The Igbos say that a man who is praised for what he has done, will do another one.
The volume of e-mails and tweets I received from episode one makes me happy to know that we have inspired some of you. As tempting as it is, I would not turn myself to a hair blogger or specialist :). It is not my selling point biko. As a follow-up from episode one, Chineze Anwunah has provided the following links to facebook pages which will do all the answering for you.
So to today’s beauty…
Ona Ilozumba is a Public health researcher.
She also doubles as a self-avowed chatterbox and book worm. She currently lives in Lagos, Nigeria and blogs about Lagos life at tobeehonest.com
How long has your hair been natural?
I have had natural hair for about 4 years.
Major drive to returning natural
There was no conscious decision to go natural. I have really soft hair and at the time was getting a relaxer two or three times a year. I never had a relaxer burn though as I was always careful to wash off the relaxer immediately after application. At some point I decided that if I was barely relaxing my hair, I might as well try and go without it. I lived in a small town in South Georgia, America, so I didn’t see a lot of black hair or natural hair, I wasn’t really aware of the natural hair movement when I made my choice.
Reaction of family, friends, strangers
For the most part I got nothing more than curiosity. “How do you manage it?” was the frequent question. Letting them touch my hair always answered it. My mum has gone natural thanks to me and I believe I deserve some credit in Madame bloggers current transition.
** (AchalugoWrites: I must tell you that Ona is still on the run from my mother, who blames her almost wholly for my decision to cut-off my beautifully long relaxed hair)
Moments of doubt?
At the start, No.
I had no idea I was going into anything, I wasn’t really thinking about it. By the time I knew enough to be concerned I was neck deep.
Seriously though, other than my hair breaking once in a while, it has been a relatively pain free process for me.
There is this sterotype that natural hair is for members of a certain religious body or people in the arts (e.g writers,musicians)
I definitely think that is false. Since I moved back, people peg me as a person in the fashion industry and the reasons are inevitably related to my hair and choice in jewellery.
I agree I am creative enough but I do not make my living from the industry. To be very honest, I think being in academia, and public health in particular, allows for a lot of freedom and self-expression.
While I do not believe that there is anything wrong with black hair in its natural state, there is no doubt that some environments are downright hostile to what they consider nappy/kinky/bad hair. Those opinions have in a lot of ways colored people’s Ideas about natural hair. It is similar to the religious sterotype; lets face it, most girls like getting prettied up so if the only person you know with natural hair doesn’t use make-up, or wear jewelry, natural hair by extension becomes unattractive.
Take on natural hair and the opposite sex
From guys I get a lot of raving. They love the originality, the casualness, the confidence it projects, blah blah blah. However, I’m skeptical about all this praise, because the same guys tend to go crazy when my hair is straight. It doesn’t bring the men rushing in neither does it chase them away. I think the moral of the story is, most guys DO NOT care about your hair, as long as it suits you and you are comfortable.
The common line from women is “You are so brave, I wish I could do it.” I always say there is nothing stopping you. I don’t get a lot of negative responses, there may been a couple but I don’t remember them. In general most women start discussing their natural hair attempts, or desire to try the natural look. My role is to be the cheerleader and encourage them to take the plunge.
For women considering returning natural
I would say don’t rush the process or step out of your comfort zone before you are ready. I didn’t start a natural hair transition for the reasons I do it now. When I first started my transition I always had braids or a weave in, and after I fully transitioned I had my hair pressed out a lot. I didn’t hate my hair, but I just couldn’t think of what to do with it.
I dislike stress in my daily routine, so back then I found having to avoid water like my number one enemy and wrap my hair every night extremely tiring. I remember wondering why white girls got to wake-up, come to class or work with their hair in a messy bun and I had to treat mine like an egg. I began to question if there was anything wrong with my hair exactly the way God designed it to come out of my head.
There’s no right way to make the transition, some people do the big chop, others like me don’t. I simply stopped relaxing my hair, kept it mostly in braids and got a good cut every time I took out my braids. Decide on what works for you, transitioning the wrong way for you will only discourage you.
Know that there is nothing like bad hair or unmanageable hair. Black women simply haven’t been taught to love and embrace their own locks, and the media doesn’t help us. I always envy friends with thick hair, they wear twists so well, and pull off a lot of styles that leave my hair looking too light. They envy me because I can literally wash my hair and go, there’s beauty to all hair textures, don’t get mad with your hair because it’s not what you want.
Finally, be patient, natural hair will teach you a thing or two about patience.
Your hair-care regimen
My stress free principle It applies to my hair-care regimen. I like easy, so I am not one of those make-you-hair-product types. Basically I try to deep condition weekly with a mixture of mostly Shea butter and any other oils lying around. I am constantly switching up my shampoo and conditioner,
I’m currently using Giovanni tea tree triple treat invigorating shampoo and conditioner. I love the tingly sensation it gives to my scalp. My go-to moisturizer is Jane carter solution: all natural nourish & shine. It’s a bit pricey but a little goes a long way and leaves my hair feeling and smelling great.
Kinky curly leave-in conditioner is a must, I also use their curling custard to retain my curls. My hair is really soft, thus prone to tangles and breakage. I try to keep it in a lot of protective styling; twists, Bantu nuts, cornrows. I’ve found out that braids break my hair, and am currently experimenting with thread. So far so good.
Photo Credits: Ona ILozumba
Special thanks: To Ona, for her gentle inspiration, to Kabiyesi, for pretending not to notice that internet runs out faster now since the inception of this blog.
As we said last week, this is in no way intended to insinuate that natural manes are better than relaxed manes or that relaxed manes are better than natural manes.
The earth can contain all of us.