Natural Beauty – Kasuba Sikamo

Eleanor J'adore - Natural Beauty: Kasuba Sikamo

Introduce yourself

My name is Kasuba which means sunshine. I am originally from Zambia which is in South Central Africa. I am currently living, working, and building my legacy in Cape Town. I am the co-founder of Rockin Naturals, a natural hair product line that caters to the naturally conscious. In just under six months I will be marrying only the most awesome human being I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and then we will literally be BFFs (can’t wait). When I’m not being a mixtress, I work in Marketing and PR and facilitate youth camps and processes. I am passionate about literature, travel, good food, and family (sometimes in that order). I go to church every Saturday because I would be nowhere near where I am today if it wasn’t for God Almighty.

How long have you worn your hair natural and what made you decide to do it?

I have been natural for 2 years 8 months. Before I even knew I could maintain my natural hair, I had shaved my head and I rocked that look for close to a year. I then decided to start growing my hair in preparation for a relaxer. I would live in braids and weaves until eventually I felt my hair was long enough. I took down my braids and immediately relaxed my hair. The breakage was real! I couldn’t even style my hair properly. That was the deciding moment for me; a week later I cut my hair and with a little help (ok, a lot of help) from my older sister, Mwanabibi, I never looked back. I simply got tired of relaxers that promised me great hair but never delivered.

When did you first realise that you love your natural hair texture and what exactly do you love about it? Describe your hair.

To be honest, it took me a while. About a year into my journey I did a braid out that was everything! You know when all the natural hair stars and planets align and your hair comes out YourTube worthy? Yup that’s what happened and that’s when I fell in love with my tresses. I have really coily hair; like, it shrinks to more than half its length when wet. I love that it does its own thing. I wake up in the morning and I don’t know what to expect. When my hair was relaxed it was always limp but now it’s full of body and personality, just like me.

Eleanor J'adore - Natural Beauty: Kasuba Sikamo

What is your hair regime, including products that you use. What do you do to keep it healthy?

Well, at the moment my regime is super simple because I am rocking a teeny weeny afro (TWA) again. Here’s what I do:

Wash

I wet my hair 5 out of 7 days a week because wash and gos are easier at this stage. Twice a week, I wash my hair with Rockin Naturals African Black Soap Shampoo. It detangles, cleanses, softens, conditions, and defines texture all in one, and it has peppermint so the tingling sensation is a bonus!

Conditioning/Deep conditioning:

I don’t normally condition after a shampoo because African Black Soap shampoo is sulphate free so it is not so rough on my strands. I do a weekly deep condition with yoghurt, honey, and Rockin Naturals Hot Oil Treatment – I love to mix hair concoctions! Although, since my second big chop, I have reduced deep conditioning to once every two weeks.

Sealing and Moisturising

For me sealing is the most important step in my regime because my hair loses moisture quite quickly. I seal with Rockin Naturals Shea Butter Hair Pudding which contains coconut oil and olive oil. My hair loves the stuff — the shea keeps it soft and fluffy and the cedar wood essential oil keeps dandruff at bay. When I don’t wet my hair in the mornings, I spritz it with Rockin Naturals moisturising mist. Although, at the moment, I am doing Mandy’s Winter Hair Growth Challenge, because long hair haha!

What have your experiences been as a natural, including reactions from friends, family and colleagues.

When I first cut my hair, one of my closest friends told me I looked like a man. That cut me deep because, when I was a child I went to a school that didn’t allow us to relax our hair so mine was always short. When I moved to a school that did allow it, I was teased about looking like a boy. After a while though, the experiences became more pleasant. More people asked me what it is I do to make my hair look so good. My family has been great. They are always so supportive of the things I do. Also, when I did feel like giving up, my fiancé was always there reminding me that it is part of who I am.

My second big chop has been a whole new learning experience because I am coming from a place where I have already accepted my hair and the stigma surrounding it. Now, when people ask me wide-eyed why I cut it I just say “It’s hair, it will grow back”.

Eleanor J'adore - Natural Beauty: Kasuba Sikamo

Do you know of any other women/girls who wear their hair naturally in your community?

Shout Outs!

Because of the nature of my business I know many but a few have made an impact in my journey:

Mwanabibi Sikamo – my stunning big sister who has supported me through my journey and who has been like a mentor to me with regards to my business, my hair health, relationships, and life really. You get the point. I love you.

Timothy ‘Nice Beard’ Stuurman – not a woman, but he has been there from the beginning of my journey, encouraging me to build my brand and product range and, even if he’s balding, he uses Rockin Naturals products on his beard so technically he’s a natural. I love you.

Ashleigh Davids – confidently quiet, she has taught me about self-love and self-acceptance; beauty that shines from within.

