My goodness, where do I even start or begin?
Personal, I’ve been subscribed to Akilah’s Youtube channel for a little over a year now; discovering her right before I moved up here to the Big Apple.
Through her videos alone, I was amused by her character, and quickly made sure to stay tuned to her channel updates.
One of the things I knew I loved about Akilah right away was her natural hair. And not only that, but how personable she was. She’s shown to always be comfortable in her own skin, expressing her own appreciation and zest for life; in such a full and effortless way.
So, as an Editor here on the blog, when I was given the opportunity to select a beautiful woman whom I believed blossoms in the Natural Hair community, there wasn’t a question or second thought as to whom I wanted to interview for this exclusive article.
It was her. That quirky lady from Youtube.
Introduction of yourself:
Hi, I’m Akilah…obviously. I’m a reformed Disney princess that’s moved from Cincinnati to Brooklyn to do comedy with Upright Citizens Brigade and do social media marketing for movies and television. You can find me on Twitter, YouTube, and Tumblr.
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Name: Akilah Hughes
What makes you an ideal natural? :
I think being natural is not so much about “taking beauty back” but more about doing what feels right. So often in our community we fight over unimportant things like which texture “looks better” or is “easier to style” and forget that this is a very personal choice and maybe some people will take a different approach. The movement at its core should be about love and acceptance of our choices, because they’re ours, not because there’s a “right and wrong” way to be natural.
Big Chop or Transition?
I transitioned. I have a really big head naturally, so I had to stick with big hair the whole time. It’s probably more rewarding to big chop because you’ll see the changes much more quickly, but I was not brave enough to take the plunge.
How long have you been natural?
I am coming up on my 4 years of being natural. It’s crazy. There were times when I had to cut off a bunch of hair because I had let the split-ends take over, and there were times when I dyed it purple and red, but I’m very happy with my “progress” and what the future holds for this curly mane.
What hair type do you believe that you have?
I don’t know how much I believe in hair-typing, mostly because there are girls who have hair that looks like mine that reacts totally different to products than mine does (YouTube taught me). I would say that I have small spirals pretty much throughout, with much thicker areas at the crown of my head that are something seemingly impossible to detangle.
What are you favorite hair products and how difficult/easy was it take to discover what works best for your hair type?
I used to work for Miss Jessie’s so I figured that their products must work for everyone. That is not the case AT ALL. I’ve since forsaken the curly pudding for more natural options for Carol’s Daughter and Kinky Curly. However, those products aren’t super affordable, so my regular staples include Herbal Essences Hello Hydration conditioner, a $1 wide-tooth comb, and R&B from Lush for moisturizing. My hair responds really well to almost any kind of gels, so I’m not so picky there.
Do you have a hair care regimen? If so, what is it?
My regimen is simple. Every 3-5 days I will co-wash and detangle in the shower with a paddle brush, and then seal in moisture with Coconut Oil. From there, I put on a styling gel that defines the curls and let it air dry throughout the day. I put on a silk cap at night, bandana style from the front to keep the hair laying in a downward style. The next day I add a little water and moisturize with R&B and I can usually keep my hair “out” for the next 2 days, and either pin some up or make a big floppy bun until I start the process over!
Shown in video form: Here!
What influenced you to embrace being a natural hair brown beauty?
My gorgeous friend Enchanta went natural in college, and she would wear these big thick beautiful braids all over her head. I was amazed because just the year before she had cut off almost all of her hair (and relaxed it that short a la Halle Berry). I couldn’t believe the length she got in just a year and I was sick of my hair feeling stringy and sticking out where I didn’t want it to. I finally just decided to stop buying relaxers and go rogue. Luckily the internet was there, or who knows where I’d have ended up!
How does being a natural hair brown beauty make you feel?
I feel very free. Moving to Brooklyn from the south helped with that a lot, too. I remember when I first started my journey I went to a new hairstylist for a trim and she kept saying that she would be happy to relax the curls and couldn’t understand why I’d even want to have curly hair. But moving up north, it’s super acceptable and even trendy. I can always find someone to do my hair if I have a special occasion, and I feel like I’m more comfortable being myself now, so my confidence shines through in everything I do.
What is your take on women with identity crises and media standards of natural hair?
I think that media standards of natural hair are a little ludicrous, but that’s to be expected with any “brand of beauty.” I don’t think most straight haired white girls look like the Loreal commercials, so we can’t expect our hair to do what the perfectly styled curls of tv shows and movies give us. I’ve also found that those styles are almost exclusively wigs and weaves. I think it’s all a personal journey, and once you find a look that feels like it works for you, and it makes you feel confident you should go for it. I think coveting other peoples’ looks is the key to never being happy.
What advice would you give a woman/girl considering embracing their natural hair?
I would say to not compare yourself. I remember watching Taren Guy’s youtube before it was as big as it is now. I remember thinking that if I “held out long enough” my hair would do what her hair does. Hair does whatever it wants. The fun in going-natural is that you get to watch what your hair wants to do and you get to shape it into whatever looks you want. Embrace whatever texture you have, because all textures have a lot to offer. I know a lot of times my mother will get upset because her kinkier hair won’t have the tight curls that mine offer, but I would ABSOLUTELY KILL for a twist out that looked as fierce as hers. Mine usually gets stringy and tangled and doesn’t look polished. So really, no one has it better, we all just have it different.
In closing, you can also see/find out more about Ms. Hughes by going to her other social media outlets, listed below:
Bonus video: Be sure to check out Akilah this season on…!
The Million Second Quiz: