Saturday, April 23, 2011

Natural Hair Stylist Interview: Aeleise J. (Chicago, IL)

About Aeleise:  Coil lover/curl therapist/kink whisperer/precision dry cutter/creative director of flyness masterminding awesome natural hair in a salon near you.   A Chicago native with southern exposure. Aeleise holds a Cosmetology Diploma from the Aveda Institute Tallahassee and a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Art from Florida A&M University. She cares about the integrity of your hair while educating you on the proper products and techniques to maintain the integrity and style of your hair away from the salon. She provides service that’s prompt, personal, and custom.

Style by: Aeleise J.
Photography by: Melisa Gin Photography

Questions we asked Aeleise:

Style by: Aeleise J.
Photography by: Melisa Gin Photography

  1. Do you have any special hair care regimens you would like to share? Everyones hair is unique so I hesitate to prescribe one specific regimen. Water both for your body and for your hair, is the one thing most people can increase in their daily routine. Also deep cleansing to remove product buildup and scalp debris is beneficial for the long term health of your hair/scalp.
  2. Does natural hair grow faster than relaxed hair?   All hair grows at an average rate of 1/2 inch per month.  That means some people's hair grows faster, some slower.  Many naturals experience what seems like increased growth while transitioning or after big chopping for various reasons.  Sometimes the scalp is freed from chemicals that strip nutrients and cause chemical damage to the hair follicle.  Sometimes the hair had been so chemically overprocessed that it had severe breakage.  And sometimes as we go natural we take better care of ourselves overall that our good habits can be seen in the length of our hair.
  3. If I have dry brittle hair, what do you suggest I do to improve my hair's health?  Everyone's hair challenges are different so I don't have specific advice, but generally I would encourage a client to increase their water intake, increase gentle cleansing/deep conditioning/water exposure, eat a balanced diet, avoid drying products, and avoid cotton pillowcases :).
  4. Are there any product ingredients that natural girls should avoid such as sulfates, parabens, etc? Don't believe the hype! Most ingredients are fine in small doses.  Mild sulfates are sometimes necessary to create a clean slate for someone who is heavy handed with products.  Deeply clarifying the hair and scalp every once in a while will actually improve the health of the fabric.  Parabens, mineral oil, silicones, and other controversial ingredients should be avoided if they don't work for your hair or your method of hair care. I personally avoid mineral oil because I don't like the way it makes my hair feel.  Do be wary though of isopropyl alcohol, it can be very drying
  5. Do you have any styling tips for our transitioning kurlees? Be patient with yourself. Know that what works for others may not work for you and that's alright.  You will have some days where you feel like an ugly duckling, but it's all a part of accepting everything about who you are.  Twist, braid, rod, and roller sets are your best friend. YouTube is great, but not gospel. Same applies to stylists. Finding a great stylist to partner with on this journey is hard but there are some of us out here when you have challenges or your arms get tired. 
  6. Does color hurt your hair if your natural? What are your thoughts on henna? Color itself is not inherently bad.  Permanent color is a chemical process where the cuticle of the hair is lifted up to expose the cortex which holds the melanin (color). Melanin is then removed and replaced with artificial color molecules.  What tends to be damaging about permanent color and lightening is that the cuticle of the hair remains raised and weak, making the hair shaft prone to mechanical and heat damage.  Starting with hair that is in less than optimal condition, hair that is inherently fragile, improper technique/product, and/or not caring for colored hair properly is the cause of color damage.  Being realistic about what your hair is ready for and what you're willing to do to maintain the hair is critical before embarking on a color journey. Henna . . . I'm not for it and I'm not against it.  To each his own, but there are some things to think about before trying it. If you ever want to or think you want to color your hair a lighter color, don't henna and also don't do semi-permanent color.  Both stain the hair and cannot be removed through a chemical process.  You will have to wait until the henna grows out.
  7. Can you give a short explanation of how long you've been a stylist and what made you fall in love with and specialize in natural hair? The short version is that I graduated from the Aveda Institute Tallahassee in 2006. I freelanced with makeup and salon management for some years before I got behind the chair in 2009. I fell in love with natural hair years before that while a sophomore (2003) at FAMU.   
  8. What are the most popular styles requested by your clients? My clients love double strand twists for their creativity and longevity.  They also love my kinky/curly blowout because they encounter no heat damage.
  9. How often do you wash your hair? Do you shampoo or co-wash? My hair is a whole notha story!  Truthfully, I can't stand to do my hair and the best style for me is 3/4in. and under. But since I'm at month 13 of my personal grow out challenge, I have to care for it.  I'm following a loose curly girl routine with Deva/Kera Care Natural Textures/Paul Mitchell Awaphui Wild Ginger.  I Deva No-poo and One Condition when needed and shampoo when needed with the Paul Mitchell.  I dc with Deva Heaven in Hair or Aveda Damage Remedy and then Kera Care Leave In. But if I am just not in the mood I let fellow stylist @afrosnbabyhair play in my hair. 
  10. What was the one thing that motivated you to transition from relaxed to natural hair? I didn't really have an aha moment, I was just hot. Summertime in Tallahassee, FL is no joke and my healthy APL relaxed hair was not the business.  I had a stylist friend give me a Halle Berry and two weeks later she gave me a cesar with a #2 clipper guard. Freedom! I've big chopped and relaxed again 6 times in 8 years with one short lived transition.  No more relaxers though for me, I think :)
    Aeleise Contact Information:
    To schedule an appointment
    Aeleise J. 

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