Amanda Cooke – the passion is real here! She’s an inspiring woman always willing to lend a helping hand. A big haired sister with an even bigger heart.

Eleanor Barkes — we haven’t met yet, but I just know…

Have you experienced any opposition from anyone in your life regarding how you wear your hair? Have you ever been made fun of?

Like I said before, I have been told I look like a guy. Other than that, there hasn’t really been any opposition to the way I wear my hair. I have been lucky enough to be in circles where what I look like is secondary to the value that I add as a human being. Now, when I look back at people who teased me for looking like a guy, I just chuckle and think how sad it is to impose your insecurities on others.

Do you ever experience any moments of doubt about your natural beauty?

This was a big issue for me during my school years. I am dark skinned (and I don’t mean Garnier dark; I mean you better put your flash on if you’re taking pictures of me at night dark) and this was always perceived as unattractive. I began to believe I wasn’t beautiful enough. Now I can laugh at how ridiculous that notion is and, while sometimes I might feel unattractive because my hair is not co-operating, or my skin has decided it wants to mimic a Vaseline slathered child (you know, the Sunday look back in the day) on some days, I no longer doubt my beauty because it doesn’t only result from what I look like.

Eleanor J'adore - Natural Beauty: Kasuba Sikamo

What is your hair goal?

It used to be neck length (NL), shoulder length (SL), bra-strap length (BSL) and whatever other length abbreviations are out there. I was so keen on having super long hair, I hardly ever trimmed it even if I knew I needed to keep my split ends in check. Now my goal is simply healthy hair. The length is a bonus.

What is your best hair advice to someone who is thinking of returning natural, but who is apprehensive about doing it?

Do your research and find out what works for your hair. It’s not one size fits all. Good hair comes from the inside.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt during your natural hair journey?

On a personal level, I have learned to listen to my own advice. I was always warning women about dying their hair and how drying it could potentially be and then I threw my advice in the trash and dyed my hair. It didn’t break but the dyed tips just needed so much more moisture than my roots, so it was almost impossible to take care of the two textures.

That’s where my second big chop and my second mistake came in. Since going natural, hair dressers have just not been on my list of people I can trust. Nonetheless, I decided I needed my dyed tips cut off so I went to one of those la de da hair salons that you find in the mall (because they’re trained for this stuff and they know what they’re doing supposedly). Biggest mistake ever! She cut my hair great and then we did a blow dry and a flat iron and the heat damage was appalling — looking back I probably should have sued or something because this has become a mini PR nightmare for me. A week later, I had to cut my hair again, hence my current TWA. Conclusion? Listen to your hair.

In certain parts of the world, like the UK and the US, the shift from relaxed to natural hair is referred to as the “natural hair movement”. Do you think it’s viewed in the same light in South Africa? What do you think of this phenomenon?

I definitely think the movement has spread to South Africa. More and more women are returning to natural. I honestly think it is more than just hair. It is empowering women to accept themselves for who they are and, in turn accept others. Personally, it is shutting out the messages the media throws at me, telling me my hair is not beautiful enough, sleek enough, long enough, conventional enough, and embracing it as it grows out of my head.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Just that they don’t need to take the whole natural hair thing too seriously. It’s a journey of enjoyment and constant learning. Do you — what works for others won’t necessarily work for you. Embrace your hair, not Tracee’s, or Amanda’s, or Nomthandazo’s.

Is there anywhere else where our readers can find you online?

Website/Blog: www.rockinnaturals.co.za

Instagram: @rockinnaturalssa

Twitter: @rockin_naturals

Facebook: Rockin Naturals

Natural Beauty – Justene Josias

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Introduce yourself.

My name is Justene Hilary Josias. I am 24 years old and I live in Cape Town, South Africa. I was born in Johannesburg but moved to Cape Town at a young age. I studied Politics at the University of the Western Cape. I am a music producer and singer and I have my own company called JuJo Productions, focussing on various projects. I attended Riana van Wyk Music school for 12 years before pursuing music professionally. I was on a television programme in 2007 called ‘Supersterre’, which was an Afrikaans singing competition. I actually took up singing because it helped me to speak more fluently after I had developed a stutter as a result of contracting meningitis when I was 4 years old.

How long have you worn your hair natural and what made you decide to do it?

I have been wearing my natural hair for the past 2 years. I did the “big cut” on 3 March 2013. I was working on a project that required me to cut off all my hair and to re-grow it from scratch.

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When did you first realise that you love your natural hair texture and what exactly do you love about it? Describe your hair.

The first month was very hard as  was I used to wearing long hair for 5 years before I cut it. I just decided I have to accept my new look and it grew on me from there. I come from mixed parents. My hair texture is more to my father’s side, who has Sotho roots, than my mother’s Muslim roots.

