Going Back To Natural? Let’s Go!

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Hello lovelies!

We have come to the end of the Going Back To Natural series. Every single day of this week has been dedicated to enlightening, encouraging and inspiring everyone considering reclaiming their kinks, going back to natural hair.

This has been an interesting week. We’ve looked at what hair is and how relaxers work, how to transition from relaxed to natural hair, creating a healthy hair regimen and choosing hair products. You can catch the entire series here.

I’m still here for you- always an email away thekinkandi@gmail.com, but as this series comes to a close, I thought I’d say some last words:

1. Start Now.

Whether you’re transitioning, or you’re happy remaining on #teamrelaxer, I want you to be on #teamGoodHair, because good hair is healthy hair. Your healthy hair journey starts now.

yaya

Yaya of life!

2. Be Ready.

Before you go, I’d love for you to be ready. Have a few basic products and tools that you’ll need. Also have an idea of what your regimen is going to be. So you don’t freak out after.

3. Natural hair does not equal healthy hair.

Being Natural is best for hair, but just because your hair is in its natural state doesn’t mean your work is done. You need to keep your hair happy and healthy with gentle appropriate TLC.

Aevin Dugas and her fro- the world's biggest fro.

Aevin Dugas and her fro- the world’s biggest fro.

4. Going back to Natural doesn’t mean you’re on your way to a full head of Bohemian curls.

It doesn’t help that in the media when natural hair is represented, it’s all about loose curls and clumped spirals. These are beautiful, yes but the whole point of going back to natural is going back to YOUR natural. It may be really curly and it may not. And that’s great. Because that’s YOU. You leave relaxed hair to be free only to become a slave to the perfect curl definition- that’s not freedom, love. Be ready to embrace your hair, your curl pattern as it is.

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Natasha of Mane Moves TV

5. There’s no hair genie in a bottle.

The (long) healthy hair you want is not in a bottle. The products will tell you what they want, and some of them may help but the real factors that affect your hair’s health are in your hands. Healthy hair practices make all the difference. Be ready to develop a regimen and the consistency to stick to it.

6. Your hair is primarily your responsibility.

If you’re a female like me living in Nigeria, chances are, you have no idea how to care for your own hair. You know how to brush and roll that Brazillian but I’m guessing you don’t know a lot about your own hair- relaxed, let alone kinky-curly. Fact is, most of our hair stylists know how to beautify our heads with extensions, but they know little or nothing about what our own hair actually needs. They don’t know how to deal with natural hair so guess what? You’re about to become your hair’s main stylist and caregiver. Don’t be scared, you can do this. As am I. And many many women around the world. If you have a stylist you can trust, please don’t turn your back on them now. With or without a stylist, you need to be in tune with your hair.

Photo on 2013-08-04 at 17.29 #5

Loc’d hairspiration: Synethia!

7. Listen to your hair.

Sounds like crazy talk? I know. Your hair is unique, hair speaks. If it likes or hates a product, it will show it. You just need to pay attention. 😉

8. Please Study.

As you listen to your hair, you NEED to do a little bit of studying to be able to discern what it’s saying. Read blogs, subscribe to newsletters, join forums. There are tonnes of information available on the internet (Thank Goodness!) and amazing resources. The Natural Hair community is a very open one, people are very eager to swap hair stories and experiences.

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9. Document your hairscapades!

It’s important that you document your experience, take a lot of photos! Keep a hair journal, start a blog! On your down days, you can look at old photos or old entries and see how far you’ve come. 🙂

xchrisette

10. Stay positive!

There’ll be days when you’ll hate your hair, days when you’re wondering what the point is, days you want to just rush back to the creamy crack. Stay positive, put your relaxer and texturiser out of sight- give them away, trash them! I had Hairspiration folders when I was transitioning. On my phone, on my computer- I became a fro spotter. I also had a board on Pinterest. On my lowest days, these people that don’t even know me gave me life.

On the blog, many naturalistas have shared their hair journeys and their hair pictures, very beautiful real life natural hair inspiration. Go meet them here. More hairspiration, you could check out these tumblrs- Le Coil, Klassy Kinks for starters- and on facebook, Natural Nigerian and the Kinky Apothecary.

You can do this. At your own time, on your own terms. You are beautiful, you can be fierce, you can own those kinky curls! 😉 And best believe that when you do wear your hair out, you are encouraging other people to do the same!

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Elle Veezy!

