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by on Aug 10, 2012

Aja, A Natural Beauty

By

Aja 4

Tell us a little about yourself.

Well, my name is Aja and I am a hardcore Jesus freak! Totally sold out for Him all the way! Amen!!! :) I am also a 32 year old wife and mother of a 13 month old girl named Lily-Grace. I am a stay-at-home-mom, and my dear husband, Paul, travels at least 60% of the time, so LG and me get LOTS of quality time together! She is just the bee’s knees!!! In my former life, I was a model for 10 years and a singer-songwriter. My completely inconsequential loves are Anthropologie, Christian music from all over the map and natural hair blogs! And my family and I love to travel, and eat yummy, healthy, good food!

How long have you been natural? What was your inspiration for doing so?

The last time I had any sort of process done to my hair was in September of 2010, just before my wedding. I didn’t go natural purposefully, though. About a month after coming home from our honeymoon, we found out we were pregnant! Surprise, surprise! So, being really natzi-esque about not wanting crazy chemicals around me and my bun in the oven, I stopped messing with my hair and just stuck to blow outs. I got bi-monthly blowouts while I was still modeling, but then around my 6th month of pregnancy when I stopped working, I pretty much stopped with the blowouts too, or at least I cut way down.

I didn’t really discover the natural hair blogs until after Lily was born, maybe around September of 2011..? I got totally sucked in and started protective styling and then chopped off my processed ends, maybe about 3-4 inches, in December of that year, so I haven’t really been 100% natural for even a year yet!

I’d say my biggest inspiration for being natural, by far, has been Lily-Grace. Honestly, sometimes having natural hair takes a lot of getting used to, especially when I was used to wearing long weaves forever for work or having straight, blown out hair and wearing clip ins. But, I could never go back! I am super chemical-free in my way of life and also, I want to be natural for my daughter, so she can see me embracing the hair I was born with. She actually has a MUCH straighter hair texture than me, more like a 2a right now and even if it gets curlier, I highly doubt it will ever get to the 4 range or even past maybe a 3a or so, but I plan to teach her that she is fearfully and wonderfully made by God and that the way He chose to make her hair is the best way and I think the best example of that is embracing MY natural self first!

Aja’s go-to style, a protective updo

Did you have the support of your family, friends, husband?

Actually, my husband is probably the second biggest inspiration for me going natural. First, let me say that he is a handsome, heartthrob and I love him SO MUCH! He represents Scotland, like real Scotland, not Scottish-American, and he’s my real life Braveheart!!! :) He liked my hair when he met me, or how it looked anyway, but he also is all about being natural and embracing what God gives you and on the days when I really feel unattractive and think about getting a blowout, he totally talks me out of it and tells me how beautiful I am and how he loves my hair and I should wear it in a big ‘fro! His favorite style is my wash and go. When I got a Brazilian blowout shortly after we met, he really didn’t like the chemicals, and he has also always been appalled by how much money I’ve spent over the years on weaves and clip-ins and blowouts and all that jazz, just to look like someone I wasn’t meant to be. He is my A+, #1 support and if it wasn’t for him, I’d probably be feeling the wind blowing the hair about my shoulders right now! Haha

 

Did you transition or do the big chop right away? How was that experience?

I guess I sort of transitioned, although I didn’t really know that’s what I was doing. I had about a little more than half natural hair and a little less than half straight, heat damaged ends for a while and my wash and go’s just looked ridiculous! I wore my hair in protective styles and twist outs for a while but I just got tired of it and one day I called up my stylist and asked him to come over and cut the ends off. It was a bit of a shock in the end! I LOVED the style and how popping’ my curls looked, but then when I washed it, I could hardly fit it in a protective style and it was just a little harder to handle, so that made me sad, but I got used to it. Now, 7 months later it’s longer than before.

I did do a REAL big chop years ago when I used to have dread locks. I had them for about 4 years in high school and college and when I started modeling, I couldn’t find an agency and the one I finally found to work with me, wanted me to cut my hair. So I went to a fancy salon and they cut my shoulder length dread locks off and shaved my head! It was very freeing and I was young(er) then and more free- spirited, so I really didn’t mind it. Now I want long hair and my husband prefers long hair, so I don’t think I could go through that process again. I’m getting too old for awkward stages, haha! So I’m glad I experienced that back then and right now, my hair is longer than its ever been (the back is SBL and the front is CBL except for some breakage around my front from braids I had a few months ago and from shedding post pregnancy).

How would you describe your hair? 

I THINK my hair is 3c in the front and back, 4a on the sides and 4b at the crown. The front and back of my hair are SUPER easy to detangle and the middle is a pain so I have to get used to caring for both textures differently. My hair is VERY fine, like, some of my hairs are nearly invisible, and it’s also very porous. I don’t know why since i’m 100% natural with no color, but that’s just the way it is. I have EXTREMELY thick hair but not too big a head, so I guess that’s a good trade off, haha :) I’m interested to see how my hair changes as it grows out.