I love that my hair is extremely thick. When I was younger, my hair was so thick and course that the hairdresser felt the need to relax it. That was the worst mistake ever. Since then my hair was often relaxed until the age of 19. Then I started to do Brazilian straightening until March 2013 when I did the big cut.

I love that my hair is a pure afro. It is not curly, it is kinky. I have a type 4c curl. My hair is dry but big. It looks hard but it is soft. My hair does not touch my shoulders no matter how long it gets. It just grows upwards. The colour has changed from dark brown to light brown as it’s been growing. If my hair had a sound, it would be “loud”. It stands out. One day it’s long and thick, the next day it’s fluffy and thin.

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What is your hair regime, including products that you use. What do you do to keep it healthy?

When I initially started my natural hair journey, I used multiple products like Dr Miracle Curl Care, Twisted Sista, Dark and Lovely Cholesterol Treatment and Protein Feed to name a few. I also used some home-made creams and recipes. In the beginning when I had a small afro I used Soft and Free Moulding Gel and Hair Spray to define my curl. The longer my hair got, the fewer products I began to use as it started to weigh my hair down. I brush my hair only once every 3 weeks. The more I brush it, the thinner and flat my afro is. I try as much as possible not to stress my hair with various hair styles. If I do decide to do a style, it will be low maintenance like adding a simple headband or making a Swiss Roll.

Currently, I am using Tres Emme Naturals shampoo and conditioner. I wash my hair with these products maybe once to twice a week. I do feel sometimes that it weighs my afro down, so I do not use excessive amounts. The other available weekdays, it will be a wash and go where I wet my hair with water only and no product. I do give my hair an apple cider vinegar rinse every 3rd day to get rid of the oil build up.

I also take hair vitamins, namely Nu-Hair. I have been using this since I did the big cut. This has given my hair the strength and thickness it has today. I use these supplements every three months. If necessary, I use them when I am in stressful situations when I can feel my hair becoming thinner as it tends to fall out more. I use coconut oil once a week on my scalp when it gets flaky due to maybe over washing or dry scalp.

When I sleep, I use a silk scarf to wrap my hair. If I do not feel like it, I sleep on a silk cushion to retain moisture.  I drink 3 litres of water a day. I am bit obsessed with water. I also eat lots of fruit and vegetables because they are readily available in my town. This contributes to healthy nails, skin and hair. You need to understand, having an afro exposes your face much more than straight hair does. Your face and neck are exposed, therefore it has to look healthy and clear. Water really helped me in this department.

What have your experiences been as a natural, including reactions from friends, family and colleagues?

When I cut my hair initially, my family and friends were so supportive. They made me feel comfortable about my new look. I had low self-esteem while growing up. So when I did not have long hair anymore, I thought I was not good enough. I did not even realise I had this problem until I did not have any hair to hide behind. Once I started doing different hair styles, I started to ease into knowing who Justene truly is. Both my eating patterns and clothing changed. I needed to pay more attention to my clothing because my hair looked so different. You naturally stand out. People on social networks and on the street always stop me and say that they love my hair and look. The opposite sex loves my confidence. There were some people though who thought that I wasn’t “black enough” to have an afro. They took it as a personal insult to their race for some reason. My work colleagues love my hair though. The overall response has been positive.

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Do you know of any other women who wear their hair naturally in your community?

Yes, I know quite a few actually. These are some of the women I truly admire on my natural hair journey: Victoria L Oxford, Lauren Van Der Schyff, Ashleigh Davids, Deslynn Malotana, Desne Jodamus, Shireen Mentor, Jenilee Carolus, Robyn Jessi, Roxanne Francis, Melissa Johannisen, Lisel Melo, Terri-Ann Browers, Carly Hendricks, Glene Vlotman, Chandre Petersen, Natalie Denton , Chante Bailey, Amy Jones, Andrea Coetzee, Donna-Lee De Kock , Lee-Zan Malgas, Leandra Coetzee, Oslynne Williams, Tasneem Hendricks, Chemonley Hartley, Janera Carelse, Kim Lategan, Sharnte Dickson, Simone Thomas, Tracey Leak, Robyn Arendse, Amy Campher, Requel Petersen, Kaylee Sayce, Adelaide Coetzee, Albida McMillian, Grace Petersen, Joy Petersen, Tracey Daniels, Canvas Fielding, Danielle Cupido and Karen Petersen. There are so many other women who I either meet over social media or in the street, or who I know personally who rock their hair amazingly.

Have you experienced any opposition from anyone in your life regarding how you wear your hair? Have you ever been made fun of?

