Hi, my name is Kissa Powell, pronounced Key-Sa. My name is African in origin and was always a little different. I think that my name gave me a sense of individuality from an early age that has followed me throughout my life.
I grew up in the desert southwest, a dry, hot place where Black faces were rare to see. I realize that my ideas about my hair stem from those sadly ingrained ideas that we as African Americans have about our hair being less beautiful in its natural state. When I was a child I had long, flowing hair. My father’s people called it “God’s Grass”, “good hair” and all of that other silly jazz. Of course all of that “good hair” was difficult for my mother to manage as a full time registered nurse so I got the hot comb for years and my first relaxer at the age of 12. All was well until about the third trip to the salon where I got a bad relaxer. My previously mid back flowing hair suddenly broke off to chin level I can remember from that point having dry, brittle hair that struggled to make it to my shoulders and that I barely knew how to manage.
When I entered college I started studying science and got hip to things like pH and the fact that my hair was essentially dead protein that would respond to things like temperature and products that would open and close my cuticle. More importantly I learned exactly what chemicals like sodium hydroxide are and their many uses. It was alarming to me that African American women were putting this and other chemicals on our hair to straighten it. But at the time I didn’t think that any other alternative existed so I just opted to start wearing my hair in box braids and hitting up the creamy crack only about twice a year.
Five years ago I was long overdue for a straightening as I’d been wearing my hair in braids for about two years without a relaxer. I scheduled a rather expensive and lengthy appointment to have my hair thermally reconditioned, but when I took my braids out I was stunned to see two things. First, my hair was now reaching easily down to my butt. Second, I absolutely loved how my natural hair looked, particularly when compared to the seven inches of limp, straight hair on the ends.
I cancelled the thermal reconditioning, but since I’d traveled home from Germany for the appointment I decided to dye my hair for the first time. I also cut off the straight ends and rocked my copper-colored shoulder-length locks with style… for a bit. I fell into bad habits quickly and my hair eventually suffered for it. I was newly natural and had NO idea what I was doing or how to take care of my hair.
Because I’m a bit frugal and love creating things I began putting my chemistry background to use and started making my own hair conditioners, butters, and oils along with other body products. I got into organic gardening as well as herbalism and started growing many of the herbs that I was incorporating into my products. I stumbled upon the Natural Hair Group on Facebook and really felt that I was able to put my previous trials and tribulations to use and share my knowledge. Now I consider myself a fully-fledged mixtress. I’m an avid practitioner of the Indian herbal practice of Ayurveda and will begin a certification as a Master Herbalist this fall.
For me, being natural helped me to truly see myself for the first time and be comfortable with the person reflected in the mirror. No painful procedures required that may or may not ruin my hair to be beautiful. What I came with is all I need. Now I’m not only comfortable with the girl in the mirror, I love her, I see her full value, and for the first time in a long time when I’m walking down the street I STRUT!
Keep it curly ladies! 😉