We have our first submission for this week’s edition of the #BNFroFriday interview! Yay!
Today we have a natural hair vlogger, Zara Simon-Ogan, EfikZara of Zara and Nicola, a natural hair vlogger. With her great bubbly personality and gorgeous hair, you’ll love her interview and her #NTFS, No Time For Stress view on taking care of natural hair.
We started this series with celebrities, but if you’re reading this and would like to talk about your real hair journey – natural or relaxed, long or short, do email us – firstname.lastname@example.org!
BellaNaija: First please tell us about yourself.
Zara: Hello! My name is Zara Simon-Ogan (aka EfikZara) and I’m a violinist, composer, producer, and vlogger! I am currently completing my master’s degree in music composition (in the US) and though music definitely occupies a significant portion of my life, I’m a huge natural hair lover/enthusiast. #TeamNatural Osheeeey
BN: Tell us about your hair
Zara: Ethnically, I’m an Akwa Ibomite! I was born and raised in America but I’m 100% Nigerian. My hair texture is 4a/4b (with a bit of 4c near my ears) and my natural hair color is a reddish dark brown (though I ‘highkey’ wish it was black. Lol). I was previously relaxed and during my natural journey, there was a period of time where my hair was severely damaged by heat. Initially, I thought it was just thinning so I tried a Henna mix with Indigo. I have since stopped using it as my hair is restored… Hallelujah!
BN: Why did you decide to go natural
Zara: Story story y’all… when I was about 15, my mom was busy and couldn’t do my relaxer so she let one of our family members do it. To cut the long story shot, the relaxer was left in for far too long. No matter how much I cried for it to be washed out, I was replied to with a forceful “NO”. My hair was severely damaged, it was thin and lifeless (mind you, prior to this it was long and full).
In an effort to revive my hair, I started looking at relaxed hair videos on YouTube and that was when I discovered the concept of natural hair (YouTube and all it’s suggestions!).
As I got distracted by the many videos of beautiful women and their lovely hair, I asked myself why I even relaxed. It was just something I did… I didn’t have to and I realized that I didn’t care to.
November 2008 was the last time I got a relaxer.
BN: How did you make the change?
Zara: When I went natural, my mother was really supportive. She was concerned initially because she was not sure I would be able to manage it, but she ultimately allowed me to do what I wanted to do.
Regarding how I went about it, I big chopped after about 6 months of transitioning. Prior to this, I protective styled with kinky twists and other types of braided extensions. Following my big chop, I continued to do that until I reached a length I was comfortable with.
Because I approached my natural hair process rather gradually (and with a lot of protective styling), I did not receive many adverse reactions. Funnily enough, my transition actually inspired everyone in my family, and a number of my close friends, to embark on their own natural hair journeys. Now, I’ve left my protective styling and I wear my hair almost exclusively. Everyday people ask me “is all that your hair”? Haha, it can be a bit frustrating but I’m humbled by the public’s awe.
I must admit though, it wasn’t all peaches and cream guys, lol. The most challenging thing I faced was learning how to care for my hair. I can be pretty lazy and though my hair has gotten really long, I feel that I could have at least 10 more inches if I had known what I was doing 100% of the time. I now know my hair as well as I know myself (which is really well, haha).
BN: Are you tempted to go back to it?
Zara: NO! GOD FORBID!!! I love my kinky curly hair tooooo much!!! Ahahaha, seriously though, I can’t imagine ever relaxing ever again.
BN: Ever hidden your natural hair?
Zara: Oh yes y’all, I hid my hair. I was not comfortable with the length for some time. I was also reeeeally bad at styling it. It was not until I found Wild Growth Hair Oil that I wore my hair out on a more consistent basis. I had moisture issues and adding the WGHO to my regimen allowed me to maintain soft/moisturized hair for daaaays.
BN: How long have you kept your natural hair?
Zara: I have been natural for almost 7 years but I cut my hair A LOT! I’ve had heat damage so I’ve been trimming it rather regularly. I try to trim every three months, but I can be a bit impulsive and if I see ratchet ends then they gotta go. My hair is quite long despite my scissor hands, haha.
