In our first edition of our BlackHairOlogy Hair Stories we bring to you Atlanta resident Dasha Shaw.
Dasha has been natural for 7+ years and she spoke with us about her hair care, life experiences with her hair, and the future of the natural hair movement.
BlackHairOlogy: Can you talk about your hair care routine?
Dasha Shaw: Yeah, absolutely. In terms of my hair care routine, my focus for it is health and growth. I have length goals and more than anything I really want my hair to be healthy.
I make sure to keep that in the forefront of every step of my routine. When it’s wash day, the first thing that I’ll do is pre-poo my hair. I have mostly type 4 hair and so it can get dry and tangly. So I want to make sure that I add a little bit of moisture before I go in with a shampoo. So I will usually do a pre-poo with some type of a cheaper, slippery conditioner, like maybe an Aussie Moist and then after I do that, I’ll leave that in for a little bit just so everything gets a chance to really work and loosen up and then I will hop in the shower and do my shampoo.
I do all of this in sections, do my shampoo. I don’t use any kinds of fancy shampoos because if I do my hair gets build-up really easily. So I make sure to get something that will get all of that off.
After that, I go in with a leave-in conditioner, usually Giovanni’s Direct Leave-in. After my leave-in, I go in with an oil, usually some type of Ayurvedic oil that I’ve made that has got a mixture of different oils and was also soaked in some herbs that I like to use. And then I’ll go in with a cream.
Depending on the time of year it will be a lighter or heavier cream and then I’ll style my hair usually in some types of braids or twists. But I always like to stretch my hair because again, I have type 4 hair and it gets really, really tangly very easily, so I try to keep it stretched at all times.
BlackHairOlogy: What do you see for the future of natural hair?
Dasha Shaw: Well, I really see it becoming increasingly more popular and increasingly more normal. At one point, I think that natural hair was used as more of a political statement. With it now coming back and not so much being a political statement, even though our hair is always politicized, I think with it now being us just embracing ourselves and what we naturally have.
I think that there is going to be a lot more longevity in the natural hair movement of today, because I can see women embracing their natural hair and encouraging young girls and young women to really love their natural hair.
It’s something that’s being instilled in the core of our society. Not as something that’s a political movement or a trend, but as something that is core to be who we are. So I think that there is going to be a lot more longevity and a lot more acceptance of it as well.
BlackHairOlogy: As far as like the winter and the other 3 seasons, are there certain preventive hairstyles that you use? What do you do when the winter comes or summer comes?
Dasha Shaw: Yeah. With winter I definitely use heavier products. Instead of like a lighter butter, like a lighter cream that I might buy at the store, I actually use a homemade shea butter whip that has shea butter, coconut oil and vegetable glycerin in there. And that’s the main thing I use. Anytime that it’s cold outside, I go heavier with my skin moisturizers and my hair moisturizers. That’s because I really want to make sure that that moisture is locked in because there is not much moisture in the air in the winter time and my hair gets easily dried out.
I have hats that have satin on the inside of them. So when I, maybe I’m rocking my twists, I can throw a hat over it as well without frizzing or damaging my hair at all. So I will make more use of things like hats, but I kind of make sure that again, my hair is just tucked away as often as possible, especially the ends.
BlackHairOlogy: You mentioned earlier that you use a homemade shea butter. How did you come up with the ingredients? What made you choose and what made you stick with it?
Dasha Shaw: That’s a great question. I actually didn’t come up with those ingredients so long before I was natural, my granny, she has been natural my entire life. I’m 25 and she has been natural since before I was born. I don’t know. I remember one day just looking at her hair and looking at how long and beautiful it was. I said, “Granny, how do you grow your hair so long? How is your hair so thick? Your hair is beautiful”.
She always used this shea butter. I remember when I was still getting relaxers, she would tell me all the time like, “You need to stop putting that stuff in your hair. You need to stop putting that stuff in your hair. Your hair is beautiful. You need to wear it this way”. She would try to get me to use that Shea butter mixed, but with my relaxed hair and wearing it straight it just didn’t work. It was too heavy. And so I never used it.
But when I went natural finally, and she was a huge part of what made me go natural, because I was tired of having short, damaged, broken off hair, shorter than I knew it could be. So I started using that.
She is the one that came up with the ingredients. Of course, since going natural, I’ve learned a lot about ingredients and how shea butter really helps moisturize and vegetable, glycerin is a humectant and helps to draw moisture into your hair. And then of course, coconut oil is really good for sealing in that moisture as is the shea butter itself.
I always make sure I have a water-base leave in conditioners first and then I use that just to top everything off and make sure that that moisture is really staying in my hair and it works extremely well for me.
BlackHairOlogy: What are your experiences in corporate America with your natural hair?
Dasha Shaw: I had one coworker who every time I had a news hairstyle he would be like, “Okay, so on a scale from 1 to 10, how difficult was that one?”
The hairstyles that were more intricate, he always thought were easy. And then the hairstyles that were easy, he always thought were more intricate. So it was always an interesting thing to play. But I usually mostly got positive feedback.
I think that people understand that my hair is something that’s important to me and something that I take pride in and I wear it with confidence.
I think the biggest thing in the workplace for me has been just being confident in my hair and who I am and understanding that other people are different and their hair is different, but my hair is pretty phenomenal. And so I’m going to show it off. I think because I have that approach and that mental approach, people usually have very… It’s received quite positively.
I have some friends where they are not allowed to wear certain twists or head wraps or whatever to work. But that has never been the case for me. I refuse to work in an environment in which that’s unacceptable, if that makes sense. So I’ve never put myself in a position to where I just can’t wear certain natural hairstyles.