“Natural hair is so expensive” Me, just the other day while meeting up with my friends
“It is” chorused my friends, the only other two ladies in the room and then we laughed about it. Two of us went natural around the same time and the one has never been anything but natural. I did not have a head full of just my non-relaxed hair until early 2016. That is the first time I saw my head with just my natural hair. I did what is known as transitioning where you just grow out your hair until you eventually cut off the treated bits. However, my natural hair journey probably began in 2014.
Like many Ugandan girls, I did not grow my hair beyond half an inch until after secondary school. Naturally, I was excited and couldn’t wait to experiment with all the styles. There was even no negotiation about it. When I had enough hair on my head, I would apply chemical relaxer to it to make it softer, longer and easier to manage.
All was well and good and my hair seemed to be growing at a normal pace until 2012, after campus when it started breaking. It did not matter what I did, my hair was thin, weak and constantly breaking. My mother was convinced I was lacking some nutrients. She actually said that. Fast forward 2014 and after trying for two years and feeling frustrated, I decided to cut it short. Because it had been breaking, it was uneven. So I decided to grow it out so that the saloonist would have enough to work with when cutting it.
I was super excited when I finally got round to cutting it. I was going to go to this saloon my sister had gone to a few years before where she had cut and coloured her hair and came out looking like a million bucks. I love short hairstyles. That day however, I believe, is what might have planted the seed of me wanting to go natural. On more than one occasion, I had considered cutting off my hair completely but wasn’t brave enough to rock a bald head. I was tired of the dryers and those re-touch sessions. However, this visit was my last straw. The damage the chemical did to my hair and scalp did not feel worth it. From that point onwards, I wasn’t excited to go back.
I told a friend of mine about how I was considering going natural and she asked if I was sure because it was a lot of work. I started reading up on things and maaaan, there’s so much I did not know. I was unsure about embarking on the journey but I was sure about never wanting relaxer on my scalp ever again .
These are some of the things that have not just made this journey possible but easier as well over the past few months
- Information is Key. Luckily there are so many resources on line about how to take care of your hair. They will tackle topics like hair types, effects of weather, effects of heat, recommend and review hair products as well places where said products can begot at a good price. One of my favourite pages is Natural Hair UG on facebook and it has a blog as well. It is a community of ladies with natural hair discussing a range of things from styling options, hair types, organizing events like the recently concluded kinks and curls expo, advertising natural hair related businesses et al.There are others like The Good Hair Collective , The Moisture well , Enviri za Nacho and Livara beauty which mainly deal in Natural hair products.
- Prepare yourself mentally for the work. Being a naturalista is not necessarily a walk in the park. Gone are the days where you would just walk into a saloon and “your guy” just does his magic. Because the number of natural haired women aren’t as many as the others, even the saloons are few and a bit pricey. In addition, Natural hair needs almost every day attention. So considering the amount of attention your hair needs, it is in your best interests to actually be able to do some of these things yourself. They might present as a challenge at first if you, like me cut your doll’s hair (don’t judge me) instead of plaiting it but it’s doable.
- Prepare yourself mentally for other people’s reactions and comments. There are days when those in your life will ask you when you are planning on putting relaxer to your hair even when you have made it clear that is not on your plan. Others might criticize you and you may just want to quit. Don’t. Power through. It gets better
- We are all different. Learn to love yourself and embrace the hair that God gave you. Focus on keeping it/growing it healthy as opposed to having someone’s hair as #goals .One of the areas many people get frustrated is in wanting their hair to grow very long in the shortest time possible. While there is nothing wrong with length, I personally believe if you focus on keeping your hair healthy, the length (if your genes allow) shall be a fruit you can’t keep away. Find products that work for you . My personal favourites so far are coconut oil and the Kentaro hair butter (which smells heavenly by the way) which I get from The good hair collective.
- Utilise the internet for styling ideas. Here Instagram and Pinterest are of great help. There are a number of accounts and boards dedicated to this cause and with time you will find styles that work for you. No, having natural hair does not mean you always have an afro. You can have an afro if you want. You don’t have to
Finally, enjoy your hair. Relax and actually have fun with your hair. The other day, I went to a salon with a hairstyle idea and well, I did not end up looking the way I thought I would but I am happy with my final look. It might seem a bit more expensive than you are used to but as you learn more, you will find ways to look after your hair that are budget friendly. I’m still learning and having fun along the way.