BN: How does climate where you live affect your hair?
Zara: So I live in two places, New York City and Nigeria. The NYC winter just DESTROYS my moisture levels, however the New York summer is quite friendly to my hair. As for Nigeria, the humidity makes my hair and skin feel proper lush but it also forms bad belle, damaging my popping hair styles. If you guys have any recommendations for humidity fighting stylers, mbok (please)… send ’em my way.
BN: Haha! Does you hair have any other problems?
Zara: Heat damage! *cries*. The story is over long y’all but I will make a video about it (on my YouTube channel). Long story short, my normally ultra thick hair was thinned severely. The curl pattern was still pretty much the same but my hair was very thin. It has since recovered (praise the Lord) but I learned a tough lesson from that experience.
BN: How do you deal with the negative effect of climate and the hair problems you face as a natural?
Zara: Winter – protective styling and moisturizing very frequently. N.T.F.S. (No time for struggle)
Nigerian Humidity – Guys, my hair feels great but I’m still struggling. Hair product advice for your gurl, please!
BN: What’s your stance on natural vs chemical products?
Zara: I’m a chill kind of babe so I prefer not to judge, however you won’t see hair altering chemicals touching this head. I’ve learned that my hair is really “uppity” (bourgeoisie, expensive, etc. lol) so products that include natural ingredients (and more often than not, expensive *sigh*) tend to work really well for my hair. At the end of the day, to each her (or his) own.
BN: What’s your daily, weekly and/or monthly hair routine?
Zara: DAILY – In the morning I adjust (or quickly switch-up) whatever style I was wearing the day before. If my hair is feeling dry, I will moisturize it again but I tend to avoid too much maintenance. Secret… I’m a lazy natural. #NTFS
When I do protective styles, I spray my water and conditioner mix then seal with my Wild Growth Hair Oil. I also love applying my Shea Butter mix to my scalp. I avoid washing my hair with braids and twists but I wash weekly or every other week when I have a sew-in. I will probably start washing every one to two weeks with my braids (depending on how much cleansing I need and how much moisture my hair is craving. My hair used to love that).
At nighttime, I usually just put on my nightcap and call it a day. I will occasionally re-twist my hair but that is infrequent. I only do it if my hair is tangled or needs a bit of a stretch. My general rule of thumb is this: Keep those roots stretched to avoid breakage and excessive struggle whilst detangling.
WEEKLY – I typically condition my hair or re-moisturize, then style. I allow my style to do what it wants throughout the week since I prefer not to restyle or re-twist until I fully re-moisturize.
MONTHLY – Wash routine! Lol, Watch below! ULTRA MOISTURIZING Wash Routine for Long/Kinky (Type 4a/4b/4c) | Natural Hair
BN: What advice would you give to people thinking of going natural?
Zara: Avoid heat! Also, be sure to moisturize! I’m protein sensitive so I don’t really focus on adding too much protein to my regimen. If you are not protein sensitive, be sure to balance protein and moisture levels.
Also… Listen to your hair! Get to know what your hair likes and doesn’t like! Get to know the rhythms of your mane and do what you can to keep it healthy.
Above all, do what you want to do! If you want to go natural, do not allow anybody to discourage you. Just go for it! Read, watch, and learn all you can. You’ve got this.
BN: What do you like best about your hair and being natural?
Zara: Honestly, I love pretty much everything about my hair. I used to really struggle with loving it because I didn’t understand it but bae (my hair) and I have a rhythm now, ya know? Hahaha, I also love the attention my hair garners. I love my hair and I love how much other people love it. It is an honor to be looked to as inspiration.
BN: What are your favourite styles to rock and why?
Zara: BRAID OUT! It has the most stress free aftermath and it makes my hair look popping. Here’s my tutorial if you guys wanna see how I do it: BIG BOUNCY Braid-Out! (Type 4a/4b/4c) | Natural Hair
Thanks for talking to us Zara!