Nigerian curlies, if you need help finding hair products or a hair salon in Nigeria, this here could help.

Till next post,

Love,

AB

xx

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Hairspiration! : Preye

Hey everyone!

I am very excited to share with you today’s Hairspiration! Her hair is amazing, and it is all thanks to her careful, patient and consistent healthy care practices! I hope you’re inspired! 🙂

Hi there, my name is Preye!

It means God’s gift and yes, I am a child of God. I am purely Nigerian by birth and heritage as both my parents are Nigerians (Ijaw and Urhobo). I have spent half of my life schooling, living and now working in the United Kingdom. I am an aspiring project manager. I currently work in the financial service sector. I studied International Relations for my first degree and then International Business Management for my second degree.

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When did you go natural and how did you do it?

I cannot give you an exact date for going natural as my case is slightly peculiar as it has been more of a journey (was a mixture of big chops at different points and finally great thought involved). Hence, my most recent big chop (2009) for my healthy hair journey did not require that much thought but a whole lot of research!

Unconsciously, I loved the thickness that comes with natural African Hair. I guess you could say my new found love for natural hair truly began in 2009 (start of my current healthy hair journey). September 2009 marked the start of my healthy hair journey and me cutting off (big chopping) my hair as it had been damaged from hair dyeing. I only left just about enough for it to be plaited and covered with weaves. For almost a year my friends and family did not see my hair when they finally did they realised I had cut my hair. I was very self-conscious in the first year so avoided people seeing it this period because of the negative feedback but I was determined regardless.

Researching led me to begin changing bad habits, learning new hair handling techniques, experimenting with products to find what would work for me, eradicated chemicals and stopped using heat tools like blow dryers and hair straighteners for a long time.

Tell us about your hair

I am not much of a hair typing person nor into terminologies but I would say my hair is a mixture of 4a,b and c (*laughing* well, it is a 4 for those who like to give it a number). I see the beauty of my hair and texture when I keep it conditioned, moisturized and oiled (sounds normal right?). People tend to say my hair texture looks manageable but that is because I do not play when it comes to the three things I just mentioned. Before I had knowledge on caring for my hair it used to break combs constantly! My hair is thick, coarse with very tight curls (or should I say coils) almost like o’s staggered on top of each other. Last time I straightened it was round about the bra strap region.

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Are you a less is more girl or a product junkie?

I am a less is more kind of lady when it comes to hair because I do not switch products unnecessarily. If it works I do not see any reason to change up a product and I find certain products effective for particular uses and specific hair styles. In the last two years I have definitely consciously created some sort of regimen/pattern for caring for my hair.

What are your staple products?

When it comes to products, my staples  based on categories I use them:

– Leave-Ins: I use Herbal Essences Beautiful Ends Split End Protection Cream or Cantu Shea Butter Leave in conditioning repair cream as leave-ins.

– My Go To Oils & Butters: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Castor Oil and Unrefined African Shea Butter.

– Pre-poo/Deep Condition: Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (EVCO) OR Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) mixed with Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Conditioner and Mayonnaise from the kitchen.

– Wash: 1st 2yrs of my hair journey I used Herbal Essences Hello Hydration but now I use Elasta QP Crème Conditioning Shampoo or mud wash because our textured hair can never get enough moisture and I noticed it adds to the softness of my hair. One constant though that I swap with is my African Black Soap (prefer the liquid form) from Ghana. Before every hair wash, I pre-poo.

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What is your hair regimen like?

I wash when necessary, so if my hair is left loose/free I tend to wash it once in a week (I ALWAYS do a deep condition/pre-poo treatment and detangle just before every wash which is the only time I comb through my hair from roots to tip). I recently started swapping between a protein based deep condition with yoghurt and more moisture based version with a bit of mayonnaise but more of herbal essence conditioner. So, when my hair is out if I focus on protein by the next hair wash I would focus on moisture based deep condition. Still experimenting with the yoghurt because I recently neglected my hair and currently baby-ing it back to life J.

I always use a heat protectant before blow drying or flat ironing (hair straightening using heat). I only straighten my hair one to two times in a year. The current heat protector of my choice is Cantu Shea Butter Grow Strong Strengthening Treatment.

Anything in particular your hair cannot do without?

