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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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.

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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

Day 2- Going Back To Natural: FREE YOUR MIND!

This week, we are especially here for everyone considering the return to natural. I’m always an email away- thekinkandi@gmail.com :o) but for the next several days, this is the focus of the ‘Going Back To Natural’ series. Yesterday, we looked at what hair is and how relaxers work. If you missed it, you could go catch up here.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a step and on this particular journey, I believe the first step has to be taken in your mind, truly saying “YES” in your heart, deciding to start. What are your fears about going natural? Today, I’m going to share some of mine and how I got over them. This is a long post because it was a long journey, please bear with me.

I’ll be ugly.

What is ugly? I personally do not like the word “ugly”. If you call someone ugly, I’d love to see you create an exquisite wonderfully made human being!!

Despite how I feel about the word “ugly”, I haven’t always felt comfortable (and this is putting it mildly) with my body and my features. I rejected the word outwardly, but it didn’t stop me from feeling like it inside.

After many days of mental tossing and turning, I finally came to the point where I told myself that if I wanted to put a bag over my face after the big chop, then I was never really cool with my face anyway; and that my face was forever going to be my face so I’d better get used to it.

I accepted that I would look different than I was used to and that different was good. Weaves can be glamorous but my beauty is not in the weave and neither is yours.

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And if the boys don’t like natural hair?

This one is like the twin of the first one. I didn’t want to admit this at all because I didn’t want to feel shallow and also because I knew that the only beholder where any measure of my own beauty should matter was me. Don’t roll your eyes. It’s true. Decide on your own standard of beauty and let everything follow.

I may have cut my hair earlier if the person I liked at the time didn’t say (without really saying) that I would look weird. At that point, I knew better but I was still really seeing my beauty through his eyes. I finally did my BC when I was ready because I was ready. For me. We aren’t together now, and he isn’t still a fan of the ‘fro. But now, who cares?

Going natural forced me to come to terms with the way I see myself. My insecurities were not formed the day I started thinking about transitioning. I’ve had them since like Age 10. I struggled with them throughout secondary school and though I made great progress, thinking about going natural brought back all the old familiar feelings and it took me a long time but I faced them again. With my fro now, everything is all here. Everything that I like and that I don’t like about my face is out here for anyone to see, but it’s okay. They’re all mine and I am grateful. I still have my insecurities, I admit- but I’m on my merry way towards 100% coolness with myself.

So. If thoughts of going natural are giving you a headache, don’t feel bad, or shallow. It’s a process. See it as an invitation to ascend to a higher level of self-love and self-acceptance. Take your time. When you’re ready, you’ll be ready and best believe you’re your natural hair will continue to bring the boys to the yard. Even more sef. 😉

I Don’t Have The Natural Hair Face or Shape of Head.

This is another way of saying Natural Hair Is Not For Everyone.

Your Natural hair is you, boo. It is what you are, what you were and relaxer cannot penetrate your DNA to change that. It is how you were born. There is no such thing as ONE face or ONE shape of head for natural Afro hair. Take this from someone who knows.

Knowing that I didn’t have Amber Rose’s head, I probably read all the articles I could about the right cut for your shape of face.

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First, I had to find out what my shape of face was. Of course, I did the measuring thing- measured the dimensions of my forehead, the space between my eyes, etc- I eliminated Round, Diamond and Heart Shapes- for a long time, I was stuck on whether my face was Oblong or oval or square faced. Finally, I concluded that my face was Oblong. Did that solve the problem? NO. These articles were written by women not of African origin, with hair different than I hoped to have. These articles would only make sense if I were to decide what style to cut my weave in. They were definitely NOT written in contemplation of your kinky crown.

So what about the afro then? As a proud owner of one for over a year now, who has looked at like a thousand different photos for inspiration and also seen many team members in the flesh, I can tell you this- it fits us all. Small head, big head. It does, and it’s true. There is NO Natural hair face or shape of head. Or should I say ALL our faces and shapes are natural hair faces and shapes!

And when you feel this way, remember that this fear is not really about your kinky-curly hair. It’s a greater fear of short hair. Except you want to keep it at a short length, your hair will grow long and you’ll be happy stretching and styling in amazing ways you didn’t previously think possible.

Honestly, I am yet to see anyone that doesn’t look better with her kinky hair.

I’ll look like a boy.

This one crossed my mind, but it wasn’t something I dwelt on. Our hair we are told is our feminine crown and glory. To this I say, your hair isn’t what makes you a woman. And long hair doesn’t make a man any less of a man.