Aja & Lily Grace

Aja & Lily-Grace

 What’s your current hair regimen?

I am JUST feeling like I am fine-tuning my regimen, so it’s not down pat yet, but I will try my best to explain. Something that keeps coming back into my head is, despite all the info on my beloved blogs, I don’t think natural hair has to be difficult I just don’t think God would have said, “I’m going to create these people with hair that is really difficult to care for,” so I just try to keep that in the back of my mind while reading up on stuff and I try not to become too much of a product junkie. I’m learning from great blogs like Minimalist Beauty, that I can get WONDERFUL results from using lots of natural products!

I generally wash and co wash every other week. I can’t go too long without some kind of washing of my hair though. When I wash I use Minimalist Beauty’s green tea, acv, honey rinse (you can look up her blog for details, it’s great!) and the last time I used it, I actually didn’t need to use a conditioner to detangle! I usually wash my hair in two halves and condition and detangle in at least 6 sections (3 on each side). I do everything in the shower because my hair detangles best with the water running on it. I let the conditioner sit in my hair and pin it up in the sections, while I do my other shower duties and then detangle with the water running over my hair. I LOVE Aubrey Organics White Camellia conditioner and another conditioner by a company called Fleur De Lis, which has protein. I switch between those two and they’re both good for co washing.

When I get out of the shower, I keep my hair in the sections and apply as small an amount as possible that will coat every strand of the AOWC conditioner and then seal. Right now I am using a combo of Shea butter, castor oil and aloe juice to seal. Shea butter can leave my hair greasy, so I’m still trying to figure out the right amount, but I do love how soft it makes my hair and it works great for twist and braid outs. I twist or braid my hair and then pin and tuck all the twists and braids down. Every other day or so I wet my hair in the shower, in the twists and then reapply the sealant and I just do this until the next wash day. If I wear my hair out, it’s only the last day or two before wash day.

I just started experimenting with Cassia as well and I am liking the results. I want to move on to henna but I am a little scared because I’ve never colored my hair and don’t know if I want to. Also with the little one, I’m not into taking on too many time consuming endeavors, but because I have porous, fine hair, I still think its worth looking into and I probably will soon. My husband just offered to help me out, so I’m considering it even more now.

Post cassia, I always deep condition. I had a problem finding a deep conditioner that I didn’t get the heebie geebies from looking at the ingredient list, so today I actually made my own deep conditioner, mixing a 1/2 can of coconut milk, an avocado, 2 tbsps of honey and 2 tbsps of an oil and then baggying it under a scarf all day and it came out AMAZING! My hair was like BUTTER to detangle! So I think I am becoming somewhat of a mixstress as well!

 What’s your go-to hairstyle? 

Usually the parted down the middle, pinned up style I mentioned, but I do like to break it up a little bit. I just discovered that I could bun my hair… I thought it was too thick, so I’ve been playing with that from them to time. I have to put a scarf on my edges for a while in the morning or wear a headband, but after an hour or less it lays down fine. I also LOVE scarves! I really like my big, puffy, soft wash and go ‘fro, and so does my husband, but my hair is getting longer and harder to detangle so I’ve been wearing twist outs and braid outs a lot more, but I seldom wear my hair out at all. Being a stay at home mom makes that easy though.

Aja & Lily-Grace rocking a wash and go

What is the best part of being natural? What has been the most difficult part? 

The best part about being natural is knowing that I am learning to love and embrace and get to know the me that God made me. I also love being able to do everything myself and not having to be a slave to the salon or someone else to do my hair all the time. 10 hour weaves and cold sweats from hot flat irons and all that were really not a good look for me. When I was making money for it, it was ok, but now that it’s just me and the fam, natural just fits my lifestyle. And also, I love the way my daughter’s eyes light up when she sees my big, curly hair! I will never forget when she was a little tiny baby, when she first saw it because before then I had been wearing braids. Her little eyes just lit up and she smiled! And whenever she would see it she would do that! That was the best confidence boost I could ask for!

The worst part is just the whole emotional-psychological issue of having worn my hair a certain way most of my life and being conditioned to see myself that way, especially as a model where you are making your bread and butter based upon how you look, so there is even more at stake with it. I, honestly, don’t feel the same attractiveness sometimes with natural hair, so the encouragement from my husband and friends, most of whom don’t even have curly hair, really help. I just have to learn to listen to what they say and what God says instead of what I tell myself, but I’m learning a lot about life is that way and not just concerning my hair!