I have had a few people who do not like me wearing my hair in its natural state, especially the older people who knew me with long straight hair. A few women actually stopped me in the road and grabbed my hair to find out why I would wear a wig when I had nice long hair before. A young boy stopped me in the middle of the mall and asked why I wear my hair like Winnie Mandela. I found it quite funny until his mom told me that he is referring to the struggle South Africa went through, so wearing my hair like this is a sign of “poverty”. I felt offended actually. Some people, especially the females from various African cultures would get mad at me because I am English speaking and wear my hair like a Zulu woman, as they would say. So there have definitely been some negative reactions, but they never over power the positive comments I receive.

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Do you ever experience any moments of doubt about your natural beauty?

I did have hair doubts in the beginning, when it was completely short. I could not do anything with my hair until l I read some blogs and watched YouTube videos. Once I spoke to a few other natural haired beauties, I gained more confidence. Since then I’ve never looked back. The messages and feedback I receive from people who have returned natural because they saw my hair, make me realise that people do not have to know you for you personally to have a positive influence.

What is your hair goal?

My hair goal would be to have a thick, long, bum length afro. Not curls. A kinky afro. I know it would be very hot but I’d love that!

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What is your best hair advice to someone who is thinking of returning natural, but who is apprehensive about doing it?

I would say going natural should not be a decision you make because it is the “in” thing. You will get frustrated because you need lots of patience to do this. In addition, if you are not sure what your natural hair texture is, you will get despondent. Do your research – speak to as many other natural haired women. Organise a few women in your network you can talk to daily and who you can ask advice from etc. Check out YouTube videos and join forums. I learnt a lot just by reading blogs and natural hair pages. They give real women with real questions honest answers.

What is the biggest lesson you have learnt during your natural hair journey?

I have learnt how to love myself without my hair being the main reason for my beauty. My hair does not define who I am. It enhances who I already am – a strong, driven South African woman. I love my body, I love my skin and I love my hair. I don’t even remember the last time I was at a hairdresser. I haven’t touched a hair dryer in almost 2 years. How my life has changed from spending at least 1 hour everyday flat ironing my hair to less than 5 minutes a day. I love myself so much more. In addition, I’ve learnt to have patience, something I was never good at. I’ve even found out that my hair changes colour during the different seasons, so I’ve learnt to accept myself more than anything.

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In certain parts of the world, like the UK and the US, the shift from relaxed to natural hair is referred to as the “natural hair movement”. Do you think it’s viewed in the same light in South Africa? What do you think of this phenomenon?

I do not think that it’s a movement in South Africa yet. We are still a developing country. We are still trying to figure out who we are as the country tries to accept itself as being African and not conforming to American patterns. We are just trying out new things and finding out what we like and do not like. In addition, it’s quite obvious the products available for natural hair are not very readily available in South Africa. As the market expands, much more interest will be placed on natural hair  and then gradually it will become a movement.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

I am willing to help any lady who is going through her hair journey – whether it’s to answer questions or to connect you with others who are also going through a similar journey. I will always try my utmost best.

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Is there anywhere else where our readers can find you online?

Currently I’m working on my blog, but in the mean time you can find me on Instagram: @justenejosias, Twitter: @justenehjosias and email: justenehilary@gmail.com

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Natural Beauty – Samara Taylor

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What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Samara Taylor and I am California born and raised.  Ten years ago I picked up and moved to Virginia and this is now home!

Tell us a bit about yourself.
By day I work with my local community college in the finance office as an Administrative Specialist and by night I am a Style, Beauty, and Natural Hair blogger of my personal blog www.StyledChic.net!  I live in Hampton, Virginia with my husband and sweet little black labrador.  I love cooking, wine tasting, and networking as a blogger.  Traveling is also something I enjoy as well as getting together with close friends and family.

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How long have you worn your hair natural and what made you decide to do it?
I’ve worn my natural hair for 5 years now. Initially I wanted to stretch out my relaxer to go on a healthier hair journey, but during that time I stumbled upon natural hair.  After discovering this alternate way to wear my hair I was sold and was convinced to never relax again.

When did you first realise that you love your natural hair texture? 
I realized I loved my natural hair texture when I was able to achieve a great coil out.  This was back in the Summer of 2010.  I was only about 6 months in and so my hair was still significantly short.  I completed coils throughout my hair and when I took them down I absolutely loved my hair and how springy my curls were.  I loved how my face looked with short hair!

What is your hair regime? What do you do to keep it healthy?
I wash my hair once a week along with deep conditioning and styling it.  2014 has been a year that I got regular trims to prevent breakage and tangles.  That’s important along with deep conditioning and maintaing a clean scalp.