It has to be MOISTURE! MOISTURE!! MOISTURE!!! This is why my texture gives the illusion of being so manageable and easy to deal with but believe me that you only get to see the end results in pictures! This is the reason I do not play when it comes to pre-poo/deep conditioning, using leave-ins or simply spraying water and ensuring I seal with a good oil or butter. My hair experience is a lot less painful and crying-free unlike my childhood memories (thank you Jesus for deliverance! Of a truth, people perish for lack of knowledge). So, glad I have laid my hair-nemies of progress to rest!

What are your hair Do’s and don’ts?

Never handle your hair when you are short for time because the last thing you want to do is handle your hair whilst you are in a rush. You will most likely be tugging and breaking your hair in the process, patience is a key ingredient (scarfs are usually my back up plan lol). Avoid handling your hair dry if you have similar hair texture to mine. Run! I Repeat *in Nigerian accent* RUN OH!! From tight braiders like a plague! My 3 do’s are: deep condition, moisturize and seal (oil) your hair will sing Halleluyah! Believe me!!

How do you wear your hair?

My schedule is tight and though I love my hair I do not have the time to handle it every single day so I major in longer term protective styles like fixing a weave/wig and alternating with getting braids done. Even when my hair is left loose it tends to be in an updo of some sort or a messy bun. So, I definitely favour Protective Hair Styles and Low Manipulation Styles. I do not disturb my hair unnecessarily and I do enjoy different style options based on my mood and personality as I love some kind of rotation. As a result, I do not have a favourite style because I style my hair based on how I feel and the look I want to achieve.

I would say my constant style staples are weaves, wigs, braids, plaits, updos, buns, etc. My braids tend to last 4-6weeks.

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I give my hair a break in-between and rock my natural hair loose at times. I would sleep in chunky plaits, loosen it  (they call that a braid out lol) and am out the door but no more than a week as I will deep condition and wash it by the end of the week (maximum 2weeks – I recently experienced major breakage when I left it for 3months plus loose without sticking to my regimen. Let’s just say never again!). I moisturise with either water or a leave-in and seal (butter or oil) daily routine is a must this period! On very rare occasions (twice in a year), I do straighten my hair to enjoy my hair in a different state (usually curl my straightened hair using bendy rollers over night not use to bone straight hair).

I style my hair in as I normally would to work and I personally do not think it hinders me in any way at work (either that or I am just oblivious to anyone’s opinion of my hair lmao). They actually like the variation of style I am able to enjoy; I think they look forward to my next hair style than I do. I rocked my full afro to work once and it got all the attention because a lot of my colleagues had never seen or touched afro hair. In fact my manager directed her sister to my blog because her sister was having a tough time caring for her mixed race daughter’s hair. I see myself as adding some chocolate to my milky work environment and it’s delicious!

Are You on your Natural Hair Journey for any particular reasons?

My natural hair journey was spurred on by curiosity and research. Being Nigerian (and surrounded by a lot of Nigerians) I always wondered why Nigerian ladies (African women) with afro textured hair never seemed to have long hair like our European and Asian counterparts. I began researching online, reading books, watching shows and asking questions to know what some of my Caucasian and Asian friends were doing that I wasn’t.

Plus, I had experienced it all and was at my wits end. I was on a mission to see if my hair would grow because it seemed stagnant. My hair CV had everything from from rocking a twa as a teenager to rocking African thread to university when mum visited *smiles* to texturizing (it is classified as a chemical) to those ‘aunties’ almost every Nigerian child born in my era will remember that put your head in between their thighs *ewww* in the name of making your hair for school to stylists in salons who would blow dry my hair to oblivion and half the hair on my head would be on the floor (they might have been good at styling but definitely not at maintaining my hair’s health). Lest I forget the way they man-handled my hair and called it combing of my hair whilst giving me a migraine to the ones that would plait my hair so tight and I would end up with what looked like boils on my scalp and of course dying my hair almost all colours of the rainbow and as a Pastor’s daughter you definitely get judged for that *straight face*.

Okay, let me rewind to the very beginning. I was natural from when I was a toddler till I was about 8 or 9 years old when I begged to get a relaxer. I loved it but after about a year my hair looked so limb and lifeless from the full natural mane I was used too! By secondary school (a year after relaxing), I had to cut all of my hair and I guess you could call this a compulsory big chop for boarding school in Nigeria lol. I cried my eyes out and my cousin Karina was so touched she also cut her own hair to show some moral support even though she did not have to. Now, that is real love right there! Until I was about 16, I rocked a teeny weeny afro (TWA). I decided using texturizers was the way to help manage my hair better but I had no knowledge whatsoever on the effects of chemicals. It did not even occur to me that a texturizer was just a mild version of a relaxer. Well, I learnt the hard way because by the time I was in university my hair was not as thick as it ought to be and to make matters worse I dyed it different colours of the rainbow! Back to square one right?

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Have you received any negative comments about your hair? How did you deal with it?

At that time when I decided to begin my healthy hair journey, it was rare to see a natural talk less of one with long hair past shoulder length and here I was projecting that my goal was to achieve waist length afro hair by December 2014. So expectedly I got mixed reactions well mostly negative from my Nigerian paddies things like “for your mind abi”; “you don start shey”; “free that thing”; ), “shey na beans abi na potato” meaning impossible in Nigerian pigin. Let’s just say the reactions were not particularly encouraging so I decided to keep quiet after a while and begin my mission of doing instead of just talking. I had reached a phase in my life where the only opinion that truly counted (still counts) to me is that of God. You honestly cannot please human beings even if you tried. I was very comfortable in my own self and disregarded negative comments. After a while, with patience and time the adjustment has actually been from others who are now used to seeing my hair for what it is and has led to a lot of people around me to also go natural or simply pay more attention to their hair’s health (yes, including my critics). It’s a hair crusade so I am happy with the effect and end result.

What is your hair to you?

I see my hair as an accessory, a style, my culture and a display of my African heritage. All these things can change and it is about my choice on how I choose to rock it. It is the versatility that comes with having natural hair and being able to buy any other hair of my choice without affecting the health of my afro hair that I enjoy.

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Have you experienced any difficulty being natural in Nigeria or where you are?

Well, I experienced being singled out a number of times including friends and family asking what I was thinking talking about “wanting waist length afro hair”. In terms of reactions especially from Nigeria and people who have not met me in person, it tends to be more of disbelief that it is in fact my hair or that Nigerian hair can grow this long. Apparently, to grow long hair you must have blood/genes from non-Nigerian forefathers but thank God people are gradually moving away from ignorance as knowledge is becoming widespread when it comes to hair. But I am thankful I stood my ground and now that they can see results some have done the big chop and I am officially their unofficial hair consultant now.

Have you learnt anything new? Has it changed you?

I have learnt a lot about my hair and also learnt to love me just as I am. I know it may sound cliché but if you can accept and love yourself in your natural state it is contagious to everyone around you when it is genuine. Being natural has not changed my personality it just feels natural being natural *cheesy grin*

At present, what are your challenges?

When it comes to my natural hair the major issue I struggle with is extreme shrinkage although I have learnt to embrace it. I tend to stretch my hair most times by either plaiting it or blow drying but more recently threading it. At present I am battling from recovering from major breakage on my ends. In the last six months I have been unable to retain length partly due to leaving my hair loose but majorly due to neglect from lack of time. It is on its way to recovery now.

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Any Hair Goals?

I am currently bra strap length as a result of the breakage experienced but my hair goal is to be waist length by December 2014. My long term goal however, is to maintain healthy afro hair.

Any last words to the person thinking about going natural or the new natural?

For those considering going natural, please please and please do your research first because no one will spoon feed you when it comes to your own hair growth. Also, please do it for you and not because you think you need to join a revolution or you simply want to follow a trend.

For those who are already natural, it is normal to have set backs in your hair journey. Do not let it get to you, remember it is hair and it will grow back. Also, avoid comparing your own journey to someone else instead focus on you. However, it is okay to be inspired and motivated by someone else.

For everyone, the best advice I can give to you is to dedicate time to learn about hair generally then more specifically your own hair. Try out products to find what your hair responds to, this process took me probably 2 years to find my staple products. What works for one person may not work for your own hair due to different factors like hair density, texture, environment (e.g. the effect of hard water) etc.

Do you write a blog or have a twitter or instagram or any other social media you’d like people to connect with you on?

Sure! You can find me on my blog www.myafricanhairitagestyle.wordpress.com and you can hit me up on twitter – @missombu 

Thank you SO much Preye for taking the time to do this feature! I thoroughly enjoyed reading and posting this, I hope you did too!

If you’d like to be our natural hair inspiration on the blog, please email: thekinkandi@gmail.com. We’d be happy to feature you!

Till next time,

Love,

AB

xx

Day 5- P for Products!

Source: Afrobella

Hey everyone!

It’s Friday already, Day 5 of Going Back To Natural and today, we are talking about products!!

