Name: Monique aka IrieDiva
Profession: Account Executive in Advertising
From: Kingston, Jamaica
Natural Since: February 2012
KiK: When and why did you go natural?
Monique: I went natural after having a baby girl because I wanted to be her first and hopefully strongest beauty icon. I thought of her saying “I want my hair to look like mommy’s” somewhere down the line and decided that it needs to be in its natural state when she said that. I got my first perm after graduating high school, I made the choice myself and I would love for her to love her hair while growing up knowing how flexible it is, how to style and take care of it and only relaxing it on her terms if she chooses to down the line.
KiK: How did you go from relaxed to natural?
Monique: I started transitioning and then did a big chop when I got frustrated with trying to deal with both textures. I also thought it would be fun to have really short hair and to learn natural haircare practises while it grows so I was excited about my chop.
KiK: What is your current hair regimen?
Monique: My hair is finally not a TWA anymore so I’m having fun with it right now with styling, products and regimens. Sadly, the Jane Carter curling defining cream does wonders for my hair and is my favourite styling product currently. I say sadly because it costs a pretty penny but unfortunately coconut oil, which most naturlistas love and swear by, makes my skin break out terribly and so I’m very limited because so many natural hair products have coconut oil as an ingredient. Currently I wash my hair weekly and, yes, I use shampoo. I deep condition it biweekly since its coloured and I sleep with it in a satin bonnet or on a satin pillowcase. I’m a chronic wash-and-goer and so I do very little styling in between. About midweek, when my wash and go needs a bit of help, I spray it with water, seal with whipped shea butter and put it up in a high puff or pony.
KiK: What other products do you use?
Monique: Apart from the Jane Carter, the only other commercial product I use is the Kinky Curly Knot Today leave in conditioner. IT’s perfect for my hair, light and creamy and makes my hair a breeze to detangle. It also works on munchkin’s hair which is kinkier where mine is a little curlier so it gets a big stamp of approval for doing double duty. I whip natural shea butter with whatever oils I have laying around to make my own sealant/body lotion. One part shea butter to one part EVOO and one part hemp/jojoba/argan/almond oil is usually the mix with a little jasmine essential oil to enhance the scent.
KiK: What is your favourite hairstyle and how do you achieve and maintain it?
Monique: The wash and go is my fave with a high puff being second. I love twistouts for munchkin’s hair but those never last long, she’s way too active and the Jamaican humidity ensures the twists swell right up after a few hours.
KiK: How do you deal with tangling and/or single strand knots?
Monique: I wash my hair and detangle with conditioner. I never worry about tangling, even when I leave munchkin’s hair in a puff all week because conditioner will make all the tangles go away. I’m not sure yet what’s the big deal with single strand knots. They’re not going away and they don’t affect my styles so…. *shrug*
KiK: Any advice for new or struggling naturals?
Monique: Blogs and vlogs are life savers. Don’t take any of them with much weight. Most of them are people like me who’ve done no or very little research. We’re all just experimenting with products, ingredients and styles, but they give great inspiration for products or styles that you may want to try. I got really creative in my TWA stage and experimented heavily with colour. If you visit my blog, you’ll see pictures on there of me with blue hair, purple hair, pink hair, fire engine red hair and many mix and match combinations. I’ve settled on a kind of strawberry blond which has always been my fave and I’m planning to keep it this way. That stage taught me the best way to colour and to deep condition my hair so that it remains as healthy as can be through everything I put it through. At the end of the day, it grows back. A lot of us are afraid to experiment with colour and only admire it from a far but why have this beautiful head of hair if I can’t play with it? Play with your hair and find its limits and preferences.
KiK: Where can we keep up with you or your hair journey online?
Monique: My blog is www.iriediva.com. It’s not just hair. It’s a lifestyle blog with fashion, food, fitness, Jamaica and everything mixed in. I’m also on Instagram and Facebook as loveiriediva.