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Ever heard the term Androgynous? Have fun exploring Androgynous looks/fashion and to get you feeling all flowery and feminine again, have fun exploring your features, playing with makeup (new lipstick anyone?) and switching up your accessories. You’ll be fine. 🙂

I’ll look like a child.

Ah. This was a big one for me. Embrace it though- sweet 16 innit? Again, makeup and accessories can make a big difference.

My Hair Is Too Stubborn.

This one flew right out of the window pretty quickly. Having no natural women in my life to look at, I found plenty on the internet going steady with hair similar looking to mine. I was determined to be like them, to learn what they knew.

My hair is as kinky as kinky could possibly be. It took years of applying relaxers for my hair to finally start yielding like it was supposed to. That’s the kind of stubborn I’m talking about. One time, in my (then) new yielding stage, I sat in the chair for extra time though I knew my hair was burning because I saw that it hadn’t relaxed and I just needed it to. When I couldn’t take it any longer, and my hairdresser was actually getting worried, I had it washed off and the hair was just there like laughing at me. No show.

So when people feel my hair now and they’re like “oh, it’s so soft, my own hair can’t be like this, it’s too stubborn”, I’d love to sit with them and explain how stubborn my own hair really is. I know, you feel your hair is the most stubborn hair on the planet and you can drag your mother to the stand to witness, but I can objectively tell you that I am (or should I say I was?) also a main guy in this department.

No hair is too stubborn for love and gentle care. With time, consistency and the right care, your hair will respond. Your hair can be soft, your hair can grow, your hair can be a lovely pillow or stick of yummy kinky candy floss.

Natural Hair Is Unprofessional

In the workplace, it is what is in your head that counts or should count. With all hair textures, there are styles considered professional and styles that just aren’t. For instance, Hot Pink hair in any formal establishment is just odd.

BUT your hair isn’t unprofessional SIMPLY BECAUSE it’s kinky. This is how you were made so who is to tell you that your hair just being itself is unprofessional? In essence, you were born unprofessional? Where were you naturally born to work then? See how this doesn’t make any sense? So many rules exist in this world and you just have to sometimes ask yourself why. Who makes these rules?

Source: BuzzFeed. Nivea had to apologise and withdraw this Ad.

Source: BuzzFeed. Nivea had to apologise and withdraw this obnoxious Ad. I wonder how it got approval from them in the first place!

I haven’t started working yet and I hope it won’t be a problem. Here’s what I do when confronted though, I educate people where necessary, because these attitudes need to change.

For some people, natural is all they’ve known and even if it isn’t, going back comes naturally. If you’re like me, you’re probably beginning to see how or why I consider this a journey. It’s a journey, one of our many life’s journeys, but you can get to your destination- happy healthy woman with your happy healthy natural hair.

So my lovelies. I’ve shared 6 of my fears with you and how I got over them. Care to share yours? YOU KNOW YOU ARE GOING TO GET OVER! 🙂

As always, I love to hear from you! Leave your questions or comments in the comments section- or email me: thekinkandi@gmail.com

We press on tomorrow!

Love,

AB

xx

Day 1: THE BASICS- What Hair Is and How Relaxers Work

Hello my beautiful people!

You are very welcome to ‘Going Back To Natural’, a blog special dedicated to you and to everyone curious about natural hair, considering reclaiming their kinks, looking forward to a healthy hair journey with their kinks. In this post, a few scientific terms are used, but they ARE explained, so please don’t let it throw you off. 🙂

I want everyone to have healthy hair– and I LOVE to share everything that brings light to my life with others. If I could make you see what I see, what I feel when I interact with my hair, I would! It’s amazing really and apart from deciding to get a Law degree at uni, going natural is the next best thing I’ve done for myself so far! It is my mission to get all my ladies on their way to healthy hair- and though I write from what I know or what I’m beginning to know- my experience with my kinky hair, I must say this at this point:

Being natural is best for hair but I want you to know that you can still have healthy relaxed hair.

I know, relaxer is bad for the hair strands but that orobo bottle of coke or 1L of Berry blast you chug every day is SO unnecessary but you drink it anyway. Your entire reproductive system may be better off if you abstain but you’re sexually active anyway, so yarrr.

Naija Hair Can Grow, Lush Strands, and Wura’s Secret Hair are three lovely 100% Nigerian hair blogs that give me joy. The ladies behind them have luscious, long, healthy relaxed hair BECAUSE some time ago, they decided to reject the traditional ideas about Nigerian/African hair, and start their healthy hair journeys.