What have your experiences been as a natural, including reactions from friends, family and colleagues? Have you experienced any opposition from anyone in your life regarding how you wear your hair?
My experience as a natural has been very positive.  In the beginning however, there were a few people who laughed and asked what did I do to my hair.  The funny thing is now that my hair has flourished and grown those same people are asking for hair tips or are loving my hair.  For the most part though, it’s been nothing but positivity.

What is your favourite go-to hair style for days when you don’t have a lot of time?
Most likely a textured bun or a braided crown.

What is your hair goal?
Just continued growth and fullness.  I love big, thick hair!

What is your best hair advice to someone who is thinking of going natural, but who is apprehensive about doing it?
Don’t do it unless you are ready to put in time doing your natural texture.  Don’t do it until you’re confident, or absolutely sure about your decision.  Don’t do it until you’re ready to receive unsolicited opinions from others.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt during your natural hair journey?
Learn your own texture and what styles work best for you.  Stay patient with your hair.

 Do you have a favourite life lesson? If so, please share it with us.
Give yourself a chance.  Be unique and confident in who you are and what you have to offer.  Don’t look to the left or right at what others have and are doing but look to God where our help comes from and he will grant you the desires of your heart when you seek him first.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Be confident in your own unique hair journey.
Where can we find you online?
Instagram: StyledChic_
Twitter: Styled_Chic

Natural Beauty – SEV

Introduce yourself.

My name is SEV and I’m from the East Rand in Johannesburg. I’m an anthropologist. I’m a feminine woman. Describing myself is harder than I could have imagined. I enjoy the arts, travelling and most creative activities. I’m an avid gardener, a fair cook, and a sportswoman practicing kung fu, pilates and yoga. I’m a novice guitar and voice student. My repertoire includes DIY projects and I’m a hair enthusiast.

How long have you worn your hair natural and what made you decide to do it?

I have been natural for seven years. It was a decision ushered in by motherhood. That emerged from a self-interrogating evaluation of how I wanted to raise my daughter. I wanted my child to be confident regardless of her looks and to evaluate herself and others based on the internal person. However, I do have a parallel aesthetic drive that I view as an add-on to the essence of who I am.

When did you first realise that you love your natural hair texture and what exactly do you love about it? Describe your hair.

As a child, right before my straightener was due, the coils at my roots were fascinating. I often wished my whole head could be covered in long coils. I admired images of women with this very different texture. But I had no idea where to begin. Also, the rhetoric around natural hair was taboo. It was simply considered sub-standard and information was thus hard to access.

My hair has a few different curl patterns. At the nape of my neck up to my crown I have neat cork screw curls. The mid-section has zigzag shapes and the front has some less neat patterns. The top of my head and particularly the parts I wear out tend to get more sun damaged resulting in less perfect curl shapes. That along with frequent styling leaves the front of my head with less defined curls. I am also guilty of heat offence. However, I find that a quarterly or six monthly blow wave to be a necessary break from my afro. Although it damages / stretches my curl pattern it keeps my other more permanent harmful urges  (colouring and chemical straightening)  in check. I am a crafter and my hair is one of the ways I express this skill. I am easily bored with the same look and am constantly trying out new looks.

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What is your hair regime? What do you do to keep it healthy?

My regime comes from having spent so many years trying to understand my hair. I try to keep my maintenance routine very simple. In general I wash my hair once a week unless I need to change the current shape of it. I use Wen cleansing conditioner followed by a detangling conditioner and then a leave-in. I deep condition once a week and I diligently add my own oil potions along with a curl cream to ensure my hair stays moisturized.

I have a couple of  steadfast rules:

Products – I’m intensely aware of the play between product marketing and reality. I scrutinise product labels to ensure that they do not cause any harm. When unsure I check a product directory such as the one provided by Terry La Flesh on tightlycurly.com. I use shampoo with caution when necessary and only apply it to my scalp. I enjoy DIY treatments and figuring out what in them works for my hair and what doesn’t. My kitchen often looks like a lab with concoctions all over the place.

Process – Patience when detangling / combing using a head massager instead of a comb has proved less painful and less damaging. Air-drying my hair when I plan to wear it curly. Replacing my towel with an old t-shirt to soak up excess water. 

What have your experiences been as a natural, including reactions from friends, family and colleagues? Have you experienced any opposition from anyone in your life regarding how you wear your hair?

I made a sudden shift from long perfectly manicured tresses to  a TWA. The change was a shock to my inner circle. Some were vocal about what they perceived as my dissidence to my feminine identity. Also, cultural heritage and pride meant that well taught girls do socially acceptable things and cutting off one’s crown was a big side-step. However, with time I discovered many new ways of caring for and styling my natural hair, eventually receiving some unexpected approvals.

