Heat… Heat… Heat Damage

Sigh.

Sigh.

I’m sorry, I just don’t know how to say this.

Okay. Remember that time I spontaneously straightened my hair? Well, yup. My beautiful coils got heat damaged.

How did I determine it was heat damage?

1. Smell.

By the morning after I straightened my hair, I could smell the burn. It smelled like someone had lit my hair on fire and it absolutely irritated me, the smell. When I finally decided to wet my hair in the shower, and the smell lingered on, I knew that I was screwed. Sigh.

2. Loss of coil elasticity.

The beauty of natural hair is how versatile it is. Shrinkage has to be the 8th wonder of the world. Usually, when straightened natural hair is wet, it ought to go back to its natural curl pattern. In addition, when the hair is pulled at by fingers, it ought to spring back and curl back in. Granted, my hair, after washing, was shrunken, however there were visible straight tips. Also, when I pulled at any part of the hair, it became straight and would refuse to spring back. Sigh.

photo (8)

3. Loose curl pattern.

For me, this was the third indication. I twisted my hair one night in preparation for a twist out and my hair felt too fine and thin. I am not thick-haired, but the thinness that I felt was definitely strange. That was when I studied my coils in the mirror and yup, most of my coils were really loose. Sigh.

What to do? What to do?

I decided that I was going to restart the Maximum Hydration Method. Basically, the changes that follow heat damage all point to one thing – moisture.

Different people have tried different things that have worked in helping to deal with heat damage. Here a few examples:

1. Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse.

Well, clarify. That’s the purpose of the rinse. Usually, when your hair is straight, more products go in and there is high build up by the time you are ready to revert to curly/coily hair. So cleansing and clarifying hair properly is highly necessary. However, in nurturing your hair back to life, it is advisable to do the ACV rinse every so often (say, weekly).

2. Protein Treatments.

One baggage that heat damage comes with is weak hair that tends to split a lot at the ends. I actually noticed that when my hair was straight and I combed through, there were broken strands of hair on the comb and the table as well. Ugh. A store-bought protein treatment (e.g Aphogee 2-minute reconstructor) or a DIY treatment will suffice. But be careful! Don’t overdo it with the protein now.

3. Deep Condition.

Ah yes. Deep condition! Deep condition!! Deep condition!!! Choose your favourite highly moisturising deep conditioner and use it regularly and freely.

4. Hot Oil Treatment.

The point of most of these is to retain as much moisture as you can. Your hair has been robbed of its natural oils and is basically dead. So you will need to overcompensate for a while until it gets back to being independent. Hot oil treatments help. I will also add that you try oil rinsing with your frequent washes.

6. Allow hair to be slightly damp more often.

You know how sometimes we like to do our favourite styles on dry hair? Yeah, you can’t anymore. At least not yet. Have a spritz bottle handy with a water/conditioner or water/oil mix handy to spritz your ends with. In the state of damage, they get dry really easily and this will help to train your hair to be more accepting of moisture.

7. Cut/Trim.

Shiver. They say this is the last resort. If all fails, you gon need to go to the scissors (or even the clipper! *screaaammm*). If your damage is horrendous, you will need a lot of patience. However, as  you treat your hair delicately, you will need to imitate a transitioner. What this means is that you will need to trim off the ends regularly until all of your hair is back to being the hair that you once knew. Sometimes, people take the plunge and do the big chop. I. Will. Not. Be. Doing. This. No no no. I mean I only have one year of growth but please, it is never that serious. I shall nurse this hair back to life.

How can you prevent heat damage?

1. Don’t do it too much!

Usually, heat damage affects naturals that abuse the straightening iron. However, as in my case, even doing it once without proper safeguards can destroy your hair. The number of passes the iron makes through your hair should not be multiple. Two passes, and move on please. I didn’t count mine, but I bet she made more than 5 passes. When you start to see and/or smell those fumes coming from your hair then you should be afraid and stop what you’re doing.

2. Heat protect

Always, always, always use a heat protectant serum with any form of heat, especially a flat iron. I have no idea what was used on my hair (which was a very stupid thing to do. Do not be like me.). I advice that if you will be going to the salon, take your product with you or at least trust what the salon has before proceeding. There are more and more straightening kits in the market now and while I am not sure about the post-straightening services that they offer, at least they have heat protectants that help prevent damage.

3. Healthy pre-straightening practices

This is just as important as using a heat protectant. Make sure your hair is clean and deep conditioned before the blow-drying portion of the straightening process.

Because of the weather and because I was overwhelmed by what was happening to my hair, I am now currently caring for my hair in Marley twists. I shall let you know how that goes when I take down to assess progress.

So, yes, I was stupid and I’m paying the price. Thankfully, heat damage is not irreversible. On a similar note, I came across the idea of heat training. Apparently, it is applying heat regularly to cause hair curl pattern to become looser. The idea is to have healthy hair but loose curls and texture. It has been argued that heat training is not heat damage as it does not come with the dryness and brittleness of heat damaged hair. What are your thoughts on this? Have you had heat damage? How did you rescue the situation

Remember, we’re having a Big Fat Giveaway because we love you guys! 11 days left to enter, so do it!

Be smart with your choices this week.

– Mee Mee

❤ 

Introducing: Meemee’s Kinks

Hey beauts!

Forgive me. One of the comments on my Being me blog tag confirmed what I had been thinking. I really never introduced myself, neither have I ever talked about my hair! Sacre bleu. Unacceptable, right? Today, I plan to right all my wrongs.

As AB said in her reply to Fola, AB and I, together… “WE. ARE. THE KINK AND I!” (Read in a This-is-Sparta way). Who are we, you ask? AB and Meemee, we are best friends that have been going through life’s journey, and now hair journey together for many many years. AB was my hairspiration and the springboard from which I launched the courage to finally do my big chop. This is my hair story, so far.

Posted by Funmy Kemmy on Friday, August 02, 2013

What matters is how you see your hair! This is my hair’s alter ego.

After wearing my hair short and natural for 7 years, because, secondary school (I cut my hair before I started my last year of primary school. I was 9. My cousin had cut her hair for secondary school and I really disliked having to weave my hair every week with those women that treated your head like it was a phantom head. So I cut it.), I put the creamy hair crack in my hair before my hair had even made any growth progress. I think this is what killed my chance to have any growth at all. But I quickly realised that I do not like relaxers. They sting, they leave scalding burns on my scalp, they smell, they make my hair too flat on my head, ugh. So I made the switch to texturisers. I liked texturisers because they never actually made my hair straight or thin. They just made it easier to comb. Then they started to burn my scalp as well. That was when I made the decision to just stay off any of these chemicals altogether.

At this time, AB has started transitioning and she made it sound oh so fun. I wasn’t doing any research the way she did, I wasn’t taking any special care with products and protective styling either. My hair began breaking so much. It irritated me a lot such that one day, after doing a wash, I put the hair in a ponytail, took a pair of scissors and chopped the tail off. Stupid move! Of course it looked very raggedy. But I was quite happy about it. I had a stylist cut it into a nicer style after that and began to treat my hair a little nicer. wp_ss_20140719_0003   And then on Monday, September 30, 2013, I woke up, looked at my hair, got annoyed and walked to the saloon down the street and watched whatever was left of my straight, permed tips fall to the ground around me! October 4, 2013 was when I had my hair cut with a clipper, so that’s the first official day I started nurturing my natural hair.

My 'Big chop'

My ‘Big chop’

As you can probably tell, I have 4c hair. And if I’m entirely honest, for the longest time, I only thought of girls with 4c hair as having natural hair. Of course I was naive about other textures. But I would say that when I get envious of someone’s hair, it is usually because of their length, rather than their texture. After my big chop, I fell into the trap of expecting my hair to grow as fast as other people’s did, or to act the same way. So of course, I got frustrated when after 3 months, this is all I had:

Clearly not amused...

