One of the main reasons why it has taken me so long to wear my hair in its natural, afro-textured state is because I honestly thought that I did not have ‘good hair.’ I always believed ‘good hair’ meant hair that was long, thick or glossy – sometimes all three – but my hair never fit that description!
It’s hardly surprising as in my childhood I was a real tomboy and had no interest in my hair whatsoever! By the time I entered my teens my hair was always dry and very fine. In order get the afro that was popular at that time I used to have to go to the barbers for a cut as my hair would flop in the middle otherwise!
When the afro fell out of fashion it seemed I had no option but to get a relaxer as I simply did not have ‘good’ enough hair to wear it natural, or so I believed. If only I knew then what I know now, I can only marvel at the length my hair would be!
When I went completely natural in May 2011 after transitioning under weaves and braids (whilst I decided what to do with my hair) I hadn’t yet discovered the natural hair channels on YouTube or read The Science of Black Hair and Grow It.
I had never heard of a hair care regimen and the only way I felt able to control my hair was to blow-dry it after washing and then to use ceramic straightening tongs. I soon got fed up of straightening my hair every day and that’s when I started doing some research.
Unfortunately by then the condition of my hair had worsened through heat damage to the point where I was forced to cut about two inches from the right side of my hair at the front, because it refused to curl anymore, when my hair normally forms tight coils when wet.
But after immersing myself in the scholarship of afro textured hair I finally understood how to care for my hair. I never knew it could be such fun or that my hair could look this good! I devote Sundays to hair washing, deep conditioning, detangling and twisting it and then it remains covered under a silk scarf until Wednesdays when I moisturise it and re-twist it again. I have only been doing this for two weeks so far and the results are amazing! My hair is wavy, soft and it shines! I have ‘good hair!”
One of the biggest mistakes I made in the past has been restricting my choice of hair care products to items manufactured especially for afro textured hair. Unfortunately much of this stuff is laden with industrial grade mineral oils, greases and chemicals that do not promote healthy hair or hair growth.
So one of my first tasks was to bin everything and replace it all with organic products full of natural ingredients. The switch is paying off and my hair is flourishing at last as you can see on the right.
Of course the whole ‘good hair’ thing is a fallacy – the idea that only a select few are endowed with good quality hair which is always attributed to mixed heritage a few generations back! The truth is that with knowledge and understanding any black woman can have healthy hair – and healthy hair is good hair.
Start with a shampoo and conditioner that is SLS free and free of petrochemicals.
Make your own leave-in conditioner using natural ingredients.
Always seal the hair cuticle – I use Shea butter with a touch of jojoba oil.
In-between washes moisturise the hair with water mixed with vegetable glycerin.