Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Interview: Beauty Queen goes Natural...

(my apologies for all the text drama that's happening in this interview but I just don't know how to fix it. Help!)


For all who live in the Cayman Islands, the name Nicosia Lawson rings a very loud bell. On 23 August 2008, Miss Lawson was crowned Miss Cayman Islands 2008 where she would later compete in the Miss World and Miss Universe competitions. She held the title of Miss Cayman Islands for a very fun-filled and long 2 years.

This 5ft 8in beauty happens to be my sister (born of separate parents but my sister nonetheless) who quickly gained that title after she fell in love with the makeup that I did on her for the first Cayman Fashion Solstice in 2010.

Today, I get to share my sister's hair journey with you; one which is viewed as unusual  for a beauty queen.

Me: How long have you been natural?
NL: I have been natural (no relaxed ends) since 17 March 2012 but my last relaxer was 3 December 2011.

Me: What inspired you to go natural?
NL: I considered going back to my natural hair texture in 2010 after I crowned my Miss Cayman Islands successor, but it wasn’t until December 2011 that I made a decision that would eventually lead me back to considering it. In early December 2011, I decided to lengthen the period of time between my hair relaxers (i.e. stretch the relaxer). Why? Because my hair was starting to show the signs of damage after a couple years of constant heating and frequent relaxers.   

Upon entering the world of pageantry, I was introduced to hair extensions. Just for those who do not know, the difference between hair extensions and a weave is that my hair was not braided but rather exposed and blended in with added hair. So since my hair was kept out, I had to flat iron it almost daily for it to blend with the much straighter texture of the extensions. I also went from getting a relaxer every 3 to 4 months to every 6 to 8 weeks once again, to minimize the visibility of the two different hair textures. Though it was still growing, my hair began to show the effects of frequent relaxing.

I wanted to do away with extensions but knew I needed to get my hair back to a healthy state. Furthermore, whilst I liked having longer and fuller hair, I never really enjoyed wearing extensions consistently for such an extensive period of time (approximately 3 years though there were small periods where I wore my hair on its own).

So, I began to research tips on caring for my hair during the “stretch” and more and more I started to want to do away with hair relaxers. I always wished I didn’t “have” to wear a relaxer (I used the word have because that’s how it felt since getting a relaxer was the norm and those who wore their natural hair texture were seen as old-fashioned or a radical Christian). Furthermore, the majority of those who did wear their natural hair texture styled their hair in what I saw as unfashionable styles and at the time I wasn’t aware of the various cute and sassy ways natural hair can be styled and especially how to care for it.

So with more knowledge including watching Chris Rock’s Good Hair documentary I decided to avoid hair relaxers all together and transition back to my natural hair texture. I set out to transition for 6 months to 1 year but I barely made it halfway.

Me: What were your biggest fears/ concerns (if any) about going natural?
NL: In 2010 I didn’t start the journey because I had become used to having extensions and with being in the spotlight, I somewhat feared not being accepted especially in the media/ television field.  However this time around, though those fears resurfaced, my desire to start this journey helped me to overcome those fears.  Another of my concerns was that I didn’t have a lot of new growth and I didn’t want a super short hairstyle because I didn’t think very short hair would suit me (hence why I originally chose to transition).

Me: Did you big chop or transition?
NL: I big chopped 3 ½ months into my transitioning period. I was anxious to see my natural tresses and it got to the point where I’d go to sleep with the desire to cut the relaxed ends off and wake up with the same thing on my mind. Also I wanted to be free from the stress of caring for two different hair textures – the relaxed ends and the relaxer-free roots – because you have to be very careful when handling your hair at this stage that it doesn’t break or split and cause damage to your relaxer-free growth.

One morning after going to bed with the thought on my mind and waking up with the same feeling, I did it! – I cut it myself. It was around 6AM and I wanted to call someone, anyone and talk it over with them as I was anxious, nervous, scared, because I knew once it was cut, that’s it! But I pulled myself together and realised that it is what I really wanted to do and the desire was not going away. Once it was done I felt absolutely liberated and for that reason I am happy I didn’t go to a hairdresser so I could have that experience.

