Intimate Conversation with Pamela Samuels Young
Pamela Samuels Young is a NAACP Image Award winning author and practicing attorney who’s taken a brief hiatus from crafting her fast-paced mystery novels to write about her newest passion: natural hair care. In her first non-fiction book, Kinky Coily: A Resource Guide to Going Natural, Pamela chronicles her transition to natural hair. Kinky Coily also provides tips and resources for other women who want to begin their own natural hair journey. A bona fide natural hair enthusiast, Pamela is excited about sharing her new found knowledge in the hope of helping other women learn the beauty and versatility of their kinky coils. You can visit Pamela’s YouTube channel, KinkyCurlyPamela, and her website, www.pamelasamuelsyoung.com, for more hair care tips and videos.
Have you been thinking about transitioning to natural hair, but don’t know where to start? Then Kinky Coily: A Resource Guide for Going Natural is for you. A literal treasure trove of information, Kinky Coily is a roadmap for anyone interested in beginning a natural hair journey. You’ll find the best bloggers, the best books and magazines, as well as recommendations on how to select the right hair care tools and products.
Better yet, you’ll learn how to begin your natural hair journey, how to develop a weekly hair care regime and how to track your progress. Whether you’re transitioning from a relaxer, ready to give up your weave or flat iron, or already rocking your natural locs, Kinky Coily: A Resource Guide for Going Natural will open your eyes to the true beauty and versatility of your naturally kinky coils.
BPM: Why did you go natural? How did you start the journey from permed hair to natural hair?
I decided to go natural after my hair started falling out from a relaxer. One day I had a head full of hair and only a few months later, I had patches of bald spots. My hair was shedding at an alarming rate every single day and neither I nor the hair stylist I was seeing knew how to stop it. A friend of mind had recently gone natural and introduced me to her natural hair mentor, Deanie. Deanie met me at the beauty supply, told me about sulfates and moisturizing, recommended conditioners and protein treatment, and gave me a list of do’s and don’ts. After the very first treatment, my hair stopped falling out—immediately. That’s when I became a believer and set out on a journey to take charge of my own hair care.
BPM: Did you go for the "big chop" or did you transition to natural hair with braids or a wig?
Initially, I refused to do the big chop. I just didn’t want to sport a teeny weenie after. So I hid my damaged hair underneath a wig. But after about three months, I got tired of putting on a wig every morning and taking it off every night. So I did it. I chopped it all off and I’m so glad I did.
BPM: We saw your YouTube videos. Amazing! You are so brave to share your story with millions, what inspired you?
I’ve learned so much about my natural hair. For example, I had no idea my hair had a natural wave pattern. So many people see my hair and say, “My hair would never do that.” I would’ve said the same thing. That’s because we don’t know our hair! I’m on a mission to change that. Your readers can view all of the videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/KinkyCurlyPamela
BPM: What three tips would you offer women who are thinking about going natural?
My top three tips are: 1) No sulfates! Either wash with a conditioner (co-wash) or find a sulfate free shampoo; 2) stay away from the heat, that means flat irons as well as blow dryers; and 3) moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Kinky hair needs moisture! I deep condition at least twice a week and moisturize and seal nightly.
BPM: What products do you use? Share with us your favorite products.
Unfortunately, the same products don’t work for every hair texture. You’ll need to experiment to find out what works best for you. I have kinky, tightly coiled hair. So if you have a looser curl pattern or if your hair isn’t as coarse as mine, the products I love won’t work for you.
That said, my can’t-do-without products are: Uncle Funky’s Daughter Curly Magic, Kinky Curly Knot Today conditioner, Organic Roots Stimulator’s Temple Balm and Curl Refresher, and Herbal Essence Long Term Relationship Conditioner. I love Herbal Essence for co washing. I also love mixing my own oils. My favorites are amla oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, castor oil, olive oil and peppermint oil.
BPM: How long did it take for your hair become more healthy in your opinion?
It took about three months before I noticed my bald spots growing in. Within about six months, I really saw a change. My hair grew back much thicker and healthier.
BPM: How did you wear your hair to work during the transition?
I hid my damaged hair underneath a wig, until I finally broke down and did the big chop. I have to say, though, my Mommy wig was quite cute. I still plan to wear it sometime.
BPM: Do you think our hair has a lot to do with our body image and self-esteem?
Absolutely! I don’t care what I’m wearing. If my hair isn’t right, I don’t feel good about myself.
BPM: Research helps us learn to embrace our beautiful hair. Did you do a lot of research?
Tons of research. I recommend that everybody read The Science of Black Hair: A Comprehensive Guide to Textured Hair Care by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy. That book is an encyclopedia on kinky hair. I learned so much from that book. And I lived on the internet and YouTube. My favorite bloggers are Curly Nikki, Naptural 85, KimmayTube, Mahogany Curls and African Export. I owe those sistas a debt of gratitude for everything they taught me.
BPM: What was the most rewarding part of this experience?
All the compliments I get about my hair. Women always come up to me to ask about the products I use and I’m always glad to share.
BPM: How will your book Kinky Coily motivate women to consider moving toward natural hair care?
I think when they see other women taking charge of their own hair, they will feel free to do the same.
BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book and your how-to-videos?
I want them to have the confidence to take charge of their own hair care. I’m not trying to put hair stylists out of business. But I want women to know they can remedy their own hair care problems. If I’d known everything I know now when my hair started falling out, I could have stopped my shedding. My hair was damaged from the heat and badly needed moisture. I was also getting touch ups too often. But I didn’t that because I knew nothing about the care of my hair. Now I do!
BPM: What advice would you give a person who wants to tell their hair care story?
Take good notes during your hair care journey. I keep a journal and took pictures every three months. After you finish your book, ask for constructive feedback from family and friends.
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