First of all, I think it’s important for you as a person of African origin to know how relaxers work. I say “person” because this blog isn’t entirely for women. It’s important that guys know these things- perhaps it can help them be a little more understanding. As a woman, when you understand the science behind relaxer, I think you’ll be inspired to give your hair a lot more TLC than you’re giving it right now- especially if you choose to remain #teamrelaxer.

As you very well know, there are different types of hair. Even with the ones we buy- Brazilian, Mongolian, Peruvian- there’s straight, there’s wavy, there’s bohemian curls etc etc. You know by now that your hair is not Brazilian neither is it Mongolian. It is African. And we Africans are blessed with curly to coily hair. It’s our exclusive preserve. Try as we might, we cannot change this. Relax your hair today and in a few weeks, your undergrowth will remind you of whom you are in case you forgot.

heheheh

heheheh!!

WHAT HAIR IS

All hair (African, Caucasian, Peruvian, Mongolian, whatever) is composed of a protein called keratin (70-90%) for strength and structure, water for elasticity, and trace elements.

Your hair starts growing in the follicles. The follicles are embedded in your scalp and your dermis/epidermis. That’s where growth happens. I like to say it that hair is being cooked in the follicles. When the hair is ready for the world, it pushes up out of the scalp (Still attached though) to join the rest of the strand and so it continues. Think of the hair that you see as a chain of dead proteins. I think this is a fair introduction, stay with me now.

HAIR IS LAYERED

Science has shown us that our hair really has three layers- the cuticle, the cortex and the medulla. The cortex is the powerhouse. It takes instructions from your genes as to whether your hair is going to be straight or wavy or curly or kinky. It also determines what your hair colour is.

Almost anything you do or try to do has to get to the cortex to be of any effect. If you want to dye your hair and the dye doesn’t get through, the colouring won’t happen.

When you relax your hair, you are converting the curly to straight and the relaxer can only do this by tearing through your cuticle to alter the cortex.

WHY IS OUR HAIR THE WAY IT IS?

Remember I said ALL hair is 70-90% keratin?

Keratin proteins contain certain amino acids called cysteines.

These cysteines are connected to each other by things called disulfide bonds. These are present in all types of hair.

HOWEVER, the more disulfide bonds exist in a chain of proteins, the curlier the hair is.

Our African hair is naturally abundant in disulfide bonds, hence its unique kinky curliness. ^_^

SO WHAT DO RELAXERS DO TO NATURALLY KINKY-CURLY HAIR?

Relaxers break these disulfide bonds in such a way that they cannot reform. The part of your hair that is affected by a relaxer treatment can never go back to the way it was. A little weird how it’s called a “relaxer”. This cycle is nothing relaxing to your hair. Instead, it is very stressful for your strands to be torn through like that. Not to be dramatic but bonds are broken! 

Me, happy with my broken disulfide bonds in 2011.

Me with my broken disulfide bonds in 2011. :p

I’d like you to watch this video of Dr. Oz explaining how relaxers- and also weaves & high heat impact our hair. Curly Nikki was on the show to help out 🙂 They talk relaxer at about 12:00.

A kink is a bend in the hair strand. Our African hair has LOTS of kinks. Granted, every kink is a potential breaking point for our hair, but when hair is relaxed, the form is changed permanently and the hair is left in an EVEN more fragile, even more vulnerable state. You probably relax your hair because you want it easier, and more manageable, but you can’t just stop there. Your relaxed hair deserves just as much effort and care as natural hair, if not more!

Fun fact: your “undergrowth” isn’t your relaxer wearing off, it is your hair growing! After numerous touch-ups, do you agree with me now that your African hair should be way longer than it is today?

Are we good? Do you have an idea now of what your hair is made of? And how generally, chemical processes and more specifically, relaxers affect them? I hope so! Any questions, just drop em off in the comments section. I don’t want you over-thinking yet though, we have more days ahead of us!

This is probably the first time I’ve gone into relaxers on the blog. As I always say, good hair is healthy hair. But that’s as much as you’re going to hear from me about relaxers in a looong time, if not never. From tomorrow and till the week ends, we will be talking about how to get you started on your healthy NATURAL hair journey ^_^

Okay, same time tomorrow

Love

AB

X

P.S.

For more about the Structure of Hair, you could read this old post I wrote here.

For more about how relaxers, straighteners and texturisers work, here’s this article, and another one- here.