Me: If you transitioned, then how? (Weave, braids, wig, etc)
NL: During the 3 ½ months of my transition I wore clip in extensions when I first relaxed my hair but when I started to get new growth I predominantly wore my hair in a bun alternating the position of the bun to avoid damage to my hair and I also did flat-twist-outs.

Me: How do you maintain your natural hair/ what is your hair regimen (daily, weekly, monthly)?
NL: I’m still working on my regimen; trying to find what works for me so how I maintain my hair changes ever so often. At the moment, my hair is too short to do anything much to it (it’s at the TWA – teeny weeny afro – stage).

In the first week, I wash and go daily using shampoo and conditioner, applied Cantu Shea Butter leave-in conditioner to towel dried hair then my hair oils (Jamaican Black Castor Oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil) to seal the moisture in before applying Ecostyler gel to define my curls. Then I let it air dry. And I’d deep conditioner weekly. 

Since then I’ve started the Curly Girl Method, meaning I do not use shampoo on a regular basis because it strips the hair of moisture. Instead, I wash with Tresemme Naturals Nourishing Moisturising silicone-free conditioner twice per week, (sometimes more) and apply the KimmayTube leave-in conditioner recipe (substituting Kinky Curly Knot Today with A’kin Lavender & Anthyllis 24 Hour Intensive Moisture Leave-In Conditioner which is an organic product). Once per month, or whenever I feel I have product build-up, I use the low sulfate shampoo from Tresemme Naturals (when this finishes I intend to get the A’kin organic shampoo). If I’m heading out I’ll add a little oil and then Ecostyler gel to define my curls and let it air-dry. I do not apply heat to my hair anymore. The last time I used a flat iron was New Years Eve 2011 but I have used a blowdryer about 3 or 4 times for the year (before my big chop). At nights I wear a satin cap and in the morning I refresh my hair with a water, oil and glycerin mixture I made. Of course this “routine” will most likely change as my hair grows out.

Me: What is/ are your natural hair goal(s)?
NL: My goal is to have healthy hair first and foremost, and then at least arm-pit length hair (un-stretched).

Me: Are you a member of any natural hair group? If so, which one(s)?
NL: Thanks to a certain someone, hint, hint (my sister, Olivia of Shades Professional Make-up), I’m a member of the Natural Hair group on Facebook and I frequently visit many natural and curly hair care websites.

Me: List 3-5 of your favorite natural hair products? How do you use them? (include frequency of use)
NL: Water!!!! – I love spraying my hair with water when I wake up, before I go to bed, even in the middle of the day. It’s the best moisturiser that exists! I laugh at the days when I had a relaxer and was afraid to get my hair wet before wash day or too soon after.
Jamaican Black Castor Oil – This has really helped to thicken some areas of my hair that were troubled when I use to relax my hair. It really works, at least it does for me. I also mix it with my leave-in conditioner (I use the KimmayTube recipe) and sometimes add it to my deep conditioner.

100% Coconut oil – I love this. I don’t only use it in my hair but also as a moisturiser for my face and body. It works wonders! I plan on buying the extra virgin coconut oil when this batch finishes.
Thankfully I am not a product junkie, at least not yet (that may change when my hair grows out)

Me: How has your natural hair journey been since you went natural?
NL: Honestly there hasn’t been much to it since my hair is still very short.  The hardest thing is remaining patient since I want my hair to grow out. The bloggers & vloggers I follow make me anxious to have longer hair so I can try their creative styles. 

Me: What are your favorite hairstyles?
NL:  Right now with a TWA all I can do is a wash-and-go but I cannot wait to try so many styles like braid/twist-outs, bantu knot-outs, fro-hawks, puffs etc when my hair grows out.


Me: As a former pageant title holder (Miss Cayman Islands 2008-2010), what type of feedback have you received about your hair?
NL: The response has been positive so far.  I’ve been told by quite a few persons that I “have the face for it”.  But, of course, not everyone is going to like my decision, but that’s the whole point, it’s MY decision and I’m happy with it and wish I’d done it ages ago!  I’m loving the naturally kinky, coily, curly me!


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