1. What's your name and where are you from?
My name is Kharyzma Raphael and I'm from New York City, USA.
2. What is your hair type?
I have never put a type on my hair because that entire system has always been confusing to me. I also think that there is too much division amongst the natural hair community with all of this hair typing. I would guess that from what I’ve heard, and seen on YouTube, I’m mainly in the 4’s, however, I have a range of hair textures on my head. I can say that the back middle section has a more loose texture where my hair is also softer. Then the left and right sides of the back are looser than the front. My crown is the most course/dry area, it is also the most fragile. My front sections are cotton like and more tightly coiled than the back sections. So I would guess mainly 4a/4b with a small section of 3c in the back.
3. When did you go natural and what made you do it?
I started transitioning in 2007 and then by 2010 I cut off whatever remaining relaxed ends that I had. I decided to go natural because I have always loved natural hair. Even when I was relaxed, I always knew that deep in my heart that I would one day return to wearing my hair natural. A horrible home relaxer application confirmed my decision to return to my natural hair. Then when I found the YouTube community in 2009 that encouraged me even more.
4. What was the most challenging thing about going natural?
At first it was finding hairstyles that would fit into my schedule. I had gotten so used to my relaxed hair regimen, as well as wearing fake ponytails, which were very easy to put in and take out. Then when transitioning to maintaining natural hair, I had to make the adjustment to allow more time for styling my hair. I have also had to construct a hair regimen that involved low manipulation.
5. What is your weekly regimen?
My weekly regimen depends on the style that I’m wearing. If I am wearing my hair loose during the week, for example braid outs, or a bun, (I consider a bun loose because it’s not braided). I would usually wash, condition, then air dry. I always prep my hair for detangling by using a mid priced conditioner to saturate my hair. I put on a plastic cap and let the conditioner sit on it. Then when I’m ready to detangle, my hair is super soft. I detangle with a wide tooth comb. I braid my hair in sections making sure to leave space between the scalp and the braid. I shampoo my hair in big braids and I focus mainly on the scalp. I follow with a deep conditioner. Then after the deep conditioner, I add my leave in, and seal with grapeseed oil, and air dry. Depending on my hairs needs, I may co wash instead of using shampoo. I always try to maintain a moisture/protein balance by paying attention to my hair. If my hair feels weak, then I know it needs more protein. If my hair feels too hard, most likely I have protein overload and need more moisture.
6. What is your daily morning regimen?
In the morning, I usually remove my scarf, and if I had braids in for a braid out, I remove the braids and wear either bun, ponytail or braid out. My hair is usually well moisturized in the morning due to my nightly regimen.
7. What is your daily night time regimen?
At night, I would normally apply coconut oil to my hair, and my homemade Jamaican Black Castor Oil to my scalp. If my hair feels dry, I will spritz with water and add a small amount of my leave in and seal with Coconut oil or Vatika Oil which is the Indian enriched Coconut Oil. If wearing my hair loose, I braid my hair in prep for a braid out in the morning, and tie my hair with a silk scarf. If my hair is in braids or twists, I just add coconut oil and tie with my silk scarf.
8. Do you use heat on your hair at all?
I blow dry my hair on average 3 times per year. I’ve only lightly flat ironed my hair twice during my natural hair journey. Once in 2011 and in 2013. I plan to flat iron after I reach my goal of 16 inches. I don’t want to risk any heat damage before then.
9. Do you braid your hair? If so, how often do you do so in a year?
I started my natural hair journey doing all types of braided styles and twists. As my hair got longer, I didn’t have patience to do braids and twists anymore and chose to wear low manipulation styles like buns, or the tuck and roll style or braid outs. More recently in 2015, I have returned to braiding, cornrows and flat twisting because I am doing a protective hair style challenge in order to retain more length. My goal is to reach 16 inches of hair this year. My hair is currently 11, 12 and 13 inches. I will be braiding or twisting my hair one to two times per month.
10. Wide-tooth comb or Denman brush?
I definitely use a wide tooth comb. I have been scared of Denman brushes since childhood, lol. I remember experimenting with them as a child and getting my hair all tangled up in them. Then ,my experience with it as an adult was just the same, so I vow to stay away from the Denman…lol It’s just not my type of brush. Wide tooth combs are my friends J
11. Is your hair normally loose or in a protective-do?
Oh, most definitely always in a protective do. As it gets longer, I find myself just wanting my hair protected and tucked away. But then there are the days when I want to see my hair, and show it off when I feel that it has been hiding for too long.
12. Have you ever had a hair tragedy? What was it? How did you recover from it?
Yes, I have only had one hair tragedy, which confirmed my decision to go natural. I am a performing artist. I sing, act, dance and write. One evening in 2006 I was in a play called “Choices”. It was opening night, and my hair was relaxed at that time. I decided to do a touch up myself at home. I’ve done them in the past for myself and friends as well as family members, and I have always had great results. I was that one who always knew how to do hair so everyone would come to me. Anyway, that particular evening I was very nervous and I guess I wasn’t thinking straight. I just knew that I was overly focused on wanting my hair to look “really nice”. My mom always had a habit of saving left over relaxer in the refrigerator, and I did that as well since I learned from her that it was OK to do. However, after doing research I learned that you should discard any remainder of the relaxer if it is the one that you mix with activator. Long story short, I used some left over relaxer that I had stored in the fridge, and when that ran out, I opened the new box of relaxer. However, the new box was a different brand of relaxer than the one that I had stored in the fridge. I began to apply the new relaxer to my hair. I didn’t mix them on the same section of hair, I just applied the new relaxer to the parts of my hair that didn’t have relaxer. So I rinsed out the relaxer, and all was well, so I thought. When I went to look in the mirror I noticed that my edges were gone, and patches of my hair were also gone. My hair fell out sort of in a Mohawk style. I was DEVASTATED, because not only did my hair fall out, but I had a performance that same night in a matter of hours. I couldn’t be mad at anyone but myself. I freaked out, and didn’t know what to do! I then decided to wear one of my fake ponytails. I wore it in a high ponytail so that when the length of the hair came down, it covered up my missing edges. I got away with it that evening, but after that incident I vowed to myself that I was DONE with relaxer! I realized that if I had just accepted my own hair as beautiful and good enough, I wouldn’t be overly concerned about applying relaxer to it in order for my hair to “look nice”. I recovered from this mishap by using weaves as my protective style and fake ponytails until my natural hair grew out.
13. What's your biggest tip for maintaining healthy or long hair?
My biggest tip is to build a regimen for YOURSELF that includes a regular wash, condition, deep conditioning routine, trims, and protective styling/ low maintenance styling. Don’t be so quick to follow what everyone else is doing. You may get inspired to try something, but don’t be afraid to tweak it to cater to your own hair’s needs. When you find a regimen that works, stick with it. Give yourself time to see the results. Also, keep a hair journal in order to set goals and track your progress.
14. Where can we find you online? (blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc).
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