What is your favourite go-to hair style for days when you don’t have a lot of time?

A big bun or updo. Mid-length curly hair updos are quite simple. A few pins can work wonders for a ‘not today’ hair day. The easiest thing I find is to pick a few looks from a resource like YouTube. I practice in my spare time so that the next time I need to pull a rabbit out of a hat it just appears.

What is your hair goal? 

This is my second natural run. In round one I became bored after four years and started dyeing my hair. I paid a dear price when I had to go back to a TWA. The various hair colours wreaked havoc on my hard earned length. This time with some hindsight I know more of what not to do. That ultimately is what my hair journey is about, its constant discovery, potential, boundaries and what its eventual full length will be.  I have no idea how long it can get but I hope to find out. The longest I have seen it was beyond my bra strap. My current goal is for my coils to reach elbow length.  Assuming a 15 cm per year growth I am about three years away from this point.

What is your best hair advice to someone who is thinking of going natural, but who is apprehensive about doing it?

“Try it, try it and you may. Try it and you may I say” – Dr Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham.

The level of difficulty or ease really depends on the individual. If you are like me and have a need for perfection and perfectly manicured hairdos then you will experience various challenges. Make peace with your hair and accept it for what it is and learn what it can do. Understand that anything in life can be learned and that no knowledge is beyond anyone with access to information. Invest some time in learning and you will enjoy the natural hair experience.

I have several friends with natural hair who are not as pedantic about how their hair looks. They are at peace with whatever their hair decides to do. If you are this person then you will be happy indeed.

Hair is a craft and if you spend the time on it you will discover a wealth of information. Natural hair has both its challenges and rewards.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt during your natural hair journey?

Being natural has taken me through a wide range of emotions from utter satisfaction at my own confidence to feeling insane. When I buried my processed hair I gave away the quick and easy cover of who I was. I was suddenly exposed. Often on the receiving end of criticism for how I looked. I had to justify this choice.

I had to find a way to fit this new hair into my life. Daily rigorous physical training proved a real challenge. I eventually decided to leave it be till it was long enough to just use a ponytail to deal with the immense mushroom head. I accept that my hair won’t always be perfect and that is just what it is.

Do you have a favourite life lesson? If so, please share it with us?

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind” – Dr. Seuss.

Where can we find you online?

You can find me on Facebook at  www.facebook/silkhelmetlady

Natural Beauty – Niomie

Introduce yourself

My name is Niomie, I’m from England but I’m currently living in Australia.  Since I’ve been a teenager I’ve had a complete catalogue of hairstyles which included cornrows, braids, s-curls, relaxed hair, weaves and wigs.  I’ve had short, long, straight and curly hairstyles and I’ve had a variety of different hair colours.  After all the diversity and ‘false’ looks, I’ve now opted to return to natural hair.

How long have your worn your hair natural an what made you decide to do it?

I stopped relaxing my hair over 4 years ago as I decided to go travelling and wanted a low maintenance hair style, and so I decided to turn to braids and weaves.  However, I made the decision to wear my hair as a natural afro during late 2013.  I was tired of the pretence and had been inspired by a number of women who were wearing their hair natural.

When did you first realise that you love your natural hair texture? 

My hair is naturally quite thin, so I used to turn to weave to add volume.  However, when I decided to turn natural, I realised having soft hair was an advantage.  Washing, drying and styling my hair is fairly quick and when straightening my hair it does look relaxed so I have versatility in my styles.

What is your hair regime, including products that you use? What do you do to keep your hair healthy?

I am a big fan of the Doo Gro products.  I have the complete range which includes the shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioning treatment, scalp oil, hair lotion and detangling sprays.  I started using Doo Gro products 2 years ago as a scalp moisturiser when I used to wear hair extensions and weaves and found that my natural hair was in very good condition when I removed the extensions.

This is my current routine: I wash my hair every fortnight using the Doo Gro Mega Thick shampoo and conditioner.  I then towel dry and apply the deep conditioning treatment generously.  Following that I place my hair under a shower cap and leave the treatment on for an hour (I tend to do my weekly house clean or cook while my hair has the treatment applied to pass the time).  Afterwards I wash the treatment out and towel dry my hair.  I then moisturise my scalp with growth oil, and moisturise my hair strands with the growth lotion.  Finally I apply the detangling spray before blow drying my hair using a hair dryer with a pick nozzle.  The combination of the products, treatment and blow dryer leaves my hair dry and straight within 15 minutes.  Depending on the occasion I may straighten my hair to remove more kinks.

Once outside my hair naturally ‘fluffs out’ which I like as it gives me more volume. During the week I’ll repeatedly moisturise my scalp and hair with the growth oil and lotion about 3 times per week.

