I’m so ecstatic you guys. Exactly 5 years ago, TODAY, I walked into a salon next to my office and asked the barber to take his scissors and machines and get rid of my hair. I had cut it and gone natural a few months earlier, but had tried to take shortcuts to manage it better and I had texturised it in the seat of a hair dresser who convinced me that life would be a lot easier if I did. Long story short, my hair was light and feathery and it looked like crap. I had no choice but to cut it off and start afresh. 5 years may be nothing in the grand scheme of things, and in light of some of the naturals whose hair I see on YouTube, but it’s taught me some very solid lessons.
Being a natural at the start was as good as me walking out of the door without a single ounce of makeup on my face. I needed to re – learn how to look good with my own hair, but more importantly how to learn to love myself while I wore it. It was a challenge initially, but now when I meet people who don’t get why my hair looks the way it does, I don’t bat an eyelid and I can honestly say I am not fazed. It is after all the hair I was born with, and I have learnt how to make it work for myself. Self love will do wonders for you.
I.DO.NOT.SPEND.MONEY.IN.A.SALON.UNLESS.I.MUST. This isn’t just because it helps me cut down on the humongous salon bills I used to have, but because no one, I repeat, nobody in the whole world knows my hair better than I do. When people ask me if it does not take up all my time, my response is always that I make the time. In my opinion if you’ve worked hard to get something, you should work just as hard to keep it. I also do a lot of protective styles so that I do not handle my hair on a daily basis. My natural hair is extremely easy to handle and it has paid off immensely that I taught myself earlier on how to do it.
I’ve spoken about how my hair got heat damaged in 2014 before, but I haven’t spoken about its recovery. I had my hair straightened by someone and I left with it looking extremely straight. When I eventually got round to washing it, it would not curl back in some places. I’ve had to cut it continuously and do strengthening treatments and generally give my hair significant amounts of TLC to get it to where it is today. Needless to say, when I walk into a salon, it is only because I really trust a particular salonist but I also think the hairstylists cringe because of how particular I am with my instructions. My heat protectant is my holy grail and you can’t tell me otherwise.
This one is really important. Experiment with your hair, and find products that work with it, and then stick to them. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” really applies here. I use Kentaro’s products specifically the African Vanilla Whipped Shea Butter, and the Hibiscus and Avocado Berry Smoothie Deep Conditioner, and they work wonders for my hair. I can tell you that they help to soften my hair, they keep it moisturized, and they help me to retain my hairs strength – which I really need after my heat damage.
I stopped measuring my hairs success by how long it is when I realized that I was holding onto extra length that fell off my head the minute I tugged at it. Jerry, a well known natural hair salonist in Kampala literally grabs a scissor and nips at my hairs tips the few times that I go to her salon. I learnt not to fight her anymore and my hair is thanking me for it. I’ve put in a length check shot to show you guys how far I’ve come (I’m at about BSL) and I’m fine with it.
So to cut this long post short, I’m 5 years in and I’m happy with where my hair is. I look forward to seeing what the next 5 years will bring me. I’m curious to hear about your hair journeys, natural or not, and the things that you’ve learn’t that help you deal with your mane. Please comment below and share your knowledge.
I’m leaving you with a smile this week, because of the achievement I personally feel like I’ve made by making it to 5 years.
Photography by Angela.