Rockin Naturals: Abena
I am Abena Palmore, a 43 year old NYC based Licensed Cosmetologist, specializing in Natural Hair Care. But you can call me Naturalista expert, if you’re nasty! I have been proudly natural for 3 1/2 years. I am passionate about natural hair care, this is more than a hobby or fascination, it’s not a job or even a career. It’s a passion with a mission since 2011, when I transitioned from relaxed to natural, started my first YouTube channel and began cosmetology school part time. It’s so important to me that I decided to leave my full time corporate job where I was in a high level management position. I began to pursue natural hairstyling in order to focus solely on natural hair care and continue to build my talents, my skills and my knowledge base to provide excellent hair care. I want to make sure people who want to wear their hair natural have the resources and the care they need. If you are struggling with moisture retention and retaining length or selecting the right products to use for curl definition, hold and longevity of your hairstyle, I want to be able to serve those individuals who come to me.
Transitioning to natural was a culmination of experiences that began with the Dominican salon I had been going to for more than 10 years. I used to get my hair washed and set and wrapped in a doobie every week. My front hairline became resistant to the relaxer so I would ask the stylist to pile a double portion on that area to ensure it would take. This same section became very tender and sore when she brushed it into the doobie. Every night when I brushed my hairline the pain was excruciating. It even hurt as I took it down to comb it out in the mornings. For this reason, I decided to stop wrapping my hair and wear it layered with full roller set curls. But the stylist did not layer it well and kept cutting too much hair off every time I got a trim. So I began to hate the way my hair looked. Then I saw the documentary, “Good Hair”, by Chris Rock which shed light on chemical relaxers as a creamy crack. Prior to that, I considered it a normal part of my hair routine. The movie made a profound impact on my view of the relaxer and what I was doing to my hair and possibly my body. At the 2 month post-relaxer mark, when I would normally go for a touch up, I began to transition. But I was concerned about how I would manage my hair and I wanted to understand my hair texture. I searched for information online and found Kimmaytube’s YouTube channel. She provided in-depth information and also recommended a book entitled the “Science of Black Hair” by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy as well as a book by Chicoro entitled “Grow It”, which explains how to grow long afro-textured hair. For the next 3 months I continued to let my hair grow out while researching and learning as much about natural hair as possible. I wanted to find a professional stylist to analyze my hair and scalp to make sure I had the right foundation for my natural hair journey. A friend of mine recommended a specialist but she was in high demand, I could not get an appointment with her. Since I was not able to find anyone to help me I figured the demand was greater than the supply. That is when I decided to become a professional natural hair care specialist. I enrolled in cosmetology school and did the Big Chop the week before my first class.
My current hair goals are first and foremost to maintain the balance of moisture and protein so my hair is in optimal condition. Secondly, to share my natural hair journey on my YouTube channel “Embrace Natural Beauty” as I explore new products and low manipulation techniques that require low maintenance. Essentially, I want to grow my hair to it’s longest length ever; at least the longest length I reached when it was relaxed, which was between mid back and waist length. And I want to share this journey with my subscribers so they can witness and learn the simple tips and techniques I use that do not involve gimmicks. I’d rather show genuine basic steps, a consistent routine that leads to hair that is well managed, in good condition, retains length and is fun to wear so that they also may enjoy and embrace natural beauty of their own.
Currently, my top 3 favorite products are Number 1 Eco Styler Gel; they have several versions. I use their Krystal Maximum Hold. I love the easy application, the curl definition, moisture retention and curl elongation it gives for my Wash n go’s that last a full week. I get a 2.26 Liter jar, which is more than half a gallon for only $9.99 and it lasts for several months with weekly application. Number 2 is Camille Rose Naturals’ Curl Maker, which is also a gel finisher. I love the beautiful curl and fullness I get with this product. It also retains moisture and has a good hold so I can wear the style for an entire week. Because it air dries really quickly on wash day, it’s the finisher I reach for in a pinch. The price is way more expensive than Eco Styler at $22 for 12oz. So I will get 10 Wash N Go’s out of this jar. Finally, Number 3 is Shea Moisture’s Shea Butter Leave In Conditioner with Jojoba Oil, Aloe Vera and Vitamin E. This is my staple leave in conditioner for the past year. It has a thick creamy consistency and spreads well and is the perfect base under any finisher I use. The cost is $8.99 for an 8oz jar it’s so good that I cut open to get all the way to the bottom of this good stuff.
I am hesitant to use Beautiful Textures Curl Definer because it left flaky residue in my hair. I need my hairstyle to last for a full week and flakes are not acceptable because I am my brand. I shared this experience in a product review on my YouTube channel “Embrace Natural Beauty” and one of my subscribers recommended I replace the Beautiful Textures Leave In Conditioner the next time I try it. So I will pair it with my staple leave in conditioner and I am hopeful for better results. I believe in giving a product at least two tries in order to get the results I want.
Do you have a favorite go to hairstyle?
My favorite go to hairstyle is, of course, the Wash N Go! (Imagine me whipping my hair like the commercial for “Soul Glo” in Coming to America. Yep, that’s how good I feel about my signature Wash N Go)
To protect my hair at night I put my hair up in the pineapple using only a silk scarf. This practice helps to retain the moisture and keep the hair free of snags.
Do you have a name for your hair or If you had to give your hair a name what would it be?
I have never referred to my hair by name, but I would say “Whip Appeal” because I love having bouncy curls that blow in the wind.
My hair in not color treated…but I have natural gray highlights, lol
Sum up your natural hair journey in three words.
Any advice to the natural newbies?
First, I’d like to say that I, too, love a good DIY project…but, I strongly encourage new naturals to seek a professional natural hairstylist to analyze their hair and scalp and work with them to develop a hair care routine customized for their hair needs. The professional can tailor services and products based on your hair’s texture, density, porosity and current condition. A professional will provide realistic expectations and a holistic approach to embracing your natural beauty.
What is your favorite compliment you have ever been given on your hair?
My favorite compliment for my hair is from other naturalistas who say I have the best Wash N Go’s 🙂 or that my hair looks the same in person as it appears on videos and photos. It assures me that I’m on the right path.
If I could tell my younger self NOW about my natural hair THEN, it would be, “you are not limited to braids and twists. With practice, patience and understanding of how to use products and techniques you can wear your own unique curly afro style. Your natural hair is beautiful, it’s unique, your curl pattern is one of a kind with all its mixtures and, trust me, no one else can rock it better than you!”
Do you have a favorite YouTube Vlogger?
Kim Love of Kimmaytube is my all time favorite YouTube vlogger, because she appeals to my nerdy side that needs to know all manner of minutia about hair. I also enjoy watching Alicia James and Tiajonay because they have beautiful hair with a texture that is less commericalized as natural. I love seeing various textures that are well maintained and serve as an example for others who want to wear their hair in its natural state. And finally Whitney of Naptural85 whose videos are entertaining with various hair styles and DIY concoctions. I personally love her DIY Flaxseed Gel video which was easy to follow and I make my own according to her recipe. And sometimes I just want to see what she is doing with her hair. I met her in person and she was very friendly and fun to hang out with. I have the clip on my Facebook page, facebook.com/Embrace Natural Beauty
Finish this sentence: I Rock My Natural because it’s the only one of it’s kind and it contributes to the overall message that natural hair is beautiful, it’s professional, fun and sexy at the same time.
Keep Rockin Abena!