During my transition from my relaxed hair to my big chop I chose Taji Shabu, a natural hairstylist in Raleigh, NC to be my stylist of choice. I chose her not only because of her many years of experience and her expansive knowledge in natural hair care maintenance & styling but also because of her warm personality and passion for pleasing her customers.
I recently had an opportunity to interview her to get some tips regarding natural hair maintenance at home.
NN: What are the mistakes that you see women with natural hair make when maintaining their hair?
TS:What I’ve seen with women who do a big chop or a semi-big chop is that they tend to wash their hair every day, causing it hair to dry out. I would recommend that if you feel the need to add water to your hair daily, use a water, glycerin, castor oil & essential oil mix spray or let the shower mist to dampen your hair. With women who have opted for a longer transition (a year or more), I’ve seen damage done to the hair with the use oftools that were used when they were relaxed (ex. Small tooth combs) or using products better suited for relaxed hair.I’ve also seen newly natural women complain of dry hair when it’s really not.Curly hair has a different feel and texture than straight hair.Dry hair is crunchy or brittle.I’ve also seen them confuse the lack of “shine” with dryness.Some don’t understand that curly hair absorbs light rather than reflect light like straight hair which gives the appearance of shine.
NN:Any must have products that you believe women with natural hair should have in their arsenal?
TS:What I believe is less is more.You need a good SLS free shampoo, a high slip conditioner, an oil, & a good leave in conditioner.The rest are just styling products.Some of my favorite oils are coconut, avocado and Moroccan Argon oil.A good starter shampoo is Dr. Bronner’s Castile Peppermint.Herbal Essences Hello Hydration is a good conditioner for co-washing.Kinky Curly Knot Today is a preferred leave in.I also don’t mind endorsing a few product lines.A product line that I like is Ohm Body.It’s sold online and the website iswww.goingohm.com.Blended Beauty is also an excellent line and there are alsoproducts for children. The website is http://www.blendedbeauty.com/ .Silk Shake is a favorite for everyday use for a daily moisturizer.
NN:What advice would you give newly naturals on not becoming a product junkie?
TS:Whether a product is sold locally or on the internet, try to get samples sizes (2 oz.) first before you buy the full sized (8 oz or greater) container.If you have friends who are going natural around the same time you are, buy products together and share them instead of buying alone.Lastly, utilize product swaps through your local natural hair meetups.If there are hair shows in your area, you can get the free product samples from there.
NN:What words of encouragement can you share to those who are nervous about embracing their natural hair or are already natural and feeling frustrated about caring for their hair?
TS:Sometimes people get caught up in the natural hair movement or because it’s in style.There’s nothing wrong with that but what I choose to focus on #1 is it’s healthier for your hair.Removing the chemicals from your hair and scalp is just flat out healthier for your hair and scalp.Let that be your main reason for going natural.In addition to the words that I use I also arm them with images.Not everyone has a supportive environment that will like their decision.I can’t change for them the reactions that people may have (i.e. spouses, individuals at work). But what I can do is provide them with beautiful images of different natural hair textures & styles.I often refer customers to http://www.blackwomennaturalhairstyles.com/ .This website features professional and candid shots of various natural hairstyles.I have also organized all the natural hair magazines I have into a huge binder that I show patrons. I find that sometimes images are more powerful than words when it comes to changing women's perceptions of beauty as it relates to their hair.
NN: So share with us what things are on the horizon for Taji's Natural Hair Styling?
TS: My new salon is opening up on April 2, 2011 & my goal is to be the best natural hair styling salon in the Triangle area. My new location will be 2200 E. Millbrook Rd. Ste. 122, Raleigh, NC.I plan to provide extra perks to my customers to enhance their salon experience such as massaging shampoo chairs.My sister Mabinti and I will be adding on options to the list of services that address scalp issues.I like to compare the scalp to soil; without healthy soil, the plants aren’t healthy.Similarly I believe, without a healthy scalp, your hair won’t be healthy.We will be partnering to develop treatments that address these issues. We also will be adding coloring options: traditional & henna, as well as another natural color option.
Taji has been natural all of her life and has more than 13 years of natural hair care experience. She is constantly expanding her knowledge and list of services so that she can provide the most comprehensive and up to date hair care experience. She has experience in all stages of natural hair whether transitioning, big chop/twa, locks, or established natural hair with sustained length. See her expansive gallery of past clients to see her work. Her website is http://www.tajishabu.com/.