My natural hair journey and the surprises I have discovered along the way.
April 2016, the beginning of my natural hair journey. There wasn’t a single reason for deciding to go au natural. Elements of self-actualisation, growth and socio-political reasons influenced my decision to get my processed hair chopped of and begin a life sans chemically processed hair. That is when it occurred to me that we have a real shortage of hairstylists who understand how to take care of 4C South African hair. When you walk into a salon and ask for a deep-conditioning treatment or a wash you’re faced with issues regarding the technique or products used as well as the amount of heat applied to your hair.
The poor service forced me to give up the salons and become a DIY Queen who manages her own ‘fro. The millennial in me turned to YouTube videos and natural hair blogs. I began learning what terms like hair porosity meant and picking up valuable hair care tips.
Currently my go-to products include olive and coconut oil (I know cliché right? but they really do work!), Aunt Jackie’s knot-on-my-watch detangling therapy, Cantu leave-in conditioning repair cream and lots of water. When you have relaxed hair you don’t mess with water –you’d end up at a pool party and just put your feet in. When you have natural hair you’re literally smiling when it drizzles outside. I also carry a small spray bottle with a small amount of conditioner and water in my bag to ensure my strands stay moisturised. I recently added raw Shea butter to my list of products and for my edges I use MPL oil and Dr Miracle’s follicle healer.
To protect my hair and encourage growth I use protective styling. According to Reabetswe Molapisi founder of ModaByRea, celebrity make-up artist and natural hairstylist protective styling refers to the process used to styling ones hair and not the hairstyle itself. For example, using your fingers or a wide tooth comb to detangle and style your hair as oppose to smaller combs will give you less breakage. Many people confuse the process and would refer to cornrows as a protective style but cornrows facilitate low manipulation to the hair which is what protective styling aims to do.
I enjoy expressing myself through my hair so having it braided or tucked away in cornrows and putting a wig on allows me to become whomever I want to be. Natural hair is flexible, Twist-outs or braid-outs are a life saver when you’re attending a special event and need your hair to have volume. I usually pat my strands flat around the sides and back and stretch the hair out on top to give the illusion of a tapered cut. I find that look flattering and sophisticated. I accessorize with funky earrings to complete the look.
Maintaining an afro requires patience. It was also interesting to see people develop opinions about my hair. People often comment on how they prefer my natural hair over any other hairdo, although the compliment is noted, I try to avoid using how others see me as a reason to keep my hair a certain way. Other people’s opinions and standards is exactly what trapped black women into Eurocentric standards of beauty. It is important to be happy and pleased with your appearance and to try stay clear of how others choose to see or define you. The natural hair movement is a revolution which I am proud to be a part of.
My current regimen:
I try to limit the number of products that I use on my hair. I do this so that I can actually see results as well as have the ability to distinguish between what works and what doesn’t. Currently, my top five products on the shelves include
- Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioning Repair Cream, this is perfect for doing your braid-outs and twist-outs. You don’t need to wash it out and it smells amazing.
- Aunt Jackie’s Knot-on-my-watch Instant Detangling Therapy, I use this on wash day to help me detangle and to get rid of those unwanted knots.
- Dr Miracle’s Follicle Healer Crème to help replenish my hairline.
- MPL Coconut Hair Oil to base my scalp and it helps prevent dandruff and promotes growth.
- Palmers Deep Conditioning Protein Pack assists to keep the hair soft and manageable. I have recently added Afrobotanics Black Pearl range to my routine, I will be writing a review on that soon so keep an eye out for that.
by Oreeditse Gill