The Internet is teeming with viral how-tos, but you will be hard pressed to find another vlogger who combines good vibes and bouncy flair quite like Whitney White. White, a.k.a. Naptural85, is about all things natural and nappy—she makes absolutely no apologies for being 100% herself. She offers totally doable DIY tips, styles and hair-food recipes for the modern woman's do, and she does it all in such a genuinely positive and honest way you can’t help but get hooked. Her bite-sized tutorials are all about the health of your hair, not the status of her following—which, if anyone is counting, has surpassed 440,000 YouTube subscribers. White is a woman who’s doing her, with zero reservations. That’s why we’ve officially added her to our list of Ladies We Love!
We recently asked her a few questions about her life as Naptural85 and received a peek into the woman behind all that glorious hair:
How exactly would you describe “naptural” hair?
"Naptural" hair is hair without boundaries or rules. It does what it wants in the moment, and it never apologizes.
What was your hair like growing up? Were there any role models who inspired you to go natural?
Growing up, my hair was natural and thick. I remember it being long as well—my mom took very good care of it. When I was in elementary school, I started asking for texturizers and relaxers. Then the chemicals slowly started deteriorating the health and thickness of my hair. This is also when I started caring for my hair by myself. I was in art school and wanted to express myself. I was tired of my straight boring hair and so I wore it curly a lot. My husband liked it curly and encouraged me to go natural instead of getting relaxers every six weeks.
How did you become a vlogger? Was there an online natural hair pioneer who inspired you?
"Vlogging" was something I fell into. Before I went natural, I wanted to do some research to prepare, so I searched online photos of natural hair. This is when I came across YouTube. There were only a handful of women sharing their tips back in 2008 and no one really had my hair texture. So, in 2009, I felt the need to share my tips, as I gained them on my journey, in the hopes of helping anyone else out there with a similar hair texture who was looking for guidance. Actually, the very first video I ever created was a slideshow of my own hair journey, which was created to thank the women that had inspired me to go natural. When I posted that video, I thought it would be the one and only video I would ever post. But the positive feedback and additional questions from women who saw the video made me come back.
You make a lot of your own products. What’s the number one ingredient your hair absolutely can't do without?
It's cliché, I know, but water. My hair definitely cannot do without water!
You have two vlogs—tell us about DearNaptural85!
Dearnaptural85 is my ever-evolving baby. It started as an open letter channel, then morphed into a style and vlog channel and now it's strictly daily vlogs! It's where my viewers can get to know me a little better and where I'm actually able to get to know my viewers better as well.
What is the significance of calling the natural hair transition a “hair journey”? Was yours a journey that was limited to your hair care?
I think the phrase "hair journey" is all-encompassing. It's not only about the care of the hair, but also about the ups and downs of navigating through a world you once knew through a different lens. As lame as it may be, our entire sense of self can be completely uprooted from a drastic change in our outward appearance. So the "hair journey" is not only about transitioning your hair, but about the potential changes in "self" you may also face. This includes dealing with the ridicule, judgments, and/or praise from others and yourself, all while trying to learn how to care for this new texture of hair. I've seen women be hit hard in the self-esteem department while making this transition, so it really can be a "journey" not only in the physical sense, but also mentally.
My journey included all of the above. But at the time I was making my "hair journey," I was in that transition of "self" already. I was just about to graduate college, I was trying to find myself and was open to experimenting with my look and leaving the past behind. At the time I chopped it off I didn't even care if my hair grew back or not, I just wanted it gone. Now, when it was actually gone, I did freak out a bit, but after the initial shock, I accepted my new look and moved on from there, focusing on other things besides my hair and outward appearance.
I think the increase in the natural movement is awesome, of course! I think it has a little bit of evolving to do still, but I'm confident we will get there. I think the movement is right in line with how the world is evolving today. These days, more and more people are aware of how important it is to live a healthy lifestyle. We're more aware of toxins in our foods, we read more labels, we question more, and we're always demanding healthier alternatives from establishments. I'm not surprised that this holistic way of thinking, which is really taking over, has made an impact on our beauty regimens and products as well. We're more aware of what we're putting into and on top of our bodies.
Do you feel like your identity is tied to your hair? As a woman of color, does wearing your hair in natural curls affect how connected you feel to your ethnic background?
Back when I first went natural, I would've said "yes" in a heartbeat. I think back then, it was so new to me that I did feel different and more connected with my new texture and little afro, just for the fact that I looked more ethnic. Maybe I felt like I had something to prove or wanted to see if I could be comfortable in my own skin, but now my hair has really just become a normal, everyday part of me. The "new car smell," I guess, has dissipated and it's just me. My hair isn't something separate from me, or something that defines me anymore.
As an African-American woman, I do feel proud that I am confident in my own hair, and that it is a unique texture from any other ethnic group. But I don't know if I feel more connected to my ethnic background because of it. I believe I would feel more connected by doing more research into my background instead of simply looking like my ancestors. I love my hair kinky, curly and stretched, but neither style makes me feel more connected than the other. There are women with straight, relaxed hair that know more about my background, and have gone through more than I probably ever will, so I don't look at someone's hairstyle choices as an indication of how much they're connected to their ancestry or how proud they are of where they've come from.
Do you think your daughter’s comfort in her identity will be at all influenced by how active you are in inspiring acceptance and love of all things kinky-curly?
Oh yeah, I'm sure! My husband and I definitely look to instill self-confidence in our daughter, Olivia, and that includes everything from how she looks, to how she thinks, behaves and learns. But I want her to also know that her hair doesn't define her and it's okay to switch up your look. I think that if you try to restrict someone to only one thing, they will eventually reject that one thing, simply because they are sick of it, so I will never say that she must only wear her hair curly. She can express herself however she wants as long as she knows that she was born beautiful and will always be naturally beautiful.
Do you think you are changing the standard for “good hair?”
I think collectively, all of the bloggers, hair magazines and hair care companies are helping to change the standard for "good hair," whether they want to or not. The people have spoken and we're finally being heard. It's been a long time since I've heard someone use the phrase "good hair," in the real world anyway, and I hope it stays that way.