I also hate the time consuming nature of it, but as I’m getting more knowledgeable about hair care, it’s getting better. I have to be really careful not to make an idol out of my hair though, because I love the hair blogs and concoctions and reading up on new products and trying different things, so I have to always remind myself, it’s just hair and it’s ok to keep it simple, and that can be a tough lesson to learn at times too, especially when my husband sees the credit card bill or my baby is crying but I couldn’t hear her cuz I was in the shower detangling for too long! Uh oh! :)

You sound like an awesomely “green” mom. You strive to live healthy and natural in all areas of life, making meals or even products from scratch. What inspired you to do this? Do you find it hard to sustain this lifestyle as a wife and mother?

Hmmm… This is a hard question! I have always been pretty healthy. I had to cook for myself from a young age and I have never been a big meat eater, so I have been a vegetarian since I was 13, with some lapses here and there in my late teens. Also, we’re really into a preventative lifestyle because we like to stay away from the doctor and we find a good way to do that is to eat healthy and organic, drink lots of veggie and fruit smoothies and stay active.

It is hard as a mom, but not as hard as it would be if I wasn’t at home. Making meals from scratch is REALLY time consuming, I don’t think most people who don’t do it realize that, but it is. I try to cook big batches and have left overs, so I’m not a slave to the kitchen, but I still spend a lot of time in there. It’s kind of just a personal choice for our family, and luckily my husband and I are both into the same thing. We spend the bulk of our income on food (after rent and living expenses and stuff), but that was a sacrifice we were ready to make because we believe our family is better and more healthy for it. Also, a lot of it just comes from a general distrust of labels on products where I have absolutely no idea what is in them or what the scientific names mean. I just feel a lot more comfortable cooking from scratch cuz then I know what’s in stuff. I’ve been cooking for a long time, so it’s not too difficult. Making Lily’s baby food from scratch was a bit frustrating at first, but I got the hang of it and also, being able to freeze stuff in advance helps a lot. It’s all part of something I wanted to take on as a stay at home mom and it also has a lot to do with scheduling and prioritizing. I aim to keep Christ as the central focus of my day, I get up pretty early, and I try not to be too hard on myself and things seem to fall into place from there.

If you could only use three hair products for the rest of your life, but could have an endless supply of all three, which would you choose?

Ok, this question gives me high blood pressure! I can’t answer, haha! But I do love Aubrey Organics White Camellia conditioner! Hope that helps :)

Any advice for other naturals or those thinking of going natural? Anything else you want to say? 

I’d say, take a look at the natural hair blogs out there first and see what you think! Also check out websites like le coil, with all of those beautiful pictures of natural haired ladies. That’s what really sold me! I saw that and had to show my husband, I had never seen anything like it before!

For me, this is a lifestyle choice and even on the days I’m not feeling my hair, I know I won’t ever process it again, so it’s kind of one of those things where it’s not really an option for me to go there, so I’m not really tempted. I’m a little afraid of even straightening my hair because of the porosity and fineness of my strands and heat damage I’ve gotten in the past, but maybe when it gets a little longer, I’ll dabble, but it will only be, like, once a year, if that!

I guess it took me roughly 32 years of having those other hair styles to get my mind akin to preferring them, so now I’m trying to be lenient with myself and understand that it might take years and years before I prefer my natural hair as well. I know what God prefers though, and that’s me as He created me, although I guess He doesn’t really say that in the Bible, I’m sure He would love me just as much if I wasn’t natural, but I think He loves that I trust what He made enough to embrace it, regardless of what I may feel or think on any given day.

I’d say thanks to all the ladies out there like Curly Nikki, the BGLH ladies, Chai from Back to Curly, Dawn of Minimalist Beauty and you, Hollis, who are out there representing, teaching and really making it a commonplace thing for women to wear their hair naturally. It’s really hard to get my mind around the fact that something so, well, natural, is so seemingly unnatural, but you ladies are all changing that and I think that is a real blessing of a thing for so many women out there!

Oh, ya, and Jesus really really REALLY loves you!!! :)

God bless!

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  • Rachel

    Really inspired by Aja’s story. I too am a Christian and strive to be more like Jesus Christ each day, although I fail miserably my goal is to progress until He makes me perfect once and for all. I really love the fact that she stated she is making an effort to not idolize her hair or turn it into an object of worship, or something that gets so much of her time that Christ takes a backseat. That is great to hear because as I am growing out my hair since my BC by way of sewins I am in the process of taking in lots of info from blogs and books and hair stories so keeping it simple is a goal I have set now before I begin to wear MY hair out. I would like to get into making some of my own conditioners along with keeping a few natural staples when time is limited and I know balancing the time and effort will come with experience, but my goal will be to not allow my hair to become a 2nd job or a burden. My aim will be long and healthy hair. In a way even when I was still relaxed my goal even then was long and healthy hair, I wasn’t concerned about new styles or the latest style, but simply taking care of my hair. I would add highlights to add a little something to my hair but beyond that and outside of the actual relaxer I styled my own hair. Thanks Aja for sharing your story and a little chunk of your life as well.

    God Bless, keep representing our King!