African hair is the most fascinating and most versatile of hair types in the world. Black hair in particular ethnic African hair, in its natural form is coily and or kinky so much that you cannot tell its length just by looking at it. Black women all around the world at some point get frustrated with their hair.
Have you ever heard a black woman say she is on a natural hair journey? Well, maybe not since only a few dare to get the big chop or attempt to transition (grow natural hair without chopping off the relaxed hair first).
There has been a growing interest in the natural hair journey amongst bloggers and vloggers. These mediums have given rise to a community of ‘naturalistas’ encouraging not only black women, but mixed race woman and woman of all races to embrace the hair journey.
The first time I heard of hair typing was from a blog. I have always known hair has different textures – wavey, lose curls, tight curls, coily but I had never heard of hair typing; until I came across a hair blog by an African American woman.
Natural hair is the most demanding, attention seeking, moisture craving of all hair types (maybe even most costly to maintain). The hair journey is not called a journey just because you get in touch with your hair as an abstract part of you. But, it is called a journey because going from the big chop to any length is going to require committment and dedication from your part. I was and still am very astonished by the amount of time and money African American woman and natural woman of the world spend on their hair.
In South Africa if you buy one or two jars of moisturiser for the month you are set as for the shampoo and conditioner you use whatever is available (you do not put much thought into what you put into your hair is what you get out).
The natural hair journey is a way of life! You need to educate yourself about hair in general and your hair in particular will always be a work in progress. I never knew there were such things as hair regimes (beauty regimes yes but not hair) until I started reading natural hair blogs.
Black hair loves moisture, simple rules of natural hair care is you have got to DEEP CONDITION, MOISTURISE, SEAL IN MOISTURE, READ STORE PRODUCTS ingredients list before buying(natural is best), AIR DRY (no heat), TRIM ENDS every 8 weeks, do PROTECTIVE STYLING and drink lots of water and if your hair fails to retain length re-assess your hair and/or change your regimen, failing which you should look at your diet and maybe even take health supplements.
Note: Expect your hair to react differently to change in season. Especially summer vs winter.
It is a struggle to maintain length with black hair due to breaking and shedding. I use to wonder why my hair just did not grow as it is suppose to (my hair is thin and sheds). I soon discovered that all hair grows at 1/2 an inch a month, the problem is not growth but retaining length.
Black hair in South Africa is often misdiagnosed, hairstylists have very limited information and little pride in their work and knowledge of hair (generally).
I sometimes I would relax and colour my hair at the same time (hair should be relaxed every 8 and not 4 weeks and should be allowed 3 weeks after a relaxer application before you dye/color). Hairstylists in my case have contributed to my hair not retaining length and growing past shoulder length (simply by failing to advise me accordingly).
The hair journey bloggers/vloggers personal experiences have helped me to understand my hair better and to find ways to combat shedding. Naturalistas are big on using D.I.Y products, natural oils are number one on the list (easily attainable at the local grocery store or pharmacy) and shearbutter is one hair care ingredient you cannot live without.
The best part about the hair care journey is everyone’s journey is different – just like everyone’s hair is different. The natural hair care journey is basically a platform for all women to share their experiences (what worked or didn’t work for them).
Natural hair bloggers/vloggers impart valuable information. One aspect I loved reading about more then any is when the big choppers or transitioners realise and fall inlove with their (wavey/curls/kinky/coily) hair type.
Most black women never get to know their hair type, their hair is usually always relaxed or straightened with heat – which can sometimes kill the curl pattern (myself included).
Although I have not gone totally natural I do use a mild relaxer which does not make my hair dead straight but allows a curl pattern to form and makes my hair stronger. I am also proud to say that my sister and two of my friends (who have gone natural) are now conscious about the products they put on their hair. They have started a healthy hair journey of their own and are loving it.
What are your thoughts on the hair journey?
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