Alina, an actress living in Brooklyn, NY, traveled to Bali for her feature film debut. Her full, shoulder-length curls were having an uncontrollable reaction to this new environment. Her regular hair care routine consisted of a leave-in conditioner by Mixed Chicks and unrefined coconut oil. These items are usually found at hair supply stores in Brooklyn. She tried to continue this habit as best as she could while in Bali. Since there were no beauty supply stores in her area of Bali, she purchased natural handmade coconut oil from locals.
In New York, her curls are usually maintained in shape with very little effort. Styling consisted of a bit of heat over her front curls with a small curling wand. This creates the illusion that all her curls are intact while the reality is to maintain the shape and fixing the edges. “If I’m on my second or third-day curls, I’ll wet my hands and add a little water or spay my curls, so that they’ll have some moisture, otherwise, it will just be frizz.” Alina discovered that this technique is impossible to maintain her curls while in Bali. During a day of filming near a waterfall, she realized that more must be done to keep her curls. “In ten minutes, my perfect little-coiled ringlets turned into confused naps…this Bali weather is wild.
An additional learning experience occurred on set with the hair and make-up artist, who does not know how to do afro-textured hair. “[This] is common with a lot of international hairdressers. It was an understanding I knew as an actress, traveling overseas to work on a film. You have to know how to do your own hair. It’s not because the people around me are being inconsiderate of me. It’s because they don’t know and they don’t know because there aren’t enough roles for actresses of African descent. The differences in hair texture and skin tone aren’t something that I would expect someone working in hair and make-up to understand because it’s not common enough.
As a proud black woman, Alina educated herself on how to take care of her own natural curls, especially while visiting different environments. As she has stated ‘there is no guide to maintaining healthy natural curls. “Everyone’s hair is different. Everyone’s hair has different stages. Even if you think you’ve found something that works, it might not.” Her pride in her curls has allowed her to learn and understand what works for her, even while traveling.