My name is Safiya Rachel Damani and I’m from the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago. I have been natural all my life and have never had a desire to change that. When I was small, my mother would always comb my hair every week for school and since my hair was never really thick (just average), getting my hair combed was never really an issue. Since I was born, my mother has had natural hair and most of my family members’ hair is also natural. In school, children with other hair like mine, but not as long used to always like to play in my hair (I really hated that!) Growing up, I always got the question, ‘If your hair is so long, why don’t you straighten it?’ I never really got the point of straightening my hair though because I always believed I was able to do more things with natural hair. I also love hair styling/ hair design and am currently pusuing a degree in Cosmetology at Pivot Point Academy Trinidad and Tobago.
Me at 4 yrs old.
How long have you been natural?
I have been natural all my life! I have always loved natural hair and will continue to love it.The more I see people with chemically treated hair, the more I feel I should remain natural.
What motivated you to transition? Were you a transitioner or a Big Chopper& why?
Since I was always natural, I never had to transtion or big chop. However, I only seriously started taking care of my hair the right way in 2010 when I began reading up online on how to care for natural hair. I also read books such as Chicoro’s ‘Grow it!’ and Audrey Davis-Sivasothy’s ‘Hair Care Rehab’. Along with this, I watched many YouTube videos on hair care and natural hairstyling. My favorite YouTuber is Naptural85 although her hair isn’t like mine. I have hair more like Kimmytube’s own. I used to like watching her videos too.
How would you describe your hair?
Hmm. My hair has about 2 or 3 different textures, I’m not really sure! LOL. I know my edges/ hairline is the kinkiest part. There are ‘O’ shaped curls around my edges and at the exterior area of my head while there are ‘S’ and ‘L’ curls everywhere else. My hair is soft and frizzes easily. The top lays down easily and gets a wave when I put gel whereas the sides are harder to lay down flat and I can’t get waves there to save my life! Lol. My hair has the tendancy to shrink up to about half it’s length which I’m not bothered by actually. Since my hair isn’t thick, the shrinkage gives my hair body and I love that about it.
What do you love most about your hair?
There are so many things I love about my hair! As I said before I love the shrinkage because it gives my hair body. I also like that it’s not too thick so that when I put braids in it it doesn’t look too bulky. I love the length of it. It gives me various style options and because it has good elasticity, it can look short at times as well!
What has been the most memorable part of your journey?Has it been easy or difficult or both?!
Well I don’t think it’s necessarily easy, nor is it totally difficult. It is only because I love my hair so much I get the strength to care for it. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s hard to get a move on at the beginning of wash day but because I love my hair so much and I don’t want any setbacks, I try my best to treat it the best that I can. The most memorable part of my journey was when I trimmed off about 3 inches of my hair in 2010 because of split/dry ends caused by chlorinated water. The majority of my hair was about 14” after that trim. The majority of it is now aproximately 20-24” long.
My favorite hairstyles are 2 strands twists or box braids. They are definitely my go-to styles when I want a style that would last for about 2 weeks-2 months depending on what size I do it and how much patience I have. Braids is a very good style for transitioners though. It hides the two textures of the natural and chemically treated hair while giving you a neat new look.
I have never got any negative reactions from my family in terms of choosing to remain natural. I figure this is because most of my extended family is natural as well. One thing though I always get notcied for is when I go out with my hair in a huge puff. Men always have something to say. Positive things. I don’t know what it is but I find I get noticed more when my hair is in a huge puff. I do not need all that attention though so I avoid wearing my hair like that. Also by doing so, I avoid the crazy detangling session that comes after I wear a puff for just a day. It is the worst!!!
What do men think of your hair?
From my experience, Caribbean men prefer natural hair over relaxed or permed hair. That’s all I have to say on that 🙂
What is your hair regimen (including fav products)?
Oh my, my hair regimen is really something else! I try to minimise manipulating my hair as much as possible first of all. I firmly believe that length retention has more to do with how you treat your hair with your hands and mechanical devices rather than the products you put in it. On wash day I previously would section my hair into about 10 sections. Now however I only section my hair into 2 with a part straight down the middle. Before I go to the shower I thoroughly detangle my hair with my fingers then prepare 3 dispenser bottles. One with ¼ Apple Cider Vinegar to ¾ water, one with ¼ Tresemme Naturals Shampoo to ¾ water and the last bottle with Tresemme Naturals Conditioner mixed with a little water and olive oil (just because I feel like it and I think it give my hair more slip. I mix water in my shampoo so that the shampoo can go through my hair easier and also so that the shampoo doesn’t totally dry out my hair/ take out all the natural oils from it. I hate crunchy hair!
When applying each mixture to my hair I put it all over my hair and scalp using the dispenser bottle then pass my hands (palm to palm) over my hair applying pressure as I pass my hands down the section from root to ends. At this point, I don’t pass my hands through my hair, just over it. After I’ve finished applying the 3 mixtures to my hair in the shower and rinsing them out, I further section each of the 2 sections into 3 so that I have six big twists/ plaits in my hair. Before I palit/twist each section, I detangle it again with my fingers and then proceed to twisting it.
Right after this I apply my deep conditioner to each section of my hair and distribute it through my hair using a wide tooth shampoo comb. I then put a shower cap on my hair and leave it for 45 mins to an hour for the DC to work it’s magic in my hair. I then rinse this out of my hair and squeeze as much water as possible out of hair. Right after this I apply raw unrefined shea butter and various different oils to my hair to lock in the water that was left from when I rinsed out the DC. I loose each section to apply the shea butter and oils, ensure that each section is thoroughly detangled using my fingers again and then twist it back up. By this time I am usually too tired to do anything else so I relax for the rest of the evening and put my hair in a protective style the next day. If I do the whole wash process in the morning I may twist my hair in the evening. It all depends on how I feel and how much time I have but I never really go out with my hair brushed back in one right after a wash. That’s a recipe for major tangling. I hardly ever use brushes and combs in my hair and my detangling sessions can go from 2-6 hours because of this but I don’t mind because look, all my hard work is paying off!
I spray my hair with water daily (or when I remember and use oils to lock in the moisture. I don’t put oils everyday though. I hate how oils feel so I usually have to prepare my mind before I go to rub that in my hands to put on my hair.
I have no favorite products really. I like a lot of raw stuff. Like olive oil and shea butter. I don’t endorse products really since as I said before that length retantion has more to do with how you treat your hair with your hands rather than the products you put in it. I like using Eco Styler gel for my 2 strand twists though. They make the twists really pop.
What are some of your favorite natural hair websites,YouTuber’s, or blogs?
I like Naptural85. She is the best! My life is really busy at the moment so I can’t keep up with the others too much like ‘JustCallMeVee’, ‘NikkiMae’ and ‘SimplYounique’ but they are good as well. I like the Black girl Long hair website as well.
Anything you want the readers to know? Inspirational words?
Enjoy your hair as it grows! Forget the long hair. Treat your hair well and it will come eventually! When you eventually get the long hair you would realise that you can’t do certain styles anymore so don’t ever complain your hair is too short. There are beautiful styles for each length and for different textures. Love your hair and keep aiming for your goal!
Where can people find you for more information?
I have a page called Safiya’s Creations on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Safiya.sCreations ) where I showcase my work with protective styling for natural hair and braid styles. I also have a Youtube Channel by the same name (SafiyasCreations- https://www.youtube.com/user/SafiyasCreations ) where I offer tips and hairstyle ideas for natural hair and braiding. They can also follow me on Twitter @SafisCreations – https://twitter.com/SafisCreations