Clearly not amused…

You see, every time I would put my hair in a protective style (which is usually 90% of the time), I always imagined that my hair would look like this after take down:

Hair so big, can't even fit into the entire image

Hair so big, can’t even fit into the entire image Source: zestyfashion.com

But no matter how much I stretch after washing, this is what I get:

Super shrinkage or no?

Super shrinkage or no?

So my hair had a talk with me. And the outcome of that talk was to give it tlc, and focus on just that. It promised to grow, as long as I continue to give it unconditional tlc (well, I’m waiting for it to keep its end of the bargain). In the last few months, my hair has taught me something that I have also began to implement in my life. Enjoy the process. Results are good; good results, brilliant. But what’s the fun in living life from result to result? What happens to the in-between? And if the result is not desirable, one should be able to say “well at least it was a fun ride”. Ok, I’ve exhausted my deep talk quota for the week in this paragraph.

TWA forces into a faux bun.

TWA forced into a faux bun.

Anyway, the moral of this post is that I have oh so many hair goals and I have oh so much to learn. This blog has been great with providing me with lessons and sources to learn more from (thanks AB!). And now, novice as I am, I hope to work with AB to continue to do that for you guys and to share the process of my hair journey with you.

Fake it till you make it.

Fake it till you make it.

And so concludes my hair story… for now.

Have a brilliant new week, beauts. Till next time.

– Mee mee xx

Natural in Nigeria & On A Budget

Hello AB, How are you?

I am an aspiring naturalista. 

The thing is, most of the products are alien except ones like Dudu Osun, Honey, Shea Butter, Coconut Oil and Olive Oil. Please how can I use the local products around me? Thanks in anticipation of your reply.

xoxo

-Eucharia

——————————-

Natural hair can look a little discouraging because of all the senrenren as seen on the blogs (guilty) and other media but it’s really not complicated. Trying assorted products from far and near is a great hobby of mine mostly because I’m on a quest to find my Holy Grail faves but the real reason I try and try and try is, it keeps things interesting.

In all this though, I never forget that to survive and thrive, I don’t NEED a 5kg basket full of products. I’m going to suggest some basics you could easily find in Nigeria, to get you started on your hair journey. As you go on, you’ll find others that suit you better, don’t be afraid to try new things!

1. Shampoo- most shampoos contain sulfates (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate SLS/Sodium Laureth Sulfate SLES) and though they clean well, they also strip your hair of natural moisture and oils, so they can be too harsh for regular use. Dudu Osun or any other African Black Soap is a good alternative. Take the soap, and shake it in a bowl of water till it lathers. Then use the soapy water to wash your hair. Rinse out, that’s it!

Sulfate shampoos are as drying as they are effective. You don’t have to chuck them in the trash though. You can prevent them from drying you out if you try these tips.

2. Regular Instant/Rinse-out Conditioner

Conditioners help to restore the PH balance in your hair after shampooing, and to smooth your hair cuticles. They can also be used to wash your hair, this is what we call co-washing. Though this is their primary work, not all conditioners are equal.

I use the Hair Fruits Conditioner to co-wash when I don’t have anything else. It’s just 250-300 naira. Though it isn’t very moisturising and contains mineral oil (bite me), it is okay for the purpose, always within my budget and readily available.

V05 Moisture Milks Conditioner is nice, without the mineral oil. It’s within the 450-650 price range. Suave Naturals is usually stocked at SPAR, the Aloe + Coconut one, for about 650 or 750.

3. Deep Conditioner: for before OR after you shampoo, to fortify hair in advance or replenish lost moisture- whichever you like. I’m only just beginning to work with packaged DCs. Homemade ones work well for me. You can easily make your own.

Honey and Olive Oil DC- for moisture & shine

Edible mayonnaise + 1 egg + olive oil – Protein & shine

Coconut Milk DC packs a SERIOUS Protein punch. Beware of this one if you’re protein sensitive. If your hair feels weird after doing this, just leave it yeah?

For more about these ones and other homemade treatments and deep conditioning in general, kindly go here.