Sorry, I’m not here to give you a list of products to buy to start you off on your natural hair journey. 😛 The truth is, your sister’s favourite hair product may do nothing for you. The product I’m raving about right now may be rejected by my hair in the future. Such is the wonder of our kinks. The lovely fun of product junkie-ism is waiting for you to discover it, but I’m going to just go over a few things to help you make informed decisions.

For a very long time, products were not made for our natural hair types, but now with the big boom in the natural hair revolution, and hair consciousness amongst black women in general, we’ve seen relaxer lines come out with natural lines- and many more products in our interest. When I do Product reviews on the blog, I do it to document my experience for reference in the future, and also, just in case anyone is considering trying the products I used. My experience is in no way a “sure banker” guarantee that a product will work, or not work for you.

The thing is, we write from what we know, so there is a tendency amongst bloggers (I try to fight it) to pass off the facts of one’s experience with something as hard facts for everyone. There are no hard and fast rules about whether a product is good or bad. It’s just important that you know what you’re putting in your hair, how it works, why it works the way it does, and make it work for you.

Ask yourself, what will be your yardstick for choosing products? To my mind, there are three types of naturals in this regard. Which one are you?

1.      You’re natural because you want to live a chemical-free, healthier lifestyle in general, so you’re more interested in all-natural products.
2.      You’re like, the more natural the better, but I’m not anti-chemicals. You’re happy buying products that aren’t all natural, but you will take your time to study and research ingredients. (this is me)
3.      Ingredients? #aintnobodygottimeforthat! I’d try anything, I don’t care what’s in it, just as long as it works!

An all-natural hair stash is a really good thing, mostly. For one, you never have to suffer or worry about suffering from gross product misrepresentation like this. The best we can do with manufactured products is to assume that the makers are being honest.

Depending on your choice of natural products, it can be cheaper or more expensive than buying manufactured products. Though you’re using naturally occurring products, you should note that not everything is good for you just because it’s natural. Naturally occurring products can give you unwanted, and in some cases- life threatening effects.

Essential oils for instance. Women are advised to avoid certain essential oils during pregnancy. Some naturals say honey lightens their hair- some appreciate this, and some don’t like it at all. Apple Cider Vinegar is MEANT to be diluted. Using it on your hair in concentrated form is not going to help you get the best out of it, rather you may be left with an irritated scalp. Read about Dabs of Naija Hair Can Grow’s horrible experience with Neem Oil here.

Did you know that shea butter has latex properties and that some people actually react to this? That for some naturals, natural oils help solve the problem of dandruff whereas in some, it only makes it worse? These are more rare conditions, I admit, but I just want you to keep your eyes open and not just accept anything and everything because it’s natural. Be observant about your experience, and when you google benefits of Fruit X, also google for side-effects. Are we good? Okay.

Natural hair products I think you could try are:

Olive oil and shea butter as sealants (they’re cheap and easily accessible)

Honey is a really good humectant and it makes for a great moisturising deep conditioning treatment.

African black soap, for instance, Dudu Osun as an alternative to regular shampoo.

On the flip side, let’s talk about commercial products, products with long lists of ingredients.

Quick tip:

Ingredients are listed in order of their proportions in a product, from the greatest to the least. If you see a product that claims to be some Castor Oil hair wax for instance, and you read the ingredients and see that Castor is three ingredients away from being the last on the list, clearly, that product is like Castor flavoured. You’re buying it for the Castor goodness and you’re getting a whole lot of other things that your hair doesn’t even want or need.

Always read the ingredients, particularly noting the first 3.

Having said this, let’s talk about the big bad 3. By the big bad 3, I’m talking about three ingredients that have been singled out in the Natural hair community as the bad guys.

Product labels proclaim: No Mineral oil, No silicones, No parabens!

As a new natural, if you can, it’s not a bad idea to avoid them in the beginning, but you can eventually make them work for you.

Mineral oil is derived from petroleum (crude oil). It is an oil and cannot moisturise, because it is well, an oil. Moisture = water and if you like, aloe vera which has water in it soooo…

Mineral oil in concentrated form (think Vaseline, Apple Hair Cream, Dax, Bergamot, any regular supermarket pomade you know), should be used as a SEALANT. That is, you should already have moisture on your hair that you are locking in. It can also be a styling product, it’s just not a moisturiser!

Mineral oil in hair products is meant to play the same role as other emollients, so if you read the ingredient list and you’re still wary, as long as mineral oil is not so way up the list, you may still go ahead to make your purchase.

