15 November 2011

Hair Talk with Keysha Davis

Firstly introduce yourself? Where are you from and what do you do?
My name is Keysha Davis and I’m a magazine editor who lives in south east London.

How long have you been natural?
I’ve been wearing my hair natural since January 2001, which makes it almost 11 years.

If you have transitioned to natural what prompted you more from processed to natural hair?
I decided to stop relaxing my hair after discovering a bald patch on my scalp about the size of a 10 pence piece. I had been contemplating going natural for some time, and this incident gave me the impetus to give going natural a serious shot. But it wasn’t easy. There were many appointments made to my salon for a touch up, but I resisted the urge and stuck with it.

How did you transition, did you big chop?
My transition method should go down in the natural hair 101 book as what NOT to do. To blend my regrowth with my relaxed hair, I’d plaster an inordinate amount of hair gel onto and flatten with a scarf to make it look sleek. And we’re not talking the natural based gels that are out now, either. I’d use the cheap, alcohol laden products that would dehydrate my tresses and leave them feeling like a head full of hay. Eventually I found a hairstylist who weaned me off my gel dependency and would instead do flat-twists, twists or blow-dry my hair to help it look more uniform in texture. I can’t recall exactly how long the process of transitioning took, maybe a year or so.

What were the main reasons for your choice to wear your natural hair?
As stated earlier, I experienced a bald patch on my scalp which I attributed to my use of relaxers. I began to think about the effects the chemicals were having on me not only externally but internally too.

What are your earliest hair memories? How did these memories influence your hair journey today?
My earliest hair memory, like many black women I suppose, is of getting my hair washed and braided by my mother on a Sunday evening. I used to LOVE this ritual. Yes of course I felt the wrath of the comb on one too many occasions when I wouldn’t sit still, but it didn’t matter because not only was my Sunday hair ritual a chance to get some mummy time (I’ve always been a mummy’s girl) but my mum would hook me up with some lovely, intricate braided styles, which also meant I wouldn’t have to worry about styling for school in the mornings. It’s funny because I now implement the Sunday wash routine in my own life since going natural, but it isn’t half as therapeutic as it was back in the day.

What does having natural hair mean to you?
Essentially it is a style choice, but I do feel a sense of pride wearing my hair natural because for so long we’ve been brainwashed via TV, advertising and magazines to believe that our hair isn’t good enough or desirable in it‘s natural state. And yet despite this, we’ve learnt to embrace our authentic selves and formed a worldwide movement that will continue to grow.

How do you keep your hair looking so good?
It has to be said, I’m a product junkie and working for a hair magazine only feeds my habit. So needless to say, my routine changes quite frequently. At the moment I tend to shampoo every 1-2 weeks with Island Innocence by Evelyn Products, which is a really nice sulphate free shampoo that produces very low lather and is gorgeous and creamy in texture. I condition with my old faithful Hair Mayonnaise by Organic Root Stimulator and add a little Jamaican Castor Oil to moisturize as my hair tends to suffer from dryness. After rinsing, I add a protectant such as Mizani’s Thermasmooth Smoothing Serum and then blow-dry my hair. Next, I’ll twist or braid my hair before unravelling in the morning. To maintain my hair between washes I’ll use a leave-in conditioner such as Kinki Coili Kurli’s Honey Rain Juice and a light oil such as Mizani’s Supreme Oil or The Hairoine’s Extra Moisturizing Formula.

What products do you use in your hair?
All the products mentioned above, but I also have to give a shout out to some recently discovered hair gems: Karen’s Body Beautiful - Creamylicious, Jane Carter’s Nourish and Shine and Root2Tip’s Natural Hair Butter.

What are your go to hair styles?
My go to style is bantu knot outs, it can take some time to do but I love the fact that my curls remain defined for the entire day. When I’m strapped for time a neat bun is always a quick and effective hairstyle.

How do you protect your hair in the winter months?
Traditionally I never leave home without my woolly hat to protect from the harsh weather, but this winter I’ve decided to put my hair in single braids. It’s early days yet, but I love the convenience of braids as well as the many styling choices it offers.

Do you have any advice for women starting out on their natural journey?
Accept the fact that you’re bound to make mistakes (refer to my gel story for a clear example). It’s quite easy to get caught up in hair envy and want your curls to look like the next girl’s even though your hair texture might be totally different. So I would say take inspiration from magazines, blogs and your favourite natural celeb, but remember that your hair texture and hair journey will be unique to you and there’s ‘no one size fits all’ method when it comes to caring and maintenance.

Any tips for young ladies trying to make it in journalism?
Write, write, write. Get as much experience you can by starting a blog, getting work experience for different publications, freelancing - just anything you can do to get your work out there and develop your skills and confidence.

How is you natural hair perceived in you job role? Do you think the tide is changing in the Afro hair industry?
It has never occurred to me that my employers would be bothered about how I choose to wear my hair. The only time I can recall my hair being a problem is when I rocked box braids whilst temping for a catering company in the city. Looking back now it was pretty hilarious. It was my first day on a new contract and my supervisor gave me one of those catering hats to put on head. But of course because of the size of the braids it wouldn‘t fit, so it was perched on top of my head hardly covering anything. At the end of my shift my agency called me to tell me the company had a problem with my hair and would only have me back if I removed the braids. After all the hours I endured to put them in, not to mention my hard earned cash I paid to get them done, I waved goodbye to my summer job. In all fairness to the company their sole concern was hygiene so I can’t really say I blame them. But in terms of my professional jobs, no, I’ve never had a problem and really think that either A) I’ve been extremely lucky or B) We’re the ones who create this ‘natural hair in the workplace’ issue, not others.

Keysha is the Editor of Blackhair Magazine checkout and follow the Facebook page


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