You live in Australia. Please share with us where you buy your products so that anyone else reading this can also be in the know.

I buy most of my hair products in England and bring them to Australia after holidaying or when guests come to visit me.  However there are a number of African Caribbean hair salons in Australia that stock black hair products but the cost is more expensive.

What have your experiences been as a natural, including reactions from friends, family and colleagues? Have you experienced any opposition from anyone in your life regarding how you wear your hair?

The response has been very positive.  I have changed my hair several times since joining my employer so they are used to the constant change.  My friends love my natural look, particularly as it’s real.  Several members of my family are also transitioning to natural so are supportive of my change.  Surprisingly, I have received a lot of positive feedback from men, particularly black men who explain they dislike the pretence of hair extensions and weaves and find it refreshing to see a girl ‘keeping it real!’

Do you ever experience any moments of doubt about your natural beauty?

From time to time, when the weather is windy or wet and my hair reacts uncontrollably. Or when the speed of growth is not fast enough.

What is your hair goal? 

I want my hair to be thicker and longer.  I would love for my hair to be shoulder length or longer.

What is your best hair advice to someone who is thinking of returning natural, but who is apprehensive about doing it?

Do it!  It’ll take a while to adjust, but ignore your inhibitions and embrace your natural hair.  Once you’ve fully embraced your natural look, you’ll realise how beautiful your hair is and feel empowered.  You’ll realise that having short, afro hair is stylish and having long, flowing hair is not the only way to look beautiful.  Lupita Nyong’o is a perfect example – crowned the most beautiful woman 2014!

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt during your natural hair journey?

How great my hair is!  Everything I thought was bad about my hair is actually my strength.  I don’t need hair extensions and weaves to look beautiful, I just need to embrace what I have. I also want to be a positive role model to the younger black female generation, showing them that natural hair is cool and stylish 🙂

It is also important to remember that the chemicals contained in relaxers are damaging and will cause harm (sometimes irreversible damage) in the long run.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

When maintaining an afro, you’ll need to have an afro tool kit in your handbag for ‘just in case’ which includes an afro pick, a wide tooth comb, hair bobbles, hair grips and an umbrella!

Niomie in her weave-wearing days

Natural Beauty – Amanda Dilwayo

Amanda Dilwayo is today’s natural beauty. Here’s her hair story.

What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Amanda. I’m South African but I live in Paris at the moment.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My friends call me a gypsy because I don’t have a real career, I live out of a suitcase and I wander around from country to country! The truth is I love to travel and I live for what makes me happy. My other interests are hair, photography, fashion and cocktails!

How long have you worn your hair natural and what made you decide to do it?

I had natural hair a couple of years ago but because I didn’t know how to properly maintain it, I relaxed it again. Then 2 years ago when I lived in South Korea I big chopped again. The reason was there were no hair salons for ethnic hair where I lived, where I could maintain my relaxer and get my weave done. The second reason was that being in such a homogeneous society, where people strive to look the same, made me want to embrace my individuality more.

When did you first realise that you love your natural hair texture and what exactly do you love about it? Describe your hair.

My hair texture is a bit of 4b and 4c. The crown and the back are 4b while the sides are 4c. Because my hair is thin, I always envy girls with thicker hair but the advantage for me is I don’t have to spend a lot of time manipulating my hair. I realised I loved my natural hair texture right away when I couldn’t get enough of my soft bouncy curls! I just couldn’t keep my hands out of my hair! I love the versatility of my hair. I can rock a cute twist out today, a shrunken afro tomorrow then straight hair the day after!

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What is your hair regime? What do you do to keep it healthy?

My regimen is simple and always changing. I’m always trying new products and practices because I’m a product junkie. My current regimen is my winter regimen. Weekly, I detangle/pre-poo with an oil, wash with a clarifying shampoo and then deep condition with a homemade deep conditioner. Once a month I do a protein treatment. After washing I put my hair in chunky twists to dry or small twists/bantu knots if I want definition. I spritz my hair daily or as needed with a mixture of water and a leave-in conditioner and seal with some oil.

What have your experiences been as a natural, including reactions from friends, family and colleagues? Have you experienced any opposition from anyone in your life regarding how you wear your hair?

The reaction has been mostly positive. My friends like my hair and I always get stopped by curious strangers who ask, “How did you make it curly?” The only person who hasn’t warmed to my hair is my mom. When I’m just chilling at home I never do anything to my hair. I just wear it in a shrunken afro or I’ll keep my satin bonnet on all day to protect my hair from rubbing against stuff…I guess she doesn’t like that look. If she had her way, she’d slap some relaxer on my head!

