Natural hair versus relaxed hair is currently a trending topic and one that will continue to be discussed years after. There seems to be a natural hair revolution with women transitioning back to their natural hair. I thought since this is an ongoing discussion, I thought let me share with you my personal hair struggles. Yes I call it ‘a struggle’ because that’s exactly what it was.
As an African woman I struggle with my hair time to time . Like many I relaxed my hair in my teens at around the age of 14-15. I relaxed my hair because I wanted straight sleek hair like all the other girls at school. I wanted to fit in and not be different, besides natural hair at that time was not appreciated much.
Growing up and having my daughter, I’ve came to learn that in most cases, our mothers and caretakers really had no clue of how to take care and maintain natural hair. Our natural African hair is very thick and course, combing it was a nightmare for many and in turn relaxer was an easy option, an easy solution to the struggle.
My natural hair transition has been quite the journey, a rather interesting roller-coaster ride, with highs climbs and low drops. The first time that I cut my hair was in 2003 just before I went off to university. My hair was relaxed and I cut a pixie short cut. At that time my reason wasn’t really because I wanted to have my natural hair, but I wanted to see how it was like having short hair and I had seen a few girls with short, even black models in magazines. The excitement of having short hair did not last long. At that time I felt like it was the worst decision I ever made, so I started to grow my hair again and when it got to the length I was happy I relaxed it again.
So I would say that my transition from relaxed to natural hair really started out in 2010 after I had my daughter, I went for the ‘big chop’. I cut all my hair out and this time I cut my hair because I wanted to be an example to my daughter by teaching her to appreciate her natural hair. I believed in what I was doing and I set out to achieve it. Unfortunately this did not last long just like before, yes I fell of the wagon so to speak. Once my hair was long enough I relaxed it again telling myself she is still very young I have time to have relaxed hair. I failed. Through this whole time I struggled with my hair, I wanted it back to natural, then there were days I convinced myself that I’m ok with my hair relaxed, but there was always something that kept pulling me to the idea of going back natural.
To keep a long story short, when I was pregnant with my son in 2014, I got the same feeling as when I had my daughter. I wanted back my natural hair for the third time. So I cut my hair before I had my son. Went through his pregnancy with my natural hair and I am happy and proud to say that I still have my natural hair till this day. However it does not mean that I don’t struggle with it. In the last two years, I have learnt how to take care of it, and I do so with care. I also love to change my hair style so over the past two years, I’ve cut my hair four times, it has been braided, coloured and I have had weaves on and off. One thing that is different this time, is that I have done all that and still kept my natural, kinky coiled hair.
My hair journey has made me realize that, we are all different and that one should feel free to wear their hair how they please and not to please others or conform to what is considered the right way to wear hair. I love my hair and I know that I don’t have to conform to a certain group. I still love to change my hair and I love that I can wear it short or completely change my look, so I will continue to braid, colour and put on weaves, because I like it and I feel good when I do so. The most important thing is that I make sure that I take care of my hair while doing so.
Here are my top tips and products that I use on my natural hair.
My hair is short therefore I will have a different regime to someone with longer hair. I am not an expert in natural hair care but these steps/tips have work for me.
- Create a regimen. Decide how often you are going to “shampoo” and deep condition your hair. You will want to condition every 3 to 5 days and seal the moisture in with a natural oil of your choosing. Deep condition every week, and no less than twice a month.
- Use organic products. It is advice when buying products to look out for the word ‘organic’ rather than ‘natural’. The best way is to make your own products at home. You also make your own homemade hair care treatments at home from items from your pantry and the fridge. Youtube and natural hair blogs are great avenues to get ideas.
- Avoid heat on your hair, because my hair is short, I do not blow-dry it, I air dry my hair. But if you really want to blow dry or flat iron your natural hair I would strongly advice to make sure you use a heat protection shampoo and/or moisturizer, or a good serum/spray on your hair before flat ironing or curling.
- Finger combing. I learnt from a friend who is a natural hair enthusiast never to comb your natural hair everyday and that natural hair does not need to be combed everyday, just detangle with your fingers and make sure that your hair is damp before your finger comb it. Excessive combing will break your off. If you do need to comb your hair it is advised to use a wide tooth-comb.
In the past two years I’ve used different types of products to care for my hair, but I have recently discovered Aunt Jackie’s hair products and I have fallen in love. I also use a mix of Olive Oil, Castor Oil, Almond Oil and Vitamin E for hair growth.
Like I mentioned before youtube and blogs are a great avenue to learn about taking care of your natural and here are some that I follow and have helped me through my natural hair journey.
- Craving Yellow – (www.cravingyellow.com) Instagram @cravingyellow
- Abee Naturals – Instagram @abeenaturals and Youtbube Chanel (Swahili Natural)
- Kipilipili – @kipilipili.comtz
- Sheila Ndinda @sheliandinda (www.africantressesandtreats.com)
So what’s your hair journey? I would love to hear from you, please share with me by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org