4. Leave-In Conditioner:

Water is hydrating & moisturising BUT not all naturals can rely on just water for their moisture needs. Now I can moisturise my hair once a week with water & seal, but it hasn’t always been this way. You need a leave-in to nourish your strands, draw and keep moisture in. Depending on how dry your hair is, you may use it once or twice a day or every 3 days… Depends on you.

Leave-ins you can easily find in Nigeria-
I. Africa’s Best Kids Organics Extra Virgin Olive Oil + Shea Butter Moisturising Detangling Lotion. About 800-1200. Depends on where you look
II. Jack 5ive Curl Activator Gel- pricing range and availability similar to Kids Organics.
III. Natural Nigerian Moisture & Shine Detangling Leave-In Conditioner. This goes for 2500 but is my favourite product of the 3. To get it, email orders@naturalnigerian.com

I’ve reviewed all 3 products on the blog in the past, you could find them here.

5. Sealants-

You need to seal in moisture after you moisturise. This one is easy. Look for natural oils & butters like- shea butter, olive oil (be it for anointing, cooking, whatever). Park & Shop (SPAR) has the best prices for coconut oil I’ve seen, with the blue Parachute bottle they carry. Just check the food section. Our indigenous Atili oil (African olive) and Palm Kernel Oil are also highly rated.

Honestly, any vegetable oil can be used to seal. It’s just that different oils have different characteristics so some carry way more benefits than others. But if push comes to shove, don’t be shy to use that soybean or canola oil in your kitchen. 😉

TOOLS

6. Wide toothed comb– you know, because your coils are too springy and full of life, too much for a fine tooth comb to handle! 😉

7. Spray bottle (You can buy one, or improvise with an old body spray bottle) to refresh your hair when dry.

8. Cotton T-Shirt- Microfibre towels are tipped to be the best for drying hair after a wash. If you have one, great. But you don’t need one when you have a cotton tee. Cotton t-shirts are more gentle on your hair than regular towels. No need for a heavy wash towel, just keep your old tees handy. 🙂

9.Satin/silk scarf or bonnet or pillowcase- Cotton is super absorbent which makes me love it for a few reasons such as the one I just stated above. However, when you aren’t trying to dry your hair, cotton is NOT your hair’s homie. Satin and silk fabrics make good hair coverings, because of their characteristics, they are able to protect your hair from friction, and from drying out at night.

You could go to the market to find satin to make your own bonnet, but be careful. I tried that in January & what they offered me was not it at all. It was a very THICK, not breathable material. To be on the safe side, try getting a satin bonnet for starters- usually for 500-600 naira, so let me know where you are so I could tell you where to look.

For some people, anything goes as long as it looks and feels like it, but some people feel that not all satin is made equally. There are different opinions. Not all satin is made the same- some are made from cheaper materials and for this reason, some people call them ineffective. You can read this article here– but right now, at this point in your hair journey, just worry about getting something as close as you can. The cheapey-cheapey satin bonnets I’ve been buying so far have been doing me well sha!

Too unsexy for you? Go for a scarf or pillowcase (Source)

10.Vegetable Glycerine

This is a pretty good moisturising aid, especially for Low-Porosity naturals like myself. Your hair may not be a great fan, but it’s definitely worth trying. If you mix a little with water in your spray bottle, you can use it to refresh your hair whenever its feeling dry. Glycerine is a humectant, it draws moisture into the hair. It seems to be a little less common than it was when I was growing up but its out there. Check pharmacies and supermarkets & some beauty shops. I know some girls like to mix it with their body lotions. If you need any help knowing where to order from though, just holler.

I hope this helps!

🙂

————

So ladies, did I miss anything? Any simple essentials for natural hair care that are easy to find and cheap too? If you live in Nigeria, it’d be helpful if you share where you get some of your favourite things in your neighbourhood. Let’s keep this simple for Eucharia’s sake! Thanks guys ❤

Love,

AB

xx

🙂

P.S. All the naturalistas pictured in this post are Nigerian. Source: @kinikinks (instagram)

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

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