look for the beauty already present in the hair, and nurture what is there, rather than try to make it something it is not.

With customers?
My biggest challenge with customers stems from this same issue, as often, individuals come to me with a concept in mind based on something they’ve seen done with someone else’s hair, whether by another stylist or by myself. As I myself face the challenge of getting to know each client’s hair, I challenge them to do the same – to get to know their own hair – its unique needs and its unique strengths, and use this knowledge to determine treatment and style options.

What products do you typically use on natural hair?
The more natural the product, the better. For products available in store, I check the ingredient list and religiously avoid petrolatum, and any product with too many chemicals. The short the ingredient list, the better. Generally, though, I very much lean towards combining oils and plant products to create treatments or hair sprays for daily grooming, based on the needs of the hair and scalp. My favorite combo includes glycerin for its humectant properties, vitamin E for damage repair and peppermint oil for scalp stimulation & fragrance. I also favor egg treatments, raw aloe vera, tea-tree oil and olive oil.

What suggestions do you give people when they come to you needing their hair done for a formal event?
The basic choice is between wearing the hair down or in an up-do. It’s always nice to do the opposite of however they usually wear their hair day-to-day. I consider the hair’s strength to determine how much manipulation it can handle, and the individual’s face structure in determining the overall shape of the style.

What suggestions do you give people who need a formal look that will last into casual events as well?
Most styles are quite versatile. An updo can be transformed simply by letting the back down. Hair accessories are easily interchanged.

What advice do you give new customers?
I encourage everyone to get to know their hair – its strength level, elasticity, moisture needs, etc., to educate themselves on what it needs, and not to be dependent on any groomer or stylist. Very often, persons leave their hair completely in the hands of supposed professionals to their own detriment. My best customer is an educated customer who knows his/her hair, who works together with me not only for short-term glamour, but long term strength & growth.

How far in advance should someone schedule an appointment prior to their event?
It seems most individuals, aiming for ‘freshness’ like to have their hair done on the same day. I personally vouch for the day before, especially for up-dos.

Do you have consultations available? If so, how long to the appointments run?
I usually incorporate this into my first appointment with a client.

What are most requested styles: for women? For men?
Women tend to prefer anything going up, and men anything going back 🙂

Knots on the Street: DC – Donna and Dana

Donna (afro) and Dana

How long have you been natural?
Donna – 7 years
Dana – started transitioning in Jan 2, 2010

What made you decide to go natural?
Donna – perm burns on my scalp/ scabby scalp
Dana – It was just something I wanted to do. I wanted to do my own natural hair. It was time

Who does your hair? How long does it take?

What hair product could you not live without?
Donna – Magic lasso (to make my afro puff)
Dana – Tie between extra virgin olive oil and Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk

Knots on the Street: DC – Melba

How long have you been natural?
4 years

What made you decide to go natural?
I was tired of relaxers plus my sister is natural and I loved the way her hair looked and felt.

Who does your hair? How long does it take?
I do it myself.

What hair product could you not live without?
Curl Activator Gel with Aloe Vera and IC Gel – The curl activator gel is moisturizing without being greasy

Locks on the Street – DC: Larry Watson

Locks on the Street: Showing the diversity of locks and natural hair

Larry Watson

How long have you been locked?
At least 8 years

What made you decide to lock?
I had a lot of run-ins with bad barbers and got tired of it.

Who does your hair? How long does it take?
I go to the salon about once a month and my wife does my hair about once every 3-4 months.

If you go to a salon, what is the stylist’s name and salon?
I go to Big G Images and Nook’s Barber Salon.

Big G’s Images
Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 30904

Nook’s Barber Shop
15214 Sheriff Rd NE
Washington, DC 20019

What hair product could you not live without?
My favorite product is Jamaican Mango & Lime Locking Crème Wax and Jamaican Mango & Lime No More Itch Braid, Twist, and Lock Gel.

Locks, locks, and more pictures of locks! (Freakz & Geekz)

The twitter world is abound with tons and tons of people with who have locks and natural hair. One of my favorite tweeps is @FreakzNGeekz. I love her blog because she doesn’t have any cut cards – she gets right to the heart of the matter. Make sure to check her out! Her latest post is on the male perspective of Tantric Sex (yum!).

@FreakzNGeekz has been kind enough to share some of the wonderful locked styles she’s had. One of the things I love the most about these photos is that they show the complete versatility of dreadlocks and natural hair.

Always remember: your locked hairstyles are only limited by your imagination.

The Braid-Out
Braid outs are the most simple locked hairstyle that you can accomplish (and the one I wear most often!). It is exactly what it sounds like: you braid your wet natural hair/dreadlocks and then let them dry to set. The setting can be done via a natural air dry or by sitting under a hood dryer for several hours.

