rachelNaturallyCurly: Please introduce yourself!

Rachel Asakome: Hello, my name is Rachel Asakome and I am from Nigeria.  

NC: How and when did you start embracing your curls?

RA: I have been natural for about 5-6 years now. I started truly embracing my curls in August 2011. I went natural because suddenly, all the hair on the back of my head fell off! So in 2008, I decided to cut my hair and let it grow out, so I could relax it again! When I first went natural, I didn’t know what to do…I didn't think that I needed to do anything special, and I treated my hair as if it were relaxed. Then I realized that my hair was growing really slowly and in a search for remedies, I stumbled across a video talking about how natural hair wasn’t considered beautiful. At that point, I decided it was my mission to show everyone just how beautiful kinky curly hair could be. I have fallen in love with my hair and it has responded to my love by growing like crazy!

NC: What's your current routine?

RA: On a wash day, I wash my hair with my homemade rhassoul clay shampoo, then follow with a homemade deep conditioner. My deep conditioners usually consist of shea butter, coconut oil, honey, aloe vera gel, neem oil, argan oil and palm kernel oil. After mixing all the ingredients together, I cover my hair with a plastic cap and sit under the steamer for about 20 minutes. 

I wash my hair every two weeks but in between washes, I condition my hair with pure coconut oil. I also spray it with water and aloe vera juice at least once every two days, depending on how my hair feels. Some days after spritzing my hair, I'll add oil.  

rachelNC: What are your favorite hairstyles to wear with your curls? 

RA: I wear braids occasionally, usually when I have exams! But typically, I just rock updos. They are quick and easy, low-manipulation protective styles. 

NC: What are your must-have products and tools?

RA: My favorite products are rhassoul clay, coconut oil, and shea butter. I need to have then somewhere in my routine! My favorite tools are my applicator bottle and wide tooth comb. 

NC: What about your hairstylist?

RA: I don’t have a hair stylist. I do my hair myself, except I want to braid it. I believe that no one can take care of your hair better than you can. That being said, the woman who braids my hair is an excellent Yoruba lady that does exactly what I tell her…she she parts my hair with her fingers and remembers to spritz my hair with water before fixing my braids! She is awesome and really attentive to my hair.

NC: What do you do at nighttime for your hair?

RA: Before I go to bed (if my hair isn't in a set style), I spray water and aloe vera juice on my hair, then seal in the moisture with an oil or butter, twist it in sections and finally, wrap it in a satin cap. If my hair is already in 100% protective style braids, I just wrap it in a satin cap and hop into bed. 

NC: What reaction did you get when you first decided to go natural? 

RA: A few of my friends had already gone natural, so it wasn’t a big deal. But I always got lots of weird looks at salons. Every time I walked through the door, I would hear, "Do you want to relax it?" before I even opened my mouth! My favorite comment was from a male friend of mine, who said, "You think this is hair?! Relax it!"

NC: Did you big chop or transition?

RA: I big chopped. In the beginning, I kept my hair in braids a lot because I had no idea how to style it! I thought the only way my hair could look nice was in a braid or weave; I didn’t realize that my own hair could be beautiful without extensions. I initially thought it was childish to have your natural out because in my country, only a high school girl or a child would have natural hair. 

rachel

NC: What is the best thing about being curly?

RA:  Versatility! I can do almost anything with my hair: braid it, wear it wavy or in tight curls, straighten it,or even make it into a fro-hawk! My friends always expect me to do something wonderful with my hair.

NC: How do you think having curly hair impacts your life?

RA: In the beginning, it used to slow me down a lot because of the time it took to detangle and the endless fights I used to have with my hair. But now, I am so used to it. I get my hair in a beautiful style on a Sunday night and that’s it for the week! All the time it takes to detangle, wash and condition my hair is just another part of my life…I simply set aside time for it, as I do with everything else. 

NC: What would you tell others to encourage them to embrace their curls?

RA: I usually tell people to accept themselves the way they are. In order for negative comments to not get you down, you have to be completely satisfied with yourself and recognize that what you do with your hair or your life is your concern. I also tell people to accept that their hair can’t do certain things anymore. When you have kinky curly hair there is nothing that you can do to make it look bone straight or relaxed every day without damaging your hair. Just accept that you look different and work with the new you!!

NC: Tell us about your current and upcoming projects!

RA: I am currently finishing up with school. I also just started a natural hair blog aimed at providing natural hair growth tips to 4C naturals or kinky curly naturals. It’s also meant to be a general guide to healthy living and wellness, but I get so many hair questions that I never have time to post anything else! It’s important that naturals with tightly curled hair (like me) understand that their hair is beautiful and can be managed, just like everyone else’s. I intend to start selling organic hair and skin products as soon as I am done with my university program. I have a Masters in finance, but natural hair is my first love!

You can hear more from Rachel on her blog or on Instagram