Vol. 02 Hair Diaries X No Knot co
What is your hair type?
My hair type is 4C! I have a bit of 4B at the front, but mainly 4C.
How would you describe your relationship with your hair growing up in comparison to now?
I feel like growing up, coming from Africa-our parents didn't really know how to take care of our hair so much. They relaxed it because that was the easy way out. So, growing up, I didn't know my hair type at all, my mum would always relax my hair. And then I think I started watching YouTube videos. And I was like, wait my hair can be curly? What? People can have curly hair, like I can have this?
I think 2015 is when I got [my] big chop. And I literally chopped it all off. My mom did it for me actually and from then it was such a struggle. Learning to actually love myself for my hair type because growing up seeing pictures of hair, I thought I'd get like 3A hair. I realise now I have coarse hair, it’s quite tough [and can be] hard to manipulate. It was a tough journey. Thankfully now I'm seeing how to love and care for my hair. But at the start it was definitely really difficult. Also, having friends that take care of their hair really helped me get through the struggle. My sister got her big chop at the same time as me.
With hair journeys, you have to just remember that it is your hair. What works for someone else is not gonna work with you. So yeah, that's what I had to remember. It’s been tough, but it's all about self-love, honestly.
Did you ever feel pressured to straighten/relax your hair? And where did those pressures come from?
Not so much straightening my hair, because growing up, my hair was already straight because it was relaxed, but to continue relaxing it...I did feel pressured!
One because, that's what I was used to. So, I was like, if I don't do this, then what else is there? And also, I think around the media as well. We're seeing straight hair a lot of the time. I think natural hair wasn't that widely shown in the media. I felt pressured to just try and adapt to what I was seeing as a little girl growing up.
When I started my Instagram, I started off by doing natural hair videos, and that's how I kind of built my page. That is what I started doing because that's why my name Elvira Styles, [stood for] like styling hair. The title was there, so then I rebranded myself to do more of a lifestyle page. But it all started with hair and I was just doing hairstyles, braids, protective styles. And I feel like in the UK there aren't as many people doing this, because my audience came from America. The natural hair community is so big there. But in the UK, there's not as much of a natural hair community, it’s not as big here. And I really, really would like to see a change for that in future.
What would you say are your top 3 go-to hair products?
1. I can't live without my gummy hair gel. But it just works on my baby 4C hair. When I found that I was like, listen, I'm keeping you!
2. Another thing I'd say because 4C hair is so tight, quality hair clips you know those hair clips? After wash day, it's so hard to really get in there. So, the clips really separate my hair, that is so useful for me!!
What natural hair tips/advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell her, "it's okay, patience." That's the number one thing, because it's so easy to look at other people but everyone’s hair is different. At the end of the day everyone's [hair] grows at different lengths, and it’s okay, patience. Know that your hair is different from so and so’s, your sisters, your friends. So just be patient in your journey and stay in your lane. Because looking at other people is not gonna make your hair grow faster. Calm down, eat well, and have patience. It’s a journey.
As I've said, before, it's about self-love, it's what God has given you. This will be your forever kind of thing. And no matter what kind of chemicals you put in your hair, like relaxers or perming your hair, it doesn't change your genetics. Your hair is still gonna grow whether you chemically change it. So, patience and self-love will take you so far. And you're born like this. So why not love yourself as is?
When growing up, did you have any role models at all?
I would have to say @nappyfu. I think she had 4C hair; I think 4 B? And it was really weird for me to go on YouTube and see someone with possibly my hair type. Her hair was quite long, showing different styles, how she takes care of her hair, like wow, the natural hair community in America really influenced me to big chop [my hair]. I was like, wow, I could do this. I could have this hair. Let me try and see what the possibilities could be. So, it really did get me to big chop and just embark on that journey of self-love for my hair.
What steps do you take to keep your hair healthy?
How long does it typically take for you to wash your hair?
Ohh my God it is long!! Especially, let’s say from a protective hairstyle- if I had braids in it's like taking that off first. So that's a few hours to take off. But I'd say once I've undone my hair and I've decided that I'm going to wash it-because it's a journey!
First thing I do is, I put conditioner in I'd like to condition and then leave it in, put a mask on and I'll listen to music or do something, just try to ease my way to the long process.
Then section the hair, [use] clips, and then go [in]to the shower, obviously wash it out. And I'll shampoo the hair. Wash out the shampoo, then condition [it] again. And then I like to leave it a little bit. Then wash it out and come out [of the] shower. Then, because my hair shrinks a lot- shrinkage is so common for loads of hair types. Mines, like so drastic-I think for like 4C hair. So, shrinkage is so hard within a wash day because when it's wet, it's so tight.
So, I like separating it and then moisturising it-the clips again come in handy. So, I have this section of my hair and then apply their essential oils. I like to use Argan oil, Jamaican black castor oil as well. But first I use water-based products. And I use oils to like lock in that moisture. And I'm listening to music right at this point! Then it’s about the protective hairstyle. So, when I'm usually doing wash days towards the evening- so I know that when I sleep and I wake up in the morning, I can just style my hair.
Usually what I do is probably cornrows, depending upon my nails. Maybe I’d just do headbands and just do sections and maybe just plait it upwards or something and just put my bonnet on and sleep. Wake up and style it but I make sure I stretch it!! I have to stretch my hair because the next day when I wake up it looks like a Rottweiler or something because it is [has] shrunk. I just cannot function with it. So yeah, I make sure to moisturise. Stretch it, so [in] the morning I can style it how I like!!
What kind of protective styles do you use and which ones are your favourite?
My mom is really good at doing protective styles. She's really good at styling hair. So, I was fortunate that every time I wanted to do a hairstyle I'll have my mom. And I'll be like mum can you do my hair for me? Growing up, I had braids that I liked 90% of the time.
With my natural hair journey it wasn’t like that, when accepting my hair, it was just covering it up with a protective style. And I feel like you have to understand why you're doing it. Is it because you're trying to protect your hair? Or is it because you’re just trying to avoid it? And at the start, I think it was more avoidance and now I've grown out of that and it's more like I'm actually trying to protect it. It's become the purpose of what I've wanted. So yeah, at the start it was much more [about] braids. . So, I'll just show her [my mum] any hairstyles, and she’s like okay, let's do it, sit down!! Then 5 hours later I'm done!!
Sometimes I do [hair] clip-ins, I recently just did some, which is quite cool. But yeah, mostly been braids. Even at school I went to school with bantu knots. I've just really done it all, like on my Instagram as well. And there's more to come.
What advice would you give to all your fellow curly sisters starting their new natural hair journey?
I think similar to the advice I gave myself. Patience. I think, just have fun. Enjoy it!! I feel like the whole hair type of 4C, 4B, 3, 2, everyone has different kinks. Everyone is different, so have fun with your hair, have fun with your routine! How fun would it be taking care of it? How fun would loving yourself, [and] your hair be? Have fun with the whole journey trying to see the positives in it and try to make friends through it. I definitely met loads of curly hair sisters on Instagram. Just definitely have fun. That's the most important thing.
If you had to choose a song to describe your hair journey, what would it be?
I want to say “I'm a survivor” by Beyoncé [Destiny's Child]. I'm a survivor because it was tough. The short hair, trying to stretch it when you know, there's nothing really there. I definitely am a survivor. When the tears are coming... “I'm not gonna stop. I'm gonna work harder”. I say that song really relates to my hair journey because it wasn't easy. My whole journey about self-love, and you have to just suck it up. It is what you have you're going to have to work with it and you know, you have to love yourself. So yeah, I'm a survivor. I survived it!!