1. What's your name and where are you from?
My name is Mariezain Kabba (Marie to some) I am the CEO, founder & Editor In Chief of the thriving UK Natural Hair & Hair Care platform Unconditioned Roots! I originate from West Africa, I was born and temporarily raised in the beautiful country of Sierra Leone, I latter came to the UK and I’ve since spent my years growing up in the city of London Town (though I LOVE to travel!)
2. What is your hair type?
Honestly I have a mixture, predominantly 4C however my curls are rather looser towards the nape and back of my head so I would say a mixture of 4C, 4B & 4A. However, in my opinion hair typing is solely a necessity where it regards helping you to better understand your hair, its hair care and style requirements. Anything after that is rather unnecessary and can spur hair type jealousy and false expectations of what your hair was not designed to look like or do. All hair requires the correct hair care, and nurturing, patience and consistency in order for it to thrive so getting caught up in hair typing can defeat the entire purpose of embracing your natural hair as you can be setting standards and false expectations of your hair to be what it’s not. It can equally transform into another system of divide. For example I could have the exact same hair type as someone else and our hair will react differently to products and hair care regimens. I think it is beneficial for styling, as different hair types hold different styles better than others.
That said there are other hair properties like porosity and thickness that are important to consider but are not specific to any one hair type. Hair typing does not consider, dryness, porosity, strength.. etc it is based on textures. Moreover you rarely find a Black African woman who has solely one hair type on her whole head (I have a few!) more often than not you will find different textures.
3. When did you go natural and what made you do it?
On the 15th November 2012 I decided to do the big chop! When I did this I was partially informed of the natural community but not enough to know what I was doing, I actually honestly didn’t know what the term ‘BIG Chop’ even meant. I was just 100% certain that it was time to get rid of the relaxed hair. I soon fell in love with many Natural Hair Bloggers & Vloggers with varied hair types, textures, lengths, stages, regimens, popularity etc. and these ladies inspired and encouraged me to become intrigued with and discover my UNCONDITIONED ROOTS. So as my thirst for knowledge grew I began to run impatient of my “Transitioning” Roots, I’d transitioned for a few months before deciding to get scissor happy and face the newly natural me.
My hair wasn’t breaking or damaged…I simply cut it because I was curious to see what my natural hair texture was really like! During my Transitioning stages I noticed the vast difference in texture, curl pattern and HEALTH of my hair. My UNCONDITIONED ROOTS were THICKER, DARKER, KINKY & COILY, instantaneously I fell in LOVE and couldn’t wait to witness more; a crown of glory to be exact, one that I couldn’t wait to flaunt with pride!
I must confess however, initially I was sceptical towards how others would receive and accept my new look; almost all my life I’ve had lengthy chemically altered hair so it was a HUGE step for me.
However in the winters of 2012 I got fed up of my curiosity, and relaxed ends and thus made what would be that life changing decision to embark on that battle between physical beauty and personal esteem in a way that defies societal norms…so I went for it… I CUT IT ALL!
November 15th 2012, the evening I cut off my hair, I felt FREE initially. I laughed a little, and then engaged in more laughter to then embody a mixture of emotions; empowerment, shock, doubt, happiness, cultural strength and a sense of belonging. I stood in the bathroom of my University campus room and stared at a reflection unknown to myself and I expressed a huge sigh of relief and SMILED. Although I felt proud and was ready to flaunt my newly found UNCONDITIONED ROOTS I received a mixture of reactions from family and friends, however I was mentally prepared.
I was natural for 11months. With that, after months of care, protective styling and using the right products that I found worked well for my hair, my hair was in the healthiest state it’s ever been, it was FULL, THICK, and FULL of KINKS and COILS and I absolutely loved it! BUT then curiosity got the better of me once again, and I wanted to know what I’d look like with shorter hair. I’ve always known myself to have extremely thinned edges, possibly due to all the chemical processing, tight braids, tight hairstyles and weaves. So I was ready to make the ULTIMATE sacrifice and start from the ABSOLUTE BEGINNING… Yes I was ready to SHAVE it all off!
So on the 10th October 2013 I did my 2nd Big Chop and I SHAVED off my crown of glory and was faced with a new challenge, one of which I did not believe society was ready to receive. Although I actually adored my bald new look, as I believed it further enhanced my beauty and gave me a greater sense of relief as if I had been relieved of a great burden, my family were NOT accepting of my new look but have now grown to love my new hair and have been very supportive. I guess it was the initial shock that threw them away; also having always had a head FULL of hair and then shaving it all off is what possibly spurred a mixture of emotions.
