Let’s Talk: Going Natural With Bae

Hello people!

How is the going going? Let’s gist today. 🙂

Last week, I saw this video on facebook. It’s called ‘The Natural Hair Song’, a parody of Breezy’s ‘Don’t Judge Me’. You should watch it. A guy sees his girlfriend after her spontaneous big chop and he just can’t take it. And so it begins: “Where the fuck is your hair? Where the fuck is your hair…”

I thought it was hilarious. I laughed plenty and proceeded to tag my friends. For starters, the guy’s blonde wig. LOL. Now I’ve thought about the video since then, and the first thing that came to me was: If I’d seen it like two years ago when I was transitioning or after my big chop, it would not have been as funny. I’d probably have gone on a tirade somewhere. Blog, twitter, real life, some place sha.

In the 2004 romcom, ‘Breaking All The Rules’, Morris Chestnut was infatuated with Gabrielle Union. He was describing her to his friends and one of the things he kept going on about was her gorgeous long hair. She got a pixie cut, and when Jamie Foxx (a friend of Morris) met her, he did not even know she was the one, because she couldn’t be- you know, Morris’ girl was the one with the hair. Anyway, the funny thing was, Morris was so attached to her hair that as she was getting it cut at the salon, he felt jolts in his body with every snip, but did not know what exactly was happening. Haha.

One thing we can all agree on is generally speaking, hair means a lot to us black people, in Africa and the diaspora. So, for the purpose of this post, can we ignore that little voice trying to say “It’s just hair”, nope, not today. People have divorced over toothpaste and lesser things, and one woman’s husband did suggest a divorce because of her hair. Yes, read about it here.

This is a topic I avoid (natural hair and relationships), but today I want to hear your thoughts. I’ve never thought about asking a guy to air his views on natural hair (except his own) on the blog simply because, I firmly believe that however they feel, is for their pocket. It doesn’t really matter in the general assessment of things.

However, that’s a big broad stroke. Getting specific about our individual lives, we share the things we love with the people we care about. So, what about when bae isn’t excited about this new change in your life? I big chopped when I was ready, but it was encouraging in a little way, that my then love interest absolutely LOVED that I was going natural. His own natural locs were a great inspiration for me too.

I want to hear from you in the comments- have you been in this situation? What did you do, what you would do? But first, my 2 cents:

1. In trying to be understanding, think about it this way:

What if bae decided to come back one day with relaxed hair in a ponytail? What if bae came to see you one day and he has changed his look to something you really can’t process e.g. he goes blonde and looks like the guy in the video, and not Chris Brown. Or even dyes his hair silver (or was it grey? or white?) like Sisqo.

Honestly speaking, I won’t call you shallow if you feel just a teeny bit less attracted to him. For me sha, don’t play that kind of rough play if we aren’t deep in our feelings yet, it could be the beginning of the end. ( ._.)

Now, I know you’re going to say that this analogy is crazy and does not apply because you’re simply RETURNING TO natural, where it all began! Embracing your roots, being who you’re supposed to be!! Of course. But does he know this? Does he understand? Sure, you can call it sad, being anti-black, self-loathing on some level (so many essays on the subject) but can you really blame him? The way the world is set up, all the conditioning the black race was put through for centuries- and is still being conditioned today… It’s not such a surprise. For years you have relaxed your hair. If you’re like me, you tossed and turned over the idea for almost 2 years before you finally took the plunge. I’m saying. You know now, what you did not know before. AND, you’re the one who just made, or is making a change. People don’t really like change, it takes some getting used to. Give him time to process this. Patience.

2. Talk about it.

A lot of people do not understand why people go natural. Like why? What are your reasons? You’re going to get questioned a lot. At the market, at work, at school- you don’t owe them any explanation, but take some time to share with him, because you care. Whether it’s a simple “I just feel like it” or a 7 page essay about finding yourself, share. Show pictures of naturalistas that inspire you. Give him the chance to see it how you see it.

In all this talk, I think it’s important for me to state here that I am not saying you should ask permission before you go natural, or you should ask bae to ratify your decision after you have taken it. It is YOUR hair, on YOUR head. You will do what YOU want with it. You’re just trying to help absorb the shock a little. It’s a journey, one of life’s journeys, and you’d be happy to take him with you.

Maybe it’s the fact that for us kinkier types, we have gone centuries not knowing, or not remembering that our hair can grow, maybe that’s why for us long hair is such an achievement, or positive attribute. But we should note that, most people aren’t REALLY averse to all natural hair, it’s the idea of short hair that worries them. (This is a topic for another day- how length “validates” the journey, in some eyes)

3. Also, I think there should be boundaries.

The video was a parody and really should be just that. If the things he said were repeated in real life, the girl would/ should not have been pleading with him to understand.

We can’t choose our family, but we can choose our friends- and we can definitely choose who we want to be romantically involved with. Family will tease you, but they cannot disown you (lol, jk. They love you and will eventually get used to and love your new hair). Friends may tease you but in a while, they may follow your lead. On one of my bad hair days last month- a really wonky twist out, my mother told me that the sight turned her belly. LOL. Now, from my mom, that meant nothing. It was just her being my frank mother, no malice in there. However, I cannot let any bae talk to me like that, except he has Tourettes or Aspergers- and I don’t think you should, either.

4. Finally, be willing to let go.

If your person stops wanting to be seen in public with you because of your Teeny Weeny Afro or starter locs (it happens!), If after some time, your hair is still an issue, I think you should keep it moving. He is entitled to his opinion but you don’t have to deal with it. He doesn’t have to deal with your hair either. You should not be liked or loved or found attractive “despite your hair”. NO. It should be one of the reasons why you’re special, why you’re beautiful, or your hair should be a non-issue <- that is, he doesn’t care either way. Your hair should NOT be a downside.

If your relationship can’t handle your going natural, then why hold on to it? I’m just thinking out loud here. And this is about actual relationships. If you’re worried about how potential bae will find your hair, girrrrrrrrl I don’t think you should bother.

Present bae did not dig my fro at first when he was potential bae but he grew to love it. Who knows, he may not have come to talk to me if he had seen it (I was wearing kinky twists) but now, he is a fro spotter, and always tells me when he sees kinky sistas, referring to them as my, or our clan members. LOL. Good for him because this hair would have been a deal breaker. *warrior pose*

Going natural, returning to natural is a personal journey. You hear naturalistas call this a journey, but it really is. You will soon understand. One you should embark on for YOURSELF, and nobody else. But, to soothe your worries, there are 7 billion people in the world, 140 million people in Nigeria, about 20 million people in Lagos alone, and I can assure you that there are as many great guys out there who would love your kinky-curly-coils. Don’t let one person hold you back.

I really did not intend to go on for so long. I was just meant to post a quick conversation starter, but here we are. I can’t delete all these words. :p

All in all, I’m advocating for a balanced view. You should do what you want to do with your own hair, but it’s also okay, good, to enlighten him, try to get him on the same page as you. NOT the same thing as seeking permission.

So, let’s talk ladies. What are your views on natural hair in relationships? Is your hair a deal breaker for you? Have you ever been in a situation where “love” made you question your hair choice? Speak on it!

Love,

AB,

xx

P.S. Have you entered the Big Fat Giveaway? Deets over here

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

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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!

🙂

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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)