In the latest installment of ‘Natural Hair Diary,’’s Patrice Grell Yursik profiles a student with sexy, coppery-red-streaked curls.

Natural Woman: Nashanda Mia Clarke

Age: 27

City: Atlanta, GA

Occupation: Student, blogger at
Hair Journey: While growing up in the Bahamas, relaxed hair symbolized versatility and maturity to Nashanda. “It seemed that my friends with relaxers had more styling options than I did with my long, thick natural curls. I wanted to have straight, relaxed hair too, but my mom made me wait until I got in the 12th grade. So in 2001, I got my first relaxer – just in time for my senior photos!”

The love affair was short-lived, though. After experimenting with hairstyles, colors, and harsh products, Nashanda wound up with damaged, dry strands and tons of split ends. “One day, during the summer of 2005, I decided I’d had enough, so I went to the barber for a Big Chop. I felt so free and I loved my short natural cut.” The growing-out period was rough, so it took a few more back-and-forth efforts before Nashanda was fully aboard the natural train. “Finally, I decided to take a holistic approach. I said, ‘Why do I take care of other parts of my body and treat my hair this way?'”

She last relaxed her hair in February of 2008, and she’s super-proud for kicking the “creamy crack” habit. “I have more styling options with my natural hair,” she says. “I can still achieve the straight look. I can go for a swim, or drive with the windows down without worrying about my hair. I can cut it anytime and it grows back just as quickly. I love the versatility of natural hair!”
Favorite Products: Shea Moisture Moisture Retention Shampoo & Shea Moisture Restorative Conditioner ($9.99 each,, Jane Carter Solution Revitalizing Leave-In Conditioner ($8.59,, Fantasia IC Hair Polisher Styling Gel ($4.79,, water
Hair Icons: Tracee Ellis Ross, Jill Scott, Leela James, Chrisette Michelle, Corinne Bailey, Lauryn Hill
Advice to Aspiring Naturals: “It’s the best gift you can ever give your hair. Do your research and ask questions. You won’t regret it and if you do, it’s just hair and it will grow back!”

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