Silicones are products that end in –cone, for instance, dimethicone. They provide great slip for detangling, but they aren’t water soluble. By this I mean, water alone cannot rinse them off.

The thing with mineral oil and silicones is that they coat the hair shaft and are difficult to wash off properly with a hair regimen that doesn’t accommodate shampoo. By wash off properly, I mean that even when on the face of it, after a co-wash, your hair is clean, little parts of these substances may be deposited in your hair shaft and you won’t know it until your hair starts complaining of product build up!  Mineral oil and silicones are not in themselves the enemy. If you must use them, just be ready to shampoo more often.

Parabens are used as preservatives in product formulas. How to identify them? They end in something-paraben. In relatively recent times, certain studies have claimed that parabens are carcinogens- possible causes of cancer. There have also been studies rejecting this proposition, but nobody wants cancer. These fears are definitely not unfounded, but could you read the back of the pack of your new lippie? Or your deodorant or body lotion? I have a good feeling that you’ll find parabens listed there. I’m not saying expose yourself to cancer, I’m saying if you really want to go paraben free- don’t just stop at the hair. Thankfully, there are new substitutes to parabens.

I’m still learning a lot about hair product formulas and how the different ingredients affect our hair. This is a very fascinating area of hair science, and maybe we could have another series about ingredients in the future when I’m much more knowledgeable.

I hope this helps!

Love

AB

Xx

Day 4: The ABCs of Creating Your Regimen!

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Hello lovelies, AB and Tolu here!

You are reading the 4th post in the ‘Going Back To Natural’ series. If you missed anything, you could catch up here. 🙂

One very important thing we’ve learnt on our hair journeys and we are pretty sure you’ll soon agree with is: It’s not about what you’re using, but what you are doing. Products are great and fun but the hair you want- that soft, manageable, ball of kinky candy floss is not in a bottle. It’s in the way you care for it, the healthy hair habits you adopt.

A healthy body is really the foundation for healthy hair, but as far as healthy hair habits go today, we’ll be looking at things directly related to your hair care, i.e. the good old regimen that natural girls are always talking about, and how to make one work for you.

If you still remember, Your Hair = Protein + Water + trace elements. Protein gives your hair its strength and structure, Water gives it elasticity. Healthy hair is all about maintaining a Moisture-Protein balance.

There are some basics that every natural’s regimen must accommodate. However, different strokes go for different folks. So it’s up to you to figure out how frequently these things will feature in your regimen.

  1. Moisturise & Seal
  2. Clarify
  3. Condition
  4. Deep Condition

MOISTURISE & SEAL

Your hair needs moisture.

Moisture = water*. Moisturise = to put water in.

If your hair isn’t well moisturised, it is dry and inelastic. As a result, it is brittle (that is, highly prone to breakage) and hard to comb. You need to moisturise your hair as often as necessary.

You can moisturize your hair with: Plain water or some people prefer to use natural Aloe Vera. You could also use a water-based moisturising cream or leave-in conditioner, or an aloe vera based leave-in. (more about products tomorrow)

It’s also important for your hair and skin that you drink lots of water!

AB: When I started my hair journey, I needed to use a leave-in conditioner every day. Now, I don’t. I use a leave-in every 3 days, and spraying my hair with water is fine for every other day.

As you must know, water evaporates when left exposed. This is where sealing comes in.

Sealing is the process of coating the hair to create some kind of barrier, to prevent moisture loss by evaporation. You can seal your hair with an oil e.g. Olive oil, coconut oil or a butter (shea butter, cocoa butter, avocado butter etc)

If you do more sealing than your hair requires, your hair will be greasy and you won’t like that. Also, the barrier created may be too thick, and this would make re-moisturising a little difficult.

How you moisturize & seal may depend on something very important, your hair porosity. Remember when I said hair is layered? Hair has three layers- the cuticle, the cortex and the medulla. The cuticle is the outermost layer of hair. To work, most products need to get into your cortex, and they can only do this by getting past the cuticle.

Some people’s cuticles are very tight and difficult to get through.

Some people’s cuticles are very easy to get through, so easy they’re like a sponge, soaking in the moisture. However, because they are so sponge-y, they also lose moisture really quickly.

Some people’s cuticles have a sense of balance. They absorb moisture well and do really good at retaining it too.

From the three different scenarios I have described, are you beginning to see how we can’t all use the same products? And how your regimen has to be unique to you?