When I style my hair in braid outs, I always start with a clean head of hair. After washing and performing maintenance, I separate my hair into sections that are six (6) locks thick – which I then braid into a single plait and secure at the end with a wrapped rubber band/ponytail holder. I shy away from sitting under the dryer on a regular basis, so I almost always allow my hair to dry naturally. This means that I wear my hair (out in public) with my hair set for at least 24-48 hours. This means that it has to look NEAT, not just be functional.

Braid Out

Bantu Knots (Zulu Knots)
Bantu Knots are wonderful, especially if you love textured hair but don’t want the hassle of additional styling (the set of the braid out) or rollers. Bantu Knots, also known as Zulu Knots, are two hairstyles in one. The first style is the knot itself. The second style is the texture the knot sets into your natural hair/locks – it is very similar to what a roller set would look like (without the rollers).

In order to create Bantu Knots, start with a clean head of hair. After washing and maintenance, I usually separate my hair into sections. Like the Braid Out, I find that six (6) locks are plenty but your lock thickness may vary. I take the section of six locks and twist into a large double strand twist. Once twisted, take the twist and make a large knot as tight to the scalp as possible. What you want is a knot that looks like a mini hair bun. Repeat throughout the hair. This may take some practice, so I would suggest trying this a few times when you have plenty of time to devote to your hair. This style can be worn for several days.

Once your hair has dried completely OR you are tired of wearing your Bantu Knots, just take the knots down. Your hair is already styled! I like to finish up by using a small amount of olive oil, Carol’s Daughter’s Lisa’s Hair Elixir or Orofluido oil to coat my locks, especially the ends.

Bantu Knot - Up

Bantu Knot Up - profile

Bantu Knot Up - profile 2

Bantu Knot - Back

Bantu Knot - Down

Pixie Twists
Pixie Twists are also known as Pipe Cleaner Curls. Unlike Braid Outs and Bantu Knots, Pixie Twists require additional equipment: pipe cleaners. The end result of Pixie Curls are very tight ringlets. I have to admit that I don’t wear this style much, my husband isn’t a big fan of tight curls.

As always, start with a clean head of hair. After washing and maintenance, take a pipe cleaner and bend one end upwards. Take your locks (I generally use no more than 1-2 locks per cleaner but it depends on the lock thickness) and begin to wrap them tightly and snugly around the cleaner from the bottom up to the root, making sure to wrap the lock around the cleaner and the hair. Like the Bantu Knots, this style can also be worn for several days to a week, especially if you used pipe cleaners that are close in color to your hair.

Once your hair has dried completely OR you are tired of wearing the pipe cleaners, just take the pipe cleaners out. Your hair is already styled! I like to finish up by using a small amount of olive oil, Carol’s Daughter’s Lisa’s Hair Elixir or Orofluido oil to coat my locks, especially the ends.

*TIP: Pipe cleaners may leave lint that is impossible to see in your hair. Always try to use pipe cleaners that are closest to your hair in color. Try to give the pipe cleaners a gentle cleaning and allow them to dry before using the first time. This should allow you to remove some of the excess lint prior to use.

Pixie Twist: up and with pipe cleaners

Pixie Twist: up and with pipe cleaners2

Pixie Twist: freshly down from pipe cleaners, very tight curl

Pixie Twist as it falls and loosens

Pin Curls
Pin Curls are created by creating large rolled curls throughout the entire head and pinning them down (and together) with hair pins. As with all dreadlock wet sets, Like Pixie Twists, Pin Curls also need additional equipment: hair pins.

Tip: For this style you need hair pins, NOT bobby pins.

Note: I want to start by saying that I have never put Pin Curls in my own hair before, so I only have a visual knowledge of how to do this technique. Since I only have a visual knowledge, I’m going to speak to our lovely model to see if she is willing to guest on this blog with a write up of how she completes both her Pin Curls as well as her braided up-do’s and buns.

Unlike most dreadlock hairstyles, you do not HAVE to start your set with clean, wet hair in order to do this style…although it would be in your best interest. I’m only mentioning this because this is a style that is practical and cute for an unplanned night on the town that does not require hours of washing and maintenance. If you do decide to not to do your Pin Curls as a wet set, please recognize that you will not be able to take advantage of the “secondary style” that comes with most wet sets.

Pin Curl: front

Pin Curl: back

Pin Curl: Profile

Pin Curl: Top

Pin Curl: top2

Pin Curl: out1

Pin Curl: out2

Braided Up’Do’s and Buns
Let me just be honest, I have never learned how to do my hair up. Freakz ‘N Geekz does a wonderful job with up-do’s, so I’m going to cross my fingers and hopes she’s willing to guest blog soon. 🙂

Braided Updo1 (front)

Braided Updo: Profile

Braided Updo: back

Braided Bun: Side and back