What is your favourite go-to hair style for days when you don’t have a lot of time?

I’m not into styling my hair nor do I even know how it style it! I always just wear it out in an afro.

What is your hair goal?

My hair goal is simply to have healthy hair and grow back my edges!

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt during your natural hair journey?

To be patient and gentle with my hair.

Where can we find you online?

My website is www.aforafro.com and on instagram I’m @missmandy_dee

Natural Beauty – Nekisha Lewis

Nekisha Lewis is our natural beauty today and shares her hairy story with us.

Nekisha Lewis

What is your name and where are you from?

I’m Nekisha CD Lewis from the beautiful Caribbean isle of Antigua & Barbuda.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a 28 year old Administrative Assistant by day, natural hair blogger by night and poetry writer far and in-between. I have a passion for DIYs and sharing with others.

Nekisha Lewis

How long have you worn your hair natural and what made you decide to do it?

I have always had “sal’ head” (salt head) which is how we, in the Caribbean, describe kids whose hair was excessively short and “picky”. Growing up I relaxed my hair to literal death. In my late teens (19 +) I started wearing weaves on a constant basis. At one point I did not own a shampoo or conditioner for in excess of a year because as soon as one extension was removed, I was at the hairdresser the next day getting my hair washed, treated and a new set of extensions installed. I did not have any love nor a connection to my own hair. By age 24, my hair was so limp and lifeless that it truly could go no further and I did the most radical thing I had ever done – I big chopped! Since then I returned to the relaxer twice but my last relaxer was in March 2013 and I have no intention to go off track again. So, technically, I have been natural for 13 months.

Nekisha Lewis

When did you first realise that you love your natural hair texture and what exactly do you love about it? Describe your hair.

I love being natural but, honestly, I’m still learning to love my type of 4C textured hair. I’ve accepted it a long time ago and have found products that have made managing it a lot easier but I do have my moments where I wish there was a curl in there somewhere as oppose to all kink. My hair has a slow growth rate, shrinks to 1/4 of its actual length but all in all it is much healthier than my relaxed hair so I rock it like nobody’s business.

Nekisha Lewis

What is your hair regime? What do you do to keep it healthy?

I  like to KISS (Keep It Simple Sista)! My weekly regimen consists of a shampoo, deep treatment, condition and an oil rinse. I use the LOC Method when moisturising and never go without my leave-in conditioner and my favourite moisturiser, Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie. I also try to co-wash once a week especially since I have been on a castor oil challenge. I have been using castor oil on my scalp 3 – 4 times a week for almost 3 months now and I never sleep without my satin scarf.

What have your experiences been as a natural, including reactions from friends, family and colleagues? Have you experienced any opposition from anyone in your life regarding how you wear your hair?

Because I big chopped, I did get ridiculed by some of my male co-workers during the initial stages but for the most part, I have had many compliments from males and females alike. I don’t let negative comments discourage me. In fact, it helps me embrace my natural hair even more because if I know someone doesn’t like to see me the way I am naturally then I know that they don’t like to see me – period.

Nekisha Lewis

What is your favourite go-to hair style for days when you don’t have a lot of time?

I do a lot of twist-outs in general. I am at that awkward stage where it’s too short to just go, but not long enough to achieve more advanced styles. I twist my hair at nights and untwist in the mornings, fluff and go.

What is your hair goal?

First and foremost, I want healthy hair. During the first few months after I returned natural I experimented a lot with colour and went through about 5 different bleach and dye jobs over a 2 – 3 month period. Every time I tried a colour and hated it, I would cover it up with black then a few weeks later try a different colour. I know I will never have long, flowing hair –  it’s just not in my gene. But a girl can try, right? I have just started my Hairfinity journey and hope to achieve a boost in growth in a few months.

Nekisha Lewis

What is your best hair advice to someone who is thinking of going natural, but who is apprehensive about doing it?

Returning natural can be one of the best decisions you can make for yourself. There is a feeling of empowerment that comes from looking at yourself ‘all natural’ and feeling content. Also, you should go natural for you and you alone. You will know when you are ready to take the journey. Research online, read blogs and when you’re ready to take the leap, you will love yourself for it.

 

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt during your natural hair journey?

I learnt to love myself. I grew up hating my colour because of two words my Grandmother used to call me, “Black Zulu”. Even as I type this I can still hear the disdain in her voice as she said it. It took a really long time for me to see myself as beautiful and that is due largely in part by my embracing my natural hair. My blog is called Black Zulu because I wanted to take that negative influence and let it stand for something positive going forward.

Where can we find you online?

I blog at blackzuluanu.wordpress.com where I document my hair journey and share tips, advice and DIYs.