For more about porosity (how to find your porosity, and suggestions as to how to moisturize & seal for your porosity), when you’re ready, you could go read this post I wrote here.

Try not to over-do it though, there is such a thing as over-moisturising! Remember people, the mantra is balance, balance, balance! *lotus position*

CLARIFY

When you use products on your hair, little bits are deposited on your scalp and along hair shaft. You need to clarify to remove all the build-up from your product usage. There are quite a few ways to clarify, the most common being shampooing. This is necessary because build-up clogs up the pores of your hair so that moisture is not easily possible.

Clarifying shouldn’t be done too often as most clarifiers strip the hair of its natural oils and may also leave your hair and scalp really dry.

CONDITION

This, you are no stranger to. After every wash with shampoo, you use a conditioner (I hope!)

Because clarifying is such a thorough process, our hair tends to feel very dry afterwards. This is because it has usually been stripped of its natural oils and moisture. Instant or rinse-out conditioners help fix this by trying to replenish our hair. They are designed to provide a quick fix, to moisturise hair and smoothen the cuticles. However, once they are rinsed off, their yummy ingredients really are washed away, so you still need to moisturise & seal.

So, you may condition after a shampoo, OR you may skip the shampoo and simply condition. This is what is meant by the term Co-washing (yep, Conditioner Washing. Ohhhh)

The reasoning behind co-washing is simply this: Clarifying products like shampoos are great at cleaning. But your hair may not need that kind of intense rub-down on the regular.

I say “may” because again, this depends on you and your situation. Your hair may appreciate co-washing more than the usual shampoo + condition, but then again, it may not. So you try and you see if it works.

If your hair isn’t really dirty, conditioner may be enough for you on most days. But please be sure to clarify when your hair needs it, or say, as a preventive measure, once a month! Product build-up is not pretty!

DEEP CONDITION

Deep conditioning is a very critical part of a hair regimen. Deep conditioning helps to strengthen and improve the elasticity of your hair preventing breakage. It also leaves your hair softer and shinier.

Because Hair = Protein + Water, deep conditioning may be classified under two umbrellas: Protein Deep-conditioning and Moisturising Deep-conditioning.

Your hair may need a protein DC or a moisturising DC or both, depending on your porosity, and what your hair needs at the time. Remember, protein strengthens and moisture improves elasticity.

You can deep-condition with a commercial hair product, or make your own deep-conditioner in your kitchen, or bathroom. For more about Deep-conditioning and for some quick homemade DC recipes, you can read this post, here.

If you’re using a deep conditioner that you bought, please follow the instructions!!

To reap the maximum benefits of your efforts to deep condition, please DC on clean, product-free hair, after a wash. You can DC after a co-wash. And if you just clarified your hair with a shampoo, for instance, you don’t need to use a conditioner before you deep condition. You can just go straight to your DC.

We trust that you’ll soon find your rhythm and make up the perfect regimen, but just in case you still want a starting point, let’s see how this works for you:

  1. Daily- Moisturise & Seal
  2. Co-wash once or twice a week
  3. Clarify once a month or every two weeks
  4. Deep condition once a week
  5. BE CONSISTENT!

Simple enough, I hope? If you have any questions, please sound off in the comments! And we’ll be discussing products in the next post!

Love,

AB and Tolu!

xx

Day 3- Destination: Natural. How Do I Get There?

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Ijeoma of Klassy-Kinks.com!

Hello lovely!

Welcome to ‘Going Back To Natural’, Day 3.

On Day 1, we looked at what hair is, why our African hair is kinky and how relaxers work.

Day 2, I shared my fears about going natural. If you’re just joining us, you can catch up here. 🙂

Now, let’s talk about what happens when you’re ready to face these fears. How do you cross over to experience the kinky curly goodness this girl won’t just shut up about? Here’s how:

1. TRANSITIONING

You grow out your natural hair. You just decide to stop relaxing your hair and let your kinky hair grow. Gradually, you can chop your relaxed ends off. You can transition for as long as you want, from a few months to 2, 3 years. The idea is to ease you into it, to get you to a length you’re comfortable with. If you feel ready after a month, 6 months or a year, you can chop off all your relaxed ends.

It is also possible to transition to healthy natural hair from hair that’s not relaxed. How? Unrelaxed hair that is heat damaged cannot go back to the way it was before. It’s damaged. No, your hair hasn’t just become “softer” or “looser”. If this is you, you’re also a transitioner, going back to healthy natural curls and coils.

