The Shocks of My Natural Hair


In 2013, I decided to style my hair the night before a workday. I had bought a product that promised great curl definition. I was thrilled because it was a well known international brand that had recently hit a popular Nairobi cosmetics shop . I applied the product and did medium sized twist braids. In the morning I woke up to my hair half dry and half dry. My hair also had white flakes. It looked like I had a serious case of dandruff. I was disappointed. I quickly had to wash my hair. Luckily, I had resisted the urge to hit the snooze button on my phone. I had enough time to wash out the product, slap on some gel and style my hair.  That is the life of a natural sister. Some days are more challenging than others.

#Transitioning was my most difficult part of going natural. My hair was two textures. It was weak and damaged. And the processed ends kept breaking off. It also not easy styling it. I wore a lot of weaves and braids during that season. My hairdresser made a lot of money of me. After transitioning for four months I cut off the permed ends. I was relieved.

#Learning to like my natural hair was also not easy. It was like having a new person in my life.  I had to take time learning how to keep it happy and how to accept it the way it is.  Weekly deep conditioning and understanding my hair types played an important role during this process. As  3C/4A/4B  my hair was and is always hungry for moisture.#

#I felt the pressure to have a certain natural hair type. I consider all-natural hair beautiful. However certain hair types are considered beautiful while other hair types are ‘ugly’. Not everyone is supposed to have loose curls. I had to accept my hair the way it is….frizzy, kinky, coily.

#Confidence was another challenge I faced as a natural sister. Opinions are like a certain part of human anatomy. Everyone has one and every one offers one up even when it is unsolicited. The negative opinions hurt because…well, I’m human.  It took me a while to have the courage to rock my natural hair. I was afraid of what people would say. But I got used to people’s ‘helpful advice’ on natural hair. I’ve developed a thick skin of self-acceptance. It’s a layering that takes time to develop.

I recall friend X who had been wanting to go natural for three months but she when she shared her thoughts with friend Y, friend Y laughed and said, ‘I think your hair will be to ugly to go natural.’  Friend X felt discouraged and retouched her hair.

As my hair grew my hair got drier and got tangles and knots, I realized I lacked natural hair knowledge. The Internet came in handy. Blogs and websites educated me.  Any woman can have soft and manageable hair. You just need the knowledge…and a few mistakes.  In 2013, the day of my emergency Afro-puff-ectomy, I learnt that a little curling crème goes a long way on a non-wash day.

#I needed to develop a hair regime. I cannot tell lie. I’ve had my fair share of bad hair days. Sometimes I’ve used the wrong products and the outcome would make me crawl back to bed. On other days I was just lazy.  It took a while to get used to doing natural hair. For you to have soft, manageable hair that is easy to style you need to give it tender loving care. Natural afro hair is delicate. Curly hair is weaker than straight hair. It has weaker points of breakage. But it was really all about time management. I found that watching the 9 o’clock news with my daughter and a cup of herbal tea by my side was the perfect time to do my hair in twists on Sunday. I tie my hair during weeknights and have early morning wash day Saturdays.

#I had to stand firm against the heat. When I went natural I was always tempted to blow dry my hair to check hair length. It took a while to get used not blowdrying hair. And I’m happy to say I am two years heat-free. Nowadays my

#I needed to fight off the urge of being a product junkie. When I went natural there were few products available for natural hair. I’m glad it has changed. When I go to a cosmetics shop with natural products I’m like a child in a toyshop. I want everything. It’s a current challenge that I still have but I’m getting better.

I have learnt a lot on this hair journey -my hair gets frizzy in the front, when it’s humid, on days when the Nairobi sun is beating down on the pavement it gets dry, when I ignore it for more than two days, it revenges by scrunching up like Sokoni steel wool. But despite all the challenges, I have had no regrets about my hair. I have loved this hair journey. It has made me stronger and set me free.

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