Curl Conscious: Nia Imani on Her Natural Hair Journey

Natural hair blogger Nia Imani has an undeniably gorgeous head of hair – but that’s not all.  While those lovely locks have garnered her over 160k social media followers, it’s her knowledgeable advice about maintaining optimal hair health that has turned her followers into fans. We caught up with Nia to chat about how she manages her natural hair, which products work best for her hair type, and the one misconception she’s aiming to prove wrong about Black hair. Here’s what she had to say:

What prompted you to start your natural hair journey? 

Fortunately, I’ve been natural my entire life. However, I began wearing my curly hair [a lot] more during high school because I began seeing more women on YouTube embrace their kinks and curls and I wanted in on the fun. 

Which brands have been essential in your hair journey?

Honestly, Mielle Organics, Eden Body Works, Uncle Funky’s Daughter, SheaMoisture, and Ecostyler have been pivotal throughout my journey, 

Walk us through your daily/weekly hair regimen?

Wash days are once a week, and I typically shampoo with a sulfate-free clarifying shampoo, then follow that up with a moisturizing and slippery conditioner to really ease through my tangles. I only co-wash in between wash days to refresh my curls, but I’m not one of those naturals who rely heavily on co-wash as my “clarifier/shampoo.”  Every wash day I ensure that I deep condition my hair for at least 30 minutes to keep my hair moisturized, soft, and manageable, as well as keeping the overall health of my hair in pristine shape. After my deep conditioner is rinsed out, I follow up with a creamy leave in conditioner, gel, and oil to seal in my moisture. 

What are some of your favorite protective styles?

I’m not the hugest fan of protective style, but I do love box braids!

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What is your curl pattern, how did you find it, and how does it impact your haircare?

I’m a mix between 3C/4A, I discovered my curl pattern early on in my hair journey. Your curl pattern honestly isn’t the most important thing to know about your hair, it typically helps with what style might work for you but not necessarily what products will work for you. It’s essential to know your porosity, density, and hair type to really determine your hair needs and what products work for you. 

What are some struggles you’ve had to overcome during this journey?

I think the most challenging obstacle in any natural’s hair journey is finding products and styles that really work for you. Especially in the age where there’s so many products and new styles on the market it can be overwhelming narrowing it down to what genuinely works. 

How have other people’s reactions to your natural hair been?

When my hair was much longer, people would often assume that I had to be mixed in order to have long curly hair which was really frustrating to me because it further feeds into Eurocentric beauty standards, and that Black people can’t have beautiful hair. That negative stigma is a fueling force in why I’m such an advocate for all types of curls because Black hair comes in so many shapes and should be appreciated in all of its forms. 

What prompted your second big chop?

It was honestly time for a fresh start. I had a lot of energies and past things that I was ready to let go of and I wanted to begin that journey starting with my hair. This has probably been one of the most liberating experiences and I’ve had thus far with my hair because I’ve been forced to start from scratch.  

What is one narrative you want to rewrite about black women’s hair?

I feel like I’m currently rewriting it now; Black hair is diverse, beautiful, soft, manageable, professional, and acceptable however we choose to wear it. We aren’t a monolith, and there’s no right way to express ourselves through our hair. 

What advice would you give someone looking to embark on their natural hair journey?

Do some research on your current state and decide whether you want to big chop or transition. Find a blogger or influencer who has similar hair as you and see what steps and products they use to maintain their hair. And lastly, just have fun with your hair and enjoy the process!