4. What was the most challenging thing about going natural?
The most challenging thing about going natural was accepting that my hair is not difficult to manage but simply different. Accepting my new look, not hiding underneath/behind the familiar weaves and braids etc and embracing my natural hair wholeheartedly. Quilting myself in a sincere cloak of confidence and pride when ROCKING my TWA in a society that was blinded to the beauty of an African woman with REAL Afro hair!
As always, there was the challenge of the few family members and friends who were confused as to why I would choose to be natural, they didn’t understand why I’d exchange the “luxury” of straight ‘easy to manage’ hair for a head full of (in my opinion) BEAUTIFUL, UNIQUE kinks and curls.
Despite some of the negativity, I didn’t let the comments and young ignorance phase me; it motivated me to want to educate myself the more, make sure my hair was in excellent shape at all times and influence and distribute knowledge to other women. There is an abundance of negative misconception and perpetuated myths that some carry about natural “black” hair that being… “Black hair doesn’t/can’t grow long”… “It’s nappy, it’s rough, tough, it’s unkempt, too big, unprofessional, hard to manage, ugly…” the list is endless and yes you guessed it INACCURATE!!!
My greatest support however was my partner, he actually prefers and loves my natural hair, and truth be told he is the initial reason I actually found the confidence to go natural *shy face*. He made me open my mind to the inaccurate expectations of ‘beauty’ that societal norms impose on us, causing us psychological distress as to how our hair ‘should be’. I became aware that accepting myself for ME, in my natural element, is one of the first steps in a victorious consciousness. My self-awareness of this fact coupled with the education, encouragement and inspiration I received from other forums is what greatly helped me overcome the negativity, until this present day.
5. What is your weekly regimen?
My weekly regimen is exceptionally simple, simplicity is the greatest from of sophistication, I love to keep it simple and my hair THANKS me for it. Surprisingly prior to having gone back to my natural tresses I had a severe case of ‘hand in hair syndrome’ LOL (don’t judge me) but now I’m very relaxed about my hair and just let it do as it does and that is to be naturally content and free.
That being said my weekly regimen consists of; daily moisturising and sealing, co-washing every couple of days and a deep condition at the end of the week. I wash my hair once a week using either Hollywood Beauty Argan Shampoo OR Black Soap and every 3-4 weeks I will aim to use a clarifying shampoo to get rid of build up from environmental contaminants and hard water. I co-wash with Herbal Essence Hello Hydration Coconut Conditioner, I deep condition with Hollywood Beauty Argan Conditioner and add some of my DIY Home Made Oil Cocktail (mixture) and occasionally I will steam my hair (my hair LOVES a good steam treatment). After all that I put my hair in some twists slap on a satin/silk scarf and I’m good to go!
6. What is your daily morning regimen?
With my daily morning regimen I simply finger detangle, moisturise and seal my hair, add a leave in conditioner, fluff and go (also applies for when I’ve got a protective style in such as braids).
7. What is your daily night time regimen?
Simplicity yet again! My current night time regimen is pretty much similar to my morning regimen, reason being my hair is still at the TWA stage, a large TWA but nonetheless a TWA. So I simply finger detangle my hair, moisturise and seal my hair, add a leave in conditioner, put my hair in some big twists, and wear my satin/silk scarf or bonnet.
8. Do you use heat on your hair at all?
Currently, I solely use heat on my hair when I’m prepping it for a protective style such as box braids or Senegalese twists; otherwise I’m an air dry kind of girl!
9. Do you braid your hair? If so, how often do you do so in a year?
Yes! I’m a sucker for beautiful braids. I get my hair braided possibly 3 to 4 times a year as I tend to keep my braids in for anything between 4-8weeks.
10. Wide-tooth comb or Denman brush?
Team Wide Tooth Comb!
11. Is your hair normally loose or in a protective-do?
Hmmm I’d say a bit of both. I spend half the year in a protective style and the other half WERKING my fro in all its glory!
12. Have you ever had a hair tragedy? What was it? How did you recover from it?
One too many! However my hair tragedies predominantly stemmed from my relaxer days no surprise there! But during my natural hair journey I’d possibly have to say simply getting my braids done too tightly, resulting in a few strands being pulled out from my edges. Recovering from this simply took patience and correct hair care practice. I stopped the tight braids and moisturize my hair/edges frequently.
13. What's your biggest tip for maintaining healthy or long hair?
MOISTURE MOISTURE MOISTURE! Water is your BEST friend! Learn to incorporate deep conditioning into your weekly regimen and your hair will definitely THANK you for it! And with a generous amount of PATIENCE, correct hair care practices, and consistency your hair will thrive! Ladies do not be discouraged remember it’s not that your hair is difficult to manage, it’s simply different. DO YOUR RESEARCH! Learn and listen to your hair ITS ALL ABOUT Trail & Error!
14. Where can we find you online? (blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc).
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