IMG-20130905-WA0005

Transitioning can be a little frustrating because you’re dealing with two different textures- your new kinky growth and your relaxed texture. You may be tempted to straighten it with a flat iron to blend in, but give into this temptation one too many times and your new growth will be heat damaged. Yes, damaged as in, you can NEVER go back to your natural curl pattern so that’s back to square one. So please don’t do it, and if you must, don’t over do it. Thank you.

Do you know the demarcation line?

The demarcation line is a fancy name for the point in your hair where your kinky meets the straight. By now, you’re probably wondering who comes up with this terminology, haha.

spot the demarcation points! [Source]

spot the demarcation points! [Source]

Hmm. Now that I’ve written this, I wonder why it’s called a line. Anyway, regardless of what its called- a line or a point, whatever you like, please note that it is a very fragile potential breaking point so you have to start being careful about your hair,

Transitioning is a good time for you to warm up.

You aren’t just going towards natural hair, I want you to want HEALTHY hair. Where hair is concerned- natural or relaxed, I want health to be the first thing on your mind, the most important factor. So the moment you decide to transition, your healthy hair journey has started. You should start giving your hair good attention, gently nourishing it and only exposing it to products that actually care for its well being. Tomorrow, we’ll be looking at creating your very own hair care regimen and later, how to choose products. 🙂

I started deep conditioning religiously after months of being natural and my hair is SO much better for this. I noticed the improvement after 4-6 weeks! If I’d started this when I was transitioning, my hair would have been much easier to manage in my 8 month transitioning period, and my journey could have been easier post BC.

There will be times that you just want to relax the hair and start over another time- stay strong, ignore it, carry on as you normally would, with protective styling. Do not! I repeat, do not have any relaxers in your possession!

A protective style is simply a hairstyle that prevents you from manipulating or dealing with your hair. You are no stranger to protective styling- you can do this with or without extensions, but for transitioning hair, you’re most likely going to prefer styling with extensions.

Kinky twists got me through my transitioning period. The texture of the braiding hair is similar to naturally kinky hair so it’s just a joy to wear. You can switch it up- short, thinner kinky twists, thicker Marley twists and the gorgeous chunka chunky Havana Twists!

Fixing weaves work too (but please be careful to protect your hairline). If you’re like me and you detest full closures, you may want to start using curly or kinky weaves for your U-parts or centre part weaves. This is because, with straight weaves, you are going to be obsessed with pressing your hair with a flat iron regularly, to maintain that sleek look. This may result in heat damage and you know why we don’t want that now, don’t you?

Ifeyinwa of Love, Ifeyinwa. See how the weave blends with her hair? More about these extensions here.

Ifeyinwa of Love, Ifeyinwa. See how the weave blends with her hair? More about these extensions here.

Better still, buy a wig or make your own! If you don’t want to make your own wig, here’s another interesting way to get the look- click!

Even now, when my hair annoys me, I just put it out of sight in a protective style. This is not to say I neglect it oh, I still care for it (like this).

And there are also styles you could do with your own hair to blend in both textures like roller sets (good old salon wash and set), bantu knots and bantu knot-outs.

Try your best to remain positive, and be patient! It’s a process!

2. THE BIG CHOP!

You cut your relaxed hair off. This may be a spontaneous decision, with you starting with no hair at all or maybe an inch or two. OR

Ms. Zaynab Balogun :)

the lovely Ms. Zainab Balogun 🙂

In the alternative, after transitioning for a while, the process of cutting your relaxed ends off, leaving you with some inches of kinky hair is also big chopping 🙂

Simply put, the Big Chop is just that moment when you let go of the last relaxed parts of your hair. *sniff* R.I.P.

Bye-bye boring straight ends, hello teeny weeny afro!

Here’s Sisi Yemmie’s big chop video, it may inspire you 😉

The bright side of chopping it all off is that you get to enjoy all the stages of your hair’s growth. Sometimes I wish I had chopped it all off and started from scratch (too bad transitioning me wasn’t as confident, but yes, it’s a process 🙂 ) You may enjoy having no hair so much, you could leave it like this for a while. Also, you don’t have to deal with the highs and lows of transitioning.

Will you be a long-term transitioner or a short-term transitioner or will you be a straight big chopper? Whatever you decide, just do you! Your hair is yours. You have to take your journey on YOUR own terms. Don’t make yourself, or let anyone make you feel uncomfortable. If you want to transition for 2 years, do it!

Love,

AB

xx