Shanitta Wolffe has been a hairstylist for almost a decade and taught herself how to braid at the age of thirteen. Currently a stylist at The Hair Studio, which is located on Reid Street Extension, Shanitta says she fell in love with the field after completing her high school’s work release programme.
Educated at the Marca College of Hair and Aesthetics in Toronto, Canada, Shanitta recently chatted with Today In Bermuda about a practice many Bermudian women embrace—straightening their natural hair. Here she discusses the do’s and don’ts, and advises how to avoid heat damage.
TIB: There seems to be a movement of black women embracing their natural hair. Why do you think this is?
Women have begun to embrace who they are and are more accepting of their natural hair. Everyone has different reasons why they choose to go natural. Whether it's because they burn extremely quickly from relaxers and are tired of having chemical burns or their hair is fine and are looking to have more body while some may be simply looking to have versatility with their hair.
Looking around the world, especially in Bermuda you see how many women, especially professional women (where it use to be frowned upon in the work place) have chosen to embrace their natural beauty and this speaks volumes. By saying this, I am not stating women with relaxed hair or chemically processed hair are hiding behind their beauty, it is all a personal preference. I myself prefer to have my hair relaxed. It's easier for me and less work. At the moment my hair is short, natural and pre-lightened. When winter comes, I will returning to relaxing my hair.
TIB: How important is it for young girls to see black women embracing their natural hair?
It is important for young girls to see you do not have to have straight hair to be beautiful. We as women have to teach our children the beauty in their hair. Whether they are a 2a or a 4c.
TIB: If natural hair is straightened is it considered processed? Why or why not?
No it is not processed. Straightening your hair (by pressing) is not a chemical process. While it can cause permanent straightening (due to heat damage), it is not chemically processed.
TIB: Why do some ppl choose to press their hair?
Sometimes people are looking for a different looks or want something different for special occasions. Others can do it for a length check. You also have some that find it easier to manage with their hair pressed.
TIB: Does pressing it prevent it from bouncing back go natural? Is there a limit to how often it should be pressed?
There isn't a limit on how often it should be pressed, but every time someone presses their hair, you are risking your tresses having permanent heat damage. It doesn't happen all the time but it is a risk that is being taken. One person can press their hair once and their hair would bounce back to normal. While another gets heat damage immediately. It depends on the texture of the hair as well as how hot the styling tools are as well as the pressure the stylist/yourself is using while holding the tools.
TIB: For those who press their own hair what are some don'ts?
When shampooing your hair, be sure to use a cleansing shampoo followed by a moisturizing shampoo. Removing the access build up from natural hair products is a must! While a lot of ladies with natural hair prefer co washing, it does not remove hair product off the hair and scalp. This should be followed by a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. If the hair is not properly cleansed, while flat ironing, the residue can cause the hair to burn. Which can also cause heat damage.
While blow drying, try not to use a lot of tension. As this maybe the start of heat damage. Section your hair into small sections to avoid over blow drying your hair.
When flat Ironing your hair, always use a heat protecting serum or cream. You do not have to apply before you flat iron each section, you can apply once you finish blow drying each section. P.S. Don't forget your ends!
Styling tools/Flat Irons should ALWAYS have a degree dial. While most people think the higher the temperature the straighter your hair will be, this can cause heat damage. 300 - 350 degrees should be the highest your flat iron should be while pressing your hair on your own. Taking 1/4 - 1/2 inch partings (depending on the thickness of your hair) allows the heat to be evenly distributed as well as getting closer to the roots. Personally I find wrapping the hair (Circle wrapping method not splitting the hair in two. That causes breakage) directly after pressing allows the hair to settle. When unwrapped the hair is silky and gas movement.
TIB: Are there any products at Hair Studio which someone can purchase if they wanted to press their own hair?
Hair Studio supplies Design Essentials products. We have a large array of products that can be used while wearing You hair natural or pressed.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Natural Line - Almond and Avocado Daily Moisturizing Lotion, Almond and Avocado Curl Enhancing Mousse, Honey CurlForming Custard and Honey & Shea Edge Tamer. Not to mention the Natural shampoo and conditioner is amazing!!
When wearing your hair straight - Oat Protein & Henna Deep Cleansing Shampoo, Honey Creme Moisture Retention Shampoo, Almond Butter Express Instant Moisturizing Conditioner, Bamboo & Simlk HCO Leave-In Conditioner, Silk Essentials Thermal Strengthening Serum and Argan Moidturixing Creme.
While a few of these products I wouldn't use together, these are my essential go to products depending on the texture and thickness of each client.