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Introduce yourself!
I’m April Matthis and I’m an actor originally from Texarkana, TX, currently commuting between New York City and New Haven, CT where I’m appearing in A Streetcar Named Desire (starring Joe Manganiello from HBO’s True Blood). I just recently wrapped filming for the sci-fi short, Roxë15 by the award-winning indie filmmaker Celia Peters. I play Roxë Jones a tough, sexy, virtual reality programmer whose ground-breaking Mind Expansion software is suddenly sabotaged by a mysterious virus that starts to infect her body and mind. We currently have an Indiegogo campaign underway to offset post-production costs and get Roxë15 on the festival circuit.

Why did you make the decision to go natural?
I’ve been natural since 2001. Altered hair was all I’d ever known, so by the time I made the big move to my dream city I was determined to find out what my actual hair texture was. It was an endeavor fueled by curiosity and self-discovery.

How would you describe your texture?
I have a thick head of wiry, coarse-stranded, low-porosity hair. I’d describe it as 4B/C–it has a clear s-/zig-zag curl pattern and clumps with conditioner and styling products, but has little definition when completely stripped, and can have a cottony texture when dry and unstretched. It shrinks about 4-5″ when allowed to dry unmanipulated.

Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
I usually wash and condition bi-monthly and then twist or braid the damp hair. I seal with One n’ Only Argan Oil and finally unravel after a few days. My goal is to keep the hair stretched. So I will wear it out for a few days, then as a high bun, low ponytail, or twist/braid-out, before I wash out all the product and start all over again. This is flexible depending on my schedule and what roles I’m auditioning for or rehearsing. When my hair starts to dry out between stylings, I refresh with my spray bottle of water, glycerin, aloe vera gel, oil and Paul Mitchell The Conditioner (leave-in). Then I seal with the Argan Oil.

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What does wash day look like for you?
Wash day (or night) is a good hour and a half in the shower and another hour or two styling. When my twists are worn out and my hair is tangled or tacky with product buildup, I head straight for the shower, as it’s the easiest way to manipulate my hair. I try to part my hair into four big tufts, separating them with duck-billed clips. Then, starting in the front, I saturate the first section with water, add Tresemmé Naturals low-poo or apple cider vinegar to my scalp, then scrub with my fingers, lifting the dead skin and product off of my scalp. Then I work through the ends of the section, finger detangling as I go. I follow up with gobs of Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner, working through to the ends and continuing to detangle first with my fingers, then a wide tooth comb, and finally brushing with my Denman or Tangle Teaser.

Finally, I two-strand twist, usually separating this first big section into two or three smaller sections for smaller twists. I continue until I’ve done my whole head in conditioned twists, then rinse with warm water, as I’ve read this is better for low-porosity hair. When I get out of the shower, I apply a nickel sized amount of the Paul Mitchell The Conditioner to each twist, and either Shea Moisture Curl and Style Milk, Curl Enhancing Smoothie, or Curling Soufflé as a styling tool before I twist or braid the hair. I then apply One n’ Only Argan Oil to the hair and let my hair air dry. If my hair feels particularly rough, I may deep condition with a reconstructor for half an hour after the initial shampooing, but I haven’t found one brand I’m sold on.

Describe your favorite go-to hairstyle for days when you don’t have a lot of time to style.
I like to gather my hair into a high ponytail close to the front of my head, wrap it around itself and tuck in the ends to make a ballet bun. It’s very simple and looks like I tried. We wanted a different look for my character Roxë in the virtual reality scenes in the film, as she normally rocks a big braid out. I actually styled it into this high bun for the virtual reality scenes and it works. It looks sleek, minimalist, futuristic–her avatar hair.

How do you combat shrinkage?
I keep my hair stretched. Either twisted, braided, pulled back or up. And I try to avoid getting it wet once it’s styled. This was important when filming Roxë15, as we wanted to keep continuity, shooting the same scene over the course of a day. It was tough because my head would sweat under the lights and shrink an inch or two by evening. I had to keep it in a low ponytail between locations and takes.

What are some of your problem areas (if any) that require special care and attention?
I’ve been having trouble with my ends the past year or so, which has caused me to lose some of the length I’d gained, and has kept me at armpit length when fully stretched. Although I keep my hair fairly moisturized, I have to be vigilant about taking care of my ends because they can get tangled and form single strand knots very easily.

What are 2 do’s for your texture?
Do keep your hair moisturized. Do wear protective styles to stretch and avoid tangles.

What are 2 don’ts for your texture?
Don’t sleep on loose hair. Don’t ever comb or brush while dry.

Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
My acting blog is aprilmatthis.com, I’m also on Facebook and Twitter @april_matthis. The Roxë15 Indiegogo campaign is at http://igg.me/at/roxe15/x/1502.

April Matthis (Actress) New York City, May 2013
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