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Going Natural- Q&A   An interview with Ahmeenah, a natural hair technician

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Ahmeenah w/ Braids Unlimited, 879 Ralph D Abernathy Blvd, Atlanta GA - 404.752-5194....  Specialize in natural hair maintenance and styling

Q. How long have you been natural?

7yrs going on 8

Q. How difficult or easy was it for you to go through the transition from perm to natural hair?

It was strange, I wouldn't say it was difficult.    I never dealt with natural hair before.  I didn't have a lot of breakage or anything like that but it was the whole new learning experience.

Q. Was it the maintenance?

The maintenance and trying to figure out what to do with it in between touch-ups.

Q. I definitely know what you mean.  What is the most important issue a person has to deal with in making the progression from permed hair to natural as far as the upkeep.

Do not over wash your hair.  You can dry it out if you do (which is) a real problem. Once a month is all you need.  It might sound nasty and all that but I know when you have a perm you tend to wash it more. And just remember a moisturizer, not as much as a shampoo or conditioner but a hair moisturizer is as important as not washing your hair (too much).  You have to keep your hair from being brittle and dry.  So moisturize your hair more so than your scalp.  Unless you have a scalp condition.  But if your scalp can take less oil, just keep your hair moisturized.

Q. What type of moisturizer do you recommend?

Water.  I recommend mixing water with heavy hair grease.  See, I mix up grease that has lanolin and Hot Six Oil and sometimes those are the only two ingredients I use, Hot Six Oil, lanolin and water.  You have to read the labels. Try to stay away from (products with) petroleum.  And what's wrong with petroleum? It dries your scalp out.  It gives you nice glossy look that everybody likes but it's not healthy for your scalp.

Q. What is the one most common mistake people make while going through the perm to natural phase .

I think the most common mistake I see is that a person just cuts their hair because they are frustrated.  You don't have to cut your hair.  What you have to do is maintain it.  And also I see people, sometimes they go to straightening combs when they are growing the perm out.  When you straighten your hair you change the texture just as if you were putting a perm in it.  Because when you look at your hair when you straighten your hair, when you wash your hair it goes straight that's because you have burnt off all the elasticity out.  Instead of chemicals taking it out, you have burnt it out. So when you straighten your hair it's just as detrimental as when you let it go.

 

Q. Now you have an interesting concept on how the perm under the scalp effects the new growth.  Can you explain it?

We all know they did a study about 10 yrs ago on black women specifically who had perm their hair and they went to the continent and got African woman who never put a perm in their hair.  They also did with African Americans here who never put a perm in their hair its just harder to find that here.  They found that African American woman who perm on their hair extensively over a along period of time had a green layer that happened its like the chemicals collect under the surface of your skin, They could not tell you exactly what it was but they did x-rays and cat scans, they could actually see a thin layer green stuff surrounding your scalp.  So that green doesn't just dissipate over a one month two month three month period, it actually take six to seven months for your hair to actually be the texture that it will always be from your perm.  Then it will take years to soften up and get a whole other texture because your body continues to (purge).  I have dealt with a sister's hair specifically, growing their hair out for about two years and you could actually feel the difference in their texture as time goes on.  Because it has to grow threw the perm and go through the goop that's in there it has to go through it.   So when people get happy, I have grown my hair out for two months.  You have to keep going because I can't do anything yet, I can't do everything you want even if you cut it because your texture isn't ready.

Q. So Does it get soft or does it vary per person?

It varies per person.  If you had a silkier straighter texture as a child and then after the perm your hair got harder, it would get back to the silkier straighter texture.  If your hair was long thick and pretty and after you got a perm it was thinner, once the perm is totally out of your system it will get thick again and then it will grow long after a couple of years.

Q. Okay, this is the final but I feel most important question of them all.  When you were younger, what was your opinion of natural hair and how has it changed or has it remained the same?

Natural hair was nasty, I would not dare want natural hair.  My opinion has changed drastically.  About 7 yrs, before  I made the change, a brother asked why do you wear a perm and I said it was because I liked the manageability of the perm.  In actuality it was because I was afraid to be different.  But now its like I am not afraid to be different and I also know it is better for my hair and it is easier to manage my hair now than with a perm.  A perm requires you to go buy the chemicals, curl your hair, if you don't curl your hair you have to pull your hair up in a ponytail, half of the time your hair broke off.  With natural hair if I want to wash it and I choose to wear a fro I can wear a fro, wear two braids, blow dry it or wear it with twist  all over, it's me. I am not a slave of the hot comb, a blow dryer and